Newsletters to Your Patients
Pity the poor practice newsletter!
So misunderstood. Forgotten, neglected, and ridiculed.
Scorned as too expensive, dismissed for eating up too much staff time, and disregarded because they just don’t “work.”
But is any of this true…?
Too expensive? They can be. Fancy paper, color photos, six pages, and sent first class can cost thousands.
Take too much time? Oh boy, how true this can be! Who is going to get the information and write it, format the newsletter, get the mailing list, organize the mailing, do the printing, add the postage, and take it to the post office? That is a LOT of work, and costly staff hours.
Do they work? After spending so much time and money on any other promotion, you would expect the new patients to come in for a good return on your investment. Often, this does not occur.
BUT WAIT… it doesn’t have to be like this. IN FACT:
Patient newsletters can cost as little .50 cents per newsletter. That includes, postage, paper, printing, and taking them to the post office. The offices where we see them used regularly have shown an increase in patient referrals and in reactivated patients.
Before we outline how to do it, here is why you should.
Why You Should Do A Newsletter
When a patient starts care with you, you and that one person, old, young, male, female, it doesn’t matter, that ONE person and you – have started a conversation. They confided in you about some things about which, outside of close family friends, no one knows. It is personal. Professional, yes, but the fact is, you and your patient have started a dialogue.
It is your job to continue it. It is not their job to do so – it is yours.
You are the doctor and they came to you. They reached out for help. All you have to do is to keep the conversation going. It may be one sided for a while, but they are listening.
We are all spammed to death. It has been estimated that each one of us receives up to 3,000 to 5,000 separate advertising impressions each day in the U. S. People are numb to advertising. It is no wonder that your ads in the local paper just don’t have the pull they used to.
Patients who have once been to you already know who you are. When they receive a letter from you, it is from someone who knows them. You are communicating to someone who already knows you and knows that you know them.
Statistics tell us that it is much more profitable to invest in keeping the patients you have, and marketing to them, than trying to procure new patients that do not know you.
Patients stop seeing you because sometimes, Life gets in the way. Finances, personal problems, work, and after a while, they kind of just loose touch. But you are mistaken if you think that your relationship with them is over. Once someone tells you intimate details about their personal condition, a relationship has started. Think about who you have confided in personally. You feel a special connection to them, right?
So, a conversation has started and by simply maintaining it, you will find that the patients stay with you longer, come back to care more frequently, and refer more of their family and acquaintances.
How To Do A Newsletter
For those of you who have the Marketing Manager System (sm) computer program, there are a number of sample templates and examples that can be easily reformatted for your office.
Newsletters are thrown away, of course, but they are reminders and brief advertisements about your services. They should not look like another pamphlet – homemade newsletters work very well. Too fancy is too expensive and look like the regurgitated pulp that gets thrown in most health articles and brochures.
Add a column just from you. We have a sample doctor's column which you can use. On our members site for our clients, we have others. Add some news, maybe one of Margie’s favorite non fattening brownie recipes, a snapshot, a testimonial, and a list of upcoming events. That’s about it.
Put it on one piece of paper that gets folded over twice and become self mailer. Bid it out to local mailers and you will find that the printing, paper, postage, and mailing all comes out to about fifty cents each. If you have 1000 patients to whom you are mailing, that comes out to $500. If you do the mailing every 4 months, it averages to be $125 per month.
Make sure that one person is delegated to oversee the newsletter. It should not take but a few hours to do.
Email newsletters are nearly free, of course, and can be effective. You can capture the email addresses from your patients and send out personal newsletters using services such as constantcontact.com, aweber.com, or a new one icontact.com. There are many others that have simple templates where you can simple type in the information and send out.
Homemade Newsletters versus Preprinted Newsletters
There are a number of companies that will print and mail newsletters out to your patients for you. There are also a number of chiropractic commercial websites that will send out prefabricated electronic email newsletters to the email addresses you supply them. The advantages are obvious - someone else does all the work and patients receive a professional good looking copy in their mail box, or their email in box.
We have seen these work, however we prefer the home made newsletter. The reason is that professionally done newsletters are a bit like pamphlets - they look nice, but they are generic and soulless. This can be particularly true of email newsletters. Some prefabricated newsletters make room for your customized inserts. In this case, these might work well.
The primary problem with the preprinted newsletter, whether "hard copy" or electronic, is that it can take you out of the loop. You cannot really delegate all of your patient communication. You can delegate some of your communication, but the point is, you want to maintain a personal relationship with your patients.
There is more to it than this, but don’t worry about getting it too prefect or too fancy. Funky, friendly, and funny is good. Just do it and keep the conversation going. You will see your old patients returning, referrals increasing, and established patients coming in to thank you for that the recipe you put in your last newsletter.
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