Birthday,Cards,Marketing Tips,Promotions

It’s Back! Enjoy 20% More Birthday Cards FREE!

9 May , 2014  

It’s the small gestures that matter the most.

Patients or clients appreciate you staying in touch, especially when it’s unexpected like a birthday card. By including a gift such as a free service or product, it will help them feel valued and also increase the likelihood of them coming back.

Your patients or clients probably aren’t expecting to receive a birthday card from you, which is exactly why you should send them. Taking the time to remember things like birthdays sets you apart in their minds and encourages them to stay loyal to you and share your name with others.

Make it more than a Birthday Card. Don’t under estimate the power of sincere good wishes. In addition to being a thoughtful gesture that encourages loyalty, use Birthday Cards as tools to bring patients or clients back into your practice or business.

  • Remind patients or clients it’s time for their next appointment.
  • Encourage extra visits by including a special offer.

To celebrate Sharper Cards’ 29th Birthday, we are bringing back our popular promotion on Birthday Cards. From now until the end of May, enjoy 20% more Birthday Cards FREE! When you buy 100 cards or more. Quote promo code P514 when checking out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cards,Design Ideas,Marketing Tips,Services

Using lifestyle imagery in advertising is the way to go.

7 May , 2014  

In today’s world of social media, businesses are taking a new approach to advertising as photo sharing and quick shots of family and friends taken from smartphones are becoming the norm.  “ Retailers are increasingly using real people social pics“, creating a vibe that is more “main street” and that speaks to the emotions of the consumer. Pictures of people having fun have been used in advertising since the beginning of time. Think back to the old Coca Cola ads. They were extremely successful and still are today.

This type of imagery feels natural to us. We accept it as the “real deal”.  It’s refreshing… not contrived…creative…BUT…

If you choose to use this approach, watch your resolutions and still consider your composition, even if it is a quick pic.  If you are selling a product, try to make it the focal point. The first photo below has less impact than the second photo, if you are trying to sell a soft drink. Yet, they both look like an everyday moment in someone’s life. The second photo has been optimized digitally, creating a vibrant eye-catching contrast to the scene. The product is larger, the people’s faces more obvious, showing lots of emotion.

If you can get someone with experience in a photo editing program to optimize your photos and make them shine, please take the opportunity to do so. Most phones and tablets have settings you can adjust very quickly as well. At Sharper Cards, our team of designers and production experts will help you get your photos to where they need to be for press at no extra charge. And if deep in our hearts we know they just aren’t quite there, we will let you know. It’s our responsibility to keep you looking your best. Have fun! And, oh yes, the odd selfie is quite all right. This is me :-)

~ JAN~

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Cards,Design Ideas,Marketing Tips

Adding Photos to your Advertising – better nothing than a bad shot

1 May , 2014  

It’s easy to fall in love with that photo you took on your phone yesterday…..and wouldn’t it be perfect in that new brochure you’re having the marketing team work on this month? Or… how about a photo dragged right from your website? That would work. Right?

Wrong! We’ve all been there, desperate to fill the white space on that advertising piece. But the truth is white space will create a far better layout than filling it with a poor quality photo.

Here are a few points to keep in mind the next time you have to choose whether to use it or lose it:

1. Photos and logos that you grab off the internet are only 72dpi jpgs. They don’t work for print, which requires over 3 times the resolution (300 dpi). Take a look at this close-up of the same photo saved at 72 dpi and at 300 dpi. You can actually see the pixels in the lower resolution. The beauty of the floral bouquet shot that you took is not worth including if it isn’t high quality. Sure it looks great on your Facebook or viewing it on your iPhone. But be very cautious uploading it into a file that is headed for the press.

left close-up: 72 dpi (notice the pixels and very poor color depth)
right close-up: 300 dpi (much better clarity and color depth)

2. Crowd Shots don’t work. Try to include a photo with a focal point or a main subject. Most people prefer one thing to focus on, as their eyes actually get lost in the crowd and they become bored very quickly. Including a photo like the first one below may leave them yawning, and your brochure in the recycling bin. Notice how the subtle change with a person to focus on, makes it more interesting.

3. Oversized bigger than life faces and body parts can seem a bit grotesque, unless of course that is the point of your advertising piece. Cropping photos in an interesting way can ad impact, but also can make the viewer feel uncomfortable. If you are including professional mug shots of yourself or your team, don’t crop them at the neck or at the knees. Include the shoulders and part of an background environment that speaks to what your profession is (but not too much because it might appear cluttered)

Here are a couple of examples of

Bad Cropping (left photo)                                           Good Cropping (right photo)

If you aren’t sure that your photography will work, send your photos along to our Creative Services Team. They will be happy to assess the quality, and even help you clean up photos that need some tender loving care.  We want you to look your best when you send out those postcards, brochures, business cards or whatever you are working on for your next marketing initiative. Number your photos to indicate placement on your layout. If you don’t have a photo, we can provide you with a wide variety of stock photography to choose from and maximize your success.

