In Part 7 of our series on creating a referral machine out of any local business, we’ll discuss the steps necessary for you to access the Joint Venture (JV) “Lift Letter,” one of the most powerful marketing tools ever invented. If you’ve done everything outlined during the first six months of this series, you are now ready to access the “mother lode” of new patient referrals.
How to access “Tier 3” (the Holy Grail)
As we explained in last month’s column, Tier 3 is all about harnessing the power of the Joint Venture. This doesn’t represent a joint venture in the corporate sense of the word, but rather describes a mutually beneficial referral relationship between two businesses.
Do not rush this! The Joint Venture is dependent upon an existing relationship. It’s not something you even want to hint about until that relationship has been established. You’ll be best received by waiting roughly four to six months into the project for this step.
Whether the request is initiated by your project team members or by you depends entirely upon who has established the strongest relationship. Always begin the conversation with what you can do for your target clients, never with what you would like from them. This seems like a minor point, but it’s crucial to gaining an open mind and listening ear.
You will need to have used some of their products or services prior to suggesting the Joint Venture. At least one member of your team must have had a personal and positive experience with a member of your target business’ team. For example:
“Mary, Betty and I have both adored using the spa services you offer. If Dr. Smith and I were to put together a mailing to our dental patients telling them how incredible you are - and include some type of coupon or introductory offer from your spa - I’ll bet we could get you at least 50 new clients within the next 21 days!”
Basic math at work
Again, it’s just math. If you mail a glowing endorsement (which is why you must have personal experience with using their products or services) plus a special limited time offer (no more than 14 days) from them, your mailing is bound to get them a nice response. If you have 2,000 patients and one or two percent respond to the offer, that’s 20 to 40 instant new clients for them!
Of course, the reverse is true as well ... and you’ll bring that up with Mary immediately after her eyes open wide at the prospect of an instant stream of new clients coming through her door!
If you really want to make this happen, you offer to take care of all of the logistics (of the mailing) for them. That means you write their cover letter endorsement about your practice. Of course, they are then given the chance to edit or change anything they choose. You’ll then create your own welcome letter with your offer and coupon(s). You then have their endorsement letter printed up on their letterhead and mailed to their clients and/or patients in their envelope. Your welcome letter and coupons are always placed in back of their endorsement letter.
The endorsement or “lift” letter itself is quite simple. It should be short and to the point. Give your patients specific examples of one or more of your team members (or doctors) who have used the products and/or services you are recommending. Just tell your patients what a great place and wonderful people these are, how close they are to your practice (“so very convenient for our patients to get to”), etc. Conclude with the offer - “Just for our patients, Jerry, the spa owner, has agreed to offer XYZ ... but you’ll need to call them by (insert date) to take advantage of it.”
If you are working with 40 target businesses, you’ll be doing really well if you get 10 percent of them (four each year) to work with you on a Joint Venture.
But the math is still very much in your favor! If four of your business targets send you even 12 new patients a year off this type of mailing, that’s still another 50 new patients a year from Tier 3! And the likelihood is that you’ll end up with even more new patients from a great endorsement letter written to all of the business’ customers or patients by a happy new friend!
Dr. Tom Orent, the “Gems Guy,” is a founding member and past president of the New England Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. His “1000 Gems Seminars™” span five countries and 48 states. He is the author of five books and hundreds of articles on practice management, TMJ, and “Extreme Customer Service.” To receive a free half-year subscription to Dr. Orent’s “Independent Dentist Newsletter” (normally $297 per year), mention Dental Economics® and send request with doctor’s name, address, e-mail, and a major credit card number and expiration date (to pay for the one--time $5.95 shipping and handling charge) to [email protected] or fax to (508) 861-1550.