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How to Build Your Medical Business Without Advertising


Three Rules that Govern Success in Building Your Business Without Advertising  (yes, it really is possible).

I recently listened to a webinar from an expert in networking who has built a side business teaching others how to do it effectively. He has logged over 6,000 coffee meetings along the way and was clear in his dislike of advertising as a means of growing one’s business. He has mastered the art of relationship building and, as a result, all of his new business is based on referrals from others. Pretty sweet!

Most doctors tell me that their main source of business is patient referrals. What I’ve observed over the years is a poor understanding of how reciprocity works in relationships in a way that is beneficial to both the patient and the provider. So here are three rules that can go a long way to making you so trustworthy that you can grow your business 100% through relationships. 

1. Give Before You Get  

Although the expert described above gets all of his business from referrals, he NEVER asks for a referral. That would be a form of salesmanship that just isn’t appropriate early in a relationship. He practices something I’ve followed for many years: be prepared to give something before you get anything in return. Giving is akin to making deposits in another person’s emotional bank account. As with financial transactions, you need to make deposits before you make withdrawals in the form a request or ask.  

2. Ask for Reviews not Referrals  

Let’s assume you’ve been making regular deposits in the lives of those you encounter, whether new patients or long time repeat customers. Do you now ask for a referral? No.  What was once considered appropriate (“the biggest compliment you can give is to refer your family and friends”) now comes across as desperate. What you want to ask for is a review. As I’ve written about in my book, a review has much more lasting impact than a referral. The person giving you a review is doing it not just for you but for themselves as part of their own desire to influence behavior among those in their circle of influence and beyond. An online review is far more powerful in its potential reach than a direct referral of a patient or two.  

3. Recommendations Put Reputation at Risk 

One thing to remember is that anytime somebody makes a recommendation, be it via an online review or a personal encounter, they are putting their reputation at risk. The risk is low when it comes to recommending a movie or a restaurant. The risk is much higher when it comes to a medical provider or other professional (attorney, financial advisor, etc).  If you’re a doctor, you want to be hypersensitive to this reality and make sure you and your team are in a position to not just meet but exceed expectations when engaging with new patients. What you want is to make the person who wrote that review or referred their friend over-the-top proud that they did so. 

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