The Power of Internal Marketing

Written by: Roger P. Levin, DDS
internal marketing


I recently had the opportunity to present a seminar to a group of emerging dental leaders. This seminar included leadership concepts, as well as practice enhancement strategies. One of the dentists in attendance asked me about expanding her patient base. She was interested in getting more new patients in the door. I still believe internal marketing is the single most powerful way to drive high-quality patient referrals for a dental practice.

It is critical to have a minimum of fifteen internal marketing strategies in place for an internal marketing program to be effective.

internal marketing

Here are some of the strategies that I recommended to the young dentist at the seminar, in order to help get her started.

These can be part of any practice and are a good starting point as you build toward your total of fifteen.

  1. Conduct an email campaign every 30 days that includes an update on the practice, update on services, highlights a focus on quality, and thanks all patients for referrals. Keep it short – the equivalent of one page.
  2. Call every patient who personally refers another patient and thank them. The doctor should make the call. It goes a long way toward building trust and appreciation.
  3. Send every patient who refers other patients a small gift certificate for a token gift. This can be as simple as a specialty coffee from a local coffee shop. Again, this reinforces the appreciation for the referrals.
  4. Doctors and hygienists should ask patients at the end of each visit to refer friends and family that they feel would enjoy being in the practice. Give out certificates (that you create in-house) for no-cost initial exams that they can give to these friends and family members.
  5. Launch a new patient family referral program where new patients are invited to refer their entire family for no-cost exams. Provide them one certificate to provide individually for each family member.
  6. At their check out, ask new patients (especially mothers) if they would like to schedule anyone else in the family for appointments.
  7. Launch a “refer a co-worker” program. Every co-worker that is referred would result in a courtesy for the referring patient at the next visit.
  8. Select a specific month and offer free whitening to any new patient that joins the practice. Publicize this to the current patients so that they can let other people know.
  9. Make sure all your existing patients experience “5-Star Customer Service” in your practice. Patients are much more likely to refer family and friends to a place that makes them feel appreciated. This also gives them high confidence that anyone they refer will be treated well. Make sure none of your existing patients ever have a reason to regret making a referral.

Naturally, there are many others. It’s only a matter of creativity. I do suggest that you train your team exquisitely in 5-Star Customer Service as the foundation. Very few practices truly have 5-Star Customer Service. Those that do are automatically differentiated and can expect a higher number of high-quality referrals.

When you add other internal marketing strategies on top of that strong customer service foundation, your marketing strategies will be more effective, and the number of referrals will increase.


Roger P. Levin, DDS, is the CEO and founder of Levin Group, a leading practice management consulting firm that has worked with over 30,000 clients to increase production. A recognized expert on dental practice management and marketing, he has written more than 60 books and over 4,000 articles and regularly presents seminars in the United States and around the world.

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