If you haven’t noticed, there is a LOT of information online on how to get more referrals and grow your practice. While I have nothing against marketing tactics and tips, they usually don’t provide you a plan to capitilize on your most important asset- WORD OF MOUTH REFERRALS. Especially when you have no background in marketing trying to implement a guru’s ‘marketing systems’ can be overwhelming.
You’ve also probably noticed they aren’t cheap either. If you’re not careful you can spend quite a bit money and not make any progress in getting more referrals through the door.
If you use tactics that aren’t meant for someone in your practice setting or stage of growth then it’s not going to help you as much as a strategy designed JUST for you and your situation. If you’re just getting started in marketing your practice I’d suggest you keep it simple as you kickstart your practice network.
Let Me Put Your Mind At Ease
You probably already have what it takes to create a simple marketing plan to get people talking about you. The good news is that it won’t cost you an arm and a leg and you’re already probably doing some of it right now–SENDING EMAILS.
In this four-part series on How To Increase Word of Mouth Referrals, I’m going to share a step-by-step way to increase referrals by sending great emails. My four-step plan will be explained in next series of blog posts:
- How To Create An Effective Email Referral Strategy
- How To Organize And Segment Your Contact Lists
- How To Rapidly Send Group Emails
- How To Write Great Emails That Get Results
- Round Up Post By Experts in Email Marketing
Even if you’re a marketing novice this approach will help you grow your practice without coming across unnatural or sleazy. We’ve got to take responsibility for the sustainability of our careers which involves attracting attention to the work we do. Quite frankly, if I was starting my practice all over again this is the approach I would take.
Before we jump into developing your personal word of mouth referral plan we need to take a look at how referral generation has changed.
Why Are Word of Mouth Referrals So Important?
Over the past 20 years, people have dramatically changed the way they shop for and purchase healthcare services. Rising deductibles and co-pays have caused consumers to look for the best value for their money.
Just as with other consumer goods and services people are searching the Internet to find specialists whom they can trust for medical care. Most of the referral decisions are made online and are confirmed offline
In Duct Tape Marketing, author Jon Jantsch states,
‘The Web and digital interactivity now represent the center of the marketing universe.’
Consumers now value and expect interactivity from therapists before committing to a course of treatment. Therapists that provide helpful and personal interactivity will earn the trust prospective clients and key influencers.
Traditonal Referrals Verses Word of Mouth Referrals?
Physicians are no longer the gatekeepers of therapy referrals that they once were. Many physician groups are employed by large healthcare organizations and incentivized to refer within the organization
Depending on the consumer’s insurance plan they will mostly be required to pay more for ‘out of network’ therapists. To get access to these referrals you must provide a compelling reason for patients to choose you.
Word of mouth marketing strategically uses direct access marketing methods to connect with prospective clients and their friends. Having a relationship with clients prior to the provider selection greatly influences consumer behavior.
What Makes Word of Mouth Referrals So Effective?
Consumers are busy, distracted and looking for shortcuts to cut through the noise to navigate their way through our complex healthcare system.
Marketing that interrupts consumers daily lives is seen as pushy and spammy. Out of self preservation people tune out traditional marketing messages that seem impersonal and illrelevant.
In contrast word of mouth marketing relies on strategic engagement with key groups of people. The right message is sent to the right person at the right time. Engagement is deepen through consistent, helpful and personal communication.
Why Is Email THE Most Effective Referral Strategy?
Despite what you may have heard, email marketing is not dead. Social media gurus will push their programs on how to increase your Facebook and Twitter followers.
What they don’t tell you is that engagement is terrible. For instance on Facebook it’s difficult to even get 10 to 15% of your fans to see your post.
With email it’s not difficult to get 50% or higher of your emails opened by your list of people. Marketers will tell you that getting that many people to see your message is outstanding.
Most therapists, including you, probably don’t realize the impact you can have by keeping regular contact with people who can benefit from your services. The viability of your practice is directly related to your contact list.
There are a lot of strategies that you can use to grow your practice but growing and building your contact list needs to be at the very top. The next article in this series will show you how to get started by creating your referral contacts database.
The next article will cover the Step 1 in the Word of Mouth Referral Strategy: How To Create An Effective Email Referral Strategy
Got questions about getting more referrals? Want to share a strategy that’s been working for you? Leave a comment below and let me know what you’ve been up to.
Paul Potter is a physical therapist and mentor who lives in Lincoln, Nebraska, with his wife, who is also a therapist. They have four daughters. For more than 35 years he successfully managed his own private practice. He now shares his knowledge and experience through teaching and mentoring therapists who want to have their own practice.
He has authored On Fire: Ignite Your Passion with a Cash Therapy Practice and the Cash Practice From Scratch Course. His website PaulPotterpt.com is dedicated to helping therapists achieve professional and financial freedom. Connect with Paul on his website or on LinkedIn paulpotterpt. You can also get more free resources at CashPracticeFromScratch.com