Avoid Milk Toast Marketing for the Masses

harlanwestblogphotoBy Harlan West, Design and Marketing Professional with more than 25 years of experience designing materials for major healthcare organizations, municipalities and large corporations.

Why be boring when you can be exciting?  Effective design should be a means to creatively stand out from the crowd.

Do you often wonder why everyone has to drive basically the same mass-produced car and wear the same mass-produced clothes?  Cars, for instance, have become so blazae, with everyone driving basically the same milk-toast 4-door sedan. Even luxury vehicle manufacturers copy each other and offer little variation from the competition.  Milk Bottle,Glass, Egg and Bread on white BackgroundIt’s too bad that we don’t have more stylish models like the big finned cars of the 1950s or the sleek muscle cars of the 1960s.  Let’s face it, there are fewer and fewer choices today. Indeed, it seems that nearly every time I discover a unique product it is not there when I return to the store. Unusual and slow-moving products end up in the marketing graveyard. In short, there is little room for anomalies and variety. Continue reading

Why Retail is Dying a Slow and Painful Death

harlanwestblogphotoBy Harlan West, Design and Marketing Professional with more than 25 years of experience designing materials for major healthcare organizations, municipalities and large corporations.

Let’s talk shop!

Creating successful corporate communications for the retail market is very interrelated to the audience and trends in the industry.  That is why today I am tackling the issue of how retail stores are dying away, largely the fault of retail itself, rather than the Internet.  True, the Internet is somewhat to blame.  Yet the Internet is not the primary cause of this slow death, but a beneficiary of the failures of retail establishments and corporate mergers. Yes, retail is slowly dying away and it is the consumer who will suffer the most loss.  Given the current retail trends and consolidation in the industry, I have to say, it is not unexpected.

reatilstores-with-jeansI hear a lot today about how the Internet and larger online retailers are “killing” the sales of local retail merchants. Many articles have been written about “showrooming” where a prospective customer uses the local store to “check-out” an item and then buys it online for a lower price.  But I actually say to you that it is not a matter of just price.  I feel it is even more than ever, a product of seven often overlooked factors:

1) Bad Personnel. Sorry to insult, but many stores today don’t want to pay for talented or qualified help.  Instead, they often hire cheaper “green” workers who have little or no experience and are basically impediments to the purchasing process.  Maybe this is a cost-saving mood but it actually results in more costs due to lost sales, errors and image degradation. More important, they do not “know” the products they are selling.  Sadly, the customer often has a greater knowledge than the sales representative.  Too often the salesperson is just there to get a paycheck and often does not care about the art of “selling” an item. Frequently there is only one of two people “manning” a store. Items just don’t walk off the shelves sell themselves. Sales need to be encouraged, induced and “incentivized.” Customers are sick and tired of going to a store and trying to buy an item only to discover that there is no one to wait on them. I often ask myself, why should I waste my time with someone who can’t answer any questions or who just points to an item “over there?”  We go to stores for service and to experience an item not to babysit an inept employee. It’s no wonder that retail merchants are in trouble. Continue reading

The Benefits of Press-Checking a Printed Publication

harlanwestblogphotoBy Harlan West, Design and Marketing Professional with more than 25 years of experience designing materials for major healthcare organizations, municipalities and large corporations.

Today, press checks are often overlooked due to the better software and printing equipment which pretty much make the process “What You See Is What You Get” (WYSIWYG). There are fewer surprises on press than 20 years ago and proofs are much better. Yet, any surprise, unless it has an uncharacteristically positive impact, is usually something to avoid. I especially recommend press checking those jobs that are not the Fotolia_14739158_XS“run-of-the-mill” type of print project. Annual reports, press kits, automobile brochures, magazines, corporate reports and sales kits should be press-checked.  Generally the more expensive and the more complicated the job, the more important it is to do a press check.

Why it is important to attend a press check:
1) A press check provides for quality assurance. It’s the designer and the project manager’s last chance to check for color density, trapping and registration issues, as well as color consistency. During the press check, it is also a good opportunity to check crossovers, the application of tinted varnishes and the legibility of type against colored backgrounds.  Sometimes just a small shift on press can make a world of difference in terms of legibility of the type or how “plugged-up” a photo may appear.

