Endo Mastery

SUMMER S’MORES

What goes better with summer than camping? And what goes better with camping than delicious s’mores? Surprise your referring offices with this summertime classic! You can package up the ingredients in a small cellophane package:

Add a tag that says “To many S’MORE good times and great patients! Thank you for your referrals!” You can also add a note about how s’mores can be made in the microwave at work (about 20 seconds).

TEAM TO TEAM
REFERRAL MARKETING

What are the chances that your GPs tell their patients, “It’s very important that you see Dr. X. They are the best endodontist in the city, and I’ve personally chosen them over all other endodontists.”

 

For some referrers, that may be true. But most of your referrers, it is likely that you are just one of several endodontists taking them to lunch. Their patients are told they need a root canal by a specialist, and it’s left to the team to give the patient all the details. In many practices, patients are asked to choose the endodontist they want … often by who is nearest to where the patient lives or works.

 

Ideally, you want to develop referral relationships so that you’re more than just one of several options. You want to be the preferred endodontist. That preference is best developed doctor to doctor, but it can take time. However, there is a backdoor into becoming the preferred endodontist, and that is through the team-to-team connection.

 

Everyone in your practice who talks to a GP team member in any capacity should remember that they are building a relationship. They are not dealing with an impersonal nameless employee that is far flung. It’s likely someone just down the street, so your team needs to be in relationship-building mode:

Projecting this kind of energy, even just on the phone, makes people feel closer to you. When it is supplemented with the goodies and pop-by marketing gifts organized by the marketing coordinator, a strong sense of goodwill and friendship develops.

 

Then, when the patient is given their endodontic specialist options, a team member might spontaneously suggest, “If I was choosing, I would definitely want to go Dr. X’s practice. The team there is incredible, and I like them a lot.”

 

That’s enough to nudge a patient’s decision in your favor since everyone else on the list are just names that they don’t know. They know something very specific about you: you have an amazing team, and you are recommended by a team member in the practice they trust to take care of them.

 

Everyone in the endodontic practice is part of your marketing team through their daily interactions with patients and referrers. It’s not just your marketing coordinator toiling alone. Always remember, 90% of growth in your practice is driven by the team.  

THE MARKETING OPPORTUNITY THAT MOST ENDO PRACTICES MISS

Referral relationships drive endodontic practices, so naturally endodontists care about developing, growing and protecting those relationships. Strong referral relationships result in steady case flow and higher productivity.

 

Your software system’s referral analysis report shows you who is referring to you and how many cases they have referred. In most endo practices, there is a familiar pattern in the referral base. At the top of the list are your top referrers who send cases regularly every month. These are the GPs with whom you have the strongest relationship. Many top referrers typically send all their endo patients to you as their preferred specialist. The rest of the list are doctors who are less predictable, from only referring the occasional case to not quite sending enough cases that you can count on every month.

 

Most endodontists pay careful attention to their top referrers because top referrers drive such a high percentage of referrals coming in. A lot of endodontists naturally focus their marketing strategies on keeping these relationships engaged and happy. At the other end of the scale, most endodontists pay careful attention to new referrers … GPs who refer for the first time.

 

What usually gets missed is identifying those existing middle to low-end referrers where there is a small but significant change in their referral patterns. Because these GPs are irregular referrers to begin with, unless you are tracking referrals over time in a way that can be compared easily with past referral levels, you often cannot see important changes.

 

For example, consider a referrer who sent you only 6 cases in the past year. Perhaps they do endo themselves, or perhaps they are “sharing the love” and dividing their referrals among a number of endodontists. Either way, to you it looks like they only refer 1 case every other month. Or they might refer two cases in a two-month period, and then you don’t hear from them for a few months.

 

Because the referral flow is so unpredictable, at what point would you identify that something is changing? What if they referred a case every month for 3 months in a row? Would that pop up on your radar instantly? It should because if they continued with that trend, it would put them in your top referrers! Maybe they’ve decided to do less endo themselves, or they’ve soured on sending referrals to one of their other endodontists. In either case, they should be targeted by you and your marketing coordinator for some one-on-one relationship building and marketing.

 

At Endo Mastery, we work with our clients to implement a referral tracking system that exposes when pattern shifts are occurring so referrers can be targeted for effective marketing. Whatever system you use, you need to be able to identify these hidden marketing opportunities. A good rule of thumb is any referral pattern that has shifted 25% or more compared to past referrals.

