Build Your Client Base with a Practice Brochure
by Corporate Relations and Business Strategy Staff
A high-quality practice brochure is a useful marketing tool that enables you to reach potential clients and referral sources. Think of it as an introduction to your practice, a quick reference guide that communicates key information concisely and effectively.
When used to maximum advantage, a practice brochure can substantially boost your referral stream. Without a brochure, you may miss important opportunities to grow your practice. If you already have a brochure, you should make sure that it’s up-to-date and consistent with your other promotional materials.
This article describes important steps in creating a practice brochure and includes tips to help make the finished product an effective marketing tool.
More than just advertising, your brochure is a reflection of you and your practice. Keep in mind throughout the development process that you want a brochure that conveys professionalism and quality service.
Use your business plan to help you get started. It contains information that facilitates creating a brochure.
Structure the development process by writing down answers to the following questions:
Who is your target audience (consider both prospective clients and referral sources)? What information about your practice do they need? What type of messages will they respond to?
What image of you and your practice do you want to convey?
What differentiates your practice and sets you apart from the other mental health professionals in your area?
What services do you offer? Do you have a particular niche or specialty area of practice that you want to highlight?
What questions do clients and referral sources often ask you?
Evaluate brochures from your colleagues and competitors. Identify your likes and dislikes to help you decide what content and design will work best for your own practice. Use good examples as models, and avoid mistakes that others make in their brochures.
Use a similar “look and feel” for your brochure and all your other marketing tools. Gather your business card, letterhead, advertising, website design, and other promotional materials you use. To maximize the results of your marketing efforts, all of your marketing tools should have a similar look and feel.
If you already use consistent design elements — such as a logo, colors, and fonts — in your other materials, be sure to incorporate them into your brochure design. If your marketing materials lack a consistent look and feel, you may want to revise them later, using your well-designed brochure to set the standard.
Set a budget and stick to it.
To get a ballpark price range, get quotes from several local print shops and consult with your designer if applicable. The cost of creating a brochure can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand.
This price variability reflects a number of factors — including the type of paper you choose, the number of copies you print and the printing process you use. The good news is that printing additional copies of your brochure later will cost you less than the initial design and print run. If you work with a professional designer, expect that approximately half of your total cost likely will be for design services.
Keep the content of your brochure straightforward and concise. Include only relevant information. Use short sentences and a conversational writing style to enhance readability. Although there are a variety of ways to structure your content, many practice brochures reflect the following format:
The cover of your brochure should be simple and visually appealing. Include the name of your practice; a graphic, such as your logo or an image of your building or office; and a slogan or quote that communicates your core message.
Start by welcoming prospective clients or referral sources. Include a brief summary statement that describes your practice (use or paraphrase your mission statement).
Next, provide more detailed information about your practice. Use your answers to the questions in the Getting Started section above to describe the population you serve, the services you offer, and your overall treatment philosophy. Tailor your message to your target audience and emphasize the things that make your practice stand out.
Include a brief professional bio with your name, credentials including any board certifications, background, training, and other professional qualifications. Including a headshot taken by a professional photographer gives your brochure a personal touch and can help form a connection with prospective clients.
Conclude by encouraging your audience to follow up. Don’t hesitate to use a hook that urges your target audience to take action. Encourage prospective clients and referral sources to call for more information, visit your website or schedule an appointment.
List your contact information, including address, phone number, fax, e-mail and website. Be careful not to list any information that is likely to change soon. Clearly describe your location using a map and directions for driving and taking public transportation, as appropriate to your clientele.
Should I do it myself? If you have good computer and writing skills, and an eye for aesthetics, you can work directly with a print shop or design your own brochure using desktop publishing tools, such as Microsoft Publisher or Adobe PageMaker. These are excellent tools and can save you money if you have the time and necessary skills. Even so, it’s important to be very honest in assessing your ability to tackle this project on your own. A homemade brochure is unlikely to save you money in the long run if it is poorly designed and doesn’t help market your practice effectively.
How can a good graphic designer help me? Working with a graphic designer who can assist with the content, design, paper selection, and printing process can be a good investment. Many designers have relationships with print shops and can help you get good quality printing at a reasonable price.
