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September 22, 2010
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The business of business cards
By William D. Esteb

There are some doctors who gain solace from the notion that there appears to be an almost inverse relationship between one's business skills and one's healing talents. Since healing a patient's hurts is "more important," all too many doctors almost celebrate their poor business skills. The lack of a killer instinct when enticing a patient to begin care, or the tough-skinned firing of a staff member, is avoided at all costs. If one must revert to such savage interpersonal skills, then one must not be a very good healer, goes the logic. And while this isn't an endorsement for such Neanderthal business practices, thinking that being a businessperson and a compassionate healer occupy opposing sides of a coin is just not true. Being comfortable wearing both hats is not only fashionable, it's critical to one's success in the new practice environment of the 2010’s.

This notion is especially apparent in the creation and distribution of a doctor's business card. It is such a small thing that it rarely gets the attention by management gurus that it should.

It is often one of the first visible thing created by a new doctor to be used to create the first (and most lasting) impression of those who get one. While doctors may spend hundreds of dollars of their time and energy finding the perfect office location and hiring an attorney to review the office lease and then spend still thousands more on paint, carpet, and furnishings, the lowly business card is given 10 minutes of thought and costs just a few dollars to produce.
Why are business cards so important? Like an office brochure, they are a tangible (and portable) representation of your practice. While it may be just a small, rectangular piece of paper, a business card can be a powerful tool for growing your practice.

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A business card is merely a simple and inexpensive way to accurately supply your name, address, phone number, and other pertinent information about your practice. It can serve as a form of aided recall. "I know a great chiropractor. She's not like all the other chiropractors you've heard about. In fact, I have her card. Call her."

What does a good business card look like? Your card should graphically represent you and your office. If yours is a formal office, perhaps your card should be more corporate looking. If yours is a place where children and families frequent, maybe the graphic approach should be "friendlier." The tone your card projects is affected by the thickness of the paper, color of the paper, color of the ink(s), typeface, and layout.

Probably the most overlooked opportunity of most practice business cards I see is the empty back side. For a profession that the general public misunderstands, it seems such a waste to ignore the blank surface on the back. If you don't use it for recording appointment dates and times, consider writing a short paragraph for the back side. Maybe the paragraph on the back of one card describes your chiropractic philosophy. Another might explain what happens on a new patient's typical first visit. Another might explode a common myth about chiropractic. The opportunities to provide a quick, bite-sized, thought-provoking idea are endless. The first step is to stop looking at your business cards in the old fashioned, white-paper-black-ink limited vision way!

Your business card is a small thing. And changing it won't save your practice or solve a new patient problem. Yet, reevaluating your card and how you're using it can increase the exposure of your practice in subtle ways. Gimmicks that instantly put 50 new patients on your doorstep are just that, gimmicks.

Taking a proactive role in letting the world know where you are and what you do is not only a way to attract patients in quantities you can handle, it tends to attract patients with the qualities you enjoy serving.

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