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Is print the new vinyl?

The recent release of the National Medical Readership Survey prompts the inevitable discussion about the role of print vs. other channels in the marketing mix, when targeting GPs and HCPs generally and which channel selections we should be making for best effect.

In 2014 we reached the point at which the majority of GPs are ‘digital natives’. The definition of a ‘digital native’ being a doctor who qualified during or after the internet went mainstream, and has relied on digital interactions through connective technologies throughout their career.

But what does that mean for us as marketers and how should we respond? Is print dead after all? As opined by Dr Egon Spengler in 1984’s film Ghostbusters. Whilst I squeeze into the digitally native age bracket, I wasn’t born to technology and inevitably see digital as a developed tool rather than as a given. But appreciate that for my younger colleagues it's an integral part of our world environment. So what is the role for print in their world? Well anyone who regularly commutes knows the now all pervasive leaf litter of Metro, Shortlist, Stylist etc. that fills our carriages with decent but disposable reading matter. Metro has become the third largest national daily newspaper in the country, read by just under 3.2 million adults.

At the other end of the spectrum, much as the rebirth of vinyl has been about quality of experience and the tactile experience, so we see a resurgence of printed material in specialised high-end publications such as Mr Wolf or The Outpost. Beautifully printed and designed these are shorter-run publications that retail at high value. Generally a lower frequency, quarterly or bimonthly, they allow the reader to engage with a publication over a long period of time and create a shared experience in a tactile world of shared values.

And in its way, the GP market has been following these trends. Pulse, at one time the all-pervading weekly news-driven title, is now a monthly. With high quality print that reflects on clinical trends, rather than chasing the news which we will inevitably find online. MIMS is now quarterly with a great new print job and makeover. And over 100,000 HCPs still receive free weekly BMA News at their home every Saturday. 

Print has a value. It can create a strong relationship with all ages if used well. It also creates a tactile relationship. A really great mailing piece can give the sense of something special designed just for you. That’s not a feeling you generally get from an inbox full of emails.

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