 

Also remember that it goes both ways. A plus 25% trend and a minus 25% trend both require marketing and relationship attention. And for your top referrers (at least one case referred monthly), you should narrow that rule to 10%, especially for downward trends. The loss of a top referrer has a significant cost to referral flow, and an early warning system when the relationship might be wavering allows you to find out what’s going on and take corrective action before it’s too late.

MARKETING TIP: GET READY FOR SUMMER

Surprise your referrers with a playful beach ball customized with your practice logo! They are very affordable (about $2 each) and available in both mini and regular sizes. You have to order a minimum quantity of about 100 or 150, but that’s enough for all your referrers, plus some left over to delight some of your patients as they head out the door! Blow them up with compressed air from your air-water syringe!

  • ● Beachballs on 4Imprint.com

5 STEPS TO WINNING
REFERRAL RELATIONSHIPS

To achieve a steadily growing practice from year to year, marketing must be a priority. For most endodontists in established practices, the most powerful opportunity to grow is with existing referrers, which is the point of “relationship” marketing. Here are 5 core factors that should drive your relationship marketing strategy:

 

The purpose of any marketing strategy is to create opportunities for growth. Growth in an endodontic practice is driven by the number of cases completed, which is dependent on the number of cases referred. There are only two ways to increase the number of cases referred:

1: Have a marketing coordinator

Many endodontists are haphazard about marketing: squeezing it in when they have time and letting it lapse when they feel busy. A haphazard approach creates haphazard results. Developing strong referral relationships takes consistent attention and effort every week, which is why you need a marketing coordinator.

 

The marketing coordinator is responsible for representing your practice to your referring doctors and their teams. A marketing coordinator must be outgoing, friendly and joyful, and easily interacts and connects with others in a personal and empathetic way. They must present themselves well and have great communication skills when they visit your referring offices.

 

For a typical one-endodontist practice, the marketing coordinator will be an existing team member who is allocated the equivalent of a half a day per week to be out of the office visiting referrers. On these visits, they will drop off little referral gifts and surprises that create delight in referring offices and continually move your practice into the top-of-mind position.

 

Marketing coordinators must be very organized to plan marketing activities, strategically select target referrers to visit each week, and order/prepare marketing gifts, lunches in referring offices, etc. The whole focus on the marketing coordinator is to consistently implement marketing activities that create visibility and value for the GP-to-Endodontist relationship.

2: Have a marketing budget

Marketing needs a budget and most endodontists underspend on marketing while wondering why their practice isn’t growing. In relationship marketing, you’re focused on the long-term relationship, which means your marketing budget should be calibrated to the long-term value of a referral relationship. In marketing lingo, this is called the “marginal net worth” of a referrer.

 

Consider a GP who referrers one case every month valued at $1350 over a 25-year period. That works out to 12 months x $1350 x 25 years = $405,000. Given that lifetime value, how much should you spend on marketing to nurture and maintain GP relationships?

 

A good guideline is that 3% to 5% of practice revenues should be dedicated to marketing. That budget gives you the flexibility to allocate funds for new referrer outreach, for weekly and monthly referral gifts for regular referrers, for periodic lunches and dinners with referrers throughout the year, and for special gifts to acknowledge and thank your top referrers.

3: Express appreciation and gratitude

The marketing coordinator’s activities are the foundation, but the heart of relationship marketing is expressing appreciation and gratitude to referrers consistently and personally. That means that you find the opportunity for some kind of communication to thank the referring GP.

 

It doesn’t have to be a big deal, but it must be a continuous ever-present part of the tone that you and your team communicate with referrers and their team. “Thank you for sending Mary to our office!”, “We love your patients. Mary was a pleasure to have in our office!”, “I really appreciate your referral and Mary was very happy!”, etc.

 

Since so much of our life is digital now, you can find easy ways to communicate these messages: email, texting, social media, case summaries, whenever you’re on the phone the GP or office, etc. When doctors know they are important to you, they want to stay important to you.

4: Make referrals easy and effortless

Ultimately, when a GP makes a referral, they want to do so without any worries. They want to know their patient will be cared for promptly and compassionately, the clinical result will be predictable and at a highest level, and the patient will return happy and ready to continue restorative care.

