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a blog by Chris Barrow

Building GDP referrals – Part 1 – using social media

Today I’m starting a mini-series that will run this week.

Many of my clients either already enjoy referrals from GDPs or aspire to do so and it certainly seems that the market for referral business is growing wherever I look.

The reasons for this can lead to a “half-empty” conversation about the growing fears of litigation and investigation – or a “half-full” conversation about baby-boomers, their relative affluence and their complex dental problems.

Whatever the reasons (and I suspect a combination of both), there is no doubt that the dentists who have a higher level of clinical confidence are well placed to attract referral business.

I was prompted to offer some thoughts on marketing to GDPs by a returning client for 2019 who is opening a new clinic that will be heavily referral based. He asked for a “how to” guide for himself and team and that inspired this series of posts – I hope it helps him as well as inspiring and clarifying the opportunity for others.

Rather than offer a chronological guide – “step 1, step 2” – I recognise that readers will be at varying stages of evolution, so what I’m going to do is highlight actions that I’m seeing as effective in the current market – and leave you to pick and mix your way through the list with your support team and suppliers.

Social media activity

I make no apology for starting here as I know that dentists of all ages are engaging with a variety of social platforms – so it’s an effective way to gain their attention.


Your clinic needs a Facebook Business Page but it’s not so important for your personal profile to be visible to anyone other than the friends you choose in your personal life.

Content here should follow the Coach Barrow 80/15/5 rule – 80% case studies of the patients you have worked with (assuming the appropriate consent has been given), 15% stories about what your team are up to and 5% dental education.

You may be surprised by those ratios but, as we are all drowning in the noise of clinical conferences, courses, web sites, newsletters and other publications, there’s no real need for you to be adding your own clinical information on a Facebook Page.

Additionally, there’s a very good chance that patients referred to your clinic will take a look at your Business Page first – and they primarily want to see that “people like them visit places like yours”. Then (as we will discover with your web site) they also want to see and get to know the team who will be looking after them.

You can, however, scratch that itch to “show the world how much you know” next….

…..because I strongly recommend that you establish a private Facebook Group for your referring GDPs – as you or your team will be moderators for that Group, you can control who joins and also their behaviours (essential in the digital world).

On your Facebook Group you can share as much clinical information as you like but also invite your GDP and senior team members to contribute, share difficult cases for peer group opinion and provide not just dental education but also training for referring GDP team members on “how to refer” as well as wider aspects of their own duties (we will return to this concept later when looking at your Study Club).

Other options on your Group include creating “lunch and learn” video tutorials for referring clinicians and their team members and also creating archives of useful documents.


Yes – your Millennial referring GDPs will have active Instagram personal profiles and so it is perfectly acceptable to repeat all of your the photography and comments from your Facebook Business Page across to your Instagram account, so that this audience have their own chance to connect with you.

Tomorrow we will take a look at the essential additions to your web site design if you want to attract GDP referrals.

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