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The Dental Marketing Ripple Effect

Aug 22, 2008
Sometimes the smallest, simplest ideas or actions can result in huge breakthroughs. This couldn't be truer in a dental practice. You may also know it as 'The Ripple Effect.'

I did two different things in the month of July that I want to talk about, which you can immediately do (faster than I since the bulk of the work is done and all that's left is implementation - the No. 1 factor that keeps broke people broke) and I recommend whole-heartedly you actually do them.

Much of what we do has a long-lasting, ripple effect. The final result, if measured from initial "impact," can be astonishing.

Let's take patient referrals - We all want more of them right? They're the best kind of patients we can get. You send a patient newsletter, right? Good. That's step 1.

I wanted to take this a step further because people forget and... At every opportunity you have, you should remind them to refer!

Recently though, I have noticed that my clients have not been taking enough advantage of having a captive audience in their practices. I mean, here they have a patient sitting in their chair for a whole hour or two or more, right? What thoughts, other than "I'm in pain," "my butt and back hurt," and "I can't wait to get out of here," can we get into their heads?

This is prime time to let your internal, point-of-sale marketing do its thing! (Point of sale is a retail term that SHOULD be working its way into the dental world.)

Retailers are good at doing what? Getting our attention when we are going through, by or in to a store, right? Wal-Mart is the master of point-of-sale displays. Ever walk in the door (come on now, admit it, you've been there too) and gotten bombarded with great deals on stuff that's on either side of you, immediately after you grab that cart? That is point-of-sale merchandising, as I understand it.

[NOTE: Have you ever run the math on getting an extra $50 profit each day from the sale of some miscellaneous items? If you are open 4 days a week, that's an extra $200 per week or $800 per month. Can you say "Mercedes Lease" for doing ZERO extra procedures and ZERO extra chair time? That adds up fast!]

Now, back to that patient sitting on their bum in your chair. Here's what I have noticed: In the practice of one of my clients, there are these little wooden tables in each operatory. They have magazines on them. (Yes, current month and year, and yours should be too, if you have them laying around.) Here's my thought - Instead of letting people look at a magazine, they should look at my clients marketing message!

So, I had my assistant create a cool little framed, antiqued-paper sign that says in bold at the top:

"Your friends, family & colleagues are always welcome here at our office."

Then, under that, in slightly smaller lettering, it says:

"The best compliment you can give us, as your dental health provider, is to refer your friends, family and colleagues. We value each and every person who graces our doors and always have room for more just like you. It means the world to us when you take time to mention us to those close to you and how you've been treated here in our office. Thank you in advance!"

Including my assistant's time, frames and paper, I put about $50 in this deal. We put one in each operatory, one in the reception area and one in the... BATHROOM! Why not be selling in the can, too? There's a famous saying, "ABC = Always Be Closing."

Guess what? Within 1 week of having these signs all over my client's practice, he had 2 extra referrals, over and above what we might have otherwise had, since the patients that referred referrenced the sign saying, "I didn't know you were looking for more patients!"

ARGH. Ugh. Hmmm. What do YOUR patients think?

So, what is the OTHER magical idea that can boost referrals? You really want to know? Are you actually going to implement it? Okay, here's the idea:

Send out a patient-only newsletter. AND, include some referral cards (a.k.a. business cards that your current patients can hand out to their friends, family, and colleagues). Also, make sure there's an incentive. This is very important. Give your patients a reason to talk to people about you and hand out your cards, like a specified dollar-amount toward a dental procedure for each referral that they send your way. Even better, give the referred patient an incentive as well. Have a new patient offer printed right on your referral card. This works! Do it. Do all of it!
About the Author
James Erickson is the President of EMC Dental Marketing which gives Dentists a resource for turn-key dental marketing programs and dental practice marketing education including new patient attraction, and internal marketing systems. Visit www.EMCdental.com and get a free practice
building kit sent directly to your home or office.
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