Oct 17, 2023

Is Print Still Relevant in Healthcare Advertising?

In an age where you can order a pizza with just your voice or chat in real time with people from across the globe, does print media have what it takes to keep up? If you ask us, the answer is a confident “yes.”Many healthcare marketers and businesses make the mistake of viewing print as archaic and putting all their eggs in one basket: digital marketing. While digital media may be important, it won’t entirely replace print. Learning to utilize both may give you the competitive edge to rise to the top.

Digital Marketing vs Traditional Marketing: What’s Changed?

In the past, print media was king. Traditional healthcare marketing relied on the mass distribution of printed materials like patient brochures, magazines, and medical publications. While this approach had a broad reach, it lacked precision in audience targeting. And for an idea as personal as healthcare, precision is key.The natural solution to this problem? Digital marketing. Characterized by online channels and platforms, digital marketing emerged as a dynamic force alongside the rise of the web, digital communication, and social media.Its ability to pinpoint audiences and utilize real user behaviors allows organizations to zoom in on their targets. Digital marketing provides unparalleled opportunities to reach the right people – patients, HCPs, etc. – at the right time – just when they’re seeking treatment or healthcare information.Naturally, print media has fallen out of the spotlight. Still, we argue that it deserves its spot on the stage, perhaps as a tool to use discoveries made through digital media effectively. But how?

What Print Media Channels Bring to the Table

Digital marketing may be uniquely suited to the challenge of segmenting audiences and delivering tailored campaigns, but print is classic. It’s simple. It works. The effectiveness of one strategy doesn’t have to invalidate the other; the rise of digital media doesn’t mean the death of print. In fact, print comes with benefits you won’t be able to harness with digital marketing alone.

  • Tangibility. Print materials create an unmatched physical presence. Research suggests that experiences that trigger multiple senses (touch, vision, etc.) leave behind stronger memories. Imagine a patient receiving a mailer explaining a new treatment option. Their ability to see, touch, and even smell that piece of paper makes them likelier to remember and connect to it than, say, a seemingly random ad on social media.

  • Credibility. Print media, with its established history, carries a sense of credibility. Anyone can say anything online. But a print marketing approach – like running a targeted ad in a medical journal – can seem to present more reliable, authoritative information to audiences.

  • Clarity. Print publications typically have limited advertising space compared to digital platforms. This reduces ad clutter and ensures that ads have a better chance of standing out and being noticed by readers.

  • Inclusivity. Not everyone prefers digital communication. Specific audiences within the realm of healthcare and patient experiences lend themselves well to print media strategies. For example, a campaign aimed at older adults may see better results with print, given that only half (49-59%) of its target audience owns a smartphone.

What About Print’s Limitations?

It is true that print media has some drawbacks. For instance, print media may only reach those who subscribe to specific publications or mailing lists, whereas digital media can potentially reach a global audience. Smaller practices or businesses might struggle to keep up with the costs of designing, printing, and distributing print materials.

Finding a Balance

As with any strategy, using print marketing may mean balancing its cons and pros. A limited reach may not matter if you want to target a specific audience, and production costs can be mitigated by strategic design and execution choices.OpenHuddle believes print can still play an important role in a healthcare brand’s media plan. It’s only through a rigorous planning process that brands can evaluate the appropriate inclusion of this channel.


From client to agency to somewhere in the middle, we bring the best of both worlds

Get in touch with us to find out how OpenHuddle can provide you more tailored media solutions based on a better understanding of your healthcare marketing plans.

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Boston, MA, 02108
(617) 775-1957

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