Could Snail Mail Be Your CAH's Escargot?

With the advent of digital media, most forms of print communications have lost their luster as effective forms of marketing. Or have they?

In today's mobile world, many hospitals have focused their efforts on Internet and social media marketing. But don't be too quick to take your eyes off the prize when it comes to "slow communication."

A recent J. Walter Thompson (JWT) survey indicates that consumers are beginning to have a greater appreciation for slower, more mindful communications, i.e., physical mail. In fact:

  • 81% of survey respondents agreed that receiving a handwritten card is more meaningful than an e-card, email or text, even if the message is the same.
  • 78% agreed that physical cards/letters make them feel more connected to people than digital notes (emails, SMS, etc.).
  • 84% said they're excited when they receive a letter or card in the mail.

Given these facts, it makes sense to take another look at how physical mail fits into your 2014 marketing strategy. Consider:

  • Handwritten thank-you notes to patients or personalized invitations to special events, presentations or open houses. Personal notes can help you distinguish your CAH from larger, more "faceless" competitors.
  • Adding a QR code to billing statements or envelopes. Recipients who scan them can be prompted to call a dedicated phone number to learn about a new service, view a special video message from a new doc, etc.
  • Sending patients and other consumers things they'll want to hold, touch and keep.

Seven out of 10 JWT survey respondents also said they feel nostalgia for things from the past. Remember when doctors made house calls? Evoke a similar one-on-one connection with your physicians, specialists and other staff through personalized publications and newsletters.

Direct mail has a unique ability to engage, inform and motivate consumers. Get creative. Get personal. Blend social with snail.  For example, Kleenex selected Facebook members who had posted updates about getting sick, acquired their addresses from friends and surprised them with a hand-delivered care package.

OK, so your marketing budget is far from Kleenex-sized - but this gives you an idea of how to think outside of the box.

As many of your healthcare competitors continue to perceive physical mail as a thing of the past, it's your opportunity to fuse digital with physical - and reap the rewards.

You say "snail mail." I say "escargot." It's all about perception.

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