2) A press check allows one to verify proper PMS color matching, bleeds, smooth gradients, and to check for paper “see-through.”  PMS matching is critical especially where a specific corporate color is required.  This is essential for corporate branding. Don’t be afraid to have the pressman make several “moves” on press to ensure that the color is “spot-on.” It is also the time to check the bleeds. While standing at the press, ask the printer to trim down a sample of a press sheet.  Make sure that the inks are fully saturated to the end of the sheet.  Make sure that gradients are not banding.  Finally, you will want to check for see through of image from one side of the sheet to the other.  Obviously it is too late to change the paper stock once the job is on press.  But you could have the pressman hold back or run lighter on the ink to help minimize this issue. Continue reading

Flying Off the Web Press with 50,000 Quantity

harlanwestblogphotoBy Harlan West, Design and Marketing Professional with more than 25 years of experience designing materials for major healthcare organizations, municipalities and large corporations.

Roll’n, Roll’n Off the Presses We Go

It’s exciting to watch a publication being printed on the web press. Paper is fed from a continuous 2,000 lb. spindle of paper that is fed through what seem like two stories of mechanical gingerbread parts. Around and around it goes, till the publication is magically printed two-sided, folded and then spit out the other end at a rate of 10 pieces per second. In no time, 50,000 or even 100,000 copies are ready to be bound, trimmed, labeled sorted and bundled for distribution or mailing. I am reminded of a  tour that I attended at the Chicago Sun Times while I was in middle school, many a moon ago.

With the web press, the quality is not the same as most sheet-fed presses. Indeed, the web press offers great cost savings for newspapers, news magazines, recreation guides and direct mailers with large print runs. Yet, it is important to allow for some issues such as offsetting, where the ink, since it may not fully dry before folding, actually creates a slight impression onto another page. Another disadvantage is that the Web press can also slightly crease and crinkle pages during the very quick folding process. Nonetheless, these are small trade-offs for the benefits in cost-savings, especially for a quantity of more than 50,000 pieces.

Collage-of-press

1) A publication being printed on the high-speed web press. 2) Pallets of publications are shrink-wrapped for delivery.  3) A recreation guide coming off the press folded and ready for binding with the cover.  4) Huge rolls of paper for the web press. 5) A roll of paper on the web press. 6) The web press machine nearly fills an entire warehouse.

Shoot’n out the press we go.  It’s a – high-speed world!

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If your company needs a recreation guide, a news magazine or a large-run multi-page publication, please contact HWDS at hwdesign@west.netWe make beautiful things happen. To find out more please visit westdesign.com

Harlan West is the author of successfulcorporatecommunications.com and has been working as a creative director and design professional for more than 25 years and has designed and art directed hundred of publications for both print and online purposes.

Political Campaigns: Don’t Throw Your Hat in the Ring Without Effective Branding

harlanwestblogphotoBy Harlan West, Design and Marketing Professional with more than 25 years of experience designing materials for major healthcare organizations, municipalities and large corporations

First, let me start off by saying that I have a BA in political science with an emphasis in public administration.United States Election Vote Button. Many years ago, I even worked in Washington for an Illinois congressman.  Creatively, I have contributed graphical identities and event promotions for political figures in their campaigns for Los Angeles City Council as well as various other local issue and public service campaigns throughout Southern California.  I spent a total of thirteen years working in three government agencies and have developed communications for countless government agencies and municipalities.

Effective Graphics for a political campaign: Don’t run without an effective branding.

Here’s some things to keep in mind when throwing your hat in the ring:

Know your potential supporters. They can help define how you determine the look and feel for the  campaign. A local political campaign probably needs to look more community- based and more home-baked than a campaign for statewide or national office. On the local level, it is best not to look too polished. It can sink an otherwise worthy campaign. Be part of the community. Potential supporters/voters will respect you more. Don’t look like an aristocrat in a working-class neighborhood.

Hire an experienced marketing or design firm to brand your campaign. You need a distinctive color scheme and layout for publications as well as a unique logo. Consistency of message and look is critical. Use colors that stand our from the crowd. This is critical when a plethora of yard signs start to populate your neighborhood. The logo and type treatment should be simple clean and direct. Have your marketing firm develop a branded set of letterheads, ads, yard signs, invitations, buttons and website and e-blasts. All materials should have a standardized look and feel.

