They flood your mailbox before every holiday season. The requests for donations from seemingly random charities. Sure, you can probably chip in a few dollars for the children’s hospital, but why are you getting mail from this random boys’ school in Chicago? Why did anyone think you’d want to make an end-of-the-year donation to a frog rescue organization in Belize? The random letters compound the confusion by including random ‘gifts.’ Address labels, stickers, note pads and checkbook calendars come into your house and go straight to the recycle bin. You wonder if these worthless gifts convince anyone to donate.
Of course they do. That’s why the charities send them out. But, as your reaction shows, they’re not particularly efficient at attracting donations. They may persuade a few people on the margins, but most people aren’t impressed.
When you try to use swag as a means to referrals, you’re falling into the same trap that these charities do. Sure, a general dentist might enjoy your gift basket or a free meal, much like you’re happy to use a new sticky notepad. However, this meaningless swag doesn’t really change your perceptions. If you liked a charity before, the swag might remind you to donate again. If you weren’t interested in the charity or thought it was a particularly bad group, the swag won’t change your mind.
If the dentists you wine and dine were likely to refer patients to you anyway, they’ll enjoy the meal.
But if they already preferred another specialist, a dinner isn’t going to sway them.
After all, it’s not like they can’t buy their own dinners, just like you can buy your own notepads.
Networking with GPs
If you really want to build a strong network of referring dentists, you need to convince general dentists that:
- You know what you’re doing
- You do high quality work
- You can help their patients
But how can you do that? It’s not as if you can televise your procedures so that everyone can see what an expert you are. Most of your patients won’t want their mouths used as marketing tools.
On the other hand, there is one way that you can convince general dentists that you know your field, that you pay attention to the quality of your work, and that you’re dedicated to providing the best possible experiences for the patients that they refer to you. No, the answer is not “better pens and a branded USB drive.”
It’s quality content related to your field.
Most general dentists don’t have time to keep up with the latest trends in specialty dentistry. They may flip through trade magazines or attend talks at conferences, but they’re focused on their own field. That means that they’re often unaware of studies, advances, and research related to your field. Meanwhile, you have to keep up to date on your specialty.
Instead of simply delivering swag to referring dentists, consider giving them the gift of information.
Think about how drug companies deal with physicians. Yes, they drop off notepads and lunches, but they also drop off information about their drugs and models used to explain medical conditions. A free sandwich won’t change someone’s view of medicine, but a summary of how information gained from recent studies may help their patients? That’s golden.
You can do something similar for your referring dentists. Put together a regular newsletter that alerts them to new trends and research. Keep it short, interesting and useful. Include graphics when you can. Information sends the message that you know your field and that you care about improving the oral health of their patients. It gives them something useful without making them feel like you’re trying to bribe them. The next time they see one of your notepads, they’ll remember that they like and respect you, and they’ll be more likely to refer patients to you.
Nobody really needs more swag. But information? That’s the key to establishing yourself as an expert in your field of practice and attracting referrals from general dentists in your region.
If you are interested in hearing about our newsletter program that many other specialists are also using in their practices to network with their local dentists, send a fax to 318.998.2503 with:
Name, Contact Information and Subject Line: GP Newsletter Program Request
My team will be in touch shortly after receiving your information.