Optometric Management Tip # 125   -   Wednesday, June 09, 2004
Letter Writing PR Campaign

It's more effective to market your practice in a slow, steady, personal manner, then with a big splash of advertising. Sending letters on a regular basis to patients and referral sources is a great way to build your practice over time.

Who has time to write letters?

The letter writing marketing campaign I'm referring to should not take any time at all for the doctor, and it should take only minimal staff time on a weekly basis, once the system is in place. The burden should fall upon the office computer system. Most practice management software systems have provisions for generating letters automatically, including storing the names of the recipients, finding and inserting the addresses automatically, and integrating a word-processed form letter with this special database. If you aren't using this module of your software system, you're missing an opportunity. It's not difficult, it just takes planning and the discipline to run it.

Of course, someone does have to write the initial form letters, and it's a good idea to write a few versions and rotate them so they are not repetitive.

Types of letters

Here are some ideas for sending letters and cards on a large-scale basis. These are in addition to the individual referral and report letters that would be done specifically for patients as needed for clinical care. Get ready to send lots of letters

If you want to make letter writing a part of your marketing plan, then you need to get serious about the mechanics of mailing them. That means making an investment in equipment and staffing. Plan to send a large volume of letters every month, and make it easy and efficient for your staff to do so with a postage meter with an automatic envelope feed and auto-sealing. Today's meters allow you to obtain more postage instantly via a phone line and an open account. A letter-folding device is another great tool.

You may also want to obtain a bulk rate mailing permit form your local post office. You'll also want to order a large quantity of letterhead stationery, envelopes, window envelopes, and mailing labels. This may also be a good time to re-look at your practice logo and ink colors, and make sure it presents the image you want for your practice.

What about postage cost?

Yes, your postage bill will go up with this plan, but letter writing to target markets is probably the most economical marketing effort you can undertake. If you're doing it correctly, your goal is to have the postage bill keep going up because that means the number of new patients you're seeing is increasing.

Best wishes for continued success,

Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO
Chief Optometric Editor, Optometric Management