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Design Ideas,Marketing Tips

Keep your logo simple for color control in print and online design.

1 Apr , 2014  

Managing color for your logo and brand can be a difficult task with the variety of technology out there today where customers will browse your marketing and advertising materials. And to add to the challenge, every person who views your product online will get a different view because all monitors are different. A person browsing your site through an older monitor may get abnormal hues of blue or magenta, and this is out of your control. On the print side, every press has it’s own subtleties and every press operator has the option to manipulate the final output if need be.

So, what can you do to minimize the pain? Keep it simple. Make sure your logo has a variety of versions and formats to be used in different advertising mediums and spaces. Detailed 3 dimensional designs with shading and gradients work great for full color brochures and postcards, but may not work well for embroidery, or simple one color conventional printing, where you will likely need a flat simple version of your logo. For newsprint and quick black and white, you will need a simple black or one color file as well. If you need help refreshing your logo and converting it to these various formats, our Creative Services Team will be happy to get you organized by creating an archive of logo types for future use.

Then add your logo to a wide variety of Sharper Card Products - Postcards, tote bags, die cut business cards to name a few.

A logo and consistent marketing materials can increase your sales and brand awareness. Discover the reasons why branding is so important and how you can achieve maximum impact without blowing your budget.

 

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Design Ideas,Marketing Tips

Vector Logos for the Best Success in Print

17 Mar , 2014  

If there is one thing on your to-do list this spring, when it comes time to freshen up your advertising visuals, make sure that when you get your logo designed, there is a vector version of the artwork available to you. Remember, you can’t use the jpg or gif file on your website for printed advertising. The quality and resolution just isn’t there.

The preferred file type for logos would be vector (refer to a great Sharper Cards article  – So What’s a “vector graphic anyway?” for more information). Designers love them! They are fully editable, versatile and infinitely scalable – the edges stay smooth and clean regardless of how much you blow it up.  They may come as an AI, EPS, CDR, DRW, SVG file type.

Knock em out with a powerful logoIf you can’t track down the original source of your logo design, we’d be happy to help you out.  If you have a good quality tiff or jpeg, our talented team of designers will redraw the image for you for a one-time fee.  Or if you don’t have a logo at all, we can custom design one for you.  Also check out our incredible selection of free logos that may work for you.

Put on your game face this year with a great logo image to support your company brand. And check out our Marketing Made Easy section for great branding and marketing strategies.

 

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Giveaways,Magnets,Marketing Tips,Pens,Tote Bags

3 Easy and Affordable Ways to Strengthen Your Brand

21 Feb , 2014  

The beginning of the new year is a perfect time to take a look at your marketing plans and put in place best practices that will help you grow by encouraging loyalty, gaining referrals and acquiring new customers.

Create a fresh marketing plan for the new year and include these 3 easy and affordable ways to promote your brand:

1.) Encourage word-of-mouth advertising with Personalized Tote Bags
Full-color custom supply bags are perfect for sending home with clients and helping to promote your brand. Plus, custom bags allow you to add your logo, full color photos/designs, and social media info for increased visibility.

2.) Attract new business with Magnets
Magnets and ReStix™ are the perfect way to keep your information in front of customers and prospects because they can be easily handed out in the office or sent home with customers along with correspondence. We recommend choosing a larger size magnet to give your name and details maximum exposure and add your practice logo to reinforce your brand.

3.) Make a lasting impression with Promotional Giveaways
Giveaways are fun yet practical and give your customers a reason to talk about your practice  or business with others which is a sure way to generate referrals. Be sure your personalization includes your practice or business logo and website to continue to promote your brand.

Visit Sharper Cards’ Marketing Made Easy to learn more strategies to help market your business.

 

 

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Marketing Tips

The Infinite Referral Cycle

16 Jan , 2014  

Did you know new patients or clients are the best source of referrals? In most cases, new patients or clients have friends and family that have never heard of your practice or business.  They are also more likely to talk about your practice or business, especially if they’ve had a “Wow” experience.  It’s up to you to make referring family and friends trouble-free.  Give patients or clients the right tools to capture these leads for you.  Then your team can convert them into new patients or clients, who will then refer their family and friends and so on, creating what’s known as the infinite referral cycle.

Start by asking current patients or clients to refer friends, family and coworkers.  For example, if you are a dental practice, you can try bringing it up naturally in conversation by asking “Do you have family here in town?  Which dentist do they see?”  End the appointment with a Referral Slip or point out the referral section on their Appointment Card.  You can also follow up with an email encouraging patients or clients to share a great special with their friends and family while asking for a referral.  Display in-office Signage and keep Referral Slips in dispenser in the reception area as subtle reminders that you’re currently welcoming new patients or clients.

Convert referrals to new patients or clients

When a referral calls or you receive a completed Referral Slip, schedule an appointment immediately.  Acting promptly demonstrates how much you value the opportunity to be their service provider and sets the state for a “Wow” experience.  Be sure to thank the referring patient or client.