Develop a catchy slogan that sums up your talents in a few punchy words.  Make it memorable. Develop a slogan that speaks for itself. A double entendre is often effective. Try catchy taglines such as  “Building a City that Works,”  or “Creating a Better Tomorrow Today.”

Use only extremely flattering photos of the candidate, their family and supporters. Show the candidate working in the neighborhoods. Show the candidate working with business, schools, community, civic, governmental, activists, and religious leaders.

Provide testimonials from well-connected leaders as well as the “man” on the street. Potential supporters want to get to know the candidate. Make sure to use only reputable and respected contributors. Add audio clips to the website and radio or TV ads.  As stated in a previous blog on this site, word of mouth is the most effective form of advertising.

Tell us candidly what you, as the candidate, will do.  Avoid pie in the sky promises.  Make a platform and do not deviate from it. Find your voice.  A few key issue statements and principals will help focus your campaign.  Be bold with your messaging and political posturing. Voters like candidates who at least appear honest and who have a “backbone.”

Know your opposition.  You may have to battle them on your turf. You also need to be able to effectively refute what the opposition is saying.  Find out how to differentiate yourself from the other candidates.  Develop a list of unique selling points to stand out amongst a crowded field of candidates. Think of yourself as a box of cereal in the breakfast foods aisle of a grocery store. Offer something unique to get people to buy what you are selling, namely your electability.

Develop a website where people can make campaign contributions online. Make it easy to find and user-friendly to navigate and purchase an easy to remember URL.

Find the one or two primary issues which will help define your campaign. Some candidates campaign on a platform of safety issues and reducing crime. Others like to promote to city services, better schools and parks, road and pubic transportation improvement and economic development.

Maintain a positive image and stay above the fray. Don’t wrestle with dogs and don’t stoop to the competition. Keep your campaign on a higher level.  Integrity, strength and leadership say it all!

Now if you have a thick skin, go ahead and throw your hat in the ring!

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If you need help creating a brand and identity for your political campaign, please contact HWDS at hwdesign@west.net.  We make beautiful things happen. To find out more please visit westdesign.com

Harlan West is the author of successfulcorporatecommunications.com and has been working as a creative director and design professional for more than 25 years and has designed and art directed hundred of publications for both print and online purposes.

A Well-Designed Interview About Design—Part II

harlanwestblogphotoBy Harlan West, Design and Marketing Professional with more than 25 years of experience designing materials for major healthcare organizations, municipalities and large corporations.

This is part two of an interview with a California State University at Fullerton graduate student. The second part dealt with my personal perception on logos.

microphone against purple disco background1.  What is the most important aspect of a logo?
HW:
The most important characteristic of a logo is memorability.  You want people to go away with a positive lasting impression. It’s all about retention.

2. Are there any considerations taken when creating a logo? (Who is the client, what is it used for, why is there a need for a logo, when is the logo created)

HW: Yes, there are many considerations.  Here’s some questions to ask:

  • What is the company’s mission?
  • What is the company’s primary product or service?
  • How long has the company been in business?
  • What is the company’s reputation and image?
  • Has the company won any awards?
  • Who is the competition and how do they market themselves?
  • What differentiates the company from its competitors? What does it offer that is different?
  • Does the company have a strategic marketing plan?
  • Have there been recent  changes/developments in the industry that will impact the company’s strategic marketing plan?

HW: Avoid logos that are cluttered or which try to say too much.  A logo symbol and type treatment need to be a cohesive unit that work well together.  A simple clean memorable symbol is best. Take a look at the CBS camera lens logo, Time Warner Cables’s eye logo, Apple’s apple symbol , the NBC peacock, the Facebook “F” and the Tesla “T.”  Elegance and simplicity if design says it all.  Less is more. Keep in mind that a logo just needs to communicate strength.  Resilience and quality. Avoid elements which get in the way of this simple concept.

