What They Didn’t Teach You in Dental School – Dental Marketing 101

Marketing a dental practice can be challenging. After all, it is a special animal and requires a special approach…or does it?

What kind of marketing should I do for my dental practice? How much should it cost to market my dental practice? How many new patients should I be getting to keep my practice on track? What is the best way to market to our current patients? Can I just do email marketing for my dental practice? What about web marketing, or a billboard? Ah hell!!! I need to see patients. I don’t have time for this!!!


Man giving thumbs up at dentist office

The frustration is the same whether you’re the dentist who is an owner/operator or a practice manager who has looked at these same questions. The following are straightforward answers to these common questions.

What percent of your gross income should be invested on marketing your dental practice?

The answer to that depends on your practice and how much and how fast you want to grow. The minimum you would need to invest into marketing your dental practice would be between 6 – 7% of your practice’s gross sales. A more aggressive number for growth and expansion would be closer to 8 to 10% of your gross sales. As your practice grows, so should the amount of money you invest in marketing. Avoid getting locked into a set amount for marketing because this can lead to the stagnation of your sales. The better method is to set aside a fixed percentage of gross sales.

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But the better question is: What should the Return On Your Investment (ROI) be when marketing your dental practice? Basically, anything that generates production of 3 to 4 times the cost makes sense. Unfortunately, there is no one who can say that if you invest x-dollars on an Internet campaign or direct mail marketing campaign you will get $XX back. If you find someone who tells you this, they are lying to you. The truth is, your market area is very competitive and your prospective patients do have a lot of choices, but that is not to say you should not set goals for returns on your advertising investment. What is the best way to do that?

You have to understand when you advertise your dental practice essentially you are buying patients. To set a target, first things you need to know are:

  • What an average patient is worth to your practice a year?
  • How many years does a patient stay with you?

This will tell you what a new patient is worth. For example, an average new patient usually spends $800 a year and stays with the practice for 4 years. Then a new patient is worth $3200 to this practice ($800/year multiplied by 4 years). This number will obviously be different for you based on what type of practice you have.

The second part of marketing your dental practice is tracking your advertising. You have to have a way to track new patients calling in. You can ask them when they call; you can look at your invoices and see how many new patients came in; and third you can have a call tracking number. This special number records all incoming calls from a specific piece of promotion. This will let you run a sort of quality control on incoming calls, as well as accurately track the number of calls you received from the specific marketing campaign.

What is the best way to divide my marketing money between the many different forms of marketing? How do patient demographics play into this decision?

Of the money you set aside for marketing, 70% should be invested in getting new patients and 30% spent to market to your current patients. Always err on the side of spending too much on getting new patients because that is the future of your dental practice.

There are a couple things you can do to stretch your budget. The first and easiest thing to do is to market to your existing patients promoting other services and offering special incentives to them. Keep in mind that if the only thing you send your existing patients are bills and recall cards, then what kind of relationship do you expect from that?

Sending a quarterly newsletter to your existing patients keeps you in front of themDental Newsletter Sample between visits and also is a powerful tool to help generate affinity for your practice and helps with patient referrals. If you want to ensure high retention rates, increase unsolicited referrals, and get your patients back in for more care, you need to send out a monthly patient newsletter. This is a printed piece, not an email. Some dentists feel they can save money by sending out an email out and skip printing and mailing via hard mail altogether. Email is fine, but due to the large amount of spam being sent today has limited effectiveness.

New patient marketing should revolve around a two-part strategy. Part one, to put something in the hands of prospective new patients and part two, an aggressive patient referral program for the practice.

The most effective way we have found for part one above revolves around Every Door Direct Mail. With this program we can help you save money on postage by getting your postage rates down to .16 – .19 cents per postcard. The fact is that there is less competition in the mailbox than anywhere else. Direct mail is effective and trackable.

Click Here For Pricing on Every Door Direct Mail

We also offer patient referral programs to help you maximize your return on investment by turning every new patient into 3 new patients. When you start talking numbers like this, it makes it easy to take your dental practice to the next level.

Another thing you should be doing is either a monthly or bimonthly mail out with a special offer to your inactive patients. My clients who do this find they make more money every month by sending out inexpensive note card mailers or postcard mailers to their inactive patients.

Marketing your dental practice is easy; resist making it more complicated than it is. Many so called consultants will try to get you to try this or that, which is fine only if it’s increasing your reach out into your local community. Marketing works best if it is flowing outward.

©2005-2014 Mark Hale, All Rights Reserved.

Facts About Fonts, Spacing & Other Graphic Design Tips

Graphic Designing Tips For Do-It-Yourself Design.

You worked hard to design your postcard or brochure. You want it to look good, but when looking at your design something is not quite right and you are not sure what it is.

The main impact of your piece comes from the words you use. Photos contribute to the impact of theIdea as an acronym with the words Vision Design Concept and Plan piece, but usually you will need the written word to communicate a message.