Follow up with new patients or clients

Delight new patients or clients by following up their first visit with a Welcome Card. It’s a simple gesture that helps establish a positive relationship and lets them know they’re an important part of your business family. Your sincere gratitude is the first step in building long-term customer loyalty.

“Wow” and reward new and current patients or clients

Foster loyalty in current patients or clients and open the door to asking for referrals from new patients or clients by rewarding each with a special gift.  Gifts can be anything from small tokens such as cups, mugs or tote bags, to something more significant like a gift card or movie pass.  Longtime patients or clients with multiple referrals could earn extravagant rewards like tablets, TVs, weekend getaways or cruises.

 

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Cards,Marketing Tips,Recall/Reminder

5 Steps to an Effective Direct Mail Campaign

23 Oct , 2013  

Direct Mail is an effective way to communicate the features and benefits of your business within targeted audience groups. However, if your campaign is not well thought out then it can result in being ineffective.

Here are 5 of the most important steps to remember when developing a Direct Mail Campaign:

1. Determine Audience
First and foremost, you must determine your target audience, which could be current customers that you wish to invite back into the office, previous customers that you wish to re-connect with, new customers you are prospecting, or a combination. Once you determine your audience you can then begin building your mailing list.

2. Develop Your Message
Based on your chosen audience and what you want to achieve as a call to action, will help you in developing your message. Focus on the important features and benefits of your business and try to also highlight a promotion or discounted offer to increase customer response.

3. Choose a Compelling Direct Mail Piece
It is important that the direct mail piece itself, reflects the quality of your business. Therefore, using high quality stock and printing that looks professional is essential. In order for the piece to be eye-catching, choose a great design or photo that will peak customer interest.

4. Decide on Timing
When you choose to run your campaign will also depend on what the call to action is or the timeline for the offer or promotion. For example, if your offer or promotion is effective during January 1st -March 31st, you may want to send your mailer before and during this time frame.

5. Follow Up
A follow up can greatly improve the effectiveness of your campaign, as well as gauge customer feedback. Ways of following up a direct mail campaign are up to you and what fits your business, but typically a phone call or mailing a detailed brochure can serve as a good follow up to a direct mail campaign.

For more Marketing Tips or to begin a direct mail campaign with Sharper Cards please visit Sharpercards.com or call 1-800-561-6677.

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Looking for unique greeting cards to celebrate life’s milestones with family and friends? Visit KindredGreetings.com to view our entire collection of photo greeting cards, announcements and  invitations for any occasion.

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Business Cards,Cards,Marketing Tips

Make the perfect introductions

18 Mar , 2013  

Business cards are great for creating memorable impressions and expanding your marketing network. Professional designs and quality composition are what makes business cards great referral and prospecting tools to grow your business. Maximize your referral opportunity by supplying each patient or client with several business cards after each appointment. Make it even easier for them to recommend you to their colleagues, friends and family by printing a referral message or a list of services that you provide on the back of each card.

Business cards are an excellent economical marketing tool. However, most people don’t realize that they’re missing out on valuable space by leaving the backside blank.

Here are a few ideas on what you can do to get more out of your business cards:

  • Differentiate your practice or business by including a mission statement or an inspirational quote
  • Reinforce the need for your practice or business by including an interesting statistic or fact
  • List hours of operation
  • Parking pass to display on dash or provide information on where to park
  • Appointment card information
  • Special offers or discounts
  • Frequency chart in which the practice or business collects stamps/initials on their card to redeem a discount
  • Short listing of services

Another great way to build your brand and portray a professional image for your practice or business is by coordinating your business cards with matching giveaway products like magnets. Magnets are great for keeping your contact information in front of patients or clients all year round.

Combining business cards with gift certificates is another great way to double the impact of your marketing initiatives. Patients or clients will be impressed when they open up a gift certificate and see your business card professionally displayed inside. Many gift certificate designs have a die-cut slot which allows you to easily insert your business card, making it a great way for people to keep your practice or business information on hand for future reference.

As described above, there are many options for printing on the usually blank side of your business card, but one simple and effective method is to print your logo on the back side. Obviously, a distinctive logo would look best here, so if you don’t have one, or are not happy with yours, it’s probably best not to showcase it since it may be an ineffective marketing tool. If you do have a distinctive logo, though, your business cards can become a huge branding vehicle for your practice or business, and can help to not only get your practice or business name out there, but the image that showcases your brand as well.

A business card is not just a way for a potential patients or clients to contact you, it is the foot soldier in your marketing army. As a marketing tool, a business card is unequaled in its simple efficiency, providing all the necessary information about your business in such a small space. Use the space wisely, including the back side, and you’ll be amazed at how quickly your business card becomes one of your more effective business marketing tools.

Click here to shop our complete selection of business cards.

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Cards,Marketing Tips,Recall/Reminder

Make your postcards stand out!

