Consider who are your ‘Practice Ambassadors?
Going back as far as 1967, Professor Johan Arndt from the Colombia Graduate School of Business identified ‘word of mouth’ as “one of the most important, if not the most important source of information for the consumer.”
No doubt about it...
As time marches on, ‘word of mouth’ only becomes more influential with patient referrals.
With so much information available on the internet – some good, some not so good, access has resulted in some ‘official’ marketing messages, being regarded as less credible.
As a result...
Some of these, albeit professional marketing companies can be deemed less influential than ever.
Add this to complaints and patient expectations being at an all-time high within the profession, and we see trust being questioned more than ever.
As a direct effect...
People now use their family, friends and work colleagues for advice and information – as they are people they trust.
This applies to all walks of life, not just “who is your dentist, and would you recommend them?”
What am I referring to here?
So yes, whilst media and online areas allow our patients to have a much easier, quicker and in-depth access to information than ever before, word of mouth still should be prioritised very highly.
Interestingly, we tend to assume a ‘word of mouth’ referral has occurred from a face to face interaction.
And historically, that has been the case.
Today, many ‘word of mouth’ interactions actually happen in an online environment, with people able to post opinions and recommendations online.
In fact, many companies encourage them to!
As such, how we consider the more ‘conventional word of mouth’ is morphing into a new hybrid that includes online.
Traditional face-to-face isn’t needed as often nowadays.
It has merged with a new online counterpart.
Think about how people search for information today?
Almost invariably, it is on the internet.
Irrespective of the service, product or business.
SO, why is this relevant to your practice?
The more recommendations and demonstrations of public support you can compile, the greater your business will have of succeeding.
I tend to think of these patients as our “practice ambassadors”.
You know who I mean.
Those that you just “click’ with.
As a result of this...
We need to keep a careful eye on our social media platforms and use them to assess what it is our patients (or potential patients) both need and want.
In doing so, you will be able to specifically target your communication and marketing strategies to where it is most needed and will be best received.
Ultimately, this should actually save you money – as you won’t be investing any areas that just don’t work for you.
The problem is, you might not know at the moment where these people are.
Therefore, you need to keep a record of what you share online and monitor what has the biggest response and so the greatest impact and influence.
This will then allow you to really focus on where you invest your resources (time and money) and with whom.
So, what is the big take home message here?
As a business (Associate dentist or Principal dentist – this applies to both), you need to be encouraging “practice ambassadors” to attract new patients to your dental business
This could be something as simple as a like/share, or even a testimonial.
You would be surprised just how many patients would be delighted to provide you with a testimonial.
And what is a testimonial?
In dentistry, we will still continue to rely on face to face word of mouth recommendations.
No doubt about it.
However, I would question if it is still enough.
I don’t think it is.
We need to reconsider what exactly word of mouth means in today’s society.
And in doing so think – what are you doing to create, nurture and encourage your ‘practice ambassadors?”
Food for thought!
Dr Leonard J Maguire BDS LL.M MBA
General Dental Surgeon
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