Radically increase referrals

Positive reviews of your practice will draw new patients to you through the power of social media.

By John Luginbill

There is an affordable and easy way to drive exponential growth in your practice. This is no hyperbole. With the right approach, exponential growth is not just possible, but inevitable.

What does “exponential” mean? It means growth that follows a geometric progression (e.g., 2, 4, 8, 16 …) rather than a linear progression (e.g., 2, 3, 4, 5). When you grow exponentially, it’s your rate of growth that increases.

To achieve this kind of explosive growth, you must embrace social media and consumer rating sites. Don’t worry, it is easier than you might think. There are three important reasons why you should incorporate a social media program in your marketing plan:

1. A social media marketing program is cost effective because your patients do the majority of the work for you. The statistics show that there are more than 750 million people on Facebook and almost 200 million on Twitter. There has also been explosive growth in rating and review sites like Yelp, Citisearch, Google ratings, and Yahoo shopping.

Consumer ratings are just the thing your practice needs to become more profitable and generate raving fans.

Yes, even healthcare providers can have an enthusiastic fan club.

People will rate almost anything, including restaurants, hair salons, clothing stores, repair services, and their doctors. Yet most healthcare professionals don’t take advantage of this opportunity.

You may not realize that any business — including your practice — is encouraged by these rating sites to manage the information on them. All you have to do is ask.

Better yet, Google and other search engines are far more likely to prioritize pages from a rating site than they are to promote those from a typical business. Chiropractors always want to know how to come up first in a Google search. Well, if you embrace ratings, you may not just be first, you could have several top-listed pages and mentions on Google.

Here is the beauty of this: Your patients are already rating the things that interest them. They will do the work. You and your staff do not have to add more marketing tasks to your current program.

All you have to do is include a sheet of paper at checkout that shows people how and where to rate your practice. Your patients will do the rest.

2. You can increase positive patient experiences in your office. At checkout, have your staff ask your patients: “If you can’t give us your highest rating today, is there anything we can do to change that?” That one powerful phrase will improve your staff interactions and help bring in new patients.

This may seem like an odd example but, historically, car dealership service departments have been overpriced, slow, and inefficient. Not unlike healthcare delivery. After a car went out of warranty, most owners would never consider going back to the dealer.

A few years ago, however, manufacturers began to encourage customer rating surveys. Since then, service, satisfaction, and profitability have all soared. If it weren’t for the improbable fact that consumers now love car dealership service departments, many dealers would be out of business.

That is an example of what embracing rating sites can do for the customer experience, and the same thing can happen to your practice.

You should tell your clinical and support staff members that they (as well as you) will be rated online — publicly — by patients. Believe me, the way they treat people will improve.

The ideas they have about patient flow and patient care will increase. They will engage in the patient experience. Statistically speaking, the majority of negative ratings about chiropractors involve complaints about staff and wait times; they are usually not about the quality of clinical care. Embracing rating and review sites will improve your staff interactions.

3. You can drive a wave of new patients into your office. Nearly 90 percent of all consumers search for a doctor online before they even ask friends or family. When someone searches for a keyword like “chiropractor” or “back pain” — and you have been faithfully asking people to review your practice — your reviews will tend to dominate the returns as patients narrow their searches.

No matter how much money the other practices have spent on their websites and marketing, the search engines will prioritize organic (natural) ratings over paid marketing. So when someone is in need of treatment, your reviews will help them find you when they are ready to spend.

There are other social media strategies you can employ, but the fastest, easiest, and most effective way to drive exponential growth is to consistently ask your patients to rate and review your practice online.

John Luginbill is the founder and CEO of The Heavyweights, an agency that offers a marketing process that helps healthcare practitioners achieve rapid growth without breaking the bank. He can be reached at john@theheavyweights.com or through www.turnupyourvolume.com.

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