12 Mar , 2013  

Postcards are a marketing tool whether you want to provide an appointment reminder or acquire new clients or patients. They’re not as bulky as a full-on mailer, but, if the postcards are utilized correctly, they can be even more effective in getting across the ethos of your business and the value of your services to potential patients or clients. Postcards are also inexpensive and easy to distribute, with no additional envelope required.

Obviously, there are many ways to use a postcard, but here are some of the obvious ways to best utilize postcards as a business marketing tool:

  • Differentiate your practice or business by including a mission statement or an inspirational quote
  • Reinforce the need for your practice or business by including an interesting statistic or fact
  • List hours of operation
  • Include a promotional offer
  • Short listing of services
  • Include a location map for quick reference of your current or new address
  • Create a unique image by incorporating your logo or a free Sharper Cards logo

Remember that one of the main uses of postcards and other printed marketing tools is to increase brand awareness. Many people think it’s necessary to include some kind of promotional giveaway when sending out printed material to a mass audience, but, although that can be useful for a short term boost to business, it’s not necessary for a great marketing campaign. The more you put your brand on material that gets out to patients or clients, whether that means putting your logo and mission statement on a postcard or just a map to your practice or business, the more long term customers you’ll get.

As always, with branding, it’s important to keep a cohesive message between all of your marketing tools. That doesn’t mean the same information needs to be on everything you send to your patients or clients, but it does mean that you should have the same kind of tone and purpose to all of your mailings. Here at Sharper Cards, we can help you coordinate your marketing efforts through postcards, direct mailers, appointment cards, and more, so that you can have a cohesive brand that attracts patients or clients and continues to grow your practice or business.

Click here to shop our complete selection of postcards.

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Follow us on Twitter, connect with us on LinkedIn, become a Facebook fan, or follow us on Pinterest to receive great promotions, news, marketing tips and industry updates that only social media subscribers will receive.

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Calendars,Cards,Magnets,Marketing Tips,Promotions

Advertise year-round with 2013 Calendars – 20% More FREE!

6 Sep , 2012  

Make a date to SAVE!

Market your business front and center all year round with 2013 Calendars.  From brand awareness to customer retention, personalized calendars are great for engaging patients and clients.  Our diverse selection ensures you’ll find a calendar to fit your brand, budget and objectives.

2013 Calendars are great for building your brand awareness and expose your practice or business to prospect patients or clients.  Establish strong relationships with existing or potential patients by handing them out at your office or in person.  Moreover, increase your chances of securing more business by including a personalized message with your company logo and contact information.  This way, existing and potential clients can easily locate your contact information to make an appointment.

To help you get started with your 2013 Calendars, we’re having a special offer during the month of September.  Enjoy 20% more 2013 Calendars FREE when you order 100 or more.  Quote promo code P912A when you call or place your order online.  The sale ends September 30, 2012, so hurry and place your order today.

Get ready to grow and promote your practice with 2013 Calendars.

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Appointment Cards,Cards,Marketing Tips,Referral Cards,Welcome and Thank You

Start a Referral Program with NEW Referral Cards.

17 Jul , 2012  

A referral program is a great way to build relationships with existing clients, while generating new business.  A successful referral plan does not have to be complicated.  Follow the simple steps below to create your own plan for obtaining new clients.

Step 1: Determine what you will offer as an incentive and the criteria.

When determining what you will offer as an incentive, keep in mind what you would like to achieve with your referral program.  For example, are you a new financial business that would like to generate a large number of new clients?  In this case, you should choose an incentive that will highly motivate clients to recommend you to friends and family, such as a free gift certificate to the movies or a home décor retail shop.  Or, are you an established financial consulting business  who would like to maintain a consistent, yet smaller number of new clients?  This may require a smaller incentive that still rewards the client who recommended you, but will not take up too much of your time.  An incentive that may satisfy this situation, would be offering a free upgrade or addition on their next service, for example a free one hour financial analysis consultation service with any new account set-up.

Establishing the criteria for someone to receive the incentive is important as well.  Would you give the same reward to someone who was referred to you and received a short consultation and someone who purchased a full year of insurance for their car and home? You may want to consider having a couple of different incentives available depending on what services were rendered through the referral.

Step 2: Get your referral materials ready.

Now that you’ve established what you will be offering for a referral, make sure you have the materials in place to effectively execute your program.  Sharper Cards has a wide range of NEW referral postcards and folding cards that you can personalize for free.  Write your own referral message, choose one of our prewritten messages from our library, or create a unique combination to outline your incentive for a referral.

Click here to shop our complete selection of NEW referral cards.

In addition, thanking clients for a referral is also very important.  Sending a thank you postcard, folding card or a gift certificate is a great way to express your appreciation and show your gratitude.  Sharper Cards has an extensive selection of contemporary and humorous designs of thank you postcards, folding cards and gift certificates.  Again, personalization is free, so write your own thank you message, or, for convenience, select one from our messages library.  This gesture will help strengthen your relationship with clients and make them feel appreciated.

