by Roger P. Levin, DDS
Since the recession, marketing has become a necessity rather than an option. Unfortunately, many dentists seem to think that means external marketing — running ads, sending out direct mail, putting up billboards, signing up with Groupon, etc.
The problem with external marketing is two-fold. First, it can get very expensive. Second, there is rarely a pay-off. Levin Group Data Center™ has found that more than 80% of the time, there is a negative return on investment. It doesn’t pull in enough new patients to even cover what it costs.
However, there is something that works really well and costs very little — internal marketing. Internal marketing relies on existing patients to bring in new customers. Our data indicates that this type of marketing, when implemented correctly, is highly effective and usually very inexpensive.
To make an internal marketing program successful, dentists need to know the new rules of the game:
- Rule No. 1: Marketing is no longer optional. It’s an essential element for any business or practice focused on growth. Too many practices were caught by surprise when the recession hit and entered into a state of decline after years of growth. All good businesses know that continued growth depends on effective marketing. A dentist who doesn’t understand this will not thrive in the post-recession economy.
- Rule No. 2: Internal marketing is a measureable, predictable science. If certain scientific principles are followed, internal marketing works 99% of the time. Remember, a minimum of 15 customized strategies functioning together is required. Anything less than 15 ignores the importance of quantity in internal marketing and will be ineffective.
- Rule No. 3: Set a target for 40% to 60% of current patients to refer at least one other patient per year. This is achievable. It’s already being done by thousands of practices. If 15 strategies are used, 40% to 60% of patients will refer at least one other patient per year.
- Rule No. 4: Dentists should properly thank patients who make referrals. Make a personal phone call. Send a nice email. It’s polite and it will encourage them to keep making referrals on a regular basis.
In fact, there are 24 components to a proper internal marketing system. They include new patient referrals, reactivation of inactive patients, scheduling 98% of all potential new patient, and using Value Creation Scripting™ to double the average production per new patient.
Practices that implement a true internal marketing program will grow. Those that don’t, won’t. It’s that simple.
Dr. Roger Levin is a third-generation general dentist and the chairman and CEO of Levin Group, Inc., the largest dental practice management and marketing firm in the United States. As a leading authority on dental practice management and marketing, he has developed a scientific systems-based consulting method that will increase practice production and profitability, while lowering stress. Dr. Levin has authored more than 60 books and over 3,000 articles. He presents 100 seminars worldwide every year.