3.  What do you think would be a reason for a company to change its logo design?

HW: In other words, I’d like to rephrase this question.  I recommend a corporate rebranding when:

  • A logo is dated and looks stale.
  • The logo colors are no longer contemporary.
  • The marketplace has changed and the industry has evolved.
  • A large competitor has eaten away at sales.
  • The company has taken on a new product line or service that is outside its current industry.
  • The company’s reputation or corporate image have changed.
  • New design standards are warranted. This may be a great opportunity for an update and refresh.

HW: But keep in mind that it may best to just “update” a design rather than to completely create a new logo. Years of building awareness and advertising could fall away quickly if a logo were completely “shucked.”  Customers need something that they can hang on to and they can continue to connect with. Often a new typestyle and simple “modernization” of an existing symbol is the best approach.

4.  What is your personal perception about the importance of logos in brand identity?

HW: A logo defines the company. It is a simple yet powerful means of creating a corporate image and identity.  A poorly designed logo can make a company look inexperienced and unsuccessful. A well-designed logo can make a company look strong and prosperous. The logo is the most important element in brand identity.  When it is paired with strict corporate colors, fonts, photo treatments and publication templates, it can result in a very effective branding for the company.  In other words, the logo is the defining element in the corporate branding,

5.  Do design trends (past or present) influence the design of company logos?

HW: Yes, but do not place too much stock in trends. The logo or rebranding needs to be contemporary and up with the times. Stay away from trends that quickly make a logo look dated.  A logo must withstand the test of time.

HW: I recommend designing a logo with a shelf life of at least 10 years.  A resilient logo helps to build brand retention, awareness and customer loyalty. You need to “marry your logo for a substantial period of time. In short a logo  in order to be effective must be  able to withstand the test of time.

HW: Here’s some of the many logos that we have created for our clients during the past 23 years.

HWDSlogsheetforwebpromotion

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If your company needs an elegantly designed publication, logo or e-publication, please contact HWDS at hwdesign@west.net.  We make beautiful things happen. To find out more please visit westdesign.com

Harlan West is the author of successfulcorporatecommunications.com and has been working as a creative director and design professional for more than 25 years and has designed and art directed hundred of publications for both print and online purposes.

A Well-Designed Interview About Design—Part I

harlanwestblogphotoBy Harlan West, Design and Marketing Professional with more than 25 years of experience designing materials for major healthcare organizations, municipalities and large corporations.

Recently a graduate student from California State University at Fullerton called to interview me about the world of design.  It was a great way to share 25 years of experience with students who are trying to get their “feet wet” in the business of design. Here’s some of the questions and answers from the interview. I am splitting this interview into two parts.  Part two will be featured in my next blog post.

INTERVIEW QUESTIONS—PART I

inteviewPersonal

1. How many years have you been at your current position?
I have been full-time creative director at HWDS since 2003. From 1991 to 2003, I served at HWDS as a creative consultant senior designer while we were growing the business. All in all, I have worked in the field of advertising and creative marketing/advertising design for a total of more than 25 years.

2.  What are some of your experiences in the Graphic Design field?

  • I always give the client one design that incorporates their vision. Then I provide alternative options.
  • I make it a point to give extremely responsive service.
  • I allow for patience and calm when dealing with clients. Clients need to see everything in a visual representation. They cannot simply “imagine” what you are proposing. Be clear and straightforward.
  • I try to be  flexible and at the same firm with my clients’ requests for changes.  Sometimes it is best to just usher the project to completion even if the amount of changes get somewhat excessive and cause lots of frustration. But it is also good to be firm. If you feel that a client us asking for too much, be sure to let them know that there will be an additional charge for the extra time.
  • I make it a point not to be a “prima donna” about my designs. Not every creation can or will turn out to be a masterpiece. Often commercial design has to be highly functional, user-friendly  and largely informative. That does not mean that it shouldn’t be tasteful and clean.

