4 Little-Known Tactics to Get More External Referrals
Referrals do not come from sleazy marketing efforts.
Some people think that marketing manipulates people into buying things they do not need with ethically challenged stretches of the imagination in the form of bold promises and Sawyeresque claims.
I’m here to tell you that good marketing does exactly the opposite.
Take a strong referral system for example. Pursuing healthy relationships with doctors and organizations to refer patients to trustworthy practices isn’t just morally sound — it’s a healthy way to give back to your community by leading them to the tree of life you call your practice.
Sound a little too Utopian?
Of course it does. But how far from the truth is it?
We all recognize the need to grow. And growth doesn’t just benefit you. It helps the people you help.
Every practice needs a healthy stream of referrals to grow properly.
These are the little known ways to plant an almost-Utopian garden of external referrals.
Grow Referrals From Military Bases
If you don’t have a military base near your practice, you’ll want to skip to the next section.
Make sure you’re in the packets and brochures service members get issued on a regular basis. (You’ll need to go through the chamber of commerce.)
Do your best to get into the SEPS and TAPS (Separations and Transition Assistance Programs) materials — these are classes developed to help with their transition from military to civilian life. It’s especially valuable to get into these programs because before this stage, most members of the Armed Forces get their treatments from on-base doctors. After SEPS and TAPS however, they make the transition to civilian healthcare, which can and should be you.
Over 200,000 service members make the transition to civilian life each year. If you spread that number evenly across America’s 38 named bases, you get 5,263 per base, per year. That’s a very rough estimate of course, but even if the base near you only sends 2,500 back to civilian life each year, that’s 2,500 people who need a new practice pretty much now, and are very likely to go with the practice recommended by their branch.
One of the best ways to do this is to make connections from within. It can take a little digging, but ask around — talk to your peers, associates, and the rest of your staff if need be. Chances are, if you’re near enough to a military base, one of them will have a connection. The rest is fairly self-explanatory.
The more a specific patient sees your message, the more likely they are to come to you for treatment. You can make your military connection even more powerful by supplementing your campaign with social media ads. Drop your message in front of the people there, or even specifically to military families by using social media geo-targeting.
Partner With Large Corporations
They’ll have fairs for employees that you can attend — make sure that your office is in network with the insurance that local corporations provide their employees. Here’s how it works.
When you visit these corporations, if you’re in their network, tell them so. The result will be a marked influx of new patients who visit you because you accept their insurance. Here’s another thing.
You can use Facebook and Adwords geo-targeting to drop promos and ads in front of the people in those corporations. It’s basically the same as visiting them, but digitally.
For example, if there’s a large engineer firm near your office, target engineers who work within the radius of the corporation you’re bringing your message to.
Strengthen Your Network
Your connections with local practices are extremely valuable. Make monthly visits to all referring practices, in person. Most people will bring a box of donuts here and there, and maybe some flowers for the office. Not bad, not great.
Here’s a better plan. Give gifts to individuals. It means more.
For example, we ordered 900 gerbera daisies and planted them into individual vases — enough for each person in the office.
What about a friendly box of cookies, or bagels — the thought counts right? Not really. Those gifts get dropped in the break room, the giver forgotten. Nobody ever knows who brought them.
Everything you give should be logo and brand forward, and they need to know who it came from.
You can use your own office as a litmus test. What happens when you give them flowers? What happens when you leave bagels? Chocolates? Gift bags? Like everything, make sure it passes the common sense test. Also, participate in hygiene nights, and offer discounted treatment for team members in other offices.
Finally, remember that people only send referrals to people they trust. Sure, you want them to like you. But even more vital is showing that you’re trustworthy. Because they’re putting their reputation on the line by sending patients your way. In every way possible, communicate your dedication, quality, professionalism, and dependability.
Sponsor school carnivals and maintain a presence there.
Become a partner with the school and/or PTA.
Participate in health screenings and career days.
Have games at the school carnivals and sponsored giveaways at the school with your branded material.
If you expect to get referrals from people, they must trust you enough, as well as like you enough, and know you to begin with. That takes action on your part, to reach out and develop relationships with people who would never know you otherwise.
Then, over time, develop trust and respect, and always give back as much as you can.