(This article is a 5.5 minute read)
THREE THINGS YOU’LL LEARN FROM THIS ARTICLE:
1. What to think about before you brief an agency
2. How to get the best results from a brief
3. What a good dental marketing agency looks like
Picture this: you're sitting in the staff room at your practice, keen to brief some well-dressed advertising type about a new dental marketing campaign for your practice. They have just asked you what exactly you want to get out of this. You have replied, “More patients.”
There is a brief, awkward silence.
“How many more patients?” they finally ask.
And you don't really know the answer, because while you know you want more patients, you never really thought about exactly how many more. Or who those patients would be. Or what exactly those patients would want. Because in the real world, you don't really know the answers to those questions until the patient walks in the door.
But to get the best possible outcome from any marketing plan, you need to know what the outcome is. If you say, “I want 100 new patients,” that's fine. It gives the agency an idea of what they have to do to achieve that. If you say, “I want to grow my cosmetic practice”, that's fine too.
Even if you're just making objectives up on the spot, it sets a goal that helps you work out whether this marketing plan is working later down the track.
In dental marketing, start with the end in mind
There is no point in starting down a road if you don't know where you want it to end. That's true of any medical treatment. It's true of any marketing service (or any other professional service). Having a goal helps you work out every other step of your marketing plan.
Once you have a goal, you can set a realistic timeline and a plan. If your goal is to get 100 patients in six months, you can prepare to spend a lot of money advertising and discounting and promoting your practice to as broad an audience as you can find.
If your plan is to get an extra ten patients a month, or to grow a certain part of your practice, you will go about it differently.
Which makes sense. If your plan in life is to buy a house, you don't walk into the supermarket on a Saturday morning and expect to walk out as a homeowner.
The clearer your objective is, the better your plan can be.
Know who you're talking to
The whole idea of marketing to potential new patients is to start a conversation with them. Ideally, you continue that conversation when they are in the chairs and afterwards, at their subsequent appointments. And the important thing about a conversation is: it is not a lecture.
A lecture is just one person talking to a faceless many. A conversation is one-on-one between two individuals.
You can't have a conversation with someone if you don't know roughly who they are. I don't mean knowing them really well. That will come. But at least knowing their age, their gender, the point they are at in the their life, their family status … all these things help you figure out what they want to know, and how to address them.
If you can say to a marketing agency, “I want to build my cosmetic business, and most of the clients who want that service are women aged between 18 and 35”, that has a massive impact on the way they will find and approach them.
Know how much you want to spend, and stick to it
There are three factors to any marketing campaign. Those are time, reach, and budget. Unfortunately, you can only ever control two of them at the same time. If you want maximum reach in a limited amount of time, you will find your budget will blow out. If you want to control your budget but still have reach, you will have to allow much more time.
The great temptation is to demand great reach, in a short time, and just play with your budget as you go. This is a bad idea. Your best case scenario is it will lead to a financial black hole, with you pouring more and more money into it as you try to find the sweet spot where you're getting the right results. The worst case scenario is the creeping feeling you're being ripped off.
By setting a budget and sticking with it, your agency should be able to formulate a plan that will get you the results you want. They should also be able to explain some of the variables, and give you ways of understanding whether or not their plan is working.
What a good agency looks like
A good agency will be able to supply you with a marketing plan that makes sense if you can supply them with those basic parameters. And they should be confident and knowledgeable enough to back their plan, and keep you updated on its progress.