Optometric Management Tip # 47 - Wednesday, December 11, 2002
Are Newsletters Good Marketing?
I think practice newsletters are an excellent form of marketing for optometrists. I prefer the ones that are actually written by the practice owner or employees as opposed to the canned, generic versions that you can simply put your name on. Sending newsletters will not necessarily make the phone ring right away - but it is not intended to do that. The purpose is to keep your name in front of your patients in a professional way throughout the year. It cements the relationship that you are their eye doctor - and reminds them that you are an expert. Newsletters inform patients about services that they might not know you offer.
- If the doctor is too busy to write the newsletter, ask a creative and competent staff member to do it, and ask the doc to supply some guidance and ideas for articles.
- Develop a clever name and consistent graphics for your newsletter, but make you practice or doctor's name prominent, so they will read it. Try to use photos or clip art in every article.
- Use a desktop publishing software program to help design the newsletter, write the text and insert photos and graphics. Then take the diskette to a printer to print as many copies as you need.
- Produce newsletters 2, 3 or 4 times per year, and decide how many pages it will be. Work with your printer in advance of writing it for types of paper, folding, address space, etc.
- If you or your staff is not computer savvy - take your written articles and pictures to a local printer - most will offer low cost design services.
- Use good quality paper and 2 or 3 colors. The finished newsletter must look professionally done and very high quality - since it represents you practice.
- Consider a column called "Get to Know our Staff" and write a short profile on one person in each issue, such as professional training and experience, special expertise in eye care, a little personal background - but not too personal - and include a photo.
- Write about what is new in your practice - but always write from the standpoint of how the services or products will benefit the patient. Don't brag and watch out for boring articles. Short and to the point is good. Write medical articles in simple lay person's terms.
- If you feature an eye care product, like contact lenses or ophthalmic frames, ask your sales rep if the company will support some of the costs of the newsletter in a co-op program.
- Your printer may take care of all the labor involved in applying labels, folding and mailing. Ask about getting a bulk mail permit to reduce postage costs. This requires your labels be sorted by zip code, however.
- If postage costs are a concern, you could simply insert the newsletter into an envelope with your recall notices and any monthly bills you send to patients. If you produce two newsletters per year, and you recall yearly, every patient will receive one at no additional postage cost.
- Be sure to print some extra copies to place a stack in your reception room and to hand out to each patient who is seen for services - as they check out.
- Place key non-patients on your mailing list for every issue - local business owners, physicians, dentists, ophthalmologists, all referral sources, and your advisors such as CPA, banker, insurance company, etc.
Best wishes for continued success,
Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO
Chief Optometric Editor, Optometric Management