The Biggest Challenges of a DIY Marketing Strategy for Dentists

Bill Fukui and Adam Rowan

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Dentists in private practice face a number of costs. When you look at your budget for the new year, you may see marketing as an area where you can rein in spending by handling it yourself. 

Before you make this big decision, you should first look closely at your bottom line. If you can attribute a significant number of new patients to leads generated through your agency marketing, it may be a mistake to abandon a partnership that drives revenue.

You should also ask yourself three very important questions before you decide on DIY marketing: 

  • Do I have the time to handle marketing my practice myself?
  • Do I really know enough about marketing to make my efforts successful?
  • What resources do I invest in to monitor and implement my campaign?

Here is a look at the challenges dentists face with DIY marketing, as well as strategies for getting the highest return on investment when you partner with an agency.

Time Crunch

Marketing agencies assign specific team members to handle different aspects of each client’s marketing. One employee updates the website, another writes content, a third handles technical search engine optimization (SEO), while another manages social media. Should you decide to bring your marketing in-house, you will lose the dedicated support and specialized expertise for various marketing activities that an agency employee provides.

All of the recurring duties handled by marketing team members is just a partial list of what you’ll be taking upon yourself. DIY marketing may reduce your top-end expenses, but it adds another major layer of responsibility and time commitment to your most expensive practice resource and limitation on expanding practice capacity: you and your time! 

When a potential patient calls to schedule a consultation and cannot get in for weeks or even months, you will lose the opportunity. The bigger issue for most dentists is not saving marketing dollars, but finding more time to accommodate new patients and new ways to upgrade their level of service, increase case acceptance, and stimulate more referrals and positive patient reviews. 

Some dentists enjoy sharing insights on patient care and procedures through blog posts and other content on their website, as well as social media updates. Others may find it beneficial to communicate directly with followers on social media and website inquiries. All of these are great opportunities to “do it yourself” without compromising the overall marketing campaign. Just remember, if you take on those responsibilities, you have to commit to them for the long term.

Even if you delegate certain marketing activities to members of your staff, you will likely have to spend time training team members and ensuring that they communicate your message effectively. Both DIY and delegating marketing responsibilities cost you more than just time that you could be serving patients and making money. This strategy may also cost you leads. 

Brain Drain 

Dentistry is a $134 billion industry in the United States, with fee-for-service procedures accounting for a significant portion of many practices’ revenue. Experienced dental marketers understand your revenue potential, and they collaborate with you to maximize the number of leads and cases that improve your bottom line. 

If you try to do all the marketing yourself, you lose your agency’s marketing expertise. If you have the time, you may be able to take on part of the marketing yourself—blogging, for example—and still retain the knowledge and resources of your agency.

With dental marketing, knowledge is the key to success. You may need to pay an agency to achieve your goals, but the tradeoff is greater visibility and higher lead volume—the profits from which should far supersede your agency fees.

How Can I Maximize ROI on Agency Marketing? 

Dentists who enjoy the most successful relationships with their marketing agencies see the arrangement as a mutually beneficial partnership. With the competition for patients that dentists face, dental marketing doesn’t lend itself to a “set-it-and-forget-it” mentality. 

Instead, divide labor with your agency so you can both apply your strengths. If you want to be involved periodically in writing and social media, your agency can help you build a content strategy and amplify your message via social media while consistently creating supplemental content that reinforces your authority on dental topics and capitalizes on patient search queries. 

Meanwhile, your agency is best equipped to handle technical SEO and website development. Many companies market their content management systems and website builders on their user-friendliness. But undertaking website development, design, and optimization by yourself requires you to take many considerations into account: 

  • Am I optimizing my site for the keywords patients use to find my practice, or just the terms I think I should rank for?
  • Is my website optimized for traffic on different screen sizes and device types?
  • Does my website provide safe browsing with HTTPS?
  • Does my website comply with GDPR and other regulations on the usage and storage of private data?
  • Is my website outfitted with tools to track user activity and leads?

Most dentists will be unable to answer these questions on their own. For marketing agencies, on the other hand, it’s all in a day’s work.

So far we’ve only talked about a handful of dental marketing strategies. Internet marketing is constantly evolving. Your agency is on top of these changes and should regularly bring you the latest marketing opportunities, from driving five-star ratings and reviews to video to pay-per-click to email marketing and display ads. They should also help you track leads by phone, email, online chat, and text message.

Conclusion

When you consider the time and online marketing knowledge it takes to market your practice effectively, the cost of DIY marketing generally outweighs the benefits for most dentists. To stand out from your competitors, drive leads, and allow you the time to focus on your delivery of services, investing in an experienced dental marketing agency pays significant dividends.

Mr. Fukui is the vice president of sales and marketing at Page 1 Solutions, LLC, a marketing agency serving dentists, doctors, and attorneys in private practice throughout North America. He has more than 20 years of experience in sales, speaking, and consulting for dental clients and other professionals. 

Mr. Rowan is the content specialist at Page 1 Solutions. He has been writing for dental, medical, marketing, and business publications for more than 10 years.

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