Shop our complete selection of thank you cards and gift certificates.

Step 3: Communicate with existing clients!

This is a crucial element of a successful referral program. Many business owners shy away from actively seeking referrals because they do not want to come across as performing a sales pitch.  The reality is that the majority of clients does not realize the importance of referrals and just need to be informed that you do appreciate new business.

Here are some ways you may want to communicate your referral program:

  • Send a Sharper Cards postcard to your existing clients.  You could include a message similar to these: “People you like are probably people we would like, too. If you know someone you think could benefit from our care, we hope you’ll have the confidence to send them our way!”
    (Message number T25)

    “You really made our day! __________________________and ___________________________ came to us today based on your great recommendation. We truly appreciate the business that you’ve provided us. Thank you very much for your kind words.”
    (Message number VT02)

  • Add a referral message to an appointment card to encourage your clients to hand them out to family and friends.
  • Create a display using your referral cards, with a short description of how your referral program works.  This way, clients know you are seeking new business and will be motivated by the displayed incentive.
  • Have your thank you cards and gift certificates ready to promptly express your gratitude to clients for their referral and also to thank the referred client for using your services for the first time.

Don’t wait, get your referral program started today by customizing one of our NEW referral cards to suit your business strategy and objectives.

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Birthday,Business Cards,Cards,Marketing Tips,Recall/Reminder

Financial & Insurance: Marketing Made Easy.

11 May , 2012  

What’s in your marketing mix?

At first thought, the idea of implementing a marketing strategy can be more than overwhelming  -  but, it really comes down to 3 core objectives any client-based financial and insurance business can relate to:

1- Build relationships with existing clients

2 – Grow your business by turning prospects into new clients

3 – Strengthen your brand.  After all, it’s about being seen and heard - recognition + reputation.

Here are a few ways our marketing tools make it easy and affordable to get started:

  • Build your brand and get new clients by mailing postcards to your geographic area.

  • Remind clients of important products & services – i.e. tax preparation or retirement savings

  • Encourage referrals and staying top-of-mind – feature a special offer or client appreciation event

  • Grow your network  corporate branding tools and giveaways such as business cards, magnets, and calendars.

  • Build and strengthen relationships with clients through loyalty programs such as sending birthday cards and welcome/thank you cards.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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Design Ideas,Marketing Tips

Type Tips – Say It in Color but Keep It Simple

8 May , 2012  

We can spend hours designing the perfect direct mail postcard, getting the copy just right, adding our company logo or photos, choosing the right font and so on.  But, here are a few tips to help enhance your message and captivate your audience.

< (LAYOUT 1) A BIT BORING

Now it’s time to consider adding color to our typography.  When used sparingly, color can create contrast and accents that will bring the viewer in to the important details of your message, making your advertising campaign a huge success.

<(LAYOUT 2) TOTAL OVERKILL

But beware...too much color may make your layout confusing. Avoid the Christmas tree look and keep your color choices simple.  If your layout saturated with color, all of the areas left black will come forward in the layout and become the dominant element.

<(LAYOUT 3) MUCH BETTER!

In most cases, simply leaving the bulk of your copy in a neutral tone of gray or black, then highlighting important areas with a hint of color will  work the best.  When highlighting a word, consider choosing the bold version of the font, to accommodate color.

Add tone behind areas of your layout for a little extra design elements.  But for background color, keep the percentage value and intensity of your color choices a wide distance apart or your copy will begin to visually “vibrate” and scare the reader away because of poor legibility (take a look at the pink type on the green promo circle in the middle layout!  Also the green type on the light green background…not working!).

Tone it down and you will end up with a great layoutlots of color, making the layout fun and interesting, yet still focusing on what is important in the message.

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Marketing Tips

The 3 R’s of Attracting New Patients

11 Apr , 2012  

Patient acquisition is the process of attracting and then accepting new patients to your practice for treatment.  While some dental professionals are happy to have every potential patient in town, the most successful practices target their acquisition activities to go after the right ones.  The “right” patient understands your treatment plans, wants what you’re offering (in whole or part), wants it now or soon, has the ability to pay and pays for it (whether they use insurance to help them or they pay out of pocket – doesn’t matter).  And, if their overall experience is satisfying, they are a great new patient referral engine, telling family and friends about your services.

New patients are the lifeblood that keeps dental practices running smoothly.  Patient acquisition is financially beneficial to a practice as it counters the natural progresses of existing patient attrition and when done at a more robust rate, increases the total yearly fees that are billed to your practice.

A referral is typically when someone you have a relationship with, recommends your practice and services to a potential new patient.  Patient referrals provide your office with an instant personal connection to a new revenue prospect.  Because of this personal connection, those referred tend to stay longer than a patient referred by unconnected media resources.  Internal dental patient referrals are the largest source of new patients for practices.  This is followed by networking (fraternal, philanthropic, social organizations, locals schools and PTO’s) and professional referrals from colleagues, either general doctors or treatment specialists.

