From the The Healthcare Marketing Institute Newsletter
Many healthcare professionals confuse word of mouth with a proactive referral strategy. Word of mouth is a passive approach to attracting patients. It relies on the good will of extremely busy strangers to think of you when they/their patient has a need. It is essentially a passive strategy that relies on happenstance and luck. A referral strategy is a proactive approach to having a stream of patients come your way. Developing a referral strategy means:
– You identify all of the people who can send patients your way.
– You approach these people at the right time, with the right conversation, to influence them to refer patients to you.
– You stay in touch with current and past patients, in ways that cause them to send people your way.
– You grow your network/"sphere of influence" using a series of simple, effective tactics, so that more people know about you.
– You learn the effective way to ask for referrals. Saying, "Please think of me when you have a need" is not effective.
– You offer your referral sources things of value to them, so that they succeed, too.
– You know how to talk about your practice so that you set it apart as unique and better than the competition.
– You put in place a system to stay in touch with referral sources and thank them over time.
– You create a variety of systems to constantly meet with referral sources and help each other succeed.