Designing the Perfect Business Card for Your Medical Practice

May 11, 2012
C. Noel Henley, MD

Does your business card say anything substantive about the valuable work you do in your practice? Here’s how to re-design your next business card for maximum impact and engagement.

Sometimes it seems like others have more control over our practices than we do. That’s why I’m convinced we should pounce on every opportunity to control what we can, while we can, in our medical practices.

One small area of practice promotion you can still control in a powerful way is your own business card.

If you’ve ever stared at your boring, uninspired practice business card, this article will help you take some satisfying control back in this neglected area of marketing. I stared at mine for about three years before deciding I would change it!

The vast majority of physicians use the same business card design their forebears used: Name, specialty, address, phone, and fax numbers.

So what? Who cares? It’s just a business card, right?

I hereby challenge each of you to start thinking of the lowly business card as more than just a basic information-delivering device that serves no purpose higher than a small Yellow Pages ad or your phone number scribbled on a piece of paper.

This is nothing less than a miniature marketing billboard. It should contain as much complete information about you and your practice as you can cram onto it.
Think about who usually holds that card: someone who has a problem and wants the right expert to solve it. The card should declare that person to be you - without equivocation!

Most physicians are loathe to toot their own horns. This is a small area where you can and should practice this skill of practice promotion!

Here are some components of an engaging, actively promotional business card you can create for your practice.

The basics

OK, yes, your name and degree(s) should be on there, along with basic information from the boring version of your card. Name, address, and phone number. I can’t fathom that someone would actually fax me something, so I leave that off - it’s just taking up valuable real estate.

In its place, put your general, non-personal e-mail address on the card, along with your website, and perhaps your Facebook page address.

Refine who you are and what you do

Come up with a succinct, unique statement about who you are and what you do for patients. It should be one sentence featured prominently on the front of the card, under your name.

Think about why patients are coming to you and what message you want to send them in 15 words or fewer. Are you a caring professional? A world-renown expert? A double board-certified ear, nose, and throat doctor?

Could your statement answer an objection or fear patients have? I’m a surgeon, so my one sentence statement emphasizes that I use both surgical and non-surgical strategies to solve problems. I don’t want patients to think I’m scalpel-happy.

Take some significant time on this one. You are defining who you are to your patients. If there’s some specific way you want to be seen by your patients, now’s the time to enunciate it.

Ask for action

But don’t just put your website address by itself. Incorporate an imperative, call to action for patients: "Visit my website at www.dr_whatever.com, and read more about health issues affecting you and your baby today!"

Ask for "likes" on your Facebook Fan Page directly on the card: "Like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/our_clinic!"

Even better, add a suggestion that they download a free guide to some common ailment or procedure in your field of expertise. Create a guide on something that will be of perpetual interest to your patients.

Use the back of the card

Our practice has used the same printer for a few decades. I just asked the printer one day if he could print up some two-sided cards. "No problem - we’ll do it for no extra charge," was the printer’s reply.

You don’t know until you ask.

On the back side of my new cards I have a bulleted list of the common problems I treat in the office. Each one is carefully thought-out. Here are some guidelines:
• Use layman’s terms to describe the problems you treat
• Pick types of problems that you want to see all the time
• Pick types of problems that you treat profitably
• List types of problems you want to treat more of

Use the extra real estate on the back to ask for referrals, or declare that your favorite patients come to the office as referrals from existing patients.

Ask for ratings and reviews on popular doctor rating sites too.

Creative ways of using the card

Hand them out to every patient you see in the office. I usually point out the website address and circle it as I paper clip the card to the patient’s charge ticket. Usually I clip two on each ticket!

Put two or three cards in each thank you card you write to a patient who refers to you. You are writing thank you notes to patients who refer, aren’t you? This encourages referrals and lets potential patients get to know you through your online publications before they come in to see you.

Carry multiple cards with you anytime you’re in the ER - hand them to ER doctors, and especially to new patients you see in consultation. I have a special section of my website for patients I see in the ER. I hand them a card and direct them to that web page.

If you put even a few of these ideas into the next business card you create, you’ll get more satisfaction out of handing them out, and you’ll educate patients and strengthen relationships in the process. It’s what profitable practice promotion is all about!

Is there anything I left out? What have you put on your business cards?

Let everyone know in the comments.

Find out more about C. Noel Henley and our other Practice Notes bloggers.