The most powerful marketing tool in your business
I ask this question of practices all the time. Usually, they tell me that it’s their adverts in the local paper or on the radio, or the leaflets they post through doors, or it’s their website, because that’s where most enquiries come from.
Well, all of those things clearly do bring in new business. People need to be aware that you exist in order to become a patient, and seeing your website, advert or leaflet is a great way to achieve that. But are those methods really the most powerful tool you have?
In my experience, the most important tool for marketing any business is its existing clients.
There are numerous statistics showing what people do after they engage with a business. If it’s a good experience, there’s a chance they will tell their friends or colleagues, or perhaps post something on Twitter or Facebook if they were particularly impressed. If they were disappointed, the chances of them sharing their thoughts go through the roof. Think about it – if you go to a restaurant and have an enjoyable meal, you might mention it to a friend. However, if you have a bad experience – a hair in your starter, a rude waiter or slow service – not only will you not go back, but you’re far more likely to tell others to steer clear as well.
The same applies to your dental practice. You have to work incredibly hard to get your patients to recommend you to others, but just a small slip-up can undo all that good work in an instant. It’s unfair, but it’s true!
However, there are plenty of small things you can do to ensure your patients are raving about you. From a smiling receptionist and fresh flowers in the waiting area to a dentist who listens carefully to patients’ concerns, the little things really do make all the difference. It’s surprising how many practices overlook them in favour of the latest technology and state-of-the-art equipment – which, although they are impressive, will not make your patients love you.
If you’re struggling to work out why your patients aren’t recommending you to all their friends, why not try a survey? You can ask what aspects of their experience they did and did not enjoy, what you could do to improve your service and what would make them recommend you to a friend. Make it anonymous and you’re more likely to get honest responses, and perhaps offer a prize draw for all those who take part.
Finally, if you want to encourage your patients to recommend you, make it worth their while and make it simple with ‘recommend a friend cards’. Offers for patients whose friends and family sign up always make a big difference to your new patient figures!
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