3.  What type of training/degree do you have?
I have formal education in design and the arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where I earned a BFA.  I also was an exchange student at Otis Parsons School of Design where I took courses in illustration and design.  As part of my education, I worked as an intern at a book publisher in Chicago during my last year of college.  Here I learned the ins and outs of how to design and layout book covers and how to set up camera-ready art for printing.  Following my graduation, I continued taking classes at UCLA Extension in publication design, interface design, motion graphics and special effects, photo treatments, advertising concepts, digital animation and marketing.  My career has included work for a printer, production company, advertising agency, public transportation agency (government), regional planning agency (government) and a marketing firm.  In addition, I have served various clients including healthcare organizations, politicians, cable companies, law firms, transportation consultants, investment firms an  municipalities. Furthermore, I have worked on campaigns for air quality, recycling and solid waste, affordable housing, ridesharing, water quality, and other community and quality of life issues.

4.  How did your training/degree prepare you for your career?
I had a varied college career and educational background.  Believe it or not, I went to 10 colleges and universities where I developed a diverse transcript of classes.  I have a diverse background in political science/public administration and graphic design with a bachelors of the arts in each discipline.  Unlike most college graduates today, I use not one, but two college degrees. Having this diverse background allowed me to more marketable and specialized with my art. Indeed, I have worked primarily creating materials for government agencies, public officials, and issue campaigns, hence blending art with politics.

5. What type of skill set have you learned outside of your career that are applicable to graphic design?
Indeed, with just a fine arts degree, I was virtually unprepared for the real world.
I had to learn people skills—hiring and managing employees, customer service, customer relations, problem solving and putting out “fires.”  Next, I had to learn skills for running a business—budgeting, taxes, bookkeeping, payroll, organization, insurance, and banking. Finally, writing a blog helped me to hone my written communication skills.  Writing is critical when preparing project estimates and extensive Requests for Proposals (RFPs) for government marketing projects.


Don’t miss part two of this interview on logo design.  Coming next week…

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If your company needs an elegantly designed publication, for print or online purposes,  please contact HWDS at hwdesign@west.netWe make beautiful things happen. To find out more please visit westdesign.com

Harlan West is the author of successfulcorporatecommunications.com and has been working as a creative director and design professional for more than 25 years and has designed and art directed hundred of publications for both print and online purposes.

Refreshing Your Newsletter is Like Getting a Car Wash

harlanwestblogphotoBy Harlan West, Design and Marketing Professional with 25 years of experience designing materials for major healthcare organizations, municipalities and large corporations.

This may sound crazy, but a simple newsletter refresh can make you feel like you do when you get a car wash.  Your newly-washed car is all shiny and smelling nice and you feel like you just bought a new car.

1) Keep it smelling fresh.  Artwork should not look stale.  People can easily “sniff” out a autolavaggiocompany or organization that has not kept up with the times. Stale artwork quickly makes your company look dated and unsophisticated. That’ why it’s  to keep the information on your company website current and publish regular monthly issues of a newsletter.

2) Keep it clean.  The design should b e clean and uncluttered.  Don’t muddy it up with clutter, clip art or too much text. Proper use of white small and a minimalist approach to the design will allow you to clean up an old newsletter.

3)  Make it easy to create.  Do not publish a newsletter unless you have a plan.  This includes having a design template, photo and graphics library, selected paper stock, a contracted print vendor, an up-to-date distribution list—both for emailing and mailing. These elements should be dealt with before you delve into the world of publishing. Think ahead. Keep a list of ideas for future articles and even have content written ahead of time for quick drop-ins. This will make the job of developing a newsletter much easier.

4) Do it cost-effectively and “on the cheap.” The overhaul does not need to be elaborate, but it should be enough that people notice.  You can use low-cost digital printing, especially if you need a short-run.  Solicit advertisers to run ads in the newsletter to help decrease the cost. If you still don’t have it in the budget, try an online digital solution such as an e-newsletter or interactive iMag publication.

5)  Shine up the details, like detailing your car. It’s in the details.  Don’t overlook the simplest things such as proofreading, page numbers, photo quality, proper folding and the inclusion of a call-to-action with the company’s phone number and website.

Go ahead and make it sparkle.  You’ll have a brand spanking new look for your newsletter.  What are you waiting for?

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If your company needs a newsletter redesign, e-publication, or promotion, please contact HWDS at hwdesign@west.netWe make beautiful things happen. To find out more please visit westdesign.com

Harlan West is the author of successfulcorporatecommunications.com and has been working as a creative director and design professional for more than 25 years and has designed and art directed hundred of publications for both print and online purposes.

