We admit it — free patient materials are enticing. Who wouldn’t want to fill up their waiting room with free posters, patient handouts, and brochures?
“Oftentimes, practices tell us that they don’t need any marketing materials because they’re already using the free materials they got from the manufacturers,” explained Kim Bradley, Senior Account Manager at Sightpath Creative.
But are these materials actually a good idea?
Below, we’ve listed five reasons why you should avoid using free patient materials.
1. They aren’t tied to your practice
The problem with generic materials is that they’re designed to sell the manufacturer’s brand – not yours.
“A generic handout or brochure has zero ties to your practice,” said Sarah Moon, Account Manager. “They don’t talk about your doctors. They can’t list your locations or your website.”
Patients who take your brochures home with them won’t have anything to reference when someone asks about your practice. And word-of-mouth is vital – people trust brand advocates and referrals 92% of time compared to ads.
2. They aren’t always new
- Chances are manufacturers aren’t regularly sending you new patient materials. Do you still have the same brochures from when you first acquired the equipment?
“If someone gives you a brochure that looks like it was published ten years ago, what would you think?” asked Bradley. “Would you think they’re using the newest equipment?”
Our brains respond quickly to certain stimuli, making powerful, but subconscious decisions. In other words, we judge a book by its cover. Keep in mind that your patients may develop a negative first impression about your practice if your materials are out-of-date.
3. They often contain technical jargon
- Since unbranded materials are designed to promote the manufacturer, they often contain technical information that your patients won’t find relevant.
“Patients don’t care what brand you’re using, or the model of the laser. They want to know what to expect from the surgery,” said Moon.
4. They don’t build trust
- Since generic patient materials say nothing about your practice or doctors, they might feel like placeholders, temporary materials designed to tide you over until you get more situated into the community – or until you leave it.
“Customized materials demonstrate quality and professionalism,” said Bradley. “And they let people know you intend to stay there for a long time.”
5. They can’t help you network with ODs
- OD networking is an excellent way to bring in more patients, particularly if you’re targeting people who might be interested in refractive surgery.
“We have customers that hand out branded materials to their ODs,” said Bradley. “The ODs then share it with their patients, which helps with the conversion process.”
Because free materials don’t mention your practice by name, you lose the opportunity to market through your optometrist network.
The importance of customized patient materials
Customized marketing materials that feature your practice, your doctors, and your unique brand aren’t just pretty to look at – they’re a vital marketing tool that can help you increase brand recognition, build trust and bring in more patients.