Word-of-mouth dental marketing—the spoken word carries great weight.
The fact that one person believes something tends to convince another person that it must be true, else why would he/she have said it?
Strangely, word-of-mouth is the most neglected of all the forces at work in a dental marketing.
Word-of-mouth has probably destroyed more dental practices and, conversely, made more practices successful than all the other forces in the marketplace put together. Why isn’t it more researched/systematized/budgeted/planned for?
The principles of word-of-mouth advertising are particularly relevant to dentistry because patient referrals generate an estimated 68% of all new patients. Sound like something you’d like to try?
Here are the steps:
1. Ask! Patients are honored when you ask them to refer more people “just like them.” Use a Smile Card (referral card) to punctuate the request.
2. Track! Know who referred your new patient so you can thank them. A personal thank you card can get patients motivated to refer again.
3. Reward! The reward? A small amount gift card from a local merchant with a hand-written thank you note stimulates the recommender to do more of the same.
4. Winner! Have a contest to promote referral. When a new patient is referred by your patient with a Smile Card put that card with the name of the referrer in a “fishbowl” for a drawing. Once a quarter draw a winner who receives a gift card for say, $250 to a local mall. Make a big deal about the Smile Card drawing with a sign sporting the photo of the latest winner up in the office, on your website and in your newsletter. This is a win for the new patient, a win for the referrer and a win for you!
Dental marketing can be as simple as asking for a referral with a Smile Card when a procedure has pleased one of your patients—or sending out helpful reminders like a personal letter or a quarterly newsletter promoting your Smile Card drawing.
A little dental marketing can go a long way. Doing nothing—especially in times like these, can really deteriorate your practice.
Melinda Spitek is CEO of Hycomb Marketing Inc. Hycomb is an authority in marketing for dentists. Melinda has had plenty of hands-on experience as well, having worked 23 years in dental offices. For help with marketing, just call Hycomb at (800) 523-6961 or visit www.hycomb.com.