As when working with any consultant, if you decide to use a designer, you should interview several before making a decision. Be sure to look at their portfolios and ask to see examples of any similar brochures they have designed.
You can locate a professional designer online via the American Institute of Graphic Arts, a professional association for designers with more than 16,000 members. You can also find a designer by looking in the phone book business directory, or by contacting the graphic arts department of a local university or art school. If you are in an institutional setting, you might find it helpful to talk to someone in your marketing department. When you’ve chosen a designer, get a cost estimate in writing and discuss payment and deadlines in advance.
What are some general design guidelines?
Consider the following:
Your text and graphics should flow logically.
Headers are useful for leading readers through the brochure and helping them find key information.
Use adequate margins and space between lines of text.
Break up your design using headers, text boxes and white space for a clean, easy-to-read look.
Use a legible font, no smaller than a 12-point size and avoid anything too ornate.
Bold text and italics should be used sparingly for headlines and key points only.
Choose your graphics judiciously and include only those that relate to your content.
How much color should I use?
Good use of color can enhance the quality of your brochure. Although one- and two-color printing is less expensive, full (four-color) printing looks more professional. Take your budget into consideration and make the choice that is best for you. A good two-color brochure is better than a mediocre four-color piece.
What should I consider in selecting paper?
Paper selection is important, and you will have many options to choose from. Consider the color, weight, texture, and finish of the paper. Do you want a glossy brochure or something soft and textured? Do you prefer a solid color or a marbled pattern?
Whatever paper you choose, it should look professional. Stay away from colors such as lime green and fuchsia. Typical copier or printer paper (usually 20-lb. weight) is generally too thin and can look cheap. Use 70-lb. stock or heavier and stick with a standard size, such as 8 ½” x 11”, to reduce cost and make your brochures easier to mail.
Pick a professional. You want a brochure that looks professional, so avoid the temptation to go to the local copy shop. Use a commercial printer that is recommend by your designer or a colleague who has used the printer’s services before.
Print enough, but not too much. Decide how many copies of your brochure you anticipate needing for a 12-month period. Start with a small initial print run and see how long they last. However, be careful not to underestimate, as price per copy is typically lower for larger orders, and very small orders tend to be significantly overpriced.
Careful proofing pays off. Before sending your product to the printer, make any necessary corrections once you check key facts, including your contact information, as well as grammar, punctuation, and spelling. The printer will provide a proof for you to review and approve before printing. Have more than one person review the proof to help ensure catching any errors that need to be fixed. Once you approve the print run, if you find a mistake later, it is expensive to make corrections and reprint.
Quality Brochures Work...If You Use Them
In the end, a high-quality brochure for your practice can reach prospective clients and referral sources, provide important information about your practice, and convey the image and values you bring to your daily work. However, brochures only work if you get them into people’s hands.
Create a distribution plan to make good use of this valuable resource. Think about handing out your brochures at meetings, presentations, and other networking opportunities; giving stacks of them to your referral sources; including your brochure in new client packets; mailing copies along with a cover letter and your business card to prospective referral sources; and arranging them in your waiting area so clients can easily pick them up and give them to family members, friends and co-workers.
10 Tips for an Effective Practice Brochure
Use positive language. Describe the benefits of your services.
Avoid jargon and clichés.
Write to the audience — use the term “you.”
If you don’t have a logo for your practice, strongly consider working with a design professional to develop one. Use it consistently as a visual element in all of your promotional materials.
Make your layout clear and uncluttered. Don’t try include too much information.
Bullet-point lists (e.g., the services you provide) are easier to read than a dense narrative.
A high-quality brochure is an important marketing tool. Don’t simply reformat your CV and think it will be an effective tool for building your client base.
Avoid listing the insurance you accept or the panels in which you participate, unless you’re reasonably confident that these affiliations won’t change. If they do, you will need to revise and reprint your brochure.
Ask your printer and designer for suggestions on cutting costs without sacrificing quality. For example, get a three-color look for a two-color price by printing two colors of ink on colored paper.
Quality is crucial. Good quality paper, printing and design reflect positively on your practice and communicate that your work is professional and high caliber.