Being able to simply read the words is a large part of the effectiveness of your piece. What affects readability? The fonts and type style you use is 60% of the answer to readability.

The font and type style you choose will determine the other graphic elements, the amount of copy you have and the overall look you are trying to achieve.

Some fonts will look better on a computer monitor, but will not look good when the piece is printed out.

Fonts may not mix. The general rule is to keep with one font throughout the piece. Another factor is that some fonts are compatible with each other and others are not. Many fonts have “families of fonts” which give you more choices of a similar font, but with a different style. For example Myriad Pro has several different choices of fonts – see below.

Font Family SampleYou do not usually want to have more than two different fonts on a piece because it will cause confusion for eye travel and can be difficult to read.

Balancing beauty with readability can be challenging. Below are some terms you need to know when designing your piece. Keep these things in mind as you choose a typeface and lay out the text on your next postcard, brochure or flyer:

  • X-height. X-height refers to the size of a lowercase x in a given typeface. The larger the x-height, the denser the type will appear on the page, and the less readable it will tend to be.
  • Tracking. Tracking refers to character spacing. Any variation from normal tracking (narrowed or expanded text) can have an adverse effect on readability.
  • Serif vs. Sans Serif. Research shows that serif fonts are more readable than sans serif fonts for large areas of body text. This may be due to the serif’s ability to lead the eye from one character to the next. On the other hand, typefaces with serifs that are too pronounced can have the opposite effect. Also, sans serif fonts tend to be more readable than their serif counterparts in smaller point sizes, such as those used for footnotes or fine print.
  • Line length. Shorter lines of text tend to be more readable than longer lines. However, lines that are too short may also prove difficult to read. Experts suggest setting line length at approximately 39 characters, or two times your point size, converted into pica’s. Experiment with both of these options to see which works better for you. A pica is a term that means the size of a letter in typewriting with 10 letters to the inch. It is equal to 12 points or about 1/6 of an inch, (e.g. 2 x 10pt = 20 picas or 3 1/3 inches).
  • Leading. The leading, or space between each line of text, can also affect readability. In general, leading that is 2-3 points larger than the typeface enhances readability. Leading that is too much larger or smaller than that, however, can make the type more difficult to read.
  • Widows and orphans. Widows occur when the final line of a paragraph contains just a single word. Orphans are paragraphs that carry over just a single line from one column to the next. Both are visually distracting, unattractive and reduce the readability of a page.
  • Point size. Body text is generally set at 9-12 points in size. This can vary, however, depending on the typeface and purpose involved, so make adjustments accordingly.

As you can see, if you are going to be a do-it-yourself graphic designer, there are some tricks to the trade. Wilson Printing USA has experienced graphic designers on staff who can take your idea and make it look professional! Usually the time and headache you save by having a professional design your piece is well worth the money you spend.

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If we can help you in any way please give us a call, 727-536-4173.

©2005-2014 Mark Hale, All Rights Reserved.

Product Hang Tags & Packaging Pop Outs

Product hang tags and packaging pop outs are the perfect way to add a finishing touch to your product and gift packaging. In many cases, the packaging you choose for your product will either cause your product to jump of the shelves or become lost to the eye of your prospective customer. There are a couple ways to create eye-catching product hang tags and packaging pop outs, which one you choose really depends on how much money you want to invest.

Product Hang Tags

The simplest option is to turn your business card into a folded hang tag that allows you to not only provide a personalized message, but also incorporate your contact information.

  • Consider stringing them with elastic for use on irregular-shaped items such as jar tops or gift baskets.
  • Rounded corners will add a more finished look and is inexpensive to do.
  • Add a QR code that can be scanned to link to additional information, such as a voice mail, personalized message, or a promotional video.

A more detailed option is the die cut your hang tag or packaging pop outs. We can create a custom die to stamp out different shapes for eye-catching packaging.

  • With die cut shapes, literally almost anything you can think of can be die cut and created.
  • Foil or embossed logos.
  • Water-resistant paper for special uses.
  • Special tear resistant synthetic paper when the hang tag needs additional wear and tear.

Looking for Pricing on Hang Tags? Click Here.

Hang tags and pop outs can be used to promote selling features and can also:

  • Reinforce your brand and use corporate colors, as well as your logo to effectively represent your brand.
  • Give directions (such as if products have multiple uses), explain your product guarantee, suggestions for care, etc.
  • Consider using a famous quote, inspirational message, or humorous caricature that your recipients will remember.
  • Keep it simple with clear visuals, a strong message, and easy-to-read fonts.
  • Design tip, a common mistake can be forgetting to leave space for the drill hole. Be sure your designer takes it into account to not distract from the purpose of your hang tag.

Wilson Printing USA has designed and printed thousands of product hang tags and packaging pop outs. We can save you time and money by designing the perfect hang tag or pop out that will help you to sell your products.

©2005-2014 Mark Hale, All Rights Reserved.