There are also a number of website directories (like dentalreferral.com) you can employ to supplement your patient acquisition efforts.  These sites match patient needs with the right dentist by easy-to-use online search tools.

Referrals are one of the most affordable ways to acquire new patients.  A patient referred by an existing patient is 60% more likely to refer another person, become a lifelong patient and have immediate loyalty to your practice – based on the recommendation of a family member or friend.

There are 3 key steps in the referral process:

Request – educating on your referral program and then requesting participation.

Teaching your patients and your office staff how to refer is the first step.  You can always start simple with a basic referral card.  Then use your practice management software to track referrals.  Follow up on each lead as quickly as possible to demonstrate your professionalism and care.

Reminder – reminding patients that you value their referrals.

Utilize all contacts you have with a patient to continually remind them how important their referrals are to your practice.  Start from when they walk in the door, with your signage and front office staff, right through to when they leave carrying a supply bag or at home when they get your statement in the mail.  The more frequent the referral message, the more memorable it will be with patients.

Reward – providing an incentive or gift for the referral.

Before you start, research laws in your state or province in regards to gifting patients.  You can start easy by sending a personalized thank you card or have tangible rewards geared to the demographics of your patient base.  Movie tickets are great for teens or a gift card to a coffee shop for senior patients.  Some practices also like to reward with a credit on a patient’s account.  But for your best patients, with healthy mouths and great dental benefits, a grab bag of gift cards to local restaurants or the movies creates a bigger “wow” factor.

So here is how you can get things going at your practice:

Establish a referral program.

Establish a referral program for your practice and coin a catch phase like “Share a Smile” to brand all of the collateral advertising pieces.  Print flyers or brochures and display them in your waiting area, operating and hygiene rooms in a prominent location, and encourage your team to mention the program to each patient that comes in for treatment.  Don’t forget to highlight specific incentives that patients could receive if they send referrals your way.  These incentives could take the form of anything from a discount on dental services to an unrelated “fun” item, like a gift certificate to a local restaurant or movie theater.

Ask for referrals.

Ask for referrals.  Many of your patients may not “take the hint” and start referring people to your practice.  Be proactive and train your staff to ask every patient if they have anyone they would like to refer to your practice.  Make sure they leave with a flyer or brochure, and give them the option of filling out a referral card in the office.  Emphasize that their referrals won’t be required to buy anything or make an appointment – you’ll simply be reaching out.

No everyone on your staff will be comfortable asking for referrals so make sure to provide script options to those not comfortable.  A great way to frame the request is “Did you know we are now accepting new patients like you?  Do you have any friends, family or coworkers who are looking for a good dentist?  Please ask them to mention your name when they call so we can thank you with an “X” gift.”

Include referral cards with all mailings.

Always include referral cards with invoices, statements and any direct mail marketing materials you send out.  For example, if you mail a brochure or a newsletter to patients or area residents, include several tear-off referral cards inside.

Give away freebies.

Give away freebies, such as personalized pens, toothbrushes or magnets, with your contact information and website address printed on them.  These items can usually be printed in bulk at an affordable rate, and they can be a surprisingly effective way to generate new interest in your services.

Include a referral link on your website.

Include a referral link on your website, where visitors can simply type in the names and contact information of individuals that may be interested in your services.  Remember, the easier you make the referral process, the more likely your patients are to participate.  Don’t forget to mention any incentives you may offer via your referral program.

Respond to inquiries quickly.

Respond to any inquiries you receive from interested parties as quickly as possible.  People will appreciate the personal care and attention, and it may make them inclined to start referring their family and friends immediately – perhaps even before their first appointment is scheduled.

Send handwritten postcards, greeting cards or thank you notes.

Show patients you care by sending handwritten postcards, greeting cards or thank you notes.  Coming from their dental professional, this level of personal commitment may take many people by surprise – and that’s a good thing!  Try sending these personalized notes to new patients after their first visit, as well as patients who have just started or finished a significant treatment or procedure.  You may also want to get into the habit of reaching out to all your patients during the holidays, to thank them for their loyalty – or on their birthday to acknowledge this special day.  Keep your notes short, and always send them as quickly as possible after an appointment or meeting.

Most experts agree that a mature dental practice should allocate 3-5% of fees revenue to marketing.  Recall, reactivation, other internal marketing, and marketing to existing patients for referrals and additional services in the office and at home should account for a third, or 1-2%, and two thirds, or 2-3%, to external marketing and marketing to potential “prospective patients”.  Newer or less mature practices can likely use a lot more external marketing than 2-3% of fees.

A dental practice should always craft a business plan to guide their marketing efforts.  This plan should detail projections on patient counts for both existing and new patients, along with revenue targets.  A well-structured and supported referral program should be generating 60% of the plan’s new patient target on an annual basis.

