In Part 5 of our series on creating a referral machine out of any local business, we’ll cover how to magnetically attract your target establishment’s team members as new patients. Then, in Part 6, we will reveal one of the most powerful marketing tools ever invented.
The first round of new patients from this project will be team members themselves. I refer to them as the “early harvest.” If you attract only one or two from each business you target, you’re doing great. Let’s look at the math: If you target 40 businesses and acquire just two new patients from each in year one, that’s 80 new patients to start!
Now the fun ($$)! If you’ve done everything outlined in Parts 1 through 4, by month two or three, it’s time to invite team members to visit you as patients.
Remember there will be “huge” added benefits beyond the great start of having these team members as new patients. In the final chapter of this series, we’ll discuss a powerful strategy for getting many new patients via referrals from employees and owners. For now, at least one person from each business must become a new patient in your practice.
Make it irresistible for them not to want to come to your practice. You’ve already established a great beginning relationship with the staffs of these businesses. Now, nudge them out their doors and into yours, and you’ll have many great new patients flowing your way. And that’s just the beginning!
Great marketing can be counter intuitive. You might assume that if you give something away free, it won’t take much to “sell” it. Wrong!
It takes the same focused effort you must use if you were charging patients the full price You’ve got to sell them on a free gift or service just as if they were paying for it.
A few features any effective ad can’t live without include:
☛ Irresistible offer - Something about the offer that makes them feel guilty (as if they had missed something good) if they don’t take advantage of it.
☛ Motivation to act now - Human nature being what it is, without imminent deadlines, we put things off. Give these potential patients only 10 days or so to act.
☛ Proof: Why you? - Establish your office as the office to visit. One of the most effective ways to do this is Dan Kennedy’s “Shoebox overflowing with testimonials.” Drop by the business on the second or third month with a high-end leather three-ring binder, stuffed with hand-written testimonials from your patients!
☛ Guarantee - Decrease or eliminate the risk associated with doing business with you. In most instances, your state board won’t allow you to guarantee results. But, you can put in writing what you will do if these patients aren’t 100 percent satisfied with their care! Check with your local attorney, but my new-patient guarantee states if patients are not fully satisfied, we will refund the entire amount they paid for our services, up to (choose a figure, i.e., $1,000, $3,000) the first year.
During months two or three, distribute coupons or flyers listing various special offers along with the monthly fruit or cookie baskets. Make certain your offer will be a strong one. For example, offer free home-whitening kits to all of the business’ employees. Let’s say the target business is a surgeon’s office and he has 10 staff members. You would deliver your gifts and say, “Hi Betty, it’s great to see you again! We’ve got two baskets of scrumptious, chocolate macadamia nut cookies for you today and $4,000 worth of free smile-whitening services for your team!”
Your imagination is the limit! In addition to offering certain free services, offer free gifts unrelated to dentistry when these new patients do certain things, such as pay for a reduced-rate checkup and cleaning. Limit the time to accept the offer ( i.e., within two weeks). Include some testimonials in the flyer (with written permission from the patients) and carry in your “shoebox overflowing” as well!
Remember, it’s a numbers game. No matter how nice, how abundantly generous you guys are, some folks will come in, while others simply won’t have any interest. But if you take to heart my recommendation that you begin with 30, 40 or more, you will see measurable, bankable results in very short order ... and for a long time to come.
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 U.S. 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.