PRACTICE TIPS & TRICKS The Fifty-cent Marketing Idea

By: Neil H. Baum, MD, Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, Louisiana | Posted on: 19 Sep 2023

I’ve often heard that marketing is expensive and places urologists out of their comfort zones. I want to share an idea that is inexpensive and has a positive impact on my practice.

Upon completing a vasectomy, I would bring the partner or significant other into the procedure room and tell the patient the dos and don’ts for the next 2 to 3 days. This included lying down with an ice pack to the small opening (no-needle, no-scalpel procedure) for several hours when he got home. I would then provide him a small brass bell, which cost about $0.50. He was instructed that when he needed any assistance for the few days following the procedure, he would ring the little bell, and help would soon be forthcoming. The bell contained my business card, which was attached by a rubber band to the bell. On the back of the business card was a message: “With one ring, you’ll get everything!” (see Figure).

Figure. Brass bell attached to business card.

This bell always generated laughter and levity, mostly from the patient. The responses from the patient and the partner were also quite humorous. Humorous examples from partners included, “He don’t need no (sic) bell!” or “He’ll need a proctologist to retrieve that bell if ever he rings it!”

There was a positive buzz in the community. The word was that Dr Baum’s vasectomy included a little fun, some humor, and a small bell…and yes, a male contraception option that required no more contraception on the part of the female partner and an effective way to reduce school tuition! After providing the bell after the procedure for several years and as word about the bell became well-known in the community, men would frequently ask, “Where’s my bell?” Future patients would often ask, “If I agree to the procedure, will I receive a little bell?”

My take-home message is that marketing and practice promotion is not necessarily expensive. Small gifts and gestures can significantly impact and promote positive word-of-mouth about you and your practice.