How do I get my cards and other marketing materials past the “gatekeeper”? That is a question I hear with regularity when mentoring mental health professionals into Private Practice.
Let me tell you a story… When I first started out in practice, there was an huge OB/GYN group in town that I knew could provide me with enough referrals on their own to keep me busy. They had 4 or 5 docs and several nurse practitioners, and they were easily the busiest practice in our town at the time.
I knew that I could provide them with a great referral source (me!); I also knew that I could provide great service to their patients. I could be of value to them. But, how was I going to get them to know those things?
I knew whatever I sent to them would be opened by someone other than the docs. I went there to drop off things, and I was pleasantly greeted by the receptionist, but I wasn’t convinced she would relay my “stuff” and my value message to the docs like I would. Hmmm…
Well here’s what I did.
1. I did my homework and found out who the office manager was. I called her and introduced myself and told her what I did and asked what I could do to help her and her docs. I think I surprised her with that question, but it really made her think and soon we really got to know each other. After that, I sent ALL of my materials directly to her (her suggestion) so she could make sure the docs got everything. I always included a note thanking her for her help and reminding her to let me know if there was anything else I could do for her. Every Christmas I had a little something special for her when I dropped off something for the office. I got to know (and like) the gatekeeper!
2. I made sure the things I sent to the practice were unique. I had to stand out, or they had no reason to change the way they were doing business (with others in town). I sent my packages in large envelopes or boxes. My flyers were on colorful paper. I gave them stock cards for their waiting room. My business cards were larger than most. Your “stuff” has to stand out from the clutter!
3. I made it so that they felt good about referring to me. I gave them things that they valued — I gave them “fact sheets” about common mental health issues to hand out to their patients . The docs LOVED these. Of course, my contact information was on everything! I provided their office with 100+ newsletters for their waiting room. These newsletters were full of helpful information. I gave them fax referral sheets to simply fill in and fax to me so their office staff didn’t have to take a lot of time calling my office. I did everything I could to help them, and in turn, they helped me.
That’s it! 3 simple steps to get your foot in the door. Try it — it works — and you just might have fun doing it!
I just found your site through Twitter. Great info. This aspect of community networking is one that I have not fully explored. I really appreciate your suggestions. Gaining referral sources through building relationships with the “gatekeepers” is an excellent idea. Thanks!
Uriah — it’s ALL about relationships! Thanks for your comment!