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Secrets of How Top 10% Dental Practices Build Their Marketing Budget

The key to a successful dental practice is getting good patients… but that doesn’t just organically happen. You have a role to play, and that often includes a solid marketing strategy.When you’re building your dental practice’s marketing budget, you know your primary goal is to get new patients. Based on TNT Dental’s experience working with the top dental practices in the nation, your practice should ideally average around $100 per patient in marketing dollars. For instance, building your marketing campaign around referrals should cost about $10 a patient, whereas using direct mail runs about $300 per patient. In the end, averaging about $100 spent to get each new patient in the chair.

If you’re aiming for about 40 new patients a month and going referral-heavy, your marketing budget will come to about $4,000. According to the ADA, each new patient is worth about $1,800. So, when you consider your ROI and the fact you can get about $72,000 of value at the low cost of $4,000, it’s a no-brainer on how to market for your patients!

If you remember from some of our previous articles, you have lots of ways you can spend your marketing budget to get new patients.

Existing Dental Patient Referrals

Dental patient referring another dental patientFrom our experience, about 50% of dentists’ new patients come from referrals, so in our previous example of getting 40 new patients a month, most dentists are averaging 20 new patients from referrals alone.

Your referrals should be costing you about $10 per patient = $200 out of your marketing budget. You can ask for referrals by offering contests, sending emails, and writing thank you notes to your existing patients. Just remember, the best way to complement these efforts is through offering the best patient experience possible. When your current patients receive top-notch care, it encourages them to bring their friends and family to you!

Organic Search from Google

This is all about landing on the first page of Google search results. Typically, dentists get about six patients out of 40 through organic search.

Now, doing what it takes to get on that first page of Google will set you back about $100 to $150 a patient, coming to roughly $600 to $900 out of your marketing budget a month. If you’re in a competitive market of over 100,000 residents or more, you could be looking at investing upwards of $1,000 a month.

Community Involvement

Dentist using social media to network practiceOn average, dentists get about four new patients through community engagement and events. This will run you a little over $300 per patient, so you can assume roughly $1,200 to $1,250 a month out of your marketing budget will go to supporting this effort.

Remember though, the goal of holding community events is to show support for your community AND get patients. Here are some things to consider when building your community events:

  • Think sponsorships – sponsor local teams
  • Put your resources behind two big events throughout the course of the year
  • Remember to build out all your costs (e.g. staff time at the event, giveaways, etc.)

If you’re spending $1,250 a month on community events, that amounts to $15,000 a year, and hopefully 50 new patients!

Dental Insurance Marketing

As you know, when you’re listed “in-network” with a dental insurance plan, you’re giving a discount of fees to be included as “in-network.” By doing that, you should be acquiring four new patients a month from your insurance connections.

Think of this as an expansion of your referral-based marketing. Take advantage of going to health fairs and offering dental health screenings to get more patients. Plus, there are no out-of-pocket costs, because you’ve already given that discount upfront to be in-network. Just remember, if you’re not in-network, you have to make up those four new patients elsewhere…

Paid Ads Dental Marketing

This is where big players like Google Ads come into play. When using Google Ads, you should be earning six new patients a month or more. At a cost of about $300 a patient, this could account for $1,800 a month of your total marketing budget. Facebook Ads, as well as Geofencing and Retargeting Ads, are also potential tools in the arsenal.

So, if you’re struggling to come up with the best marketing budget, it’s not hard to see where your planning should start. Look at your low-hanging fruit and the tactics that will cost you the least upfront to build your new client base.

If you can get patients from good referrals and/or organic searches, you’re paying less for those methods. But, even at the most expensive, you’re still getting value. If you think about it this way, you’re getting about $6 worth for every $1 spent! Remember, assess your mix for your marketing budget and consider the positive returns you can yield by mixing up your tactics…but, don’t forget, each of these items can stand alone.

If you need help in getting started on or revamping your marketing efforts, give us a call at TNT Dental and let our experts guide you through the best fit for you.

About The Author

Tim Kelley is one of the founders of TNT Dental, the #1 creator of custom websites and marketing strategies for dentists. Recognized as a leading expert in helping dental practices grow, Tim is passionate about harnessing the power of online marketing to attract and keep new patients. If there is anything Tim can do to help you, please do not hesitate to contact him directly at the office, (877) 868-4932, on his cell, (972) 989-9137, or via email at Of course, you can always visit to learn more.

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