Doctors form one of the most active professional referral networks
If a patient of an allergist needs sinus surgery, the allergist will know one they recommend. Because doctors are a trusted advisor, this works every time. Given that, how can you build a bigger referral machine into your own medical marketing funnel?
We know doctors are super busy and not experts in marketing. But if a building a referral machine isn’t part of your growth strategy, new patients are slipping through your fingers. Here are ways to accomplish this strategy without spending a huge amount of time and using your staff to support the effort.
How To Get More Word of Mouth Referrals
Marketing your medical practice starts with how you make patients feel.
They’re not doing cartwheels through the door. They’re coming to you because they are in pain, are suffering and you are the last resort. When people feel cared for and listened to word gets around, especially from those patients. They will tell everyone about their experience, in person and on social media.
Caring should be part of your brand
Let’s start with the first touchpoint—the phone.
How do you answer the phone?
It’s amazing how few medical practices even answer the phone! People are sick, desperate and scared when they call a doctor. When they get an automated list of choices, none of which are what they want—click. It’s over.
Imagine the difference when a pleasant, knowledgeable human being picks up the call, actually listens and gives them the right information. With training, you can turn your receptionist into a closer by having them follow a script that shows the caller the value of your services, not just the price. We have experienced an appointment rate increase from 0 out of 5 to 4 out of 5 with a few professional training sessions.
Building Strategic Partnerships For Your Medical Practice
Strategic partnerships are your secret weapon to growth. Medical marketing is different than other businesses in that there is trust already built into your network.
Here are a few techniques you can begin to apply right away to tap into new patient sources without dropping thousands on advertising.
Partner with other doctors
Every doctor or dentist has referred a patient to another doctor for a specialty that differs from their own. How did this referral happen? It didn’t come from the phone book. Depending on the needs of the patient, a doctor already knows exactly who to call when their patients have specialized needs. You want to be that doctor.
One of our doctors shared a simple action he takes when another doctor refers a patient to him. He sends a letter to the referring doctor letting them know how the patient did and the outcome of the treatment. It shows them 4 things…
- they were attentive to the patient
- the current state of their health
- that they communicate
- their referral is appreciated
All in a simple note or email. The cost: nothing. This idea generated many more leads from that doctor.
Using LinkedIn can connect you with other medical practitioners you don’t currently know, increasing your network. Being active in sharing content and writing your own can give other professionals a bigger picture of your expertise than the boring CV on your website. Future patients will find you here too.
Much has been written about how to do this, but here are a few major points:
Complete your profile
This is your personal brand. It has to be good to stand out. Bring in a writer to write your headline and summary. This is the most important piece of your profile, and most doctors write this like a medical journal. That won’t work. It doesn’t show how you take care of your patients and doesn’t show your personality.
Hire a writer to post articles regularly. How better to show what you know and that you are staying current in your field than to write about it? It can be accomplished with 20 minutes of your time on the phone with your writer. It’s great for your SEO too.
Choose groups where doctors who could refer you are active. If you’re an allergist, look for groups of Sinus doctors. Post your articles in these groups. Comment on others. engage with your community. It takes very little time.
Love your patients
Follow up with a phone call after their appointment to see how they’re doing. Send them a handwritten birthday card or a small gift. Do something unexpected. When you show your patients you go the extra mile, they will brag about you to their friends and family.
Caring is what doctors are really all about, but hectic schedules and pressure get it the way of showing it outside of the exam room.
If you can show the human side of your medical practice, you will win their hearts and turn your patients and doctor network into a referral machine.
Hire professional medical marketing talent
A creative marketing agency can support these strategies with design, copywriting, blogging, social media posting, thank you cards, or creative gifts that make an impact on your referral marketing. It doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg to win hearts.