Does Your Practice Project a Cohesive Image?
When was the last time you took a serious look at your newsletter, business cards, signage, web site, stationery, invoices, and other tools with your practice name or logo? Get advice on creating a consistent practice image, including how to write a communication plan for your hospital; ways to project a consistent, confident image; and tips for a do-it-yourself communication audit.
What you’ll learn:
Get advice on creating a consistent practice image
Tips for a do-it-yourself communication audit
Tools you can use to effectively market your professional services
Understanding your practice image
35% of our daily communication experiences are verbal
65% are non-verbal
Which of these two practices projects a confident, professional image?
Reinforces, complements and repeats verbal communication
Exercise: List 10 items that feature your practice name and/or logo
What do your clients see?
Your Practice Image includes:
4. Business card
5. Health alert postcard or reminder cards
6. Letterhead (targeted direct-mail letters)
7. Client-education handouts
9. In-clinic posters
11. Condolence card
12. Press release
13. Web site
14. Practice sign
15. Uniforms for doctors and staff
16. Prescription labels
What else? _______________________________________________________
Why image is important
Clients judge your practice by its look and quality of care, so your logo, newsletter, brochure, invoices and every communication tool should be dressed to impress.
What is a communication audit?
A "50,000-foot view" to identify ways to strengthen the overall image of your practice
Examines colors, logo, tagline and other visual elements
Conduct an audit annually to ensure your image is consistent and strive to make continuous improvements
How to conduct a communication audit
1. Conduct a visual audit
2. State your practice’s business objectives
3. Define your credibility traits and uniqueness
Source: The Power of Logos by William L. Haig and Laurel Harper Haig (ITP, 1997)
1. The visual audit
Looking credible means all areas of public contact must be utilized to develop a powerful marketing communications system.—The Power of Logos
Gather all materials with your practice name and/or logo. Photograph images you can’t physically gather (signs, scrubs, vehicles, etc.). If your name is on it, include it in the audit.
Spread items on a table or post them on a bulletin board
View how areas of public contact are working together (or not working) as a unified communication message
2. Your business objectives
Write your practice goals for 1, 5 or up to 10 years. This is what your marketing communication system will help achieve.
Write SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-bound)
Brainstorm ideas with your entire team
Exercise: Write one SMART goal for your practice__________________________
3. Define your uniqueness
Credibility has two major prongs: expertise and trustworthiness
Use a questionnaire to define your practice image (see example)
Consider a client survey to double-check your public image
Does your current logo meet—or fail to meet—your practice objectives?
Simple—able to enlarge to fit on a sign, can easily fit on a business card or fax cover sheet, looks sharp on uniforms, lasts forever
Visual voice of your practice, reflecting its professionalism and credibility
Unique and eye-appealing
Reflects the heart and soul of your practice
Must adapt to pure black and white, grayscale and two colors
Hire a professional designer who can update your existing logo and suggest new designs that provide flexibility and affordable printing options
Choose "corporate colors." Select one or two colors to keep printing costs reasonable. Remember, printers consider black as a color, so a logo with green accents and black type is considered two colors.
Prominently feature your logo, practice name and corporate colors
Articles should support your program-based education and marketing plans
Include visual images—photos, artwork, radiographs, etc.
Send to clients who visited within the last two years. Display extras in your reception area, use for tours and open house events.
3. Business cards
Give every staff member a business card
Bulleted list of unique services
Phone number in color
4. Client-education handouts
Include your logo, address, phone number, web site
Clean, crisp photocopies; color code if appropriate
Use the same font and point size
Appoint one person as the "handout caretaker"
Print a revision date in small type in the bottom corner so you know the information is current
Customize handouts using your veterinary software templates
Use your "corporate colors"
Research printing costs: 2 color vs. full color
Shelf life of 1 year—2 years at the most
Consider a folder that gives you the flexibility of affordable updates
Photos of people, pets and your team in action
Decide how you’ll use your brochure: phone shoppers, tours, new clients, prospective employees and associates, etc.
List the visual communication element that needs the most improvement in your practice. _______________________________________________________________________
A marketing communication audit will help you define your image and achieve your practice goals—letting you reach your full potential!
Questionnaire to define your practice image and uniqueness
1. How would you describe your practice to someone who has no knowledge of its existence?
2. Does this description accurately reflect how you’d like to be known?
3. What is the mission of your practice?
4. What are your short-term practice goals? Long-term?
5. What are your dreams for your veterinary clinic?
6. What do you see as obstacles to those achievements?
7. What are the greatest strengths of your practice? Greatest weaknesses?
8. How do you think the public perceives your practice?
9. How do you differentiate your practice from others in your community?
10. Define the audience that is the most important to you in terms of conveying a distinct image.
11. What is your current practice image?
12. In your opinion, does the public recognize this image?
13. Describe one visual that would appropriately represent your practice.
14. What do you want to achieve with your new image?
Wendy S. Myers is the former editor of Veterinary Economics. She owns Communication Solutions, a Denver-based consulting firm that helps practice owners and managers improve client service, marketing, newsletters, web sites and communication tools. She lectures at veterinary conferences nationwide on customer service, marketing, and practice management. You can reach her at 720/344-2347 or email@example.com.
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