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Selecting the Right Marketing Media

Setting aside enough money for an advertising budget can be quite a challenge for a dental practice. One way to make sure you’re spending your advertising dollars wisely is to select the most effective advertising media in which to run your ads.

While the array of potential advertising opportunities may be intimidating, carefully thinking though your media buy and keeping your patient in mind every step of the way will help you make the most effective advertising decisions.

Before you start advertising, first answer some key questions. Specific answers to these questions will drive a more focused and targeted advertising strategy:

  • What is the main goal of my advertising? To drive more patients to my practice? To attract more of a particular type of procedure? To keep a hygienist or associate busy? To fill a gay in the demographics of my database?
  • Who is target patient?
  • How much can I budget?
  • How is my competition advertising their services?

Choose the right media vehicles

While there is rarely a single right or wrong way to select media, though basic analysis, research and common sense, you will be able you choose the best forums for your advertising message.

The first task at hand when deciding on media vehicles is to make a comprehensive list of available media in your market. Be creative – aside from just listing local newspaper, flyers, radio, think about what kind of media your potential patient reads or listens to as well as when and where they are most likely to see your ad. This will include Yellow Pages, specialty publications, billboards, websites, shopping centres and areas of influence such as pharmacy or gym.

Once you have a list of all the available media, start researching how much it costs to run an ad in each vehicle. Again, be specific and keep your ideal patent in mind.

Since the cost of media is usually the largest expenditure in an advertising program, your budget will be a major factor in deciding which media to choose. No matter how ideal an advertising vehicle may seem, it can only be so for your practice if you can realistically afford to buy the ad space or time and that it will result in a return on investment. Prioritise which media you want to use and which ones you can afford.

The next step is to consider where your patients will be when they see, or hear, the ad and how you want them to respond. Are you just trying to build awareness of your practice, or do you want customers to act on the ad in some way?

In some cases, you may choose your ad based on what your competitors are doing. If a local practice has used the same newspaper for years and run a large ad, this may be the best medium for your ad and it may be better to find a medium that you can, in effect, monopolise.

Small and Frequent

Why will someone respond to a dental ad? And more importantly, why to your ad? Firstly, the most important aspect is timing. If a potential patient is suddenly in pain and sees your ad, then they have a massive reason to respond today. This may not be your ideal patient, but they have motivation. If a person has just became engaged and is starting to think about their appearance, then an ad promoting teeth whitening may grab their attention.

This is of course shifting sands; the person in pain today will be a different person tomorrow so this is why with dental advertising, it is important to advertise regularly. Far better to take a small advert on a regular basis then a large ‘ego’ base ad once a year.

Measure your progress

To keep your advertising costs within a reasonable budget, you should calculate the cost of reaching potential patients and monitor the effectiveness of each ad.

To calculate and compare the costs of reaching potential prospects, most advertisers use the cost per thousand, or CPM figure. CPM = (cost of the ad x 1000)/size if audience. In other words, the CPM for an ad costing $500 in a publication that reaches 10000 people is ($500×1000)/10000 = $50.

Once you compare CPM’s across different media and place your ad accordingly, be sure to track your results as specifically as you can to make sure your message is reaching your potential patients. When you get a new or returning patient, ask how they heard about your practice. It’s a good idea not just to have a space on the health questionnaire for them to fill in, but tick boxed outlining every marketing initiative you are undertaking. From this information you can work out your patient acquisition cost and from there, the effectiveness of the media used.

If your cost of acquisition is $60 per patient through advertising and then you get the same patient to refer you twice, then your actual cost of acquisition per patient is now just $20. Cost of acquisition will be covered in depth in a future article.