April 25, 2017

Dental Marketing Brief: Market to Your Best Referral Sources

Identify the patients who give you the most referrals, and design some part of your marketing plan to attract more of those patients.

Dental marketing referral sources

There is no doubt that referrals are a major, if not the major source of new patient acquisitions for your dental practice. The primary reason is that when people are looking for a new dentist, they typically start by asking someone they know who is the best dentist in town.

This marketing brief is meant to get you thinking about how to get the most out of every marketing dollar you spend. The essence is to spend marketing money to attract patients who will in turn provide you with the most referrals.

The Problem

Unfortunately, even when you are the best dentist in town, many of your happy patients are not proactive in getting the word out to other members of the community. They typically wait to be asked by someone. From a dental marketing perspective, you are forced into the practice of waiting for lightening to strike. Either you are waiting for people to tell the world about you, or you are waiting for the world to ask your current patient about you. Either way, that is a lot of waiting.

The good news is that some of the people you serve are more than happy to tell other about you, and many of them do so without being asked. These are your promoters.

Who Are Your Promoters?

A Promoter, is generally defined as someone who is so pleased with your dental practice, that they are perfectly willing to promote you to their friends and family. In order to develop someone into a promoter you have to do two things:

  1. You have to attract the right type of patients, those who are more likely to like your practice, but also those who are very likely to tell people about you
  2. You have to make them really happy about your practice

I would be willing to bet that you don’t know who your best promoters are, and even if you do, you don’t do anything to attract more of them to your practice.

What can you do to start attracting more promoters?

Attracting more promoters to your dental practice is actually a very simple process that includes two steps:

  1. Identify who your best sources of referrals are
  2. Market to them with the goal of acquiring them as your patient

What I am really saying here is that you should start making it a habit of marketing to a certain type of patient, a patient who is more likely to spread the word about your practice. This requires a shift in your thinking from general marketing to the public at large, to hyper target marketing to the best referral sources in your community.

Real Estate Professionals

To illustrate the point, let’s use what seems to be a universally accepted excellent source of referrals for a dental practice, a real estate broker. Real estate professionals, for obvious reasons, are referral machines for many dentists. If this is true for your dental practice too, then you should market your practice to more real estate professionals with the goal of making them your patient. How would you go about doing this?

Here are a few ideas to get you started.

  • Advertise to real estate professionals using both offline and online ad campaigns
  • Create a page on your website designed specifically for real estate professionals
  • Share real estate listings of your current clients on your social media pages
  • Engage with real estate professionals who are not your current patients on their social media pages

They key takeaway here is that one real estate professional could be worth hundreds of referrals over the course of a 1 to 2 year period.


If you and I agree that referrals are a great source of new patient acquisitions, then it makes sense for you to consider a marketing plan to attract more referral sources as patients.

You are spending your marketing dollars to attract the one, who will in turn tell the many. It is a leverage application of marketing principles that allows you to work more cost effectively at acquiring a greater number of patients to your practice.

Additional Resources

The Ultimate Question – A book about meauring your Net Promoter Score

Using Dental Staff Meetings to Get More Referrals




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