Practice Management: Internal Marketing

Strategies to increase loyalty and motivate patient referrals.
MedEsthetics Jan/Feb 2020

In business lexicon, internal marketing is the promotion of an organization’s objectives and services to its employees with the goal of improving customer service and creating brand ambassadors. In the service industry, it also refers to the practice of promoting your services to existing (versus prospective) clients to increase loyalty and motivate referrals. Combining both of these efforts is key to practice growth.

There are many advantages to internal marketing. First, you already know your patients and your staff. This makes marketing less intimidating and allows you to gather instant feedback on your efforts. Second, internal marketing is less costly than external campaigns and, therefore, offers a higher return on investment (ROI).

Following are some of the most effective internal marketing strategies that can help increase patient loyalty and motivate word-of-mouth referrals.

Motivating Referrals

Word-of-mouth referrals are the very best marketing tool there is, and they are free. The best way to encourage patients to refer their friends and family is to ask them. You can do this verbally if a patient tells you how much she loved her results and through in-office signage, such as, “If you loved the service you received, tell a friend. Your referrals help our practice grow.”

Open house and VIP events are another effective way to encourage patient referrals. Host a seasonal or educational event to introduce a new treatment or technology. Promote the event in-office and through your patient email list, and invite your patients to bring a guest.

You can also encourage existing patients to refer their friends by giving them a “treat a friend” certificate for a discounted introductory service.

Building Loyalty

Aesthetic patients have many options for care. They may seek out another provider due to a negative experience with your practice, respond to a discount offer or try a new facility out of curiosity. But in some cases, patients go to another practice because they were unaware that you offered the very same treatment they were seeking. Don’t let this happen to you! Make sure your staff and patients are aware of the full range of treatments and services offered at your facility.

There are several ways to keep patients apprised of your treatments: offer a service menu at the front desk and upon checkout; run video loops in the waiting area that highlight your full range of services; create signage of your treatments to post throughout the facility; and, most importantly, discuss patients’ concerns with them and guide them toward treatments that can help.

Offering your own branded skincare product line can increase patient loyalty, too, as the patient will need to reorder either through your website or by coming back into the practice.

Some practices offer surveys to new and returning patients. These surveys ask about specific aesthetic concerns as well as level of interest in different types of treatments offered in the practice.

You can reduce no-shows and increase patient retention by having staff members book the patient’s next appointment for treatments, such as Botox, chemical peels or fillers, before they leave the practice. Then follow up with text, email or phone reminders in the week or days before the scheduled appointment.

After every appointment, send a thank-you note or email letting the patient know how much you appreciate the trust they have put in you and your practice, and include contact information in case they have any questions or concerns.

Of course, understanding patient expectations and consistently exceeding them is the No. 1 way to ensure they will come back to your practice and tell their friends and colleagues about you. This is where staff internal marketing comes into play.

Employees as Customers

Have you ever taken the time to market yourself and your practice to your employees? Do they know about your unique qualifications and your passion for patient care? Do they love your products and services? If you want to deliver an exemplary patient experience and outstanding aesthetic outcomes, you need your entire staff—from the front desk to the providers to the back office—on board.

Here are some ways to market yourself to your employees so they will buy into your success and become your best brand ambassadors:

  • Make sure every employee knows that their role in the office is vital to the practice’s success.
  • Educate all employees about your products and services by offering training as well as free or discounted treatments and homecare products.
  • Encourage input through regular staff meetings or one-on-one conversations.
  • Publicly thank employees for their efforts and ideas.
  • Remind staff that the patients are the source of their salaries.
  • Provide continuing education and opportunities for advancement.

Marketing is essential to the success of a private medical practice. But it doesn’t have to feel like selling and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Your most effective sales and marketing tools lie right within your practice—in the encounters you have every day with your staff and patients, and in the printed materials and audio-visual products that populate your waiting area and front desk. These internal marketing tools and strategies help bring a steadily growing stream of patients to your door at a fraction of the cost of external marketing campaigns, so be sure to keep them top of mind all year long.

Cheryl Whitman is founder and CEO of Beautiful Forever, an aesthetic business consulting firm, and author of Beautifully Profitable, Forever Profitable. Contact her at: cheryl@beautifulforever.com, 561.299.3909.

Image copyright iStock.com/Megaflop