How To Market Your Practice Via The Office Brochure

By Michael Z. Metzger, DPM, MBA

The office brochure is an effective and comparatively inexpensive method for both internal and external marketing of your practice. With the advent of desktop publishing, almost anyone with a computer and a few hours can design, write and edit the brochure. Once it is printed, you can use the brochure to promote your practice effectively to present and future patients, referring physicians and insurance companies. However, to be successful, you must understand certain concepts such as color, paper weight, font and layout. At one time, an office brochure was considered a tool for only the most upscale practices. Design costs alone made a brochure a fairly expensive method of marketing, especially when the practice wanted to be able to change the design and information on a regular basis. With the development of desktop publishing, a brochure can now be an inexpensive and effective device to promote a practice to those both inside and outside of your office. The right brochure imparts a sense that your practice is professional, up-to-date, efficient and caring, even before a patient reads the information it contains. The brochure is an effective way to communicate with your patients. In today’s healthcare marketplace, you have at least three kinds of customers: • the patient and his/her friends and family; • the referring physician; and • the insurance companies or managed care organizations. Without marketing to all three groups, your practice may be destined to achieving less financial success than is desired. A well-assembled office brochure is an easy way to market to all three at the same time. After the first printing is completed, this can all be done in a relatively inexpensive manner. How Brochures Foster Internal And External Marketing Send the brochure to new patients to confirm their appointments. Don’t just leave a pile in the reception room. Hand the brochure to each new patient when he or she checks in and write their names on the brochures beforehand. If you personalize it, it won’t be left in the office or dropped in the trash. Offer it to each established patient when he or she leaves. Say the patient’s name when you hand it to him or her. You want patients to think “this brochure is specifically for me.” A brochure can be an important part of your external marketing. Patients will show the booklet to their friends, family and co-workers. Although it is true that many of these brochures may end up in the parking lot, some of the patients may re-read and discuss them. Many will take them home. Give a supply of the brochures to referring physicians. Physicians always search for reliable colleagues to whom they can refer and they will appreciate being able to pass along information about your practice to the patients they send you. Patients feel much more comfortable at the first visit if they know something about you. Include your credentials, hobbies and even a photo. A memorable brochure may impress health plans. When people ask them to recommend a physician, the image projected by your informational material may tip the balance in your favor, resulting in a referral. Often, health plans are opened to only a limited number of specialists and the brochure can be instrumental in their selection process. It implies that you have taken an extra step to inform patients about yourself. Internal marketing is directed to the patient who is already a part of your practice and has already expressed an interest in you and utilizing the resources that you offer. The brochure allows you to advise patients of specialized services you have to offer that may not otherwise be apparent. It will answer questions about training and certifications. Perhaps a patient who shares your outside interests is also a member of Kiwanis or is a Girl Scouts den mother. This establishes an invaluable link. Sharing your hobbies and activities helps the patient know you as a person. Pearls On Writing Your Own Brochure With the help of Microsoft Publisher®, more and more practitioners are designing and writing their own brochures. With a few simple rules, this program can create an excellent product. Although one person needs to be the final authority on what goes into the brochure, you should get input from everyone. Anyone with something to say should review it. Often, physicians looks at the brochure in light of what they would want to see in one. You would be surprised how much that can differ from what the average individual is interested in. Your staff, their families and even some patients can give you a great deal of insight on their perception of content, layout and overall quality. Brochures vary from practice to practice and obviously, each brochure cannot include everything. Still, there are a few items that are fairly common to a majority of brochures. 1. Include photos of the doctors and staff. It greatly adds to the comfort level of new patients. Be sure to give the name of those shown in the pictures. A new patient will look forward to meeting all the pleasant people in your office. Personnel must also play their part and dress professionally for the photo shoot. The expressions should be agreeable and neutral in their demeanor rather than seductive or overly eager. 2. Include a few personal notes about your family or hobbies. Some recommend including your church affiliation but keep in mind that others may strongly disagree. 3. Patients want to read about the qualifications of their doctor. Don’t be too shy. The “I love me” paragraph with all credentials and awards is essential. This listing isn’t just for professional items. Being “Member of the Year” of a local Rotary Club, for example, also emphasizes community commitment. Remember, if you don’t say it, no one else will. 4. List your office hours prominently. Indicate whether you welcome walk-ins or work by appointment only. However, after you start, you must continue to use these hours until the brochures are used up or you can throw them away. The paste-over method of changing hours will transform a first-class brochure down to a third-class brochure. Keep It Simple 5. List the practice’s address, phone numbers and fax numbers. Think about listing your e-mail address only if you are serious about communicating via the Internet. 6. Tell patients when your phone lines are typically jammed. This can reduce the load on your front office staff at peak times. 7. Listing all of your services can bring you new business. Patients who consult you for one reason may identify another service that they or a family member may need. 8. Spell out your rules for prescription renewals. This will avoid future confusion. 9. Do not list the insurance plans your office participates in. They may change hourly. 