Are you marketing by the seat of your pants?

 A very successful and inspiring 2 days: I now have a clear marketing plan and know exactly what I need to do about my website!

Frank Goulbourn – Principal, Bancroft Dentistry


 I used to think that marketing a Dental Practice simply involved spending enough money on the “right” tactics. This was re-enforced by the magazine articles I read and the business coaches I listened to.  In retrospect, it proved to be pretty difficult to find the “right” tactics because the tactics were always generic and were supposed to work from Truro to Inverness.  It was also impossible to know which tactics really worked because we only measured new patient source and new patient numbers…

During the last 10 years, I’ve given a lot of talks to dentists on marketing and what they have always wanted from me was a list of tactics that wereguaranteed to work. Then, they could go back to their practices, choose the tactics they fancied (and/or could afford) and simply implement them.

The tactics I recommended used to go in and out of fashion, were usually generic and the list would look, in no particular order, something like this:

  • Patient Newsletters
  • Welcome packs
  • Referral Cards
  • A Web Site
  • Glossy Magazine Advertising
  • Leaflet drops
  • Special offers
  • Wedding Fairs
  • Health and Beauty Fairs
  • Radio Advertising
  • Strategic alliances
  • PR

There is nothing essentially wrong with the list, it’s just the generic, one size fit’s nature of the list that spoils it.  The main problem with this way of doing things is simply this;

It risks wasting eye-watering amounts of your precious cash!

Look, anyone can go shopping for patients. If you spend enough money you can fill your practice with new patients! The purpose of a deliberate and effective marketing plan is to buy new patients at the right price. In other words, the cost of acquisition of new patients must be inline with the profitability of the services that you are selling and the value the new patients bring to your practice!

So, there is a better way of ‘doing marketing’. Here’s how it works:


  1. Decide what your long term Business Objectives are (say, 3-5 years).
  2. Get clear about your “Practice Proposition” (because this is the message that you will be marketing!)

For example, here’s the proposition for a practice we work with in The Midlands:

At Jones Dental Practice,

We offer:

  • Effective and long lasting solutions to your dental problems
  • Painless treatment
  • Affordable treatment
  • An honest and professional approach
  • A wide choice of options
  • A comfortable environment


Decide on what your overall Marketing Strategy will be for the long term. Where will you put your focus.

Create a 12 month Business Plan which includes a 12 month Marketing Plan. The Marketing Plan will include:

  • Your target groups
  • The channels your target groups use (e.g. digital media, social media, print media, etc
  • Longer term Marketing Programmes
  • Seasonal Marketing campaigns
  • Marketing Budget
  • Required return on Investment
  • Data collection systems
  • Define what success looks like


The purpose of a” functional marketing plan” is simply to support your business objectives and ensure that you meet them!


For example; You own a 2 surgery private practice turning over 400k. During the next three years you want to turn it into a 3 surgery private practice turning over 650k. You will need an additional 1000 patients over 36 months, (that’s 27 per month, providing you don’t lose any!).

Your Marketing Plan will depend on many factors including your catchment areas: Demographic, Ethnicity, Social mix, Wealth etc.

There can be no generic marketing plans because every area has a unique population and problems who use their own mix of different channels to access information!

It may seem a little complicated, but this is the only way to make your marketing effective and affordable!

So, if you want some help in building your own unique marketing Plan, Breathe Business is running another of its popular Marketing Workshops with places limited to just 6 practices.

More details 

Contact me directly at

Or contact The Breathe Business Team on 0845 299 7209


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