Practices can easily keep track of referrals using their practice management software.  Run a report, at least twice a year, on the number of referrals by source, so you can thank/reward your best referral sources.

Successful practices tailor their patient acquisition activities to go after the right patient – and the same holds true when looking for a partner to help with your referral program.  First, decide what you want and how much work you want to handle internally.  Do you need a consultant to give you advice?  A business partner who can provide a turnkey solution?  A supplier to print your marketing materials?  Someone you can source patient rewards from?  Fit is key – so select a company you can trust, one that will be there in the future and not disappear in the middle of your project.  Make sure they have knowledge and experience to consult, share their experiences of what other dental practices are doing, and stand behind their promises.

Use your local professional network or your state dental association and ask for recommendations.  Then arrange a face to face or phone meeting to make sure there is a good fit.  If it is a turnkey provider have them provide samples of programs they have done for other offices and request that they share results (without breaking any confidentiality).  Ask for client references and contact them with a set of prepared questions.  Once you have settled on the right consultant or business partner, develop a work plan with quarterly follow up once the program has been implemented.  If you are not happy with results, talk honestly.  The foundation of any relationship is good communication.

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Design Ideas,Marketing Tips

Type Tips – sometimes it’s just about the white space.

9 Apr , 2012  

Marketing made Easy.

One of the most important things you can do when you are setting up typography is to use good spacing – between your letters, your words and between each line of type.  Typographers, layout artists and graphic designers have special terms for this:

Kerning: this is the spacing between each letter.

Tracking: the space between each word.

Leading: the space between each line.

The grid layout:

The Another important element of great design for print products is the basic grid underlying your layout.  It helps to create structure and focal points that will get your information across in an effective way.  It can consist of columns and rows, or it may be as simple as a hierarchy of importance that moves from left to right across the page.

Your main objective… present your content clearly and make your message memorable.  If you make your viewer struggle through each word, they may be inclined to give up, and throw away the piece.  So, keep it clean and airy.  However, remember that too much white space can also be a distraction and feel unimportant or sparse in nature.

If your marketing piece has more copy in it than what will fit on a postcard, consider a flier or data sheet as an option.  Perhaps you might want to consider editing your copy a bit, direct them to your website for more information,  or better yet, bring them to the door with a great promotional offer.

If you would like to try your layout skills, visit sharpercards.com and try out our online customizable products:

(Here is an example from our general line of customizable postcards.)

15-0316 Postcard (Modern Purple Flowers)

Build patient or client loyalty with standard format customizable postcards created exclusively for Sharper Cards.  We have a wide variety of designs for many business markets, and our talented team of designers are adding new designs every day.  These cards are printed on premium glossy paper, with a durable coating for protection in the mail.  Just select your design and customize as many elements as you need!  Include your logo and contact information on the front of the design to brand your practice or business.  Add a promo or map to the back to keep your patients or clients coming in.  And, if you don’t see what you are looking for, give us a call and we can create something special for you with our Custom Creations process.

  • Personalization is FREE!
  • Full color on both the front and back.
  • Ships in 48 hours.
  • 100% satisfaction guaranteed.

Make an order for customizable postcards today and quote promo code SD50FREE to get 50 postcards FREE!  Shop online at sharpercards.com.

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Business Cards,Design Ideas,Marketing Tips,Services

What’s Your Font? Match your company’s personality to a font or try Helvetica.

28 Mar , 2012  

Tip of the Week:

What font best suits your company? Not sure? Then try Helvetica.

Don’t over think it. Simplicity can mean success to your layout. It doesn’t have to be a complicated process to find the right font for your company’s business cards, letterhead, advertising materials, website and anything else that you might have on the go in the marketing department.

Many people feel that they need something decorative.  After all, Helvetica is just plain boring and it’s used over and over so often.  But, there is a reason why it has been around for over 50 years.  It works!  It is easy to read, has a simple elegance and is very business-like in it’s appearance.  It fits in with any design or logo, plus, it works well at a small or large size.  The Helvetica font was originally created by Max Miedinger with Eduard Hoffmann in 1957 in Switzerland and was originally called Neue Hass Grotesk.  In 1960 it was renamed the more internationally-friendly, Helvetica – the Latin name for Switzerland.  Many very successful companies have embraced Helvetica as the font of choice for their logo designs.


Many successful corporate communications have been designed with Helvetica as the font of choice.  Check out Sharper Cards Design Your Own Stationery products and experiment with the Helvetica font in our online editing tool.  If you don’t have your own logo, we have a large selection of Sharper Logos that you can add to your layout at no charge.


You may decide that Helvetica is not for you, especially if your company is looking for a more upbeat font style.  Well, we hear you!  Sharper Cards offers a great selection of fonts to create the perfect layout.  Below are just a few font choices.  The sky’s the limit!  And, if you don’t feel comfortable doing it online yourself, we’re here to help.  Give us a call and you can tell us what you like and we’ll send you a proof.  We want your company personality to shine through with every promotional and communication materials you hand out.