10. A map is a must. It may be a simple line drawing with key streets labeled or a section from an actual map with a circle or arrow indicating where your practice is. Want to find a simple map? Take a look at www. or The brochure is not the place to prove you have the world’s greatest vocabulary. Four- and five-syllable words may sound great to you, but the average patient is more bored than impressed when assaulted by overly complex language. Of course, there are spell checks and grammar checks on the computer. If you are creating the brochure in Microsoft Publisher, be sure to spell check in Microsoft Word®. The “help” function will show you how to do that. Still, nothing can replace the human eye. Ask someone to proofread the copy. The computer cannot tell you if the phone number is right or that you are board certified with ABPS rather than ABPO. Emphasize An Eye-Catching Design If you are going to design the product yourself, then you will need to know certain concepts. At one time, the only way to do the job well was to hire an outside designer. With the advent of some computer programs, that is no longer true. This section will help you through the process. You should confer with others on color, illustrations, typeface, design, paper stock and size. Here are a few design concepts to keep in mind. • Color. While a one-color brochure will save you money, the savings are minimal and it can easily look like it is homemade. There is no debate that the full-color brochure is the most impressive and eye-catching. Different color combinations create psychological effects. Do you want elegance, a high-tech look or a warm and friendly air? Go to the library or your neighborhood bookstore as there are various books on the subject. Find every brochure that you can for various businesses and simply see the effect of the color scheme on you and your family. • Typeface. Your brochure will have a more powerful effect if the typeface complements the color scheme. Review various kinds and get the “psychology of each” explained to you. Talk to your printer and/or take a trip to the library or the nearest bookstore. Make the typeface no smaller than 12-point, especially if you have elderly patients. Use 2-point leading so the space between lines is wide. Doing so makes it easier to read. With the publishing software available, you can simply print the copy again and again with different typefaces. There are various Web sites with additional and specialized fonts. • The front page. Whether the outside of the brochure should have a picture, logo or just a title is a matter of opinion. However, a picture or logo does add a touch of class. This is especially true of a “practice logo.” Companies such as IBM, AT&T and Microsoft spent millions of dollars coming up with a logo so they must think it does some good. To give your brochure an elegant look, your logo or some other symbol can be embossed on the front. There are various companies on the Internet that, for anywhere from $99.99 to $999.99, will gladly design a logo for your practice. Other Essentials For Hitting A Visual And Perceptual Home Run • Paper. The weight, texture and finish of the paper you choose contribute to the image your brochure conveys. Twenty-pound paper, the most common printer/copier stock, has a flimsy, cheap feel that suggests to patients, “This isn’t important,” and into the trash it goes. Use 80- to 100–pound paper. It indicates your brochure is valuable. Textured paper, which might be a linen or vellum stock, can also add to your brochure’s prestige. You may like the understatement of a dull finish, but photos come out more clearly on a glossy surface. • Size. Your brochure can be any size, but it makes sense to stick to an 8 1/2- by 11-inch page folded into thirds. Because the size is standard, it helps control costs. When the brochure is folded, it will fit comfortably into a standard No. 10 envelope if you are going to mail some. Odd-size brochures need custom-made envelopes, which again increase costs without increasing value. Any printer should be able to fold them at the time of printing. • Layout. Again, here the choice is purely personal. After you have collected various brochures as suggested above, see what hits the spot as far as layout. If you have done a layout via desktop publishing, your printer may not suggest any layout changes. During this time, you may want to show copies of your layout to the printer and the professionals at photocopying centers. Each may give you some free advice. The photocopy shop may be especially helpful if layout work needs to be done. They can assist you on handling some more sophisticated programs such as Quark XPress to perfect your layout on their computer. Alternately, they will format your Microsoft Word text in Quark according to your specifications for a nominal fee. A fee of $29.95 per page was quoted by one of the national copy center chains. Remember to compare prices. Diamonds, bullets or other ornaments make a list easy to read by highlighting individual items. However, they can remind the reader of a shopping list. Paragraphs, although requiring more time to read, can often attract the reader’s interest, convey more information and seem more professional. Subheads visually break up blocks of type, making information easier to find. Set off important information by putting it in a box. When You Are Ready To Print The Brochure Do not try to save money by using your local photocopy shop for the printing job. It will turn out something that looks shoddy and that is not the image you wish to project in your practice brochure. Before you give the brochure to the printer, have at least two people in your office proofread the text carefully. As for how many copies to print, some guesswork is required. However, remember that a few more copies are a lot less expensive now than later. What you pay depends on the variables mentioned above. Keep in mind the image you want to project depends on the quality of the brochure. You may want to be as frugal as possible but brochure quality is not the place to pinch pennies. Final Notes This article describes the use of Microsoft Publisher for creating your brochure. This is because MS Publisher is the most widely available and least expensive of the many programs available. However, it is not the best to use especially if you decide to get into the multicolor brochures described in this article. For that, I have found that most printers highly recommend Adobe PageMaker ($499.00) as the best for the money. For instance, Quark XPress costs $899.00. Places like Kinko’s do have computers that have all these programs so you might want to go there late one night and play with them. Today’s healthcare environment demands that the healthcare practice be promoted like any other small business. Indeed, the practice brochure can be a simple, inexpensive, yet effective tool for the internal and external marketing of your practice. Dr. Metzger is the founder and principal of Innovative Healthcare Resources, which provides practice management information and consultation, and locum tenens to the podiatric community. For more info, you can contact Dr. Metzger at (800) 495-8959 or via e-mail at You may also check out Editor’s Note: This article was adapted with permission from a previously published article in The Journal of Medical Practice Management (Vol. 18, No. 4). For more info on The Journal Of Medical Practice Management, check out

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