Dental practice videos—how much should they cost a dentist?

What do you define as “too much?”

According to Postcard Mania founder Joy Gendusa (a regular contributor to Dental Economics), dentists should establish a marketing budget based on a percentage of their gross revenue. In her article, “The new dentist’s guide to a successful marketing budget,” Joy recommends investing 15% of your gross revenue back into marketing for “established practices who want to grow.” Note: she recommends between 20-25% for new practices.  

So, for a dental practice bringing in $550,000 in annual gross revenue, they should invest $110,000 (15%) back into marketing efforts.

Personally, I think that’s aggressive. It would be nice to do, but it’s aggressive, and most dentists aren’t going to invest nearly that much. But what about investing just 5% of your gross revenue back into marketing?

Looking again at our example of $550,000 in annual gross revenue, that would result in a $27,500 commitment to marketing. A marketing video will be FAR LESS expensive than $28k, so there’s good news, Doctor: you can easily afford a professional video for your dental practice.

Your dental practice video shouldn’t cost you anything.

There are some wonderfully-gifted directors and videographers available for your video project. The danger in hiring most of them is that they have no marketing expertise. So even if they’re able to create a video that’s visually stunning, if they don’t thoroughly understand how identify and leverage your target audience’s goals, desires, pain points, risks, choices, apprehensions, etc., the video won’t drive in patients.

The truth is, if the professional(s) you hired to film your dental practice video ends up costing more than money than she brings in new revenue/patients, you hired the wrong person(s).

A marketing video for your practice is an online vehicle to drive in patients—it’s not a necessary expense (or evil) that you should pay as little as possible for.

Dental practice consultants estimate a patient’s lifetime value as low at $5k, and as high as $45k. No matter where in that range you patient’s lifetime value truly is, the cost of having the video made is probably going to be less. Therefore, looking at video costs on a return on investment (ROI) basis, your practice marketing video would just need to generate one new patient for it to pay for itself.

What you’re really paying for, Doctor. It’s not what you think.

When asked how long a video would take to create from start to finish, most dentists guess about ten hours. And while that’s a fair guess, it’s not close to being accurate.

The reason is that the dentist is basing their estimate only on the time they see first-hand the work being done on their project, which is during the filming phase. However, what most dentists (and maybe you) don’t know is that their video professional will undergo three phases in creating their video:

  1.    Pre-production (initial meeting, marketing research, creative direction brainstorming, preparing equipment).
  2.    Production (transport, setup, film, tear down, transport)—this is the actual filming part of the process. “Lights, camera, action!”
  3.    Post-production (file transfer, sync footage, cut interview, sift through bRoll, find audio track(s), rough cut, revisions, final cut, uploading).

While you’ll be a vital part of the middle phase in the process: production, most of the work that goes into your video is in steps 1 and 3 (pre-production and post-production), and you won’t see any of that work being done.

For dental videos, I invest between 25-25 hours. Only five of those hours is invested in production (the actual filming of the video). So, a lot more goes into producing a professional video that goes on beneath the surface…behind the curtain.

The cost of the gear factors into the cost.

Considering how much dental equipment, e.g., CEREC, CBCT, and pano machines cost, it seems silly to share with dentists how much video gear costs—it’s a lot less to film videos than to perform dentistry in a modern office!

Still, professional cameras, lens, lights, and audio gear will cost an amateur videographer around $5k on bare-bones budget. Professionals who take their craft seriously are easily above $10k—closer to $20k. And while the cost of the video professional’s gear should not cause their fees to skyrocket, you’ll generally find experts with better equipment will charge more than amateurs with substandard equipment. 

What to look for in a video professional and how much to pay.

If I was a dentist, I would look for the least expensive option that meet the following criteria:

  1.    Must be a marketing expert. If the reason you’re having a video filmed at all is to drive in patients, don’t hire a video professional who knows less about marketing than you do.
  2.    Offers a money-back guarantee on the finished product and the service she/he provides.
  3.    Has experience filming several dental practice videos—videos that have impressed you.
  4.    Has verifiable testimonials from happy clients—including dentists.
  5.    Has a track record of being professional, responsive, and reliable. You’re too busy to waste time and energy babysitting vendors.
  6.    Will invest the time to thoroughly learn about you, your team, your patients, your treatment philosophy, your strengths, your competition, and your practice.
  7.    Is easy and enjoyable to work with.
  8.    Will accommodate your schedule.
  9.    Knows when/how to include you in creative decisions—also knows when to take the lead and offer suggestions, ideas, and inspiration.
  10.  Has the time to deliver a non-rushed finished video in three weeks after filming is finishing. I finish in two weeks.

With those previous points in mind, if you’re paying under $1,000 for a professional video, be careful. There’s a reason why the price is low. Videos with 1-2 video professionals (who might work as a micro company or independent freelancers) on set will fall between $1,500-$3,000. Videos with larger crews on set (perhaps a video production company with a physical business location and perhaps a studio) will be between $5,000-$15,000.

Note: the number of crew members helping on set is NOT the only cost driver. However, I’ve found that independent professionals tend to work with smaller crews and they typically can and do charge less than brick-and-mortar video production companies (that have a lot of overhead to account for).   

Okay, so what should you pay for your dental practice video?

Avoid going the cheap options. You’re wise enough now to know that option is tempting, but it never works out. And you won’t have the time or energy to hire someone if the first video is rubbish. Whether you can see the explanation or not, vendors are discounted for a reason—don’t be fooled. 

Outside of the cheap option, decide how big of a production this needs to be. Does working with a video production company with a physical location and salaried employees offer a feeling of security, or do you feel the extra costs they charge aren’t worth it? Can you find video professionals working independently who meet all or at least most of the criteria listed above?

Look for the least expensive option that checks all or most of the ten criteria listed above. Start with independent creative professionals because they’ll most likely be less expensive than a larger video production company. If you don’t find the quality, professionalism, and creativity that you’re looking for, consider a larger outfit. Whatever you decide, make sure you get the video done right the first time (you won’t want to do this again). Second, get what you pay for, but never overpay.

Additional dental marketing articles you should check out:

Leverage YouTube to drive in more dental patients

Dental patient testimonials—why some work now; some don’t

Dental marketing and design tips—rapid fire format