Using Referral-Based Marketing as a Secret Weapon for Orthodontic Practice Growth

To create a successful orthodontic practice, you need more than just clinical skills and simply having the best orthodontic software isn’t enough.

You need strong business know-how. Business knowledge comes from a deep understanding of your business, and what it needs to thrive.

There are a lot of factors that make up a good and fruitful business. That said, to experience booming growth in your practice, you need to understand the key drivers.

The Key to Growth

While it seems as though today’s world is more focused on technology and less focused on human interaction, the truth is that we are more social than ever. Think about it, through the simple click of a button we can communicate with people from all over the world, people that we’ve never even met and probably never will.

Today more than ever, orthodontic practices are relying on referral-based marketing as the key driver of business growth. And for a good reason; it works!

According to Neilson, 92% of consumers from around the world said they trusted recommendations or word-of-mouth from friends and family above all other forms of advertising.

Many orthodontists believe that if they are the best and most qualified in their area, financial success will follow. Sure, credentials are meaningful, but not when it’s all you have to offer. You need the right business skills alongside with your clinical experience. One of the best business skills an orthodontic office can practice is referral marketing.

Why Referral-Based Marketing?

There are many forms of marketing out there, and many of them come with a hefty investment. What makes referral marketing so unique? There is a one-word answer to this question: trust!

Word-of-mouth typically happens through family, friends, or social media follows. All of these relationships come with a bond of trust. People trust the experiences and recommendations of others.

Referral marketing also allows you to form a relationship with your patients. You can answer their questions and connect with them both in person and online. This personal connection builds trust between patient and practice. When the patient trusts you, they will want to refer you to others.

Another aspect of referral marketing focuses on general dentists, and this is where the real magic happens. A patient can only refer a few new people at a time. Patient referrals are certainly not a bad thing, as a few new referrals here and there can greatly add up.

That said, a general dentist can reach many more people. They have the potential to send over 100 new patients or more each year to your office. Building a relationship with referring dentists is one of the best ways to up your new patient referrals and grow your practice.

Benefits of Referral Marketing

Referral marketing is highly beneficial because of its ability to reach a larger audience. Other forms of marketing are generally geared towards people who are searching for you. Referral marketing, on the other hand, can reach people who don’t know about you and maybe aren’t even looking for an orthodontist. But down the road when they need one, they will remember you because of the little push they received from a friend or family member.

Another benefit of referral-based marketing is its cost-effectiveness. This type of word-of-mouth advertising is generally free. The only cost to you is providing your patients with exceptional care and customer service. Even when you put monetary programs into place, the cost is very minimal, especially compared to the money you’ll drive in through increased referrals.

Finally, word-of-mouth creates loyalty. You are likely to have higher retention rates and stronger customer loyalty through patients who were referred to you.  This means that your effort at gaining referrals does not produce just a one-time result. Studies show a significant relationship between word of mouth referrals and lifetime brand loyalty. As a bonus, long-term, loyal patients are more likely to give out referrals, so it’s a win-win situation.

Hire a Professional Relations Coordinator

While referral marketing is a highly successful advertising tactic, it only works its magic when carried out in the right way. That’s where a Professional Relations Coordinator, or PRC, comes in.

Most orthodontists do not have the time, knowledge, or interest to carry out a complex multi-faceted referral-marketing program. If you try going at it alone, there’s a high likelihood you’ll experience burnout.

If you hire a PRC, you will have a professional who carries the skills, experience, and education to manage marketing, grow the practice, and dramatically increase your patient referrals. All the while, you can focus on providing optimal orthodontic care and not have to worry about work overload.

Hiring a PRC will give you a significant return on investment, both in the form of money and time (and probably sanity as well!).

A PRC will manage around 95% or more of the entire marketing project. Some of their responsibilities will include:

  • Defining referral marketing strategies
  • Creating and carrying out timelines
  • Tracking results
  • Adding new strategies
  • Staying up to date on the latest marketing methods
  • Continually work on ways to systematically increase referrals from patients and referring doctors

Marketing is a precise science, and when practiced the right way, it will yield dynamite results for your orthodontic practice.


The key to growth in your orthodontic practice is referral-based marketing. In fact, it is an essential and probably the most important part of your marketing plan. Referral marketing is a complex strategy that requires building trust, connecting with patients and referring doctors, and developing a systematic approach to carry out your referral marketing plan.

With the right team, the best orthodontic software and the right know-how, you can be on your way to experience growth and long-term loyal patients.


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