4 Ways to Grow Your Practice by Building Your Influence:
Referrals, Reputation Management and Maximizing the Return on Your Involvement
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In today’s social media-driven, price-conscious environment, growing your patient base relies as much on your professional and personal reputation as on what your practice offers. For years, professional services firms were reluctant to use a very effective key marketing tactic that results in lasting third-party credibility that increases trust with patients and prospects alike. We’re talking about building your influence.
It’s tempting to think that simply posting on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter is the answer, but it is far from the only tactic. Here are four ways to use Emotional Involvement Marketing to increase (or improve) your influence among your existing patients and those you want to attract to your practice.
1. Patient Referrals
Hands down, referrals from existing patients are the most effective way to build influence because they demonstrate a level of trust in you and your practice. In a recent survey by the Levin Group Data Center, almost 90 percent of respondents identified referrals from current patients as their most successful marketing tactic, yet many dentists do not have effective patient referral programs. Patient referral programs offer the double benefit of connecting with both existing and new patients, and engaging them with your practice. From gift cards to movie tickets and practice discounts, patient referral programs work! Even a simple referral card handed out at the end of a visit or inserted into patient reminder mailings can be effective.
NOTE: Be sure to check with your state or local dental association to ensure that your program is legal and does not violate practice standards.
2. Online reputation-building
Fewer than half of dentists and dental practices have pages on Yelp, according to Dentistry IQ, yet using Yelp effectively can be a vital component of building your influence. Because anyone can write a review, existing and potential patients believe Yelp is a reliable source for third-party credibility. They’re more likely to visit a practice that is highly rated there. . Ask patients to review/rate you on Yelp (be sure to have a Yelp profile page and connect it to your web site). Monitor your reviews daily and respond to them quickly.
3. Social media presence
While social media isn’t the only way to build influence, it is definitely the most dynamic, with the potential for reaching far wider audiences than any other medium. It takes only five minutes to set up a social media account, but simply having a presence misses the point. Content is king in social media: crafting and creating content that adds value to people’s lives, personally or for their business is what will make you an influencer. And here’s where the power of social media really shows: a November 2016 report from Smallbiztrends.com report showed that social media users typically share their content across more than one network.
Share your opinions, analyze and comment on industry data and trends, recognize colleagues and tout your accomplishments. Start a conversation. Just get out there! Not sure where to focus your digital footprint? Check out the Smallbiztrends for recent statistics about the five major social media platforms and decide what channels will work best for you. Give your efforts time to work and measure, measure, measure. If you build online influence effectively, your ideal patients will begin to trust you and seek your advice.
4. Community influence-building
Surveys show that community involvement is important and may be the deciding factor when a potential patient is deciding between two practices. This attitude is particularly prevalent among millennials, as they expect that social responsibility is part of the fabric of the future, and businesses must participate. Whether it’s volunteering, sponsoring local sports teams, youth programs and non-profit events, or speaking at local events, engaging with your community increases your influence and raises your practice’s positive image. Whatever you do in the community, don’t forget to let current and prospective customers know about it in a meaningful (translation: not crass self-promotion) by mentioning it on your web site, in your practice newsletter or other communications.
The bottom line
You can spend all your time offering the best services, hiring the best staff, and investing in the best technology. But, if you want to improve your Return on Involvement, if you want your practice to thrive, you must become a thought leader—a positive, powerful influencer your target audiences can trust.
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