Setting and Managing a Dental Marketing Budget

Setting and Managing a Dental Marketing Budget

Do you set and manage your marketing budget properly?

All areas of business cost should be monitored and managed effectively and this includes marketing spend. Best practice is to set a budget and then track performance against that over time, but it may surprise you that relatively few dentists actually do this. Indeed many dental practices stumble when it comes to managing this important side of their business, let alone tracking return-on-investment for their marketing spend. All too often we see a scatter-gun approach, either with too much spent in the wrong areas or too little spent to get anywhere close to achieving expectations.

Marketing is way more than just spending on ads or taking part in some promotions; it covers a multitude of techniques which can be used to develop and promote your dental brand and business. Consequently it makes sense to manage the cost associated with all of these activities.

Why you need a marketing budget

Return-on-investment (ROI) runs hand-in-hand with your marketing budget, without one, you cannot determine the other. It’s a given that you will need to promote your dental practice to some degree, even if you are well-established, and increasing competition dictates that you need increasingly effective marketing strategies. This isn’t necessarily cheap and so the measurement of ROI is essential. Campaigns will need to be adjusted, paused and possibly even canned and the money re-allocated if they fail to perform.

The baseline for managing these activities effectively is to set a marketing budget. This allows you to plan your activities carefully and avoid the scatter-gun approach I mentioned earlier.

You will also need to be prepared to carry out the following work if your budget and your planning are to be realistic:

  • Marketing audits – internal and external
  • Competitor research and evaluation
  • Demographic research
  • Evaluation versus your overall business goals and expectations

What should a dental marketing budget include?

Typical elements you would find in a well-considered marketing budget include:

  • Printed materials – design, production and distribution
  • Your website – initial development and ongoing management
  • Search engine optimisation costs
  • Cost to deploy and manage pay-per-click campaigns e.g. Google and Facebook ads
  • Email marketing
  • Content marketing e.g. blogging
  • Cost to plan and run open days and other promo events

This is just a flavour – you will need to include anything which costs money and is associated with the marketing of your dental business.

Where is your budget spent?

This follows on from the items mentioned above and the allocations will vary depending on the scope of work required. You will have done some work to determine this following the audits and analyses we touched on earlier. Your chosen marketing partner will also be able to help you here.

Typical spend areas will be:

  • Your website
  • SEO
  • Pay-per-click ads
  • Social media management
  • Content generation
  • Promotional events
  • PR assistance
  • Radio and potentially even TV ads
  • Print advertising

How much should you allocate to your practice marketing budget?

There is no definitive answer here and all practices will be different depending on their location, competition, evolution and aspirations. This is one very good reason why the bolt-on “do it all for you” type marketing packages you see many dental marketing agencies offer, simply don’t cut it. They are far too generic and you will either end up paying over the odds (often) and sometimes not enough.

To give an idea of typical costs you might expect, here are some examples:

  • Website development – £2 – £5k depending on scope
  • SEO – £200 – £700 per month (heavily competition dependent)
  • Pay-per-click set-up – circa £200 per campaign
  • Pay-per-click management – £100 – £200 per month
  • Click costs (paid to Google/Facebook) £500 – £5000 per month (heavily scope and competition dependent)
  • Event marketing – from £2k per event
  • Print media – leaflets etc – £1k – £2k per annum

Whilst you will pay some money towards keeping your website maintained and other “ad hoc” events, you will see that your primary spend will likely be on elements such as SEO and paying click costs to Google and Facebook. The latter in particular, can be substantial and hence needs careful control.


No discussion on budgeting is complete without a quick word on ROI and how to use a budget effectively. If you’re serious about acquiring new dental patients from the web, then you will need a realistic budget to gain the traction you need. Like any budget, you will need to manage it effectively and adjust as you go along; increasing spend in areas which return well, decreasing and potentially eliminating spend in areas which don’t meet target. We have seen many cases where dentists moved to our services having spent thousands of pounds with other marketers without so much as a monthly report to illustrate progress. This is music to many marketers ears of course, but not something you should let them get away with!

As a minimum, your marketing partner(s) needs to provide you with a report which shows exactly what is happening per marketing channel; so exactly how many enquiries you are receiving from organic traffic, paid traffic and so on. You can then factor this against what it cost you to get the enquiry and also how many of the enquiries actually resulted in treatment. It’s relatively easy to establish a model which allows you to calculate the return on your marketing spend in quite a granular way.

A word of caution with regard to the type of data your marketer may try to provide you with. It’s incredibly important to know the number of enquiries which your web marketing generates i.e. how many tangible calls, emails or website form submissions come to the practice. Very often marketers will obfuscate and try to provide high-level data which doesn’t really mean much, for example the number of impressions your paid ad received i.e. how often that ad was shown to users. Whilst this may be useful in the overall scheme, what you really want to know is how many people clicked your ad, made an enquiry and what that actually cost.


Developing a marketing budget and then managing it proactively is a key activity of dental practice management. Without it you will be navigating blindly and potentially spending a lot of money with very limited idea of how that spend is returning. Too many dentists end up with this “scatter gun” approach and I’d encourage you not to be one of them!

If you need assistance with developing a holistic dental marketing programme for your own practice and generating the tools you need to assess how it’s performing, please contact Dental Media on 01332 672548 and ask for the marketing team who will be pleased to assist.