Why Small Businesses Need Newsletters for Effective Marketing

harlanwestblogphotoBy Harlan West, Design and Marketing Professional with 25 years of experience designing materials for major healthcare organizations, municipalities and large corporations.

As mentioned before in this blog, newsletters have many advantages. But often overlooked is the benefit a regular newsletter can present to a small business or retail store. Many small businesses will not even consider a newsletter because it does not seem as “sexy” as TV or radio ads, print advertisements, billboards or social media promotions. In addition, the proprietor often feels that the monthly cost of printing, fulfillment, mailing list generation and postage, together with the expense and time involved to create content and develop the design, make a newsletter a non-viable option.  But small businesses need to start looking at newsletters as a form of advertising rather than just a means for staying in touch with customers. Hence, I encourage small businesses to try instituting a monthly newsletter for a minimum of a one-year period. This should be sufficient time to determine if there a sufficient return on investment (ROI) to support the continuation of the publication.shoes

Here’s some things to keep in mind when developing a newsletter for a small business:

1)  Keep the budget in check. Probably the number one reason small  businesses do not use newsletters is the cost and the time requirement needed to prepare a newsletter. With online newsletters, the distribution, mailing, and printing costs are eliminated. But if you still want to print your publication, digital printing can give you short-run print options at a cheaper price than traditional printing.

2)  Utilize a great way to stay in touch.  Newsletters are a great way to connect with your customer base and to keep them up-to-date with the latest products, services or industry developments.  Why ignore a great form of communication that is easily within your reach and budget?  Keep in mind that the newsletter does not need to be fancy or glossy.  Take, for example, Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer.  This is a “home-baked” 2-color piece printed on newsprint.  Indeed, this is a “campy” piece but it’s one that you definitely remember.

3) Take advantage of a more personalized approach.  Newsletters can be tailored to a smaller audience than other forms of advertising.  Newsletters can even include articles about customers, employees the local community and local suppliers. Try including “success” stories about happy customers using your products or services. Some laser-printed newsletters could even feature a laser printed section where the customer’s name could be imprinted in an article or addressed as a salutation in a letter.

4) Stay local. Newsletters are a great way to foster a localized feeling and a commitment to the community. Buy Local,”  and “Buy American,” are popular buzz phrases that can attract customers.  People love supporting businesses in their community.  Think of a home-baked approach to keep your store or business connected with your neighbors.

5) Add a non-profit component to the newsletter—promote a charity or give back to the community. Why not add a column that offers supports a charitable foundation? You will not only be helping others, but your company will go a long way towards building some “brownie points” with the community.  You could also promote a recycling e-waste collection or an Earth Day event.

6) Use the newsletter as a means partner with other businesses for the purpose of joint promotions.  Share advertising costs with other businesses in your local business district or even partner with competitors in outlying areas. This will help reduce costs. Indeed, even businesses in the same field can have completely different types of clients. But since you both provide similar services, you may find it beneficial and cost-effective to run ads together or to produce a joint newsletter. This will help save time, printing, fulfillment and mailing and costs.

7) Run social-media promotions in the newsletter such as coupons, contests, give-aways. These will help entice people to keep reading. Get people to visit your small business on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or YouTube.

8)  Ask for e-mail lists and cell phone numbers when your customers make purchases.  This will allow you to gather an up-to-date list from patrons who have already shopped in the store and made a purchase. Having visited the store, they already have a connection to your business. Why not build on it?

9) Run feature articles on regular customers and how they are benefiting from your products or services. Show how the local folk are benefiting from shopping in your retail establishment.  You could run special profiles such as a customer-of-the-month profile. Offer the highlighted customers some free services to help compensate them for their time and the use of this information in a promotion.

10) Use the newsletter in place of costly advertising.  A regular, and I mean regular, monthly newsletter can include information on new products or services the business us offering, upcoming sales and promotions, staff profiles, updates to hours, new locations and an events calendar.  Keep in mind that it does not need to be printed.  It can be an online newsletter as well.

Go ahead and develop a newsletter for your small business—its your business! What are you waiting for?

