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.

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!

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: GOOGLE MY BUSINESS SETUP

Google is one of the internet’s behemoths. It reaches so far into the lives and online activities of everyone that it is literally an online essential for every business now. You may have a great website but if you haven’t properly set up your business identity on Google, you’re missing a lot.

 

Think of it this way: Your website is like the front door of your practice on the internet. It’s how people enter your environment and get to know more about you. By comparison, your Google identity is like the sign in front of your practice that lets the world speeding by know you are even there.

 

Your Google identity builds your brand and supports your online reputation. Reputation is built in many ways. Are you easy to find? Conscientious businesses adapt to the ways people are searching for information about them. Is your information complete and up to date? Unreliable businesses are not. Do you have photos and/or videos? People want to get a look at you and get a sense of your values. What do online reviews say about you? 64% of users are likely to check online reviews before going to a business for the first time.

 

If you haven’t done so already, you need to set up your business identity and claim it on Google. Claiming is the process where you verify with Google that you are the owner of a business that they already know something about (and they do already know things about you).

 

For example, claiming and verifying your business will allow you to control how your business shows up in Google Maps. You can also do things like manage and respond to online reviews (subject to HIPAA which was discussed in a previous blog post). Here is the link to Google My Business:

 

GOOGLE MY BUSINESS

 

To help you with the process, we have found on the web a fairly thorough and complete third-party guide to setting up Google My Business. There’s a lot of information in here, and it’s written for every kind of business. However, by working through it step by step, you’ll get everything set up right and understand what you can do with Google’s My Business service.

MARKETING TIP: BACK-TO-SCHOOL GOODIE BAGS

Tap into September back-to-school time with brown bag goodies and surprises for your referring office teams. This works best when you know all the team members’ names so you can write it on the bag just like their Mom used to do. The bags don’t have to actually be a full lunch. Instead, fill them with an assortment of school-themed snacks and goodies. For example:

MARKETING TIP: TOP OF MIND AWARENESS

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.

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.

 

MARKETING TIP: VALENTINES DAY

Rather than sweetheart candies or boxed chocolates that are predictable and overdone, reach out to a local bakery that you love to package some custom cookies for your referral offices. You can even get them to customize a message on each cookie, such as

“We love caring for your patients!”