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Marketing Tips

Type Tips – make your marketing layouts a success!

15 Mar , 2012  

We were talking in the Creative Services Department this past week about typesetting and proper font usage…something that, as a designer we take for granted.  After all, it’s what we do every day.  It’s like breathing, a necessity if you are going to embark on a design project, and probably the most important element of your layout.  And we realized that even the word “typography” may be enough to scare anyone away when attempting to prepare their own advertising layouts online, especially if they have never had any design or layout experience.

So my team and I decided that we would begin a series of blogs on typesetting and layout tips to get you started and to help build your confidence as you move into the world of personalizing your products online.  With Sharper Cards’ online edit tools, great customizable designs to choose from and a few good typesetting and layout tips, you will be well on your way.

Tip of the Week:

Too many capital letters can create a monotone message. So, use it sparingly.

Using all capital letters when you are typesetting long sentences and headings can be a detriment to the readability of your layout.  The viewer is forced to read much slower and can loose interest in what you have to say. With so much advertising out there today, it is important that you get your message across quickly and clearly.  Typically, we read by “word shapes” so if you use capital letters too frequently, the shape is very uniform and harder to digest.  Try shorter headlines in upper and lower case.  It will take up less space and give your layout more character and the negative white space will make your design more interesting.

And remember that if you are using capital letters on the web or in emails, it is often considered “shouting” (bad etiquette).

The upper and lower case to the (left image) creates a much more interesting look.  Whereas the ALL CAPS (image below)  is much harder to read.

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Cards,Giveaways,Marketing Tips,Services

NEW Winter 2012 Dental Catalog – Marketing Made Easy!

20 Jan , 2012  

Celebrate National Children’s Dental Health Month and watch your practice grow with our NEW January 2012 Dental catalog.  Proudly serving the Dental Care professionals for over 27 years, our new catalog is packed with thousands of innovative practice building ideas to make marketing your practice easy and fun!

Here is a peak at some of the NEW products.

Stick-its™

So economical, Stick-its™ allows patients to put your contact information where they’ll see it the most.  On a stainless steel fridge, cubicle wall, mirror or window, Stick-its™ are also removable removable and can be used over and over again.

Customizable Postcards

Customizable postcards are powerful marketing tools professionally designed to give you the flexibility to change as little or as many elements as you need.  With no additional fees, it is an easy and affordable way to grow your practice.

Artistic License Designs

Our professional artists make it easy for you to put a smile on your patient’s face.  Uniquely different, each artists combines humor and artistic talent to create memorable designs to help you grow your practice.

There are many more new products in the catalog including appointment cards, referral cards, birthday cards, recall cards and giveaways.   To view our complete selection of NEW dental products, click here.

Let us help you start your practice on the right track this year.  Check out our digital January 2012 Dental catalog today or  click here to request a copy.  You can also call 1-800-561-6677 and one of our friendly Product Consultants will be happy to assist you.

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Calendars,Cards,Design Ideas,Holiday,Marketing Tips,New Year's,Recall/Reminder

Get your dental patients on the right track in the New Year with resolution tips.

21 Nov , 2011  

It is never too early to plan ahead for any advertising and marketing you are thinking of doing for next year.  Moreover, by building a strong relationship with your existing patients before the new year starts, you can ensure their return  and a full appointment book in 2012.

If you’re thinking of sending out calendars, Sharper’s 2012 Tri-Fold Calendars are an economical year-round reminder.  Envelopes are included free with your order.  Ask us how you can easily customize designs.  Here’s a great idea…try having a few New Year’s resolutions for improved Oral Health printed on the back.

NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS THAT ARE SURE TO PUT A BEAUTIFUL SMILE ON YOUR FACE IN 2012.

  1. FLOSS DAILY. Brushing with a toothbrush just won’t completely do the job of removing plaque.
  2. CHANGE YOUR TOOTHBRUSH AT LEAST EVERY COUPLE MONTHS.
    A new toothbrush will help build a beautiful new smile.
  3. INCLUDE HEALTHY SNACKS IN YOUR DIET EVERY DAY. Choose fruit and veggies over sweets and soda.
  4. VISIT YOUR DENTIST FOR REGULAR CLEANINGS AND CHECKUPS. Give us a call. We will be happy to set up appointments for you all at once or throughout the year.

Choose from a wide variety of designs, and if you see something that you would like to change slightly…let use know.  Our very talented Creative Services Team will be happy to set up your artwork just the way you want it.  You can take any of the Sharper™ Designs and add your own copy (front or back)

C-5059 Smile Waterfall

C-5075 Every Smile Is Beautiful

C-5060 Cosmetic - Seasons

And, if you want to remind them of their appointments, we have matching appointment cards for many of our designs.

Get ready for a great 2012. Plan ahead.

Calendars are a great way to keep your practice top-of-mind with patients all year-round.  Check out our Seasonal Collection for more great ideas.

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