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Marketing the practice: printed material

How the practice presents itself is extremely important—and while you might not think much about marketing, a little attention to it can go a long way toward creating a favorable impression.

Why go there

Printed marketing material not only helps convey an image, or what marketers call brand identity, it allows for sharing information.

What’s more, printed material is easy to pass along. Indeed, business cards and brochures are intended to be shared.

As such, they lend themselves to the business of referrals, which is a business you want to capitalize on.

Image matters

So, how do you create printed marketing material that conveys what your practice offers?

It comes down to a combination of design and content. Design includes colors and graphics, while content includes word choice and the arrangement of those words. For printed material, paper also contributes to the finished product—for example, the weight (thickness) and whether the stock is coated or uncoated (shiny or dull).

Even a business card can make a statement. Take a look at the business cards you have on file from suppliers and others. Which ones stand out? What is it that draws you to these particular business cards?

Is it the company logo? The choice of color or colors? Layout? The stock on which the card is printed?

It’s likely all, or at least most, of these.

Now compare the business card your practice uses to the best cards you have on file. How does it measure up? Is there room for improvement?

Where to begin

Creating a look that reflects the image your practice wishes to convey requires time and effort. But it’s well worth both because, ideally, this look will be reflected consistently in all your printed marketing material—business cards, brochures, letterheads, envelopes—and it will carry through to your practice’s website, assuming you have one.

In other words, you want a professional look and engaging copy because this is the practice’s calling card, in more ways than one.

To achieve the desired results, you’ll want to enlist the services of a graphic designer.

Selecting a graphic designer

Obtain the names of several graphic designers by asking for referrals or searching online for professionals in your area. Then check out their work by visiting their websites.

Meanwhile, determine the scope of your project. Are you interested in creating an array of printed material? Although it may seem like a lot to take on, there are advantages to tackling the pieces as one project. In the long run, you’ll save money on design and print services. Plus, all your printed marketing material will have the same fresh look.

Once you find an individual or firm whose work you like, and you know what you want to achieve, it’s time to see if they have all the services you require. In addition to graphic design, do they offer copywriting services? Will they arrange for printing?

You want to work with a designer who will handle everything. Of course you will solicit feedback from others in the practice and share this information with the designer. But you don’t want to manage the external aspects of the project.

However, you do want to be the point of contact for the designer. This will allow you to control such things as number of revisions and paper selection, which directly impact cost.

With regard to cost, make sure you obtain a written, detailed quote for services. The quote should indicate how many revisions are included, and how much any additional revisions will cost. It should also provide a timeframe for deliverables, such as time to first design and when you will receive printed material after final approval.

Determining identity

Once you’ve selected a designer, you will need to provide direction. This doesn’t mean coming up with a design concept; instead, you should have an understanding of the brand the practice wants to convey and be able to articulate it.

How do you arrive at this? An effective method is to make a list of words and phrases that come to mind when you think of the practice and the services it provides. Get as many people at the practice involved in this exercise as possible and see what themes emerge. These themes will be the points you want to emphasize, and obviously share with the designer.

Keep in mind that although the services the practice provides may seem straightforward, the image you want to project can vary greatly. For example, there’s a big difference between an environment that’s efficient and a place where everybody knows your name.

It’s important to correctly identify what you are—not what you aspire to be. Your marketing material should accurately reflect your brand. It must be authentic; otherwise, even the most professionally designed material will come across as hollow.

The bottom line

Remember, your objective is to create printed marketing material that tells what the practice is about, and does so in a way that it is professional, creative, and engaging.

It’s a tall order, to be sure, but with a little input from staff members and the vision of graphics and copywriting professionals, your investment in printed marketing material will pay off for years to come.

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