OK, that’s probably an exaggeration…and it’s exactly my point. Google “dental patient referral programs” and you’re likely to see at least a dozen headlines that will grab your attention (like the one in this blog…). Here are some I found in about five seconds:

“Top 5 Tips For Dental Patient Referral Programs”

“12 Marketing Ideas that Don’t Break the Bank”

“Absolutely, Positively the Best Referral Program Ideas”

“21 dental marketing ideas that will get you 147+ calls in 4 weeks…”

WOW! Where do I sign up?

And therein lies a big challenge that we see routinely in the dental industry. In many respects, the industry is a bit behind the curve when it comes to practice marketing. At the same time, dentists are bombarded with so-called solutions that promise to drive patient growth and offer amazing results, including patient referral programs, which are a proven way to grow a practice. In fact, for an established dental practice, more than 70% of new patient growth should come from internal patient referrals, according to some sources.

Unfortunately, most of the patient referral programs we see being promoted are one-size-fits-all tactical approaches that are not integrated with an overall practice marketing strategy that incorporates the practice’s demographics, maturity/age, services the practice wants to promote, and the ‘ideal patient’ the practice wants to attract. For example:

  • Demographics – geographical area (including rural, suburban or urban), education and income levels, gender concentration, median patient age, access to oral health and orthodontic specialists, etc.
  • Practice maturity – in what growth stage is your practice? Are you a new or an established practice? Do you want to expand to other locations? Are you interested in building your practice so that it can be acquired? Are you interested in remaining a general dentistry practice or in adding specialists?
  • Patient behaviors – what are you looking for in an ideal patient? That they arrive on time? Readily accept your treatment plan, pay their bills, and refer their family and friends easily?
  • Types of dentistry your practice wants to promote – cosmetic dentistry, implants, pediatric dentistry, airway obstruction/sleep apnea treatment, etc.

Emotional Involvement Marketing incorporates the traditional tactics with today’s most important communication channels from customized referral and thank-you cards to emails and newsletters, to patient reviews on a practice website or Facebook page, to community events such as donations to pet shelters in return for referrals—the list of ideas is virtually unlimited. The point is that any patient referral program must be created as part of a larger marketing strategy designed to create a patient experience second to none, from the moment they arrive until they set up their next appointment, check out and pay.

A one-size-fits-all treatment plan doesn’t work for your patients and a plain vanilla, cookie-cutter patient referral program won’t either. Let Iconic Orange help you design a system-agnostic, integrated program that’s designed to achieve your practice marketing goals and deliver REAL results, rather than “147+ calls in 4 weeks.”  We all know what they say about statistics…


Contact us today to discuss patient referral solutions customized for your practice – because one size DOESN”T fit all.