There are only four places your patients find you before visiting your office: the web, direct referrals, internal marketing from the practice, and external marketing in the community. These, of course, constitute the Top Practices four pillars of marketing plan. None of these areas can be neglected—particularly the often over-looked second pillar.
We like to refer to the second pillar as “shoe leather” marketing, because you wear out the soles of your shoes going around to meet with your existing or potential referral sources. This is often overlooked because of the intense focus on the first pillar, web-based marketing. Doctors everywhere are repeatedly bombarded with offers for web scams and shady internet marketing. No one goes around selling deals for your referral sources.
Most doctors remember that the way they built their practice in the very beginning, when they had nothing but time, was to make in-person visits to all the medical and non-medical referral sources in their area. They introduced themselves, handed out their business cards, and developed relationships. Doctors eventually discontinue this practice for a couple of reasons. As patients start coming in, they get busy and are unable to take the time to visit those referral sources. Also, the habit of meeting and building those relationships doesn’t usually come easily for doctors.
But the practice still needs to develop those relationships. That’s why, at Top Practices, we recommend all our doctors have at least a part-time marketing person to help manage this. We call the position a “director of patient and community relations.” This person routinely and regularly visits many existing and potential medical and non-medical referral sources to maintain and improve those relationships.
While this person’s job is to build and develop sources, the best way for him or her to do this is to just go out and make friends and help people. There is a methodology and a system for routinely visiting people so they don’t consider you a pest or interruption. In fact, done well, you are welcomed and your regular return is something people look forward to.
At Top Practices, we spend a significant amount of time making sure our doctors have people who are marketing out in their communities in ways that build a vibrant and healthy pipeline of referral sources from businesses and medical offices all around the region. Each month we work with our Mastermind group members to make sure they are maximizing this incredibly important marketing pillar. If you’d like to know more about how to improve your shoe leather marketing strategies, join the conversation with our Mastermind group. You can check out the application or contact us for more information. Just call (717) 725-2679 or email [email protected].