Methodical inbound marketing is the foundation of successful medical practice marketing. It takes a trickle of website visits and turns them into a stream of qualified leads. Professional referral marketing, however, is the wellspring to tap if you want to unleash the Niagara Falls of new patients and clients.
What is Professional Referral Marketing?
Word-of-mouth is the best form of advertisement out there. When it comes to health issues, professional referral marketing is a platinum word-of-mouth referral because it's generated by a trusted medical resource. While you may be doing your part – referring patients to specialists whom you feel are the best – make sure other professionals are returning the favor by referring their clients to you.
Networking is an important part of the professional referral process because other healthcare professionals feel the most comfortable referring patients to individuals or practices they know and trust. The more reputable your brand reputation is, the more likely others will be to refer patients to you – even if they don't know you personally.
There are three primary reasons to use professional referral marketing as a part of your own medical practice marketing:
- Enjoy a flood of new clients. The most important benefit of professional referral marketing as part of your marketing strategy is that it creates a continuing flood of new clients and prospects. They come right to you rather than you having to fish for them using a "just right" SEO formula.
- Boost brand recognition. Once the dam breaks and the stream (or Niagara Falls) of new patients floods through the doors, magnified brand recognition is an automatic benefit. The more patients you have, the more online reviews and personal referrals you'll get, the more traffic will click through your website, and the more social media engagement you'll enjoy. All of this boosts your brand's image, further feeding the cycle.
- Enjoy serious ROI. Big hospitals and for-profit healthcare facilities have relied on professional referral marketing for years. In fact, most of them rely on teams of physician liaisons to do the bulk of this network and referral building for them. Until recently, that level of "solicited networking" wasn't possible for smaller healthcare practices. Now, though, the internet has significantly leveled the playing field. Online networking, webinars, eBlasts, online discussion groups, and social media campaigns all make it easier for private practices to get their name out there and become a trusted information source. The professional referrals these strategies glean have considerably higher ROI than more traditional inbound marketing methods do.
As some experts have put it, using professional referral marketing strategies is like fishing with a wide net rather than an individual hook.
Integrate Professional Referrals into Medical Practice Marketing Strategies
This evolved form of medical practice marketing works best if top-level executives are on board. Why? Because communication and continuity are key to successfully facilitating new patient transfers and positive communication with referring professionals. (You don't want others feeling as if you've stolen their patient...)
- Get new hires on board. New hires are more likely to be more tech-savvy than tried-and-true team members, so they're the most qualified to jump in to work-established professional networks.
- Target physician campaigns. Target campaigns to other physicians and practices you can form symbiotic relations with, sharing expertise, evidence-based results, and so forth, so that you're on their radar. This is especially beneficial if your niche focuses on medical conditions for which patients are not able to self-refer.
- Hire professionals. While in-house communication, networking, outreach, and participation are important, that's all secondary to a healthcare professional's primary responsibility: patient care. Thus hiring professional healthcare relations professionals will buoy and accelerate professional referrals.