Effective Newsletters

By: Susan Hoy, CA

Our office has been sending newsletters for at least fifteen years. Without fail, our newsletter is sent out on a monthly basis, and I believe it is our consistency that reaps rewards. Last month, because of extenuating circumstances, we made the decision to forgo our June issue, and I was delightfully surprised at the results.

Patients actually called our office and reported that their newsletter must have gotten lost in the mail; would we please send another! I know that our patients read our newsletter, but I didn’t realize that they would actually miss it. It was a heartwarming experience, and it made every minute of searching for something to write about every month, worthwhile.

Why do our patients love our newsletter? Let me count the ways.

Bonding. Our patients began noticing our newsletters when we began personalizing it. Each one of our staff members is responsible for writing an article. We write about what’s happening in our office, we write about our staff members, we write about disastrous vacations, we humanize ourselves to our patients. One of our most popular issues was when I wrote that Dr. Snyman was the recipient of a bomb dropped from a Philadelphia pigeon flying overhead. Our patients loved that. The following issue, we pictured him receiving a beanie with an umbrella attached from one of our sympathetic patients. In this day of trash overflow from unwanted junk mail, our newsletter is a welcomed relief.

Personalizing our newsletter is one of the reasons our newsletter is a good marketing tool. There are many other reasons.

Encouragement (inspire confidence and belief). In almost every issue, we feature a “VIP (Very Important Patient) of the Month.” We like to choose a patient who has had long-term success through Chiropractic. I look for a patient who has persevered through different states of care. Often the patient got discouraged but followed through with treatment and achieved success. Many times they paid for their care themselves, without the help of insurance. We all know that Chiropractic care often takes time to work and that there are different results for different patients. I love to write about life- changing experiences.

We also like to choose patients who have unusual problems. Most people believe that Chiropractors only treat back problems. So, featuring a patient who has unconventional issues helps educate others as to the broad spectrum of our treatment. In one of our recent newsletters, we featured an entire family. What a great, non-threatening way to introduce and encourage family care to our patients.

Our patients love being featured in our newsletter because they know it goes out to a great many people. Additionally, I let them know that they will be an encouragement to others and may result in making a difference in someone’s life. Not to mention, our VIP of the Month will get a free gift and some additional perks in our office.

Educate. There is always an article from our doctor with regard to a particular issue that can be helped with Chiropractic care. Notice I said “helped” and not “cured.” We must be careful not to overstate our care. Some of the subjects we write about are the use of orthotics for spinal stabilization, asthma, allergies, exercise, special diets for different conditions, and work station issues. The list is never ending!

At the end of these educational articles, we make our recommendation. Whether it be orthotics or the nutritional supplements that will help with these problems, our patients ask for more details and appreciate the information. We live in a toxic environment, and we must help our immune system fight off these free radicals that invade our bodies through the air we breathe, the food we eat and the fluids we drink. By the way, we do not discount our supplements; we just let our patients know how important they are. Our immune systems are our only defense against those culprits, and we believe that adjustments and nutritional supplements are imperative for good health.

Entertain. Oh yes, we entertain very effectively. One of the best marketing tools we use is our “find the error” contest. It all started when I made a huge typographical error in our main headline. Oops, I forgot to spell check and proofread, evidence of the stress we are under every month trying to get our newsletter out among the hundreds of other things we have to do every day.

Patients love to find errors and we good-naturedly take the grief. Finally, I wrote an article stating that since our patients just love to find our errors and subsequently tease us about them, we would have a contest. Every month, we would plant an error (usually not necessary because they exist inherently). The first ten patients to find the error will receive a discount on their next purchase of vitamins. From a marketing standpoint, this was a brilliant idea (if I do say so myself). Every time our newsletter goes out, we get calls from hordes of patients trying to get on our top ten list. Did you notice, I said we get calls, we don’t have to make calls. Now, I ask you, how many times do you think a patient says, “While I have you on the phone, I need to make an appointment.”

A few months ago, we held a survey through our newsletter. Since the flu had been so rampant during the winter, we wanted to know who received the flu shot, who got the flu anyway, and who got the flu from the flu shot. We received calls from past patients we hadn’t seen in years! And again, they called us!

Marketing. From a marketing standpoint, our newsletter goes out to all patients. I have heard that some doctors, in order to save postage, just give out their newsletter in their office. NO!!! Newsletters must go out to all patients, past and present. Additionally, we send our newsletter to friends and relatives and just about anyone who would be interested! We even send our newsletter to primary care physicians in our immediate area. It is really exciting when a staff member from a primary care physician calls to participate in our contest.

We receive a great many referrals from primary care physicians, and I have to give credit to our newsletter. However, we also generate a primary care physician newsletter! The PCP newsletter goes out on a quarterly basis and gives information on Chiropractic research, case studies, and the many different conditions in which Chiropractic care is helpful. Who do you think they recommend when one of their patients insists on a referral to a Chiropractor?

A newsletter does not have to be a work of art. In fact, we want our newsletter to be very simplistic. While some think a professional appearance is necessary, we want our newsletter to look more like a personal letter. We want to bond with our patients and make them feel like part of the Snyman Chiropractic Family. Judging from the results we get, we have a very large family, and we love every one of them. It seems like our world has become impersonal and anonymous, we like to make our patients feel human, and they respond in a very human way. They love us back, and they refer their family and friends. I will leave you with one thought… Life is about people… don’t lose the concept!

About the Author

Susan Hoy has been the office manager for Dr. Basil Snyman since 1989. Snyman Chiropractic Group is in Center City, Philadelphia and has been serving Philadelphia professionals and residents for two generations.