Many physical therapy and chiropractic practice managers come to us in a fit of frustration looking for an explanation as to why their physician letters don’t produce results. That’s why today we want to show you the four crummiest letters we’ve ever seen along with a simple formula you can use to fix them. If that sounds worthwhile, grab a red Sharpie, and get ready to become a master copywriter. We think you’ll find it’s worth the effort – powerful strategic campaigns directed to physicians can be one of the most efficient and productive ways to influence referral patterns.
But before you roll up your sleeves and start redlining, let’s get on the same page with respect to what physicians will most likely read, what they will most certainly toss, and review a proven formula for results. Then we can apply the Results Formula (introduced below), and use our Power Level Writing Filter to quantify how crummy the “crummiest” letters actually are.
What Gets Tossed: Letters that appear to have no clinical relevance, bury key ideas in the text, or come across as a self-serving sales pitch.
What They Will Read: Problem solving information (about their problem, not yours) that is easy to scan, clinically relevant, and holds the promise of something helpful to them, not simply another plea for referrals.
Physicians are no different than any other business person. They are constantly scanning their environment for solutions to everyday problems. Their problems create opportunities for you to be heard if you have something important to say. If your email, letter, or other communication does not immediately seem to help solve one of their problems, then it gets tossed. On the other hand, if it’s instantly evident that it might, it gets read. It’s that simple.
Don’t worry about the length of the letter, worry about the formatting, flow, and the total Power Level of your message following the results formula you will learn below. A COMMON MISCONCEPTION is that anything more than a few paragraphs or a single page will not get read. But think of it this way, when you receive valuable information about a solution option to a problem you’ve been experiencing, do you really judge it by its length? Have you ever received that kind of “I’ve been looking for this” information and said to yourself, “Boy, that’s really timely and helpful stuff, but it’s more than a page, so I’ll just toss it away and wait for another letter that keeps it to one page.” Of course not. That would make no sense. But the point is more that if good ideas and concepts don’t easily shine through without making the reader labor, then the letter will get tossed without being treated seriously. Consultants that recommend the “keep it short or it won’t get read” philosophy are correct in one sense: When your information is not that compelling or valuable, the reader will only invest a moment in reading before giving up. This common “keep it short” principle should be restated as follows: Your reader will give you an instant to start building a compelling problem solving case, so make sure you use that moment well.
The Results Formula –
3 Elements For Your Letters and Other Strategic Communications:
Element 1: Interrupt & Engage. Use powerful headlines and sub headlines to expose the problem and give the promise of more educational problem solving information to come. The most effective headlines tap into the emotion of curiosity and self interest, that’s why focusing on problems in your headline or subject line is so compelling. Everyone is interested in solving their problems, and they are curious about any solution. Good headlines suck the reader in. If you have read to this point, chances are our “Crummiest Physician Letter” headline poked your brain on a practical, problem-solving level. You then scanned for additional clarifying information, and quickly found it with simple formatting techniques like bold text, underlines, and indents. Spend as much time or more on creating your feature headline as you do writing the letter.
Element 2: Educate By Case Building. Body copy, text, and other “showables” build a logical case that helps the reader draw a conclusion about your solution option. Your reader is judging you like a jury judges an attorney’s case. Does your letter demonstrate special expertise? How does your information compare to that provided by other “similar” solution providers? Your reader can only compare based on what you teach them in your communication. Building a strong case using charts, graphs, tables, and other compelling information positions you as the expert. Use headings and formatting that helps the reader get the logical flow by simply scanning.
Element 3: Offer and Call To Action. In addition to your invitation for qualified referrals, give your readers other ways to take next steps in learning more about your particular problem-solving process. Most executive letters end by simply saying, “Give us a call with any questions.” This kind of offer is self evident, and lacks the power to spur immediate action. Your offer should include more resources for learning about what you do and how you do it. Your offers need to build confidence in your expertise. Your offer should be formatted and set off from the body copy so it will be scanned even if the body copy is not read. The exception to this would be a “concealed offer” designed to appeal only to the most highly qualified, eager readers.
Red Sharpie Time: See How We Apply The Results Formula To 2 Of The Crummiest Letters We’ve Ever Seen, And Then Try It Yourself On 2 More.
See the 4 Crummiest Letters Now and How We Rip 2 Of Them Apart With The Results Formula And Score Their Power Level (You Can Rip Apart The Other 2).
Register for a 90 minute Writing Workshop, get expert advice, and see examples of KILLER letters that get results. Register here.
Tips For Getting Started Using The Results Formula On Your Own:
1) Pick an expertise to market where you excel. If you are good at what you do, and there is a market for your solution, running this formula gets outstanding, consistent results.
2) Create 50 headlines and sub-headlines that expose the problem and promise a solution from your reader’s perspective. You will need lots of headlines to form the basis of your strategic campaign.
3) Create several valuable “offers” for more ways to learn about the benefits of what you do without making a referral. Make sure the offers have a memorable marketing “handle.”
4) Gather compelling evidence that can be used to build a case in your body copy.
5) Write the letter making sure to place and format each Element for optimum scanability and readability.
6) Test, Test, Test. Each element of the formula can be tested, but pay particular attention to the headlines and offers. Testing can be done effectively with little or no extra investment.
More “How To” posts on physician letters from our blog library: