4 Phases of Practice Marketing: Phase 4 – Cultivating Referrals

First and foremost, it is critical to understand that consistent and successful referrals will only come from happy patients. With this in mind, let’s start by reviewing the first 3 phases and their relationship to cultivating referrals.

Phase 1 and 2 are about setting correct expectations. The expectations we bring into any situation will determine the satisfaction level of our experience. As new patients become aware of your practice through marketing efforts in phases 1 and 2, their expectations are set by what they see, hear and read. Make sure it is true to the end patient experience. In other words, make sure your marketing tools are a true reflection of your brand.

Phase 3 refers to everything that adds value to the customer experience and allows you to exceed your patient’s expectations. Look at everything that helps to influence perception while your patients are in your office, and after treatment. Make sure you get the feedback necessary from your clients to know that they are happy. Don’t just assume that they are.

Once you have phases 1 through 3 working properly, you are ready to implement a referral program. A good referral program has 3 parts:

  1. A well-trained, proactive staff.
  2. An incentive or appreciation program.
  3. A tracking procedure.

1) A well-trained, proactive staff. – If your staff is not proactively asking for referrals, you don’t have a referral program. Make sure they know how to ask and are confident in doing it. You should also implement an ongoing training program to ensure that the staff’s enthusiasm doesn’t wane as time goes by.

2) An incentive or appreciation program. – Wherever possible (this is prohibited in some states) provide an incentive to your clients to send a referral your way. You’d be surprised how proactive someone can be for a $25 or $50 gift certificate. If you live in an area that prohibits incentives, you can still thank the patients who send a referral with a nice card or letter. The best part is that any part of your marketing budget that goes toward an incentive or appreciation program is only spent after the means to pay for it has already been received.

3) A tracking procedure. – As with every other marketing effort you implement, you should carefully track the results. Track both the initial benefit as well as the lifetime value of the patients. Compare the results with the costs to produce the referrals.

An effective referral program starts when a patient first hears about your practice. As a dentist, you must look at your entire marketing effort from front to back and top to bottom. This kind of holistic approach will ensure that you have the most effective marketing possible. It will guarantee the greatest possible return on your investment and help you achieve the highest level of success for your practice.

For more information on Dental Branding and how to effectively market your practice, call us at 1-866-375-5511, or visit us on line at www.dentalbranding.com.

Author: Doug Slighting, Dental Branding
Published: 11/03/2009
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