We welcome referrals from physicians, attorneys, clergy and other professionals. To make it convenient for them to refer others, we give them a few business cards or brochures about our practice, which they can pass on to people who might need our services.

But what happens to those business cards and brochures? They probably get shoved into a drawer and could be forgotten.

Business cards are fine for basic contact information. Brochures have more detail, but the information is generic.

Better than a business card or practice brochure...

If you want to get people truly interested in what you have to offer, provide your referral sources with educational handouts - fact sheets or tips sheets.

For example:

  • If you work with adolescents, create a tips sheet on how to communicate better with your teen. Drop off a stack of these at family physicians' offices, to place in their waiting rooms.
  • If you work with people who are going through divorce, create a fact sheet about the emotional upheaval of relationship breakups, and how to manage the process. Give several copies to divorce attorneys to give to their clients.
  • If you consult with local organizations or businesses, write up a one-page tips sheet on ways to stay focused and efficient during crunch time. Make copies for employees, as well as an enlarged copy for the cork bulletin board.

Handouts are a great way to market your practice:

  • Handouts are easy and inexpensive to create and distribute. You can post them online and make paper copies. You can also use them as content for your podcast.
  • Handouts provide a sample of what you know and how you can help people
  • When placed in a waiting room or on a bulletin board, your handout is in front of groups of people who might need your services.
  • When a referring professional gives your handout to a patient or client, it's an endorsement of you and your services.
  • Unlike business cards and brochures, handouts are more likely to be read and kept. If the information is valuable to the reader, he or she will share it with others.

Handout Format

Make it brief. One page is ideal. If it's any longer people may save it for later and never get around to reading it.

Address one specific problem or issue. No need to be comprehensive. For example, for parents of teens, give tips for talking about alcohol. For people going through divorce list the top 3 or 5 things they can do for self care.

Create several handouts on the same topic for different groups of people. e.g.,  stress management tips for mothers of young kids; for fathers of young kids; for executives; for truck drivers; for law enforcement officers. Each of these groups has a different set of stressors. Although the gist of your advice might be similar, the specific tips would be tailored to each group.

Don't try to cram too much text onto the page. Make it easy to read, with space between paragraphs. Use headings and bullet points.

Include a disclaimer. At the bottom of your handout note that the information is for educational purposes only, and not a substitution for professional services.

Include your contact information and website if you have one. That will make it easy for people to learn more about you and contact you if they need help or know someone who does.

For step-by-step instruction on how to create handouts that people will read, keep and pass on to others, please see our home study course

Photo by J. MacPherson via flickr.com