Your marketing budget

I am frequently asked “how much should I be spending on marketing?”
First – a distinction – advertising is not marketing.

Advertising is telling your story to complete strangers. People who do not yet trust you.

Tough call.

  • A-boards
  • Signage
  • Newspaper adverts
  • That quarter page in the golf club/school magazine
  • Wedding fairs
  • Radio
  • TV
  • Sacrificing your profit on Groupon or equivalent
  • B2B or B2C networking

It is all advertising.

Why the hell should I respond to you? I have no idea who you are.

Maybe I’ll respond because I’m a bargain-hunter and you will never see me again after I have potted my latest offer.

High cost, low response rate, low profit, high hassle.

Marketing is telling your story (and new stories) to people that you already know (have built some trust with).

  • E-mailing your existing patients with news and offers
  • the practice newsletter (printed or virtual)
  • Pop-ups in reception
  • the TV loop in the patient lounge
  • a smile-check
  • handing out referral cards
  • social media engagement
  • a 1:1 conversation

I’m curious because I already trust, respect and like you – so I’ll invest a few minutes (only a few mind) in your message.

The beauty is that, like a Venn diagram, these forces overlap each other.

For example, a properly orchestrated social media campaign will connect with your patients (people that you know) and their friends (people that you don’t yet know) – thus giving you more bang for your buck.

People don’t refer A-boards to their friends, or adverts in newspapers – but they will refer a post, a tweet, an e-zine, a referral business card (if you ask nicely).

Second, then, how much?

Excluding the cost of any marketing co-ordinator/manager (that comes under staff costs).

All the books on professional services firms indicate that 5% of gross sales is the level at which the advertising/marketing plane will get off the runway – and you will see a realistic ROI (return on investment) for your hard earned cash.

What do I see?

On a good day – 2%.

On a normal day – 1%.

On a bad day – nothing.

So – the majority of dental principals are taxi-ing down the runway but never achieve take-off velocity.

Then complain that their “marketing” isn’t working (when in fact its probably their advertising that isn’t working – because they are not marketing at all).

Hard though it may be – the tough love is to get your cheque book out and start investing seriously.


Published by

Chris Barrow

Chris Barrow has been active as a consultant, trainer and coach to the UK dental profession for over 20 years. As a writer, his blog enjoys a strong following and he is a regular contributor to the dental press. Naturally direct, assertive and determined, he has the ability to reach conclusions quickly, as well as the sharp reflexes and lightness of touch to innovate, change tack and push boundaries. In 2014 he appeared as a “castaway” in the first season of the popular reality TV show “The Island with Bear Grylls”. His main professional focus is as Coach Barrow, providing coaching and mentorship to independent dentistry.