August 6, 2020 The Print Authority

Guide to Designing Custom Referral Pads

Although medical practices use fewer paper records than in the past, many doctors and medical professionals use medical referral pads as a powerful marketing tool. Attractive printed referral pads lead to more business for doctors, dentists, veterinarians, endodontists, orthodontists, chiropractors, acupuncturists and more.

So, why use referral pads?

Referral pads are part of a solid strategy to grow your practice. As a medical professional or someone who provides imaging or other services to doctors, dentists, or veterinarians, you need to develop a source of referrals. Whether you meet potential referrers at medical meetings, in their offices, or elsewhere, your first step should be to hand out quality business cards to break the ice. Be sure to have professionally printed cards that clearly state your contact information and any specialties you have. The next step is to distribute medical referral pads to develop these leads.

How to Design Great Referral Pads

A referral pad design should be attractive and easy to use. Display your logo prominently at the top of the sheet so everyone will know about your practice. Also, be sure to use a great medical font that is distinctive and easy to read. Your pad should list services you offer in detail to guide doctors on what kind of patient to refer. Ideally, your pad should help users quickly and easily indicate services a patient needs—checkboxes are a good idea. In addition, include diagrams of the body or body parts if needed, so the exact location of any area of concern is clear. Lastly, include a simple map and your full contact information on the pad. Clearly state your full physical address, phone, email and website. If you have multiple offices or locations, be sure they are all clearly identified.

Use a professional designer if possible to create your referral pad. Designers can find ways to fit a lot of information on the pad and still make it attractive and easy to use. Graphic designers use high-level design software, which allows for precise placement of graphics and images.

Further, it is much easier to design maps and diagrams using design software than word processing programs.

Print Referral Pads Cost-Effectively

The key to identifying the right process for referral pad printing lies in the details. So, before you begin, think carefully about the exact content you want on the pads and the number of pads you want to distribute.

Since referral pads are usually printed in some volume, it is important to consider offset printing in addition to digital printing. Both offset and digital printing can produce great referral pads, so the decision usually comes down to cost. This cost will vary based on the number of pads you want, the dimensions of the referral pads, the number of colors you are printing, and the point at which it makes sense to offset print the job rather than using digital printing. The line between using digital referral pad printing and offset referral pad printing will vary at different printing companies.

Unlike some print marketing, referral pads do not always need to print full color. For this reason, you should consider spot color printing in addition to full-color printing. Spot color printing makes sense when you can limit the ink colors on your pad to just one, two or three colors. Spot color printing is very economical for large print runs, so if you want to print a lot of pads, you should consider limiting the number of ink colors. Try to limit the pad to one or two colors, or come up with a black and white (or one-color) version of your logo to make this work.

What are the Dimensions of a Referral Pad?

Like other print jobs, the size of your printed piece affects the final pricing. Printing a small pad can lower the cost, but this should be balanced against fitting all of your information comfortably on the page. Consider printing both sides of the sheet to keep the size down. A quality printing company can advise you on the most cost-effective sizes to use, but 8.5” x 11” and 8.5” x 5.5” are very common sizes.

How Many Sheets to Use Per Pad

Most referral pads contain either 25 or 50 sheets, but there is no reason you can’t prepare pads that contain anywhere from 10 to 200 sheets. Obviously, pads with fewer sheets will cost less per pad. So, you have to think about how many pads you need to make your marketing effective and how many referrals a typical pad user might make. You should also understand how much money you lose if a pad is accidentally lost or destroyed.

What Type of Paper to Use

Since referral pads are typically printed in volume, you should use standard types of paper, like 20# bond or 60# or 70# offset. This paper is very economical for print runs and will keep your costs down. While lightweight paper keeps the cost down, it can sometimes make sense to use a colored (either pastel or neon stock) paper for the referral sheets. Using colored paper printed in one color typically costs less than full-color referral pad printing, and the color can make your referral pads stand out!

Sometimes special circumstances may call for a different paper choice. Carbonless or multiple part paper is a great option if you want one part to go to the patient and one to remain with the referring physician. Carbonless paper is specially treated so that whatever is written on the first part appears on the second (or even third) part. Think about whether two-part forms are enough or whether you need to use a three-part or four-part form.

If you use carbonless stock, it is important to include some kind of separator or card stock to be placed between one form set and the next set. This will prevent the user from ruining the entire pad when they write on the first or second form. The separator can just be an inexpensive piece of chipboard, or if you have the budget, you can include wrap-around card stock covers to use as a separator. Some companies use the wrap-around cover as a marketing tool with a logo or fancy cover design.

How Should I Bind the Pad?

Most referral pads are simply bound together with gum or glue at the top edge. This is inexpensive and makes it easy to separate pages as they are used. Although this works great for most pads, sometimes it makes sense to staple the pads together, especially if you have a wrap-around cover with carbonless paper. In this case, you should also perforate every sheet at the top. The advantage of this type of binding is that doctors can separate the part they are providing to patients and retain copies on the original pad.

Distributing Your Pads

Medical referral pads will only be effective if you get them to the right people. It also helps if people are familiar with you before you give them a pad. Use pads to build on relationships rather than to start them.

If you use them properly, script pads should lead to a steady stream of business and new patients!

Give the Experts a Call

Want to know where you can design referral pads that will attract more patients to your practice? Give the experts at The Print Authority a call or send us an email to create a custom referral pad design today. We have three decades of experience and have printed literally tens of thousands of medical referral pads. Whether you have one office or have dozens or hundreds of offices, we will help you succeed! Contact us today!