When it comes to digital dental marketing, there are a lot of options. Many dentists and practice managers may become overwhelmed by the process and paralyzed by indecision, especially if they’ve had a bad experience with a marketing agency in the past.
Your marketing strategy is an essential part of your practice operation. To ensure you use your budget effectively, you need to find a partner you can trust. But how do you narrow down the options and zero in on a dental marketing partner that will suit your needs?
Here are four questions to help you cut through the noise and set some parameters.
Do you choose an in-practice marketing specialist or an external agency?
As you decide how to allocate your marketing budget, you may wonder whether to hire just one internal marketing specialist or a full-service agency. An internal specialist can provide on-the-spot personalization that’s hard for an agency to match, and your marketing campaigns will benefit from their undivided attention. On the other hand, one person may not be able to provide the wide range of experience and services available from an agency.
The answer? You don’t have to choose! You can have the best of both worlds when you appoint one of your regular team members as a marketing point person and empower them with the support of a dental marketing agency. This means you can fuse in-office efforts with the huge reach of digital campaigns and ensure measurable results.
This fusion will help inform what kind of marketing agency you need. You need someone with a strategy for good resource sharing and regular support. Put “communication” at the top of your list of necessary strengths in a marketing company. Ask what they’ll need from your in-house team to get the most from their marketing efforts. Establish a strong rapport. Together, you’re greater than the sum of your parts.
Learn more dental practice marketing tips
Do you choose dental marketing specialists or a general agency?
There are plenty of general digital marketing agencies that are happy to take on a small health-care company like a dental practice. In fact, many of the most prestigious marketing companies don’t specialize in clients from any industry. Promotion is promotion, whether you’re a local shoe store or a SaaS startup, right?
Not quite. For one thing, experience in a particular field gives you a huge leg up in building an effective strategy, understanding customer needs, and providing insightful and accurate marketing copy. Less time is spent getting to know your industry in general and more can be spent getting to know your practice in particular, an important distinction when you’re being billed per hour.
Perhaps most important, dental practices have unique marketing needs. Your dental practice is a health-care provider and as such, it must adhere to the patient confidentiality standards outlined in HIPAA, as well as other licensing and local regulations. It has unique relationships with referring professionals, insurance companies, and patients.
Working with dental marketing experts will help you avoid awkward mistakes as well as lawsuits. It means that your marketing strategy can adapt to changes in the field, the market, and legislation without requiring you to keep abreast of every little development and communicate it to your marketing team.
Do you want one full-service agency or numerous specialists?
A complication that many dental practices don’t anticipate when looking for a marketing agency is that once you’ve narrowed your search to digital marketing, you’ll learn that different agencies offer different services. For example, they may be great at providing SEO and social media marketing, but unable to help you with PPC ads on Google.
Your search for the best dental marketing SEO company may lead you to wonder if you need to sacrifice excellent paid media services. Or you might receive a recommendation for an email marketing company, and then wonder why they can’t help with your website.
It’s true that to get targeted specialists at a good value, some businesses balance numerous marketing partners. However, if this is your strategy, you need to be prepared to invest significantly more time managing these vendors. This will include reviewing reports, communicating practice developments, managing payments, and sharing information and assets between specialists.
Finding one dental marketing agency that can provide all or most of your digital marketing services is usually worth the investment. Not only does it remove a lot of hassle, but it also provides great opportunities for synthesized, coordinated campaigns across your marketing channels. For example, if you have a special event coming up, you can promote it on your social media channels, create a popup on your website, send out an email blast, publish a blog post, and create a landing page that your paid ads will point to, all using consistent branding from one team.
Identify which services you absolutely need for your marketing campaigns, as well as other ones that are nice to have. Most dental practices find they get the most ROI with dental SEO, small targeted paid ad campaigns, dental social media marketing, and a well-designed modern dental website as a baseline of their expected marketing services.
Do you want quality or quantity?
In your practice, you often make judgment calls regarding value. Sometimes you need to invest in top quality, other times it won’t make much difference to get a cheaper product. This will sometimes apply to marketing. When profit margins at your practice are slim, you’ll want to find ways to maximize every dollar you spend on marketing.
There are ways to do this. However, when you’re shopping for a digital marketing agency and comparing quotes or packages, it’s easy to get lost in numbers. You may have an offer for four blog posts, eight social media posts, and two emails per month from one agency, and two blog posts, four social media posts, and one email per month for the same price from another dental marketing company.
Before you immediately assume that one option is a much better deal, ask:
- Is more always better in marketing? Will more social media posts automatically provide more marketing leads?
- Are these services directly comparable, or am I comparing apples and oranges? For example, one company’s “content strategy” offering might include deep research on your target audience, past campaign data, competitor strategies, an on-page SEO audit for your site, and localized hashtags and geotags, while the other one simply provides generic keywords for your industry.
- Do these offerings support my specific goals? If a marketing company is padding their proposal with services that are easy for them to provide but ultimately don’t provide any value to the practice, it’s hardly a deal.
In the case of finding a dental practice marketing company, it’s easy to be seduced by deals and then realize that you’re not getting as much out of your investment as you wished. Do your research to ensure that you’re getting a baseline level of quality and be ready to pay a fair price for an experienced, reliable, long-term partner.
Make a list of requirements for your marketing needs
These questions can get you started on your search. However, to find the perfect dental marketing partner, you’ll need to get even more specific. Remember that your practice and patients have a unique mission and culture, and you need a marketing agency that can catch that vision and communicate it effectively. You also have unique needs, talents, and capacities in your dental team that will inform the kind of communication and support you’ll need from your marketing partner.
Take time to understand just what your needs are, and then spend as much time as you need thoroughly researching your options. You’ll get the most from your marketing efforts when you match with a long-term marketing agency that understands exactly what makes you special!
This article originally appeared in DE Weekend, the newsletter that will elevate your Sunday mornings with practical and innovative practice management and clinical content from experts across the field. Subscribe here.