Buying Patients: A New Way to Look at Marketing

As new dental materials are being developed and introduced, you can spend countless hours learning how to integrate these innovative breakthroughs into daily practice. Once you’re ready to offer these concepts to your patients, it is vital to market your new skills and attract new patients.

If you have owned a dental practice for any length of time, you know that obtaining new patients can be difficult, no matter what economic conditions are present in your market.  

So here’s a question for you to consider.  Should you go out and invest a lot of money into marketing programs or schemes to attract new patients, or just wait and until they come to you?

Before you make that decision, one fundamental question has to be asked.  “How much am I willing to spend to buy a new patient?”

Yes you heard right, buying patients.  It’s the concept of “Acquisition Cost.” In other words, how much marketing and advertising do you need to invest to get a new patient into your door and accept your treatment plan?

Think about it for a second.  If you spend $3,000 on a direct mail ad and you only get 3 new patients into your clinic, you have just spent $1,000 to buy that new patient.  Would you be willing to spend that much to acquire a new patient?  

It is difficult to tell because every situation is different.  For example, if your focus is acquiring new implant patients, than spending a $1,000 would probably be a bargain to get a potential $5,000-$10,000 case in the door.  However, if your focus is on general dental cases, then spending $1,000 for a new patient who will only be spending $250 with you might not be the best investment.  

The key is how aggressively are you measuring and testing your marketing budget. Do you know the acquisition cost of every single lead your marketing scheme will bring?  

We can tell you that the vast majority of dental clinics have no awareness of their acquisition costs. Nor, have they ever measured and tested any of their marketing and advertising spending, let alone set aside a budget for it.

So, how do you start measuring and testing to determine your acquisition costs?  The first step involves ensuring that your front desk receptionist asks every new patient, “How did you hear about us?” 

It is important to monitor how your patients hear about your offers, either from your web site, or from a friend. Perhaps they heard about a treatment directly from you or your team. Also remember this; it is not cost effective advertising if you get leads and patients who are interested in your services but never make appoints for the treatments. 

Second, this information needs to be recorded in a system that tracks where new leads and new patients come from.  Have your team develop a tracking system for recording leads and how many leads converted into patients. It can be as simple as an Excel spread sheet with tick boxes that your receptionist and team can document.

Finally, track those numbers on a weekly and monthly basis. Do the simple math to determine how effective each lead generation strategy is working.  Only then can you start making effective decision on where to invest your advertising and marketing cash.

Start measuring and testing your marketing strategies today so you can learn how to invest more wisely to attract the patients you want. Let us know how we can help.

By Kevin Weir and Tracey Lennemann


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