The #1 Marketing Guide For Dental Startups
“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” - Francis of Assisi
The doors to your new dental practice have officially opened. You’ve put in an incredible amount of work up to this point, and your startup is now ready to start receiving patients. Let us at Studio EightyEight be the first to say…
Your accomplishment is certainly one to be proud of 🥂, however, if you’re reading this article, we’re sure you understand that the true work to market your new startup and gain new patients has just begun.
Marketing Challenges For A Dental Startup
Startup dental practices often begin with two marketing-related challenges:
- earning patient attention in an already-crowded market
- working within a tight budget
Success for a startup depends on utilizing effective marketing strategies and channels to both attract and retain patients while ensuring a worthwhile ROI. In this article, we’ll help lay the groundwork for marketing your new practice and which strategies you don’t want to forget from the start.
Branding Your New Dental Startup
When you hear the word branding - what do you think of first? Business cards? Logos? Headlines that rhyme? Those are all important aspects of branding and will arrive in due time, but for a startup, your journey begins before all of that.
Your branding journey as a dental startup begins with you and your story.
A brand is not merely about catchy taglines or eye-catching logos (though those certainly help). Branding is about creating a cohesive identity that encapsulates who you are, what you stand for, and the quality of service you aim to provide for your patients. But why do startups need to focus on branding from the start?
The Significance Of A Strong Visual Identity
Every dental practice startup has a story. Whether it’s the journey of the dentist, the mission behind establishing the practice, or the innovative approach to patient care - there’s always something unique about you to share! And in a market flooded with similar services, your story is a powerful tool to stand out.
In fact, a Stanford University study notes that “Stories are remembered up to 22 times more than facts alone.”
Your Digital First Impression
Accompanying your story, your visual identity serves as the very first interaction most patients will have with your practice, even before they arrive at your office. A brand identity that is aesthetically pleasing and focused on your story will not only make you more recognizable in their search for a new dentist, but also showcase your professionalism, attention to detail, and commitment to patient care.
Take, for example, the two websites above. One is from Dr. B-Bay of Premier Dental Club in Houston, TX. Dr. B-Bay took time to discover his story and focused on his brand from the start. The other is from a local competitor in the area. Take a look at both homepage images and ask yourself - “Which one would entice me as a new patient?”
Dental appointments make people nervous! But if you focus on building your amazing and unique brand from the start, patients will feel connected and comfortable with you and your office before they ever visit. This increases your chances of acquiring new patients on their first visit and capturing long-term patient retention.
Understand Your Audience To Attract Them
Now that your amazing story has been crafted, it’s time to ask yourself: Who is your ideal patient? What are their needs? Their struggles? Their hopes? Their dreams?
Patients are typically looking for more than just a service - they’re looking for a trusted healthcare partner. The better you understand the nuances of your audience's characteristics and preferences, the more effectively you can tailor your brand message and offerings to resonate with them. Let’s dive deeper:
Demographics: Age, Location, etc.
Besides understanding the core of your story and what makes your practice unique, understanding the basic demographic of your target audience is foundational.
Do you specialize in treatments popular for older generations? Are you catering more to families? Or perhaps you’re located in an urban area where younger, working professionals dominate.
For example, a dental practice aimed at younger professionals might consider highlighting more aesthetic services, such as Invisalign or teeth whitening, since that demographic might be focused more on appearance. Or you operate in a rural area where insurance is scarce and payment plans are the norm, so you choose to advertise your flexible payment options for treatment.
Psychographics: Values, Interests, Lifestyle, etc
While age, location, and income give a broad overview of your audience, psychographics dive much deeper into the interesting facets of your audience. What are their beliefs regarding oral health? Do they value sustainability, meaning eco-friendly practices might be a significant draw? Are they more tech-savvy and prefer online appointment booking and virtual consultations?
Understanding the psychographic elements of your audience allows for a deeper connection to potential patients and speaks directly to their beliefs and preferences, making your marketing message resonate that much more.
How Much Does It Cost To Market A Dental Startup?
Now that we’ve talked about everything that goes into standing out amongst the competing crowd and understanding your audience and your unique story, the million-dollar question arrives: How much will all of this cost?
Initial Branding and Setup Costs
Dental startups require a budget for their marketing efforts like any other small business, and being a startup often means you’ll be working within a tight budget to start. And that’s okay! You don’t need a six-figure budget to achieve six-figure results.
While it may seem overwhelming because of how many different marketing investments there can be to invest in, it’s important to start and budget simply for aspects such as:
Initial Branding and Startup Costs
The cost to develop and discover your brand is vital – from logo design, stationery, and business cards, to setting up your website. Costs can vary highly in this area depending on the designer’s reputation and how complex you’d like your site/brand to look, but this is most certainly where a decent portion of your startup budget should go.
Digital Marketing Expenses
In the digital age of searching for dentists, once your brand is developed, you want to get found online by prospective patients. This means investing in digital marketing efforts like Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Google PPC ads, and even Facebook (Meta) ads. These costs highly depend on what your startup business goals are.
If, for example, you’d like to hit the ground running and storm the local market, investing heavily in Google PPC ads and social media marketing will let the community know you’re in town and accepting patients.
On the other side of the coin, if you are not necessarily concerned with immediately getting your brand out through paid advertising, investing in SEO optimizations such as website structure, informational blog articles, and NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) verification would go a long way to slowly build your brand up with less cost.
Traditional Marketing Expenses
What kind of marketing agency would we be if we didn’t mention traditional marketing?! Even with digital being a great partner, there is still plenty of room for local advertising, such as newspaper ads, radio features, and sponsoring local events.
In fact, depending on your business goals, budget, and demographic traditional marketing may provide an adequate stream of new patients as well. Take, for example living in a small town with an older-than-50 population. Your efforts to connect with them in the community through local events they attend and the newspaper they continue to read would go a long way in attracting them to make you their primary dentist.
Optimizing Your Budget
It’s important to remember that while costs can span a broad spectrum, the key to successful marketing lies not in how much you spend but in where you spend it. Be sure to keep track of your ROI and keep that top-of-mind in all of your startup marketing decisions. Where will you get the most bang for your buck?
Setting up your dental startup has been a huge adventure filled with opportunities and challenges alike. However, in this article, we hope that we helped ease your stress when it comes to determining how best to market your dental startup.
With strategic planning and a deep understanding of your unique story, desired audience, and business goals, every dollar can be used effectively to amplify the brand you’ve worked so hard to discover and build.
Studio EightyEight Is Here To Help
Dental marketing (and dental budgets) can become a huge world that can seem daunting, but you don’t have to go it alone. With experience building and branding practices from 1-30 dentists, our team at Studio EightyEighty has the expertise and know-how to help you understand where your marketing dollars would be best spent.
Reach out to us today to help elevate your startup above the competition and remember, every great venture starts with a single step. 🥂