The easier you make the referral process for the GP and their team, and the better you can return the patient meeting all expectations, then you become an obvious and effortless choice for the referrer. Here’s some tips:

  • ● Be available for same-day emergency appointments for patients in pain.
  • ● Have a referral card or referral kit in the GP office that answers all the patient’s immediate questions and makes sure cases are referred right.
  • ● Ask the doctor’s clinical preferences with respect to whether they want you to place final fillings, do build-ups for crowns, place temporaries, where they prefer you to refer if the patient requires an extraction or implant, etc.
  • ● Appoint the patient back to the GP office while the patient is still in your office at the completion of treatment.

5: Have great patient reviews

Finally, nothing speaks louder than a happy patient who returns to the GP. Create a wow experience for patients that exceeds their expectations in every way, that they feel privileged they were referred to you, and that they express to their GP how fantastic their time in your office was.

 

The details in the experience matter. You never want patients upset about a delay in getting an appointment (especially if they are in pain). You never want patients uncertain about how long treatment will take in your office. You especially never want patients confused or unprepared for their financial responsibility.

 

If you do these things right, and your team projects kindness, caring and confidence to help the patient through their natural hesitancy about root canal treatment, it’s pretty easy to impress them. As you know, most patients already express surprise that their RCT was so quick and painless compared to their preconceptions. That’s the perfect opportunity to ask them for a 5-star review, and give them a card with a QR code they can scan with their phone to post a review on Google or Yelp right away.

MARKETING YOUR CE EVENTS TO GPs

Let’s first discuss why CE lectures for your referring GPs are a good strategy for marketing your endodontic practice.

 

The purpose of any marketing strategy is to create opportunities for growth. Growth in an endodontic practice is driven by the number of cases completed, which is dependent on the number of cases referred. There are only two ways to increase the number of cases referred:

  • ● More referrals from new referrers
  • ● More referrals from existing referrers

Obviously CE events that you host for your GP community are opportunities to meet and establish goodwill with doctors who are not referring to you yet. Greeting them, talking to them during the break and after the event, and sending follow-up communications are all opportunities to start building a referral relationship.

 

For existing referrers, keep in mind that no GP should have a goal to grow their own practice by doing more endo themselves. The speakers and topics you choose should reflect that. By engaging GPs in growth around comprehensive restorative dentistry, they should come to realize that endodontic cases create a higher risk for clinical failure and lower level of personal profitability if they do those cases themselves. So, endo cases are best referred out as a matter of routine.

Marketing tips for successful events

A great speaker and topic are not enough to drive high attendance. You and your Marketing Coordinator need to execute a promotional strategy where you blanket your entire GP community with invitations, and follow up. Here’s a recommended approach:

  • ● If your local dental society has a regular newsletter, arrange an announcement in the newsletter at least a month in advance and continuing up until the event.
  • ● Alternatively, there may be a local Facebook group or online forum for dentists where you could also have an announcement.
  • ● If there are some influential local study clubs, make sure you communicate with their leaders to share your event details.
  • ● Four weeks before the event, mail out an invitation flyer or postcard to every GP on your contact list.
  • ● Two weeks before the event, your Marketing Coordinator should begin to visit all your referring offices and pop by as many non-referring offices as they can to drop off the flyer/postcard in person.

“I just want to make sure the doctor saw the mailer we sent out. You should have received it last week. I can register the doctor right now if they would like.”

  • ● In the final week before the event, your Marketing Coordinator should revisit any practices that you particularly want to connect with if they haven’t registered. For example, a large GP group practice that doesn’t refer to you would be worth a follow-up effort.
  • ● At the same time, you personally should call any of your key referring doctors who have not registered yet. You want as many of your top referrers as possible peppered throughout the audience so they can influence other doctors seated around them.

Like anything, successful events are driven by an effective system. Considering the expense of the speaker, venue, and catering, it’s worth the special effort to ensure a full house.

PEEPS SEASON

SPRING MARKETING TIP

Spring is Peeps season! They are easily available, inexpensive, fun, and effortless! Just add a cheerful label with your practice logo and a message:

Your “peeps” are always welcome in our practice!
We love helping you take care of your patients!
Happy Spring!

FRIENDING REFERRERS

MARKETING FOCUS

Friendship is more than just knowing someone, or even knowing them well. With our friends, there is a social contract: we like them; we are interested in what they are doing; we care that they are happy and successful; we enjoy talking to them; we plan to spend time together; we look forward to them as a part of our future.

