Untold Secrets of Practice Referral Marketing

In the world of healthcare, referrals reign supreme. A trusted recommendation from a doctor carries immense weight, driving new patients through your practice doors. But building strong referral networks isn’t as simple as sending a brochure and hoping for the best. Here, we delve into the untold secrets of referral marketing, transforming colleagues into your biggest advocates.

Secret #1: Cultivate Relationships, Not Transactions

Forget the transactional approach. Clinicians are busy professionals, and a constant barrage of “sell” messages will fall flat. Instead, focus on building genuine relationships. Here’s how:

Listen to their needs.

Take time to listen and understand the challenges your potential referring providers are facing. Are they experiencing access/availability within your specialty? Access is the #1 greatest referral source. Do they have specific communication preferences? Allowing the referring provider to share their challenges, by listening, is the first step in referral development.

  • Pro Tip: Our clients have experienced success with ‘Getting to Know You’ cards for referring office staff members to help expedite and solidify the relationship-building process.

Become a resource.

Especially in the early stages, offer the provider your cell phone number. Sharing your number shows you are interested in fostering a relationship. Again, ease of access is the #1 reason for referral. Often, a provider may have a quick question during clinic or need to have an urgent patient scheduled. By providing your cell, you have made it easy!

  • Pro Tip: Never visit a referring practice empty-handed. First impressions matter and are critical in the early stages of the referral relationship. Something as simple as a box or two of doughnuts goes a long way. Also don’t forget logoed pens and notepads. You want to make it easy for the office staff to find your office number, your address, your website, etc.

Communicate often and openly.

Maintain clear and consistent communication. Keep them updated about new clinics (especially in the periphery areas) or new specialty providers that may be helpful for their patient base. Never miss an opportunity to share a referred patient success story.

  • Pro Tip: Listen intently and often. Referring providers will share what’s working and what’s not. What they won’t do is tell you what’s not working typically more than once or twice. Most often they will simply [and quietly] move on to another provider/competitor in your service line. Listening is vital.

Secret #2: Make Referrals Easy and Rewarding

Streamline the referral process. Offer online referral tools, clear referral forms, and, ideally, a designated point of contact if possible. Time is precious for clinicians and practices, so make it effortless.

Secret #3: Appreciation is Everything

Show your gratitude. A simple handwritten thank-you note following a visit to the provider [and don’t forget notes to their staff!]. Many times, staff have a significant influence on where the referral is sent. Most importantly, always be memorable—especially with your gratitude.

Secret #4: Measure and Adapt

Track your referral sources. Who’s sending the most patients? What types of patients are they referring? Analyze this data to identify high-yield partners and tailor your outreach accordingly.

Secret #5: Go Beyond the Doctor

Be sure not to overlook the physician extenders, such as nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurses, and therapists, when referral marketing. Additionally, don’t forget about ancillary staff members, like medical assistants or referral coordinators, as they often play a significant role in the referral process, as well. Build relationships with the entire team.

The Referral Multiplier Effect

By implementing these secrets, you’ll cultivate a network of enthusiastic clinicians who genuinely believe in your practice. This, in turn, triggers a referral multiplier effect. Satisfied patients referred by trusted doctors become your strongest advocates, spreading positive word-of-mouth accolades and attracting even more patients.


By focusing on genuine relationships, clear communication, and appreciation, you have the opportunity to develop your strongest allies propelling your specialty practice to new heights. At n2MDs, we have over 35 years of combined experience helping practices grow and flourish through referral marketing and much more. Contact us to learn more about our services and how we can help you.

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