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If you don't have a brochure describing your practice, or if yours is not presenting the image you want, here are some tips on developing a new one.
Who should do it?
Your choices are: you, a member of your staff, a print shop, or a graphic designer. But regardless of who lays out the words, graphics and pictures, the text of the brochure has to come from the doctor/owner. You may be able (and wise) to get some help with writing style and grammar, but no one else can really know what you want to say in your brochure. It's not that hard to come up with the content - more below on that.
Cost is certainly a factor as you decide whether to make this a do-it-yourself project or farm it out to professionals. Desktop publishing computer programs can actually make the homemade job look just as good as a professional one. And it must look great because you're projecting an image of your practice, so it must be professional and high quality. Time is another factor. If you have a tech-savvy staff member, you may want to write the copy and delegate the design and layout.
Depending on the quantity of brochures you will need, you can either print them yourself from your computer (laser printers are fast and offer perfect print quality) - or you can take your finished product to a printer. Many printers will print from a computer disk, but check with them first. You may want to purchase a folding machine if you print the brochures yourself - they are handy for lots of other mailing projects in the office, too.
Unless your needs are unusual, keep in mind that a letter size sheet of paper can be folded twice to make a 3-panel brochure - which really gives 6 sections front and back. Legal size paper becomes a 4-panel brochure (8 sections). You may use 4-color printing - which is costly if done by a print shop - but it looks great because photos are in full color. Or you may use 3, 2 or 1 color printing. A little color can be introduced economically if you use colored paper with black print. I'd keep the paper color professional, like cream or light gray, and use a heavy stock. You don't have to use photos, but they do add lots of interest and break up all words, which can be boring. Be wary of standard PC clip art -- everyone has seen it and it shouts homemade.
Collect brochures from optometric colleagues, and from other physicians and businesses in your area, to gather ideas for your brochure.
Content is easier than you think if you just sit down and write a rough draft. You can proofread it later, and then have others do the same. Start with the topic headings - you have either 6 or 8 panels, which makes 6 or 8 topics. As the brochure opens, consider the order of the topics. Here are some possible panels:
The cover. This will be the name of the practice and/or the name of the doctor. It could read "Welcome to our Office". Or it could be some clever motto that you developed. You may list your specialties. A professionally designed practice logo, with contact information in smaller print below it like address, phone, fax, website address. It should have quite a bit of white space - not crammed. A border or other graphic design (these are supplied in desktop publishing programs) will provide a graphic theme for the brochure.
About the doctor(s). This is a great opportunity to list your educational and professional achievements. Include civic work and perhaps something personal like where you grew up, if you're married and have kids, hobbies.
The eye exam. Describe the tests you do - in very simple terms. Be sure to cover any automated instruments, like autorefractors - and special devices, like retinal cameras.
Contact Lenses. What types of lenses do you prescribe? Do you have a topographer?
Ocular disease and emergencies. Are you licensed to do this type of work? What conditions do you treat and how do you handle emergencies and injuries?
Any other specialties? Low vision, pediatrics, geriatrics, sports vision?
Optical dispensing. Brag about what you offer. Designer brands carried. On-site lab? Virtual dispensing mirror system? Excellent warranties? Expert optician on duty?
Save a section for office polices - like managed care and insurance billing, what plans do you accept, payment policy, office hours, after hours care, etc. A map may be useful for some offices, and any parking instructions.
If the brochure will be mailed to the community, you may want a panel just for an address label, return address, and postage.
What to do with it
You'll find many uses for brochures once you have them; it's an invaluable marketing aid. One immediate use is to have your receptionist hand one to all patients with their receipt as they leave the office. These are often kept for years, and they will encourage referrals of friends. Brochures are also great for referral sources (or potential ones you want to encourage), as well as for talks on eye care, civic projects, health fairs, and to give to office visitors and business suppliers. Don't forget to keep a stack in the reception room.
Best wishes for continued success,
Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO
Editor, Optometric Management Tip of the Week
Dr. Gailmard's new book, Practice Management in Optometry: A Blueprint for Success Based on the Optometric Management Tip of the Week, is now available on Amazon.