The Ultimate Ophthalmic Marketing Guide

Chapter 7: Refer

Chapter 7: ReFER

A Referral should be the lowest of the low-hanging fruit in premium services sales and new patient acquisition. When done properly, it practically guarantees revenue at little to no cost.

It is word-of-mouth marketing. It is warm prospecting. It is painless prospecting.

You don’t have to spend money on ads. All you need is a system that enables and encourages your existing patients to mention what you do to their friends and family. A good referral system gives them a way to let that new prospect establish as quickly and easily as possible.

There are several great ways to build referral funnels. One is through your chairside marketing, using a gift card for the patient (“A Gift for You”) and another for their referral (“A Gift for a Friend”). You can hand these out at the time of their visit. And you can mail them as well. They can also be an element in your joint marketing campaigns with other merchants and vendors.

To make things easy, referrals can be requested by adding a simple invitation, a call-to-action, to every email you send out, either in your email signature line or in a P.S. You can put something like “Please share this link with friends and family you think might benefit from our services.” The link should point to a spe-cial referral lead capture web page.

You can also use email drip campaigns to send a series of targeted messages, maybe once a quarter, asking everyone who is on your patient list to refer your practice to friends and family. It’s easy to craft a few simple taglines and a few simple headlines and send out referral emails.

To repeat something we mentioned earlier, you are shooting yourself in the foot if you are not acknowledging and following up after that referral comes in. What we mean by “acknowledging” is making sure you thank the person who referred the new patient – in a separate mail piece, gift, or phone call – and tell them that their friend did come and that you’re most appreciative of their efforts.

Following up” is important for the prospect as well. If the referral calls but isn’t ready yet to establish, then make sure you have their contact info and have noted who referred you. Then start the relationship- building process. It is this follow-up that converts.

Why? Just because they called to find out more about LASIK and were referred by a friend doesn’t mean they’re going to schedule surgery right away. Again, you have to work the referral funnel after the initial contact, just like you would any other inbound inquiry – maybe even more diligently, since future referrals are at risk if you ignore the gift your happy patient just sent your way!

The referral funnel needs a lead magnet, an irresistible offer. Give the referral a way to learn more about you without having to talk to you first. Make a lead magnet that is targeted to people who are familiar with your practice because of their friends but don’t know very much about you. Make it easy for them to get a book about you, or a video book or a DVD that they can access or download, or a set of linked web pages and resources where they can consume your content.

But make the lead magnet part of the referral letter. Let’s say you send out an email that says, “Hi. This is to let you know we are doing a special Valentine’s Day evaluation for people who might want to get [premium service] – if you have a friend or family member who is also interested in this, then please share this link with them.

Don’t treat them like other visitors. If you have an easy way to link to web pages that make them feel special in your message, do that. And make your lead magnet something that’s very relevant, in the context of “We know you’ve been referred by a friend, and that makes you a VIP.”

A warning: No matter how warm the referral, most, if not all, of them are going to check out your online reputation and physician reviews. Be sure to put in the effort to build a five-star reputation before you amplify your referral efforts.

Key Takeaways

  • When done correctly, referrals are nearly effortless and cost-free
  • Existing patients generally like to refer friends and family if they are asked to do so
  • Make sure your online reputation and reviews are in order before launching a referral program 

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