How Much Should a Dental Practice Spend on Marketing?

Marketing is crucial for the growth of any dental practice, but how much should a dental practice spend on marketing? It’s a big question—and the answer isn’t always straightforward. However, a strategic approach to your marketing budget is key to maintaining and growing patient numbers.

The amount a dental practice should spend on marketing is not a one-size-fits-all figure. Instead, it depends on the practice’s gross revenue and unique goals. 

Industry experts suggest that dental practices spend:

  • A minimum of 2% to 3% of gross revenue on marketing to maintain a steady flow of patients.
  • Between 4% to 5% of gross revenue on marketing if the practice is experiencing a slowdown in growth or is in a competitive push to attract more patients.
  • At least 5% or more of gross revenue on marketing for those aiming to significantly accelerate their growth.

Dental marketing should be viewed as an investment built to bring in new and returning patients. This means that ideally, your marketing should ultimately pay for itself. 

For example, if a campaign costs $60,000, it should ideally generate 3x – 4x that amount in new revenue, or $180,000 – $240,000 in returns. Although the payoff may not be immediate, the expectation of a substantial return on your investment (ROI) should be there.

So, How Much Should Your Dental Practice Spend?

To pinpoint your marketing budget, consider these two methods:

1. Percentage of Gross Revenue

Searching online for the ideal marketing spend percentage might lead you to figures ranging from 1% to 10% of gross revenue. However, our discussions with medical practice financial consults—who have advised 1,000+ practices—reveal that dental practices should allocate 2% to 3% of their gross revenue to marketing. This percentage is seen as a baseline for maintaining patient flow.

For practices looking to jumpstart growth and increase patient numbers, an investment of 4% to 5% is advisable. And for those set on aggressive growth, pushing past 5% is the way to go.

Dental Practice Marketing Budget Example: Percentage of Gross Revenue Approach

For example, a dental practice grossing $1.3 million annually should aim to spend between $26,000 and $39,000 on marketing each year. 

However, if the practice is aiming for rapid growth or needs to counteract a dip in patient numbers, then they should consider investing 4% to 5% of their gross in marketing, which would be between $52,000 and $65,000.

Let’s break down some marketing budget numbers a bit further:

Gross Revenue Percentage Marketing Budget Approach

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2. Growth Objective Marketing Budget Approach

Rather than starting with your current revenue, this approach to your marketing budget focuses on the revenue needed to meet your growth objectives. 

Considering that your marketing investment should yield a 3-5x return, we always tailor these recommendations to your specific circumstances and growth goals, including your:

  • Practice size
  • Location
  • Specialty
  • Patient goals

Then, we apply that ROI ratio to your exact goals and determine how much additional investment you need to make to accomplish your goals.

Dental Practice Marketing Budget Example: Growth Objective Approach

For this approach, a dental practice with an annual revenue of $1.3 million is setting a new target of $1.5 million. 

With a 4x ROI, to achieve an additional $200,000 in revenue, the practice should allocate $50,000 to its marketing budget over the next year. This strategic increase is designed to support growth and help reach the desired revenue goal effectively.

Run YOUR Numbers

It’s time to trial these methods and take a look at your own projected marketing budget. If the figure you’re arriving at seems alarmingly high, that may be a signal to reevaluate. Marketing spend should move in step with your revenue goals and not fall outside of what’s realistic for your practice.

Conversely, if the marketing budget you’re considering is surprisingly low, this may suggest your growth targets are too conservative. In this case, it’s important to raise your revenue goals, which, in turn, would justify an increase in marketing spend. Remember, a strategic investment in marketing is necessary for the growth and sustainability of your practice.

Growth Objective Marketing Budget Approach


Choosing Your Approach

There’s no wrong choice between the gross revenue percentage and growth objective approaches—both can guide you to a budget that fosters dental practice growth. 

If using the percentage of gross revenue method gives you a ballpark figure that seems manageable, then that can be a solid starting point. On the other hand, if you have a specific revenue goal in mind, the growth objective approach allows you to work backward from that goal to determine your ideal marketing investment.

Remember, failing to invest in marketing can mean missing out on potential growth. Whether you’re trying to maintain patient flow, recover from a growth stall, or accelerate your practice’s expansion, setting aside the right amount for marketing is a crucial step in achieving your organization’s goals.

If you’re still unsure where to start, feel free to schedule a call with us. As dental marketing experts, we’re here to help you achieve your growth goals through proven digital marketing strategies.

Baker Marketing Laboratory has been helping healthcare businesses for years to expand their digital presence and generate the growth they deserve. We are an innovative marketing firm that delivers best-in-class results for healthcare practices across the U.S. and internationally, and we like to have fun in the process.

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