“Newsletter? Why should I bother with a newsletter?”
The answer is simple. The primary purpose of a newsletter – whether print or electronic – is to be a practice reminder for your regular patients.
If you send your practice newsletter or e-newsletter to all patients seen during the last two years, you will be pleased to discover they frequently make new appointments. In addition, consider including a limited group of inactive patients on your mailing list. It may bring them back.
The newsletter is a dynamic way to reach out to nonpatient groups, also. It puts your name in front of these audiences and may stimulate patient referrals.
Your mailing list could include referring physicians, pharmacists, dentists, school nurses, coaches, physical therapists, psychologists, industrial nurses, personnel managers in local businesses and even health spas.
The majority of the contents should be health-related. Perhaps you could explain an article on a topic currently in the news, e.g., vaccines.
This is your opportunity to toot your own horn about the unique and exciting things that are happening in your practice. Perhaps you are now performing outpatient surgery in the office, have your own physical therapy department, added a special piece of equipment, hired a new physician, etc., and want to bring this new development to the attention of your patients and friends.
You may have recently completed a conference or training on some subject your patients should know about. It’s important for them to know that you’re continuing your education to provide quality patient care.
Some specialties provide a “healthy recipe” section for their patients. Readers enjoy recipes that help them on special diets.
Contributions from all staff members on various topics make the production of your newsletter a real team project. Make it fun for all who contribute content and all who read it.
Things have changed since the days of the typewriter and word processor. Now offices that want to produce a print newsletter can use Microsoft Word’s page layout functions to design an attractive newsletter and print it in-house.
If your firm chooses to invest more, it can work with a graphic designer and local professional printer. Before you get started, talk to a few printers and get ideas on design and layout, as well as costs for production. They can help you maintain an attractive appearance and consistency for future newsletters.
The most frequent format for a print newsletter uses 11”-by-17” paper. When folded, a single sheet makes a four-page newsletter. It may be a self-mailer with one-third of the last page as space for the return address, mailing label and postage.
The U.S. Postal Service can give you the specific mailing requirements. If you decide to publish a print newsletter, consider obtaining a bulk-rate permit and sort the mailing by ZIP codes. Otherwise, mail first class.
A simpler, usually less expensive way to produce a newsletter is by using a service, such as Constant Contact or VerticalResponse, to create an e-newsletter to send to your email address list. In addition to the articles, you may add links to your website, Facebook and LinkedIn pages, and Twitter account.
A major advantage of an e-newsletter is that you won’t have printing, paper and postage expenses.
Quarterly newsletters are the most common, but some practices publish only twice a year. It’s important not to make the newsletter project an onerous task for the office. Publish at times when you’re least busy so that you’re better able to handle the resulting increase in patients’ calls for appointments.
Don’t underestimate the importance of keeping in touch. It’s another way of saying, “I care.”