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Increase Referrals With Buzz Files

If you were to ask every new patient how they heard about your practice, you’ll find that a significant number will have come from a friend’s recommendations. These are always your best patients. They are pre-sold. They already have some trust and so all you need to do is not mess up.

Compare that cohort to people who saw your ad that offered something free. Those people just know one thing about you: that you’re looking for more patients and that you’re probably willing to pay for them. They are probably coming in neutral-negative and you need to prove yourself.

When you spend money on External Marketing and it doesn’t work, you would change the ads. But when it comes to analyzing the effectiveness of your Internal Marketing, if it isn’t doing very well, chances are you don’t do anything. You probably don’t see it as a variable…something that you have the power to double…triple…quadruple.

I built 5 large practices all via Internal Marketing. No ads. It wasn’t just a by-product of being a good clinician or of just being a nice guy. It didn’t happen by accident.

It occurred to me that if we wanted patients to refer more patients, we needed to give them something to talk about. We needed to create a BUZZ. We needed to arm each patient with note-worthy information. If that information was interesting, chances are, they’d tell their friends.

I also knew that as a clinician, I had no time to pass all this information to the patient. I really needed the team. But now I needed to find a way of training the team on what to say. So we all discussed it and decided that we needed to have regular trainings on all the hot dental topics that patients would find interesting.

We had a 2 hour weekly training. We chose a topic. For example: why amalgam fillings are replaced. We broke each topic down into 4 components. We created what we called a Buzz File for each topic.

Step 1. Check out the science. Range of Linear Thermal Coefficient of Expansion of Dental Materials in the Temperature Range of 20° to 50°C. COEFFICIENT (× 106/°C) Human teeth 8–15. Dental Amalgam 22-28.
This was briefly explained to the team so they had belief. It was too complex for patients. The summary was that amalgam expanded twice as much as teeth. That’s all we needed for the patient.

Step 2. The next step was to think of a metaphor or some sort of visual example to allow the patient to really understand the problem. In many parts of the world, before metal was ‘discovered’, the people were able to break up rocks by chipping out little holes in a straight line and putting water into the holes. When the water froze at night, the rocks cracked. That’s what happens with teeth. When we have a hot drink, the amalgam expands more that the tooth. As this is repeated, the teeth crack. Simple concept.

Step 3. We took lots of clinical photos and started saving interesting photos. So for amalgam, there was no shortage of great shots. Patients were quickly convinced that amalgams are a poor treatment choice.

Step 4. Finally, we made it a habit of relating all the interesting stories that we came across. They needed to be absolutely true. I didn’t want my team to tell fibs!

Each topic had a Buzz File. Over the years we collected fabulous Buzz Files. We had metaphors for all sorts of treatments and conditions.

The result - a professional team of inspired and inspiring people. They liked to chat because they have something to chat about. Patients picked up that they were genuinely interested in their profession. Patients left armed with new interesting tit-bits of shareable information.

Inspiration is infectious. It’s viral.

Dr. Michael Sernik