As marketers, we are bombarded by software development companies with messages about “New Age” Marketing. These “software as a solution” companies would have us believe that their platforms, products, and email automation tools are the only solutions for marketing agencies and departments that are getting it right. The distribution channels recognized and recommended are exclusively digital.

They talk about Mary. She’s any one of us. Mary wakes up in the morning and immediately goes online to review email, read the news, and touch base with friends. What isn’t mentioned is that Mary is increasingly frustrated by her inbox and her attempts to sort into something of relevance those 200 plus emails she receives every day. She’ll delete at least half of those emails without even looking at them. Delete, delete, delete. Worse, some messages pretend to come from people she knows, and others threaten to shut down her entire system should she choose to open them accidentally!

Now think about Mary’s mailbox – her physical one. Imagine if was stuffed with more than 200 mail pieces EVERY DAY. But guess what – it’s not. The truth is Mary enjoys receiving print mail and it is, in fact, her preferred distribution channel for the introduction of new products and services, special offers and, even more important for us, information about healthcare.

Choosing the right information channel is quite unique for healthcare. According to Heathway’s, when it comes to health information, most people want it on paper. Yes, people are concerned about privacy, but bottom line, old habits die hard. Households don’t want to change the way they do things. Mary opens almost every envelope and spends a lot more time reviewing and engaging with each piece she receives. The ones she’s most interested in will stay on her kitchen or home office table for weeks, and will be shared with one or more additional members of the family. Mary will engage with the sender by calling and will do some more research on her own by checking out the sender’s website and social sites.

Traditional marketing channels continue to play a large roll. According to Direct Marketing Association's Factbook 2012, direct mail will generate $12.53 for every dollar spent and it’s projected to grow by 5.8%. The opportunity today is to leverage direct mail effectively using more personalization and relevancy. It’s not all about phone calls! Response will come in the form of referrals, phone calls, website page views, QR code scans, and more.

New Age Marketing is not about “going digital” and ignoring all of the more traditional (and truly effective) mediums. It’s about understanding all of the available delivery channels and patient response options (preferences). Think about choosing the right ones in order to most effectively engage new and prospective patients to realize the highest ROI.