 

Of course, professional friendships are different than personal ones. But the best professional friendships feel like personal friendships, even though they exist primarily in the business side of our life.

 

We can take cues from our personal friendships to create a system for building and growing professional ones. Some of these may seem basic and obvious, but many doctors are inconsistent with them.

●  If a personal friend was eating at the same restaurant as you or shopping in the same store, you would go up and greet them. To do that with a professional friend, you would need to recognize their face, remember their name based on their face, and feel confident they recognize you too. So, creating professional friendships begins with establishing a face-to-face relationship between doctors. Do this by visiting them in their practice, inviting them to lunch, or creating connections at dental events.

 

●  With a personal friend, we always communicate with them around important milestones, such as birthdays and important holidays. Holidays are easier because they are the same for everyone (although religious holidays can vary). Birthdays are harder. It may take time and circumstances to learn your referrers’ birthdays.

 

A great marketing coordinator can often coax this vital information from the GP’s team. Your marketing coordinator can create a shared calendar that appears on your phone so you know any personal messages you need to send, as well as flagging important important birthdays (40, 50, 60, etc.) that require extra attention.

 

●  Gift giving with friends is important too. Sometimes gifts are meant to be significant. Sometimes they can be small acknowledgments. Sometimes they are meant to surprise and delight. Birthdays and holidays are good gift-giving times albeit predictable. Unexpected surprise gifts that are especially focused around something you know they will like are really noticed. For example, tickets to a concert, sport or event that you know is a passion of theirs.

 

●  Although not everyone is active on social media, if you are and they are, then make an effort to add them as a friend or follow (both their personal and practice accounts if they have them). This is a great way to learn about important events in their life, their family and their interests.

 

You don’t need to spend a great deal of time on this. You can give your marketing coordinator access to your socials to create and accept friend/follow requests, and quickly scan your feed for notable posts and activity by your referrers. Your marketing coordinator can ask GP teams if their doctor or the practice is on social media and how to connect.

 

●  Plan events and activities that you can do together. Many endodontists take referrers for lunch regularly, but you can expand this strategy. It can be as simple as taking the initiative to meet up when you’re at the same event, such as your state dental meeting. You can host open houses and invite your referrers. You can plan team-to-team events that bring everyone together, such as a summer barbecue. If you are a dog lover, you can set up a canine social party. You can organize a golf tournament or sports outing.

 

●  Learn their hobbies, interests and goals, both personally and professionally. Find articles of interest around those things that you can email to them with a note: “I thought of you when I read this article about [sailing/wilderness trekking/practice growth]. I think you will enjoy it!” It’s so simple to do, exactly as you would for a personal friend.

The greater the effort you make to engage with your referrers and establish a personal relationship as the foundation for your professional one, the easier it gets. A key part of the process is building up that intelligence portfolio of key facts and insights on each of your referring doctors, which is something your marketing coordinator should manage for you.

 

Gather information, take notes, review and internalize what you know whenever you are going to be reaching out or interacting. It lets you move beyond boilerplate communications to personalized engagement, and in time you won’t need crib notes. It will just be effortless. Once you’ve crossed the threshold to genuine personal goodwill, professional goodwill follows and increases. It’s just human nature to support our friends, and for them to support us.

MARKETING TIP: THANKSGIVING MARKETING TIP

Most endodontists towards the end of year give some kind of annual appreciation gift to referrers. Usually this is delivered sometime in the holidays and close to Christmas. It’s almost sure to be lost, overlooked or under-appreciated in the busyness and abundance of everything else going on at the time.

 

We think Thanksgiving is a much better occasion for these annual referrer gifts. This is for two reasons:

1) Thanksgiving naturally fits the theme of thanking GPs for their referrals.

2) It is likely your gift will be one of the first to arrive in holiday season, and that will make it more special.

MARKETING TIP: ST. PATRICK’S DAY

March 17th is St. Patrick’s Day, and everything lucky about shamrocks, leprechauns, pots of gold and the color green. Here’s a great idea with pots of gold chocolates and a theme tag. Be sure to wear green when you drop them off!

 

The image shown is from an Etsy shop for real estate marketing. You can download the tag template instantly for a small fee. There are lots of other referral-related ideas too.