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

What do I know about filming dental office videos, and how much they should cost?

First, thank you for visiting, Doctor. I’ve filmed over 70 dental office marketing videos (probably more when you read this), and I’ve been the Manager of Communications and Managing Editor for the Arizona Dental Association since 2010. 

I joke that there’s only one—ONE—person in the state who knows more about dentistry and video than me (if we work together, ask me who it is), so I know dentistry (at least for a lay person). Heck, my wife’s in dental billing.

I am also an AMA Professional Certified Marketer (PCM)® with over twenty years experience, so I know marketing too.

I may never have the honor to film your dental practice video, but dentistry has been good to me, so let me provide you with some straightforward advice that I would give to my own dentist (while he had a handpiece in my mouth)!

What do you define as “too much” for a dental office video?

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 dental marketing video on YouTube and your website 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 with video production, 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 pricing of a dentist’s marketing video.

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.

 

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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 real money-back guarantee on the finished product and the service she/he provides. I do. I wish other video production companies did as well (not the “I’ll work with you until I get it right.”)
  3. Has experience filming several dental practice videos—videos that have impressed you. Click the following link to see my dental office video production. If you’re a member of the Arizona Dental Association or a faculty member at ASDOH or Midwestern University, ask around. You’ll find some dentist colleagues who know me. 
  4. Has verifiable testimonials from happy clients—including dentists. Check out my client reviews from dentists and others. 
  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 $1,500 for a professional video, be careful. There’s a reason why the price is low—just as there’s a reason why the dental office down the street is offering a prophy and dental exam for $9.95. Be smart, Doctor. Things are cheap for a reason, and remember that the lowest price doesn’t always mean the lowest cost.

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).   

My advice on 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. 

A pediatric dentist I worked with indicated he’d hired a guy who mainly films wedding videos to create his dental practice video. The project was a complete bust. Both the dentist and his marketing director shared with me that they didn’t use any of the footage. They just chalked it up as a “learning experience.” It wasn’t appropriate for me to ask how much they lost, but I’d guess by their faces, it wasn’t a small amount. Stories like this upset me.

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.

So what is my pricing for a dental office marketing video?

Videos start at $1,695—most, with nice bells and whistles, are comfortably priced between $1,995 – $3,195. I’ll charge a flat, upfront rate so there are absolutely no surprises.

So, is the range I am charging to have a marketing video filmed cheap?  No. I dentists are constantly faced with lower reimbursement rates, higher payroll, and costly new government regulations. I know that’s hard-earned money that you and your dental office can’t throw away on marketing that doesn’t work. However, I’ve priced my work so that any dental office looking to grow can afford it.

Oh, and of course you may wonder, why don’t all videographers and video production companies show costs on their website? I know the reasons…you’ll be surprised with what I share with you.

Can you take advantage of discounts on your dental office video?

For video production companies who do not offer upfront pricing or upfront discounts, I would definitely negotiate with them. If you selected a day or time frame they weren’t working on a client’s project, they may be willing to lower their costs. Do your research ahead of time. Look at other dental videos and share them with the video production company. Letting them know that you’ve done your homework, and that you have a pretty good idea what you’re looking for in your dental practice video will save them time. You might be able to negotiate a discount out of that.

Last, be nice. Yep, be nice. I’ve been friends with a lot creative freelance professionals since the early 2000s, and most all shared with me that they’ll go a little easier on the client if they feel they’ll be enjoyable to work with.

Do I offer discounts? Come on…I’ve been working in the dental professional since 2010. I love dentistry, so of course.

  • I offer $150 off for paying in full on or before the day we film your dental practice.
  • I offer $150 off if we film on a Saturday (even a Sunday). I of course work for the Arizona Dental Association, so M-F is doable if you need me to, I’ll just need to take time off work.
  • If you’re a member of the Arizona Dental Association / American Dental Association, I’ll knock off another $150.

What if you want advice on your dental office video, but you’re not sure you’ll hire me. 

Dentistry has been good to me and to my family. I’ll always be grateful, and I’ll always feel a responsibility to look out for those practicing dentistry. If you need advice or if you’re interested in talking to me about filming your video, drop me a line. I will get back you. Until then, best wishes to you.

 

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My bonus secret advice for dentists looking for a dental office video. 

If you’ve read down to the bottom of this page, I want to share an insider tip. You don’t need a dental marketing video.

You need two.

I know that sounds expensive, but it’s not. Keep reading…

If you’ll notice on almost all of the dental office videos I’ve filmed, you’ll see there are two videos: one that’s about the practice (overall vibe of your dental office). The other is about you the dentist. So, why two?

I’ve found that one of the most visited web pages on a dentist’s website is the “About the dentist” page. Almost all dentists (including you) have this web page, and it just features some text and a picture of you. These are a fine start, but they are not good anymore in this technically-savvy day and age—potential patients want more.

Words and still images don’t give potential patients a real sense of who you are as a dentist and a person. When people are searching website for a dentist, they must feel some level of trust and comfort, and a personal connection to you, the dentist, before they schedule an appointment. That’s why this second video, that focuses more on you and your dental school education, story, and passion, is vital. Your main office video (usually on your main web page) is vital too, but it serves a different purpose. Think of these two videos as a Porsche and a Hummer: two impressive vehicles for very different purposes.

Okay, so I mentioned above that this second dental office video shouldn’t be expensive. So here’s the secret: it shouldn’t, or it should be free!

I can’t promise or predict what other video production firms choose for this second video, but I throw it in for free. Yep. I do this because I know it’s critical for the dentist to have. I do it because I already have MORE than enough footage to create a second video. Last, I also do it because the amount of additional work I need to invest to put together this second video is only a few extra hours (and you’re worth that).

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