Orthodontic practices work hard to create marketing strategies that excite young patients. But kids today, as every generation before them laments, are different. There was a time when kids were excited to have a token gift from a box of cheap plastic toys. That won’t cut it anymore. You must determine what excites kids today. Top practices regularly raffle off the newest video game consoles, video games, gift cards, T–shirts, and even family cruises. The list of opportunities is endless, but the main point is that the activities must be relevant. Giveaways that kids don’t want won’t help create excitement for the practice.
And what about adults? Completely focusing on children hasn’t always led to effective internal marketing and may cause you to miss out on another segment of your patient base that has strong power to refer. But adults probably don’t care about winning a T–shirt or getting the newest video game. Studies of orthodontic practices by the Levin Group Data Center indicate that it is the mothers of your young patients, and your adult patients who are the best referral sources. Adults talk to other adults regularly and make strong recommendations on where to send their kids or themselves for orthodontic treatment.
We suggest you create a parent marketing program that we call the Parent Ambassador Program. Each year scour the Internet for the top 10 gifts of the year under $100. There are some amazing things you can give away that parents will love. Just imagine a parent or adult patient winning an Omaha Steaks package with all kinds of steaks, burgers, and other food that will only cost you about $79.
There’s also great opportunity to create a marketing buzz through social media with the right approach. Some of the smartest minds in social media marketing have identified that it’s better to use social media to promote and extend your brand rather than as a free advertising vehicle to attract new patients. The challenge is to answer the following question, "What is your brand?"
Referral marketing must be relevant, and many practices have programs that are old and tired. However, with a minimal amount of effort you can reinvigorate and revitalize your referral marketing program and increase referrals.