Referral partnerships are one of the secret weapons that Central Florida orthodontists can use to make sure they have a steady stream of new patients coming right to their door.
As the name suggests, a referral partner is a business that refers customers to you. There are two kinds of referral partners in an integrated orthodontist marketing strategy:
1. Referral Partners Within Your Industry
General dentists are important referral partners for most local orthodontists. They are not competitive with you and can easily tell when your services may be of value to their customers.
Smaller dental practices make great referral partners because they are less prone to have an existing relationship with an orthodontist. Once the relationship starts, it usually lasts for a long time.
Patients referred to you from dentists are more likely to take action, because they are already thinking about their future dental health. That said, industry partners are more likely than others to ask for a “finder’s fee.” That reduces the amount you make per procedure, so be sure your margins are healthy.
2. Referral Partners Outside Your Industry
These referral partners have nothing much to do with orthodontics or dentistry. You might wonder what this has to do with marketing for orthodontists, but you could be surprised. There is never a “wrong” time for someone to encounter your brand if it meets the needs they have at that moment.
Referral partners from outside the industry are becoming more valuable than they ever were before. The shift toward large, highly formalized dentistry practices means there are fewer out there who don’t already have an orthodontist partner, either in-house or as part of their network.
The partners you identify from outside your industry are often glad to work with you if it means they can do some organic cross-promotion among your patients. Wellness-oriented businesses such as gyms, yoga studios, and nutritionists can all contribute to your goals.
No matter what type of referral partners you focus on in your orthodontist marketing, it’s vital to build and maintain those relationships. After all, the same partners may be approached by your competitors. If they know you well, they won’t give much thought to switching, even if they stand to earn more.
A Gift Basket Is Your Ideal Surprise for Referral Partners
You should treat your referral partners with the same care as your best customers. Just like the patients, you see every year without fail, they have the potential to advocate for your business and send many thousands of dollars in new work your way. That means following up regularly is essential!
But a “hi, how ya doin’?” isn’t always enough to cut through the clutter of busy work life.
With so many things jockeying for attention, your referral partner outreach should be something special. One way to ensure that is to create a truly handcrafted gift basket. Gifts draw on your knowledge of the other person to make the relationship stronger. What a way to show your appreciation!
Of course, we live in a world where just about anything you might want to buy is right there on an e-commerce website. So, it’s tough to come up with anything the other person has “never seen before.” That’s why it’s so crucial to take extra care and make sure you develop something unique to yourself.
Let’s zoom in on some of the best practices to use:
1. Does a Gift Basket Actually Have to Be a Basket?
Let’s start with the most obvious question. A gift basket does not actually need to be a basket. Whether you use a basket, a box, a leather case, or something else entirely depends on what surprises are in store. Your selection is based not only on what’s most convenient, but what will make the contents truly memorable.
That brings us to the next point.
2. Wrapping, Presenting, and Designing Your Gift Basket
No matter the size of a gift, the way it’s presented can make it stand out in the other person’s mind.
You have the opportunity to create special memories based on how you wrap and stage your gift. In the winter holidays, some parents like to create suspense with a big box where other, smaller gifts are nested. The final item is nowhere near as big as it first seemed, but it is the most sought-after of them all.
If you are using a basket, you can use layering to the same effect by having a soft material like cotton or faux grass that initially conceals some items. You can also give the unwrapping and unboxing experience a certain rhythm by wrapping some items while leaving others visible.
Another simple way to make a gift basket special is with notes or drawings. You do not necessarily need fancy gift wrapping paper – if you’re going to draw or write long notes, plain brown paper can be best. Add a little flair to paper-wrapped parcels by using a nice ribbon to hold them together.
3. Choosing a Theme for Your Gift Basket
A carefully chosen theme can make your gift basket more artistic and endearing. Surprisingly enough, it also makes things a little bit easier for you. Instead of looking far and wide for ideas, you can narrow your options down to things that match your theme. Your recipient may be delighted by how everything goes together!
If your basket has a specific theme, be sure this is obvious at first glance. You might use a decorative element that stands out and has no other purpose but to establish the theme. Position your hand-written gift card in such a way that the recipient will see and look at it first to understand the big idea.
Your theme can be whatever you desire: Seasons and holidays are popular. Personal milestones can be very effective if you know the other person well. A gift basket doesn’t have to be about you, after all; it can help your partner celebrate some recent achievement you heard about.
4. Deciding What to Offer in Your Gift Basket
A gift basket does not need to be especially expensive. When you’re intentional about all the things that go into the experience, “it’s the thought that counts” takes on a whole new meaning. To budget your gift basket, count up the revenue you’ve earned as a result of your partner’s referrals this year.
Depending on how much they’ve contributed, 5% to 10% of that amount can create a wonderful gift.
Naturally, you could include coupons for your own services. However, this will not be relevant to all of your partners. Another way to go is to purchase gift cards from all the different referral partners you work with and include them in a tasteful setup within your gift basket. If you know what someone likes best – whether it’s chocolate, cheese, or Florida Gators merchandise – always start with that.
Contact us to learn more about integrating referral partnerships into your orthodontist marketing.