For any product or service to succeed, it needs a marketing strategy. Marketing is the process of making potential customers/clients aware of what you offer and how to get it. There are lots of ways to do this, from advertising to direct marketing to social media to relationship marketing.
For endodontists, your clients are primarily GPs based around a professional, interdisciplinary doctor-to-doctor relationship and patient referrals, so relationship marketing is hugely important. In an ideal referral relationship, GPs would rather refer out all endodontic treatment than attempt it themselves, and they prefer to refer it to you (rather than another endodontist) if at all possible. You have “top of mind awareness” for their endodontic referrals, and that probably describes your best referrers pretty well.
Best referrers are the minority though. Most of your referrers are more mixed in their relationship with you. They may not refer out all endodontic treatment, or when they refer it might not be to you as their first choice. You might be one of several endodontists and they “share the love” with everyone.
There are strategies you can implement to improve those relationships, but the effectiveness of those strategies depends on certain fundamentals in your marketing system being in place, and your marketing coordinator executing those fundamentals with disciplined regularity. Their role to drive the marketing systems is vital. Here’s the marketing foundation. It’s quite simple, and yet many endodontists do not do this:
- Every “A” referrer (12 or more cases per year) needs to be contacted once per month.
- Every “B” referrer (5 to 11 cases per year) needs to be contacted once per quarter.
- Every “C” referrer (1 to 4 cases per year) needs to be contacted once per year.
What happens in these contacts? The marketing coordinator drops by the referring office and delivers a little gift basket, bagel drop, seasonal goodie, or something that tells the practice they are important to you. These do not need to be expensive, and they should focus should be on creating delight. We frequently have marketing ideas for these contacts in this newsletter.
Your marketing coordinator becomes the face of your practice to the referring office and drives the team-to-team relationship. When they see the marketing coordinator coming through their door, there is recognition, familiarity and a sense of happiness. That is the beginning to top of mind awareness … in the team, in the doctor and eventually in their referrals.
With this system in place, then you have the foundation to really become effective and targeted in your marketing. For example, if a “C” referrer sends two cases in the same month (when they normally send 4 or less all year), then you can respond and connect in better ways. You can have a doctor-to-doctor phone call, or a scheduled lunch. The marketing coordinator can respond right away with another contact and gift that communicates how much you appreciate their referrals.
It all starts with the marketing coordinator who has flexibility as needed to be outside the practice and visiting referrers. Usually, it’s the equivalent of a day or two per week for preparation and drop in visits. Without a marketing coordinator, a system like this is rarely implemented with the consistency needed, and that creates barriers to growing referral relationships.