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5 Steps to Building a Strong Marketing Plan & Strategy in 2022

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We can all agree the last two years have been challenging, but we are opening our arms to a fresh start in 2022. Whether you are just beginning your story or adding another chapter, a marketing strategy will enable you to succeed by engaging and connecting with clients before you’ve even brought them into your practice.
What do we mean by strategy? Let’s consider strategy as an equation:

Time + Resources – What are you saying no to = Desired Outcome

We want you to focus your time, energy, and resources on the projects that will lead to the highest desirable outcome for your practice. Since time and resources are limited, you will also want to consider what you are not focusing on.

Take your first steps towards success in 2022 and begin building your optimal marketing strategy today.

The Art of Planning Ahead

At SmileShop Marketing, we are experts in your business! We understand that your time is shuffled between serving patients, keeping up-to-date on the industry, maintaining a focused and motivated team, and much more. With all of this on your plate, it’s easy to push marketing to the back of the agenda, or not prioritize it at all. 

Avoid reactionary planning; by utilizing the art of planning ahead, you can have a strategy in place that will keep you on top of your marketing and help you reach practice objectives. By staying ahead of your marketing, you will have a forward-thinking vision and achieve high-level performance rather than thinking on the fly, which leads to a rushed decision and output. Taking the steps to draft out a marketing plan and properly execute it will give you the data and information needed when evaluating crucial business decisions. 

You’re probably thinking, “Okay but, I still don’t have the time.” Do not fear because you have us! We have broken it down for you, so you can sit down today and take the first steps into developing and executing your marketing plan and strategy. 

Prepare Your Tools

Do not continue until you have asked yourself the following questions. These facts and figures are imperative to building your plan. The beginning of any plan is to know where you are starting from.

Evaluate your current state:

  • What were your financial figures in the last year? This includes your current revenue and gross profit margin. 
  • Have you evaluated your current customer demographic? This includes asking yourself where your customers live, what they want, and how old they are, etc.
  • What forms of marketing do you use to connect with your current customers?
  • What is the cost of obtaining and retaining a new patient? 

Then, you will want to evaluate the future of the dental industry:

  • Are there any projected changes to the dental industry in the next decade? 
  • Do you want your customer demographic to change in the next decade? 
  • Will your customers’ wants, needs, and habits change? If so, how will you accommodate them? 

Once you have an assessment of your current state, and have forecasted trends within your industry,  you are ready to make your marketing strategy!

Step 1: Creating the Vision for Your Practice

You can look at the big picture of your goals but breaking them down into smaller milestones will give you a clear vision for your practice. To make these goals a reality, you will need to decide what success looks like to you. 

Close your eyes and imagine your practice three years from now. What will define your success as an entrepreneur? Maybe your goal is to double your profit or bring more people through the door. Is your practice a well-oiled machine, operating consistently and smoothly? Or are there kinks in the chain that require work and attention?

It’s time to make that vision a reality by establishing solid and clear targets. Fill in the following blanks with concrete objectives.

  • My revenue will exceed _____
  • My profit will exceed _____
  • My gross profit % will exceed _____
  • My clients will be ______

Congratulations, you just created your 3-year vision!

Now that we’ve painted the big picture we can break it down into smaller steps. Picture your success 1 year from today. For you to paint your 3-year masterpiece, what steps will you need to take in year 1? Now, go back and fill in the above blanks with your 1-year goal in mind. 

Step 2: Establish Objectives

Setting objectives is a small part of your strategy, now you must allocate the time and resources into calculative steps towards your desired outcome. Are you looking to build your brand or generate new leads; maybe both?

Having a brand that patients can resonate and identify with will be imperative for setting your practice apart from others. Your brand shows clients who you are, what you offer, and why you do what you do. It can identify you as an expert within a particular niche (e.g. your technologically advanced machines, Invisalign offering, cosmetic services) and attract the right patients for your practice. Think of a brand you admire, why do you like it? What attracts you to interact with or purchase from that particular brand?

Your other objective is likely to generate leads and convert new users into patients. Your brand may attract them initially but how are you closing the sale?

It’s important to note that brand building and generating leads are two separate objectives that will need to be approached differently. Here are 3 Key Points to Building Brand Awareness and 3 Key Points to Attracting New Patients with Lead Generation for your dental practice.

For this step to be effective you need to fully understand the type of client you are trying to attract. Ask yourself:

  • Who are you targeting your marketing to?
  • What is their age range?
  • Where do they live?
  • What problems do they need your dental practice to solve?

Knowing who your client is will help you communicate with them in the manner that is best for them. Keeping this in mind, you will be able to establish clear objectives that align with your client’s behaviors. 

Step 3: Creating Your Marketing Budget

Marketing is often considered an expense but in the grand scheme of things, it is an investable expense. The dollars you invest into marketing, if done properly, will result in new patients overtime. When companies look at cutting costs, marketing is often one of the first to be cut, but it shouldn’t be, especially if your goal is to strengthen your brand image and grow your business.

You can’t invest 5% of your budget into marketing and expect to grow 30%. Investing into marketing is a system that will allow your return output to exceed your initial financial input. Allocate your budget effectively and utilize the skills of your staff to follow your plan and create results.

Step 4: Establish a Timeline

Now that you have the ball rolling and a good idea of what marketing efforts you want to use, and how much you will be investing, it’s time to put them in a calendar. Apply specific projects to specific dates and create a concrete schedule for promotions and deliverables.

You will want to consider the following points while scheduling your strategy:

  • Consistency is key: whatever you decide to do you need to be consistent; regular blogs, email blasts, or social media posts will create a frequency that your audience can rely on which will build trust for your company.
  • Avoid being redundant and stale: switch up the phrasing of your messaging. Find ways to engage and create click-worthy content.
  • Avoid overkill of messaging: your clients don’t need to hear from you every day, but they still need to know you exist. Find the right balance and timing for communicating with your client.
  • Know your audience: you will need to understand how your client wants to be communicated with and what platforms they are using. Just because a platform exists does not mean you need to be on it, if your client isn’t there don’t put your time and energy into it.

At this point, your plan should be detailed, scheduled, and ready to be put into motion.

Step 5: Put Your Plan Into Action

Building a plan sets the intentions for your business but still might require changes during execution. Work with your team to ensure everyone understands the plan and is on the same page. Keep these tips in mind when you’re ready to execute your marketing strategy:

  • Your team is your number one resource but you need to ensure everyone is playing their part and is assigned a role. Allocate one person as the go-to contact person for ensuring your plan is executed. They can also be the person to assign roles and responsibilities for individual tasks. This person might be you!
  • Allocate your budget for individual projects or promotions throughout the year. Know where each dollar will be going and when so that you aren’t left with empty funds halfway through the year.
  • Pay attention to your calendar. Just because a promotion is planned for March doesn’t mean you should wait until March to begin gathering the materials. Always stay ahead of your strategy so you don’t fall behind. A good rule of thumb is to work 3 months in advance.
  • Once you’ve put the plan in place and it is in full swing, don’t forget to check in. You still need to track how each promotion has performed, what went well, what could be done better, what your team needs, etc. You can’t optimize what you don’t measure; use these results to adapt and improve your strategies over time. The plan is never permanent and can always be adjusted to be better.
  • It’s not enough to have a marketing strategy for the year and then just leave it to run itself. Schedule regular meetings throughout the year to evaluate how the plan is going and if there are changes that need to be made. Seriously, go book those meetings today.

You Don’t Have to do it Alone

If all of this is overwhelming, we are here to help! Contact SmileShop to make your vision a reality with the help of our experienced and knowledgeable team.

Written by Natasha Scott

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