Few things in running a business are as frustrating as a promotion failing to live up to its expectations. The money and time invested can feel as if they were thrown into a furnace and left to burn. Private practitioners in highly competitive fields, like dentistry, can see their clientele swing from bust to boom due to the response of just one advertisement, and a major promotion amplifies the risk due to the investment of time and money that is required.

Feeling lost after the letdown is understandable, but the steps you need to take are more straightforward and much easier than you might think.

Avoid Drastic Measures

The first thing to keep in mind about a failed promotion is that they happen even to the largest corporations with the most advertising dollars to spend. The next step is to understand that a promotion’s failure, barring some unfortunate examples on the outlying edges, will not cripple your business forever. The only indication that you should derive from a flopped promotion is that there was a problem with the promotion itself, so do not feel pressured to completely panic and make drastic changes to your marketing strategy.

Assess the Promotion

Despite a campaign’s failure, you can still use the data derived from it to help drive and focus your future efforts. For example, a low conversion rate means either your website or front desk may be having issues convincing potential patients to come in. Set-up call tracking for all promotions!

There could also be issues with content and context. Did a potential patient understand the message you were trying to convey? Did the ad run in a place that made sense?

For example, if you ran a direct mail piece advertising dentures but sent it to homes with families, you probably missed your target market. Inadequate planning and incomplete data can point you in the wrong direction and compound your losses further down the road.

If you are unable to make sense of the data or do not have methods in place to collect it in the first place, a consulting service can provide invaluable assistance in pointing you to the data and drawing the right conclusions from the information.

Consider Your Options

After evaluating the promotion and considering a dental marketing consultant, take some time to brainstorm the ways in which you can improve your next promotion. Did you add advertisements for it to your website? Did you take out spots in local media outlets such as radio and magazine? Could you change the main attraction of the promotion to better suit your area? The goal is to gather as many possibilities as you can and then pluck out the rotten ones.

In some cases, the problem can seem too big or imposing for any ideas to make it through the basic considerations, such as logistics. You may not have the budget to support another employee, and adding the work to another person’s job can overwhelm and overly stress the ones you have. When you begin to tally up the list of concerns with modern marketing, the breadth of skills needed and sheer number are intimidating.

The same dental marketing consultants can go further, providing vital services like website design, online advertising, local media placement, staff training, market research, and more. Signing up for all of the services you want from the same provider can give you the power of a marketing team without the same oversight or budget concerns.

Don’t Be Dismissive

So it didn’t work this time. That doesn’t necessarily mean the medium you used was wrong. If you ran radio ads that didn’t work don’t say “I’ll never do radio again. It just doesn’t work!” Chances are there were better stations, times, DJ endorsements, and options than the ones you chose. Be sure to evaluate that.

Check Your Budget

Don’t do a campaign just because. This is when people spend money because they feel like they need to but don’t spend enough to make it successful. Sending out 2000 postcards for $1,000 doesn’t even cover enough people to make that successful. But spending $2,500 on 10,000 makes it a lot more feasible to get the results you want.

Set Realistic Expectations The Next Time

We do mobile campaigns for a $1,000 and clients see anywhere from five new patients to 15 for that $1,000. If each new patient is worth $1,500 to the average practice then five new patients turned into $7,500 for that $1,000 investment. That’s a great return but practices that don’t track their results don’t feel the same impact off of five patients; therefore, they believe the campaign wasn’t successful and feel it didn’t work.

Move Forward

Once you have taken all you can from the disaster, file it away in your memory and continue on without it. Before long, the memory of it will fade from most people, and you will always be able to look back and remember a time before your dental marketing strategies were brought to the same level as the other services you provide.

Ben Shaver
Lead Strategist & Consultant

Ben Shaver is a dental marketing consultant for Dental Inbound. He works with practices of all sizes.

His main focus is to develop strategies that provide congruency between traditional media sources and new media platforms.

You can email him at bshaver@dentalinbound.com