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If your company needs an innovative small business newsletter, e-publication, or promotion, please contact HWDS at hwdesign@west.netWe make beautiful things happen. To find out more please visit westdesign.com

Harlan West is the author of successfulcorporatecommunications.com and has been working as a creative director and design professional for more than 25 years and has designed and art directed hundred of publications for both print and online purposes.

Why Doctor Groups and Healthcare Professionals Need Newsletters

harlanwestblogphotoBy Harlan West, Design and Marketing Professional with 25 years of experience designing materials for major healthcare organizations, municipalities and large corporations.

Have you ever gone into a doctor’s office for a scheduled appointment only to be forced to wait an hour or more?  Yes, we all have had this unfortunate experience. Doctors seem to think that their time is more Doctor's-officephotovaluable than the average person’s. True, emergencies do come up and some patients take much longer to examine and diagnose than others.

Now, we all know how doctors tend to fill their waiting rooms with stacks of dated magazines that often contain technical content or  boring articles about such unexciting topics as a golf stroke. C’mon, let’s get with the times!

In this world of constantly evolving healthcare procedures,  policies and regulations, doctors, more than ever, need to better communicate with their patients.

Below is a sample newsletter design we created to be used in a doctor’s office waiting room.

Making-Your-Life-Healthier-NewsletterThere are several important reasons why a newsletter can be beneficial to a physician or a medical group:

1) As mentioned above, it’s a great way to connect with patients and staff. These new letters are a great way to introduce new associate doctors, office staff or clinicians to the patient.

2) Newsletters placed in the waiting room will most likely have a very high readership rate. Similar to onboard rail newsletters that I discuss in previous posts, physician newsletters can be strategically placed in the waiting room to take advantage of a captive audience. Indeed, patients are sitting waiting and watching the clock with nothing to do. They are just trying to l time until they are called to come back into the examination room. They are very likely to pick up any attractive and interesting reading material in front of them. Try a more “home-baked” yet at the same time professional approach to the newsletter.  With such an approach, patients may feel more relaxed.

3) Newsletters can help take away some of the depersonalization of today’s healthcare. Too often we feel like just a number in a heard of cattle. This is especially true where doctors groups, medical groups or HMOs are involved. Stories about doctors, their staff, new services, billing policies, new procedures or medical innovations can help put patient’s fears at ease. Articles about patient success stories can also increase the comfort level.  But, be careful not to divulge patient information without their prior consent.  Due to privacy concerns, it is essential to leave out names and actual photos.

4)  Newsletters can also be a great medium for building awareness on the importance of fitness, exercise and healthy eating.  Try including stretching exercises that can be done at home or in the office.  Generic photos of active “boomers” living a healthy lifestyle are great additions to help perk up the newsletter. With a regular newsletter, healthcare practitioners can more easily “preach” to their patients about such hard-to-discuss topics as weight loss, proper hygiene, cancers and sexually transmitted diseases.

5) A regular monthly newsletter can allow a doctor to show a more compassionate side even if he or she does not have a great “bedside manner.”  Articles about the  physician and how he or she is helping patients receive the best care can go along way to bridging this gap. In other words, a physician newsletter can show a new side of the doctor, even, if in person, he is not a very compassionate individual.

6) Providing a newsletter keeps the dialogue focused on the patient rather than just the doctor. Patient-centered is the essential to succeeding in today’s healthcare maze. Knowing as much as possible about the patient will allow doctors to share valuable information can really add to the success of the care experience and treatment. In a newsletter, patients can find valuable resources and web links to the doctor’s website, other practitioners, pharmacies and such preventative care as flu vaccines, nutritional guidelines and fitness regimens. Newsletters are also a way that patients can learn about other ways to stay connected with the doctor’s office.  Other useful resources including e-mail contacts, online e-newsletters, the office website and social media could be easily included in the regular newsletter

A physician newsletter can make for a healthy patient doctor care experience!

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If your company needs an innovative physician, healthcare, fitness or nutritional newsletter, e-publication, or promotion, please contact HWDS at hwdesign@west.netWe make beautiful things happen. To find out more please visit westdesign.com

Harlan West is the author of successfulcorporatecommunications.com and has been working as a creative director and design professional for more than 25 years and has designed and art directed hundred of publications for both print and online purposes.