We tend to believe in the age of the Internet that there is not a need to have anything printed. This is especially true when looking at health education materials. With smartphones, tablets and computers becoming increasingly popular among all populations, the allure to abandon printed materials seems to rise every year. It may sound tempting, but there are considerable benefits for investing in printed marketing materials for health care organizations.
The majority of people do not find reading online as rewarding – or effective – as the printed word. In fact, a popular study showed that 70% of Americans (including 69% of 18-24 year olds) said they preferred to read print and paper communications instead of reading off a screen. The visual happenings on the screen and one’s physical interaction with the computer are distracting to some. This makes it harder to concentrate and retain the message, in turn, making the materials less effective.
There is still a substantial digital divide between those with access to digital materials and those without. Even those that do have access might have intermittent or slow connections that make it unlikely for them to be able to utilize digital materials. Whether it is a medical emergency at home or while traveling, a printed health record is easily accessible and can help save lives. Relying exclusively on digital materials opens up to a surplus of complications, including privacy issues. Viruses attack, phones break or are lost and stolen, but a booklet remains. Printed materials that are interactive, long lasting and portable allow individuals to maintain a record of important information they can take with them to appointments and easily show to their physician.
The preference for print offers an exceptional marketing opportunity for the health care industry. Health education materials that are high quality and meant to be retained long-term allow for a great chance to brand the organization by having them be completely customized.
At a time when consumers are more inundated than ever with advertisements, they are also able to ignore them more than ever before. The control a consumer has for the marketing they see is increasing along with the control they have for choosing their health care provider. This allows for a unique opportunity for health care organizations to provide marketing materials that the consumer will find useful and enjoy to create a clear and unforgettable brand identity. Having a memorable brand identity will help the organization build brand awareness in a time where consumers will be looking for their preferred brand in the health exchanges. Being able to develop brand equity early will help to lower marketing costs and position the organization above the competition.