THINKING BUSINESS
a blog by Chris Barrow

Why you should LOVE referrals

I was recently looking at the marketing results of a shop front, high street practice (not in Liverpool!) where a careful analysis had been conducted of their last 12 months marketing. Particular reference was made to the source of new patient enquiries and the results were both a surprise and a confirmation: 30% from “walk-in” – in this case, location, location, location! 30% from web searching – “we searched for the product on Google, found your site, liked what we saw and called.” 30% from word of mouth recommendation. 10% from “everything else” – which represents a mixed bag of external marketing activities:

  1. some print advertising – local media, schools magazines

  2. some networking – a few Chamber of Commerce meetings

  3. a few close strategic alliances – photographer, hairdresser, clothes shop

  4. various bits and bobs of internal vouchers and brochures

An interesting point is that, until I turned up a couple of years ago, “everything else” accounted for most of the modest marketing spend. I’m still (after all these years) surprised at how much money dental principals are prepared to throw at print media advertising (including Yellow Pages – now a door-stop) and for very little return. The old adage that “one decent patient will pay for it” can no longer hold up against the significant returns from 21st Century marketing – in particular, web attraction. If your practice isn’t “located” in a prominent position with plenty of footfall, then I would suggest that your statistics would most likely be: 40% from web searching 40% from word of mouth recommendation and 20% from “everything else” Thus – I ponder on two important questions:

  1. How much of your marketing budget is invested in making your web site visible and attractive? And…

  2. How much of your marketing budget is invested in recruiting your existing patients as your unpaid salesforce?

I’ve written and spoken so many times on the subject of web marketing in the last 12 months – if you haven’t heard what I’ve said then “how was your desert island sabbatical?’ Just check all the dental journals I’ve written in – print and digital – and take a look back through my ezine archives. It occurs, however, that not a great deal has been said about referrals, recommendations – or whatever you call them. Possibly 40% of your new business – and yet often left to chance with no robust systems. *This blog is a reworked article that was posted in the March 13 2010 Confidence Club ezine

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