How to Use a “Trojan Horse” Marketing Campaign to Drive Referrals from Physicians Without Making Awkward Cold Calls, Bribing them with Gifts, or Making Unannounced Visits

Written by Oli Luke

Last week, I was on a call with one of our clients as we planned their big marketing objectives for 2020.

With a goal of making 2020 their biggest year, I was looking for the smallest dials that we could turn to make the biggest difference to their revenue.

And we discussed “strategic relationships.”

Because, one thing that I’ve discovered throughout my career and running multiple businesses is that EVERY business (regardless of what you sell and who you sell to) is one or two strategic relationships away from making a dramatic difference to their growth.

And after some back and forth questions, we discovered that having referrals from more local physicians would make a huge difference to our client’s 2020 revenue.

With a good physician potentially being worth hundreds of thousands of dollars of additional sales and having potential to be a referral source for 5+ years – it quickly became clear that these were the strategic relationships that we needed to develop.

I asked what the clinic was currently doing to get in front of local physicians.

  • They made cold-calls.
  • They visited each quarter to deliver some literature (brochures, leaflets, etc.).
  • They sent a “thank you” gift if a new physician refers somebody.

But I had an idea.

An idea based on something that has worked in an entirely different market to achieve the exact same objectives … that I believe could be picked up, amended, and executed to develop physician referrals.

But before I share how this would work for physician referrals, let me give you the back-story.

Because aside from proudly working with the US’s leading hearing care clinics to develop and execute forward-thinking marketing strategies, I’m also the co-founder of another business in the UK.

This business sends handwritten direct mail on behalf of a number of prestigious brands. My role in this business is to develop marketing strategies to get us in front of the marketing departments of the highest spending brands in the UK.

Now, let me tell you, these are difficult people to get the attention of!

  • They’re typically guarded by multiple gate-keepers
  • They’re super busy
  • And they’re already invested in large marketing agencies.

No matter what you do, you just don’t get a response.

But I had an idea. 

This idea is a little bit of a “Trojan Horse.” 

If you’re not familiar with the old Greek tale of the Trojan Horse, then here’s a quick explainer stolen from Google

“To break the stalemate of the long and bloody Trojan War, wily Odysseus comes up with a sneaky plan. Most of the Greeks will pretend to sail away, while a few hide inside of a giant wooden horse. Despite the arguments of the priest Laocoön and the seer Cassandra, the Trojans drag the horse inside the city thanks to the lies of a Greek named Sinon. That night, Odysseus and the rest of the Greeks inside the horse sneak out, open the gates for their buddies, and finally lay waste to the city of Troy.”

Here’s how it worked: 

  1. We created something called “The Direct Mail Association” by creating a simple website and populating it with blog content.
  2. We then reached out to difficult to contact marketing leaders through email and LinkedIn to say that we’d like to interview them about their good work for “The Direct Mail Association” with the interview being published in a newsletter that will be shared with hundreds of the UK’s biggest marketing departments.
  3. These difficult-to-contact people quickly responded, shared their availability, and we were able to schedule interviews with them.
  4. We sat down with them for about 30 minutes, asked them a bunch of questions, and then turned the conversation to handwritten direct mail, asking if they currently send it.

This process got us meetings with 16 of our dream clients, and won us three new clients that went on to double our revenue.

Best of all, it hardly cost us anything, it required no awkward cold calls, and it had the difficult-to-contact marketing directors reaching out to us to schedule a meeting.

For us, it’s been a big part of our outreach strategy to win new clients.

And I believe this exact strategy can be amended and used to achieve the exact same objectives with local physicians.

And over the next 12 weeks, we’re doing exactly this for one of our clients.

Here’s how:

  1. We’re going to reach out to physicians that our client currently has strong relationships with and ask if we can interview them and feature them in a new section of our blog called “Physician Focus” – this will allow us to showcase their story, let our community get to know them better, and share what they love about their job.
  2. Once these interviews have been completed, these will then be transcribed and written into powerful blogs on the website, which will be widely circulated on social media.
  3. Once proof of “Physician Focus” is established, we will then use cold emails and direct mail to reach out to local physicians to invite them to be interviewed and share their story as part of this initiative
  4. Our client will then be able to turn up to these interviews and get all the content we need to create a powerful blog on the website. 

This will get us through the door, introduce us to physicians, and introduce them to us to develop trust. We can then be sure to include interview questions like:

  • What do you currently do if you believe that a patient has a hearing loss?
  • What do you look for in a hearing care clinic before referring a patient?
  • What could we do to make referring a patient to us simple for both you and the patient?

The outcome to this process will be two-fold.

  1. Our client will start establishing relationships, trust, and referrals from new physicians, creating strong referral sources that will be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to their business.
  2. Our client will have a core part of their website and online presence that associates them with their community’s best physicians, which gives them a unique edge, provides proof of trust to patients, and makes it clear that they champion to the patient.

Final Thoughts …

Firstly, if you’re looking to develop relationships with physicians and you know that doing the same boring stuff that everybody else is doing is not driving you results, then thinking outside of the box like this could be your way through the door.

Secondly, the ideas and strategies to achieve what you desire through your marketing have already been implemented and are already working outside of your industry – always be brave enough to learn what other industries are doing and adapt them for your business.

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