More often than not, the majority of a practice’s patients come from referrals. Patients that are referred to a practice are typically of higher quality and tend to return to the practice for routine checkups and treatment. Because of this, the importance of internal marketing is ever growing in dental practices. Internal marketing utilizes the practice’s most critical assets – you, your team and your brand – to increase new patient traffic. This may come in the form of regularly posting actual patient photos to social media, holding referral contests among your team, raffling off a prize to patients who refer, and much more.
Creating and implementing an internal marketing strategy involves deciding what you want to do, making sure that the plan is maintained and getting every employee to pull their weight to make the plan happen. The entire process can be broken down into 6 main steps:
- Determine the goal. It’s nearly impossible to get people to implement something new into their daily routine if they are not aware of what they are working towards. Perhaps the goal is to have every employee ask for three referrals each day, or to collectively ask for 15 referrals by the end of the month.
- Devise a plan. The next step is to figure out how you and your team will reach this goal. Make every employee aware of the goal and work together to determine how you will achieve it. Perhaps you have signs in the break-room that say “Have you asked for a referral today?” Another idea is have each employee use a log to record their “asks” on a daily basis. The plan itself will vary based upon your practice culture, number of employees, but it is important to create a plan and stick to it.
- Create a positive response. Explain to your team why this internal marketing strategy directly impacts them, and therefore matters to each person individually. Offer incentives that will be given when certain milestones are met: gift cards, iPads, or paid vacation time. Collectively decide upon these to ensure each employee is equally invested in the cause.
- Share the finalized plan. Share and discuss the finalized internal marketing plan with everyone in the practice. Keep the discussion open; allow for questions and for the strategy to be evolved as needed.
- Track your progress. Determine how each employee will be held accountable and how this will be recorded. Track each employee’s efforts on a white board in the office break-room or create a “brag box” for employees to anonymously drop in each other’s names when they hear another employee ask for a referral.
- Keep it top-of-mind. Post the plan somewhere visible in the office or readdress it at morning huddles. Review it often and alter it as needed to keep everyone on track and to maintain the execution of the strategy.
Internal marketing is a process that will constantly evolve and grow as your practice does. Find a system that works for your practice culture and sparks a fire in each employee to fully optimize their internal marketing potential.