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Internal Practice Marketing

Maximizing Success With Minimal Investment

Investments such as updated computer systems or equipment upgrades are always beneficial to the practice but they can be quite costly.  To implement these changes, a practitioner may want to consult with his or her financial advisor or lender. There are, however, highly effective investments that can be incorporated into the practice immediately and with little to any cost. By initiating five simple, virtually cost-free marketing programs focused on increased goodwill and potential business opportunities, a practitioner can reap significant returns.

Advertising, direct mail, and a website are critical to the growth of your practice, but no form of advertisement will bring in clients faster than positive relationship building through internal marketing. By encouraging current patients and contacts to bring additional business to your practice, you can begin to generate profits immediately.

 

Step One

The first step to an effective internal marketing program is to establishing friendly patient communications that will help build positive goodwill for your practice. You can achieve this through the use of new patient letters. When composing your correspondence, be sure to thank your new patient for putting their faith in you, include a description of your practice philosophy or goal, provide an overview of the services to be rendered during the initial patient visit, and provide a phone number to address questions. A map or brochure should be enclosed as well as the forms for registration and medical/dental history. Don’t forget to provide an appointment and/or business card, and to have your draft proofread for typographical errors or omissions.

If you obtain email addresses from your new patients, you can send welcome letters via the internet, ultimately saving time and money while making it easy for your patient to pass your contact information to their family and friends virally.

 

Step Two

The second step focuses on patient referrals. Many of your best patients come through referrals, and asking patients to refer a friend or family member is one of the simplest and least expensive methods of marketing. It is certainly not necessary to obtain a name and phone number immediately. Focus, instead, on communicating to the patient that you appreciate and respect them and are accepting new patients.

To effectively prepare your practice to ask for referrals, set an office goal to achieve 85% of new patients through internal referrals, and schedule staff meetings specifically for the purpose of role-playing until each member of your team is comfortable asking for a referral. Only approach those patients who have expressed a positive attitude toward your practice and services, and implement an incentive program that will reward patients who provide referrals. Be sure to advertise the program in your practice.

When a patient compliments your practice or services in some way, take that opportunity to ask for a referral. Asking, “How was your visit with us today?” is a tactful way to elicit a compliment. If the patient responds positively, simply thank your patient for the compliment, reinforce your commitment to quality care, ask for the referral, and offer a business card. You can be graceful and patient gratifying when requesting a referral by saying, “By the way, if you have friends and family looking for a dentist, we’d love to have more patients like you.”  Your patients’ responses may also be used, provided you secure their permission beforehand, in other promotional activities (e.g., your practice website, blog, or literature) you develop for the practice.

 

Step Three

Giving out your business card is the third step to effective internal marketing. If you are looking to build awareness of your practice within the community, those little cards can be invaluable. You should include your business card when you make donations to local groups, dispense home care products, send out treatment follow-up letters, or send orders to your dental labs. Be sure to include your card too when you have your car, appliances, or computer serviced, when you leave prescriptions at pharmacies, and any time you leave your contact information with a service provider.

 

Step Four

If you’re looking to enhance relationships and build trust with your patients, you would be well advised to incorporate post-procedure follow-up phone calls. A quick two- to five-minute phone call at the end of your day to each patient who underwent a significant procedure is all it takes to implement this invaluable fourth step. Be sure to contact the patient no later than a day after the procedure. Inquire as to how he or she is doing, and answer any questions he or she may have about the treatment. Patients will appreciate your concern and be more likely to speak positively among family and friends concerning your practice.

 

Step Five

The fifth and final step to effective internal marketing is to increase patients’ commitment to treatment recommendations. Such factors as time constraints and financial concerns can cause some patients to resist a commitment to treatment. Some proven techniques you can use to address your patients’ concerns and encourage commitment are actively listening to your patient’s concerns by responding, “Sounds like you’re concerned about your schedule,” and you could provide a tangible benefit by saying, “By having this crown done now, we can lower the risk that you’ll need a root canal on that tooth.”

There are also three types of statements or questions you could use to incorporate the objection-handling technique. The first is called the Feel-Felt-Found statement, “I understand what you’re saying, we’ve had other patients express the same concern and this is what they found…” The second is called the Inducement question, “If there were a way we could find a time that works for both of us, would you be ready to begin?” The third type is called the Objection Finding question, “If we could find a time that worked for both of us, what else would prevent you from starting treatment as soon as possible?” Each of these would help you provide an effective response to your patient’s concerns.

Once you have obtained a treatment commitment from your patient, be sure to close out the conversation by directing your patient to the appointment coordinator.

 

Conclusion

The daily implementation of these virtually cost-free internal marketing techniques is sure to increase goodwill toward your business, generate positive word-of-mouth, and improve practice productivity. Now that’s success with minimal investment.

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