There was plenty of discussion about new media at the 2007 HealthLeaders Media Marketing Awards held last Friday, including forecasts about what the future might bring. Among the predictions I heard, even if they might have been exaggerated for effect: Every hospital CEO will have a blog, every doctor will be on Facebook, and all marketing will be delivered via cell phone.
A future where marketers put 100 percent of their ad buys into cell phones? I'm not buying it. For starters, not everyone has a cell phone. In fact, though it is the cause of constant amazement and frequent jokes at my expense, I do not have a cell phone. And if I did have one? No offense, but I wouldn't give the number to you (or to any other marketer, for that matter).
Think about it. Your organization probably has a hard enough time collecting e-mail addresses and getting permission to send messages that are free for your customer to receive. But unlike e-mail, cell phone users (so I've heard) must pay for the calls and text messages they receive. I'd be pretty annoyed (or so I imagine) if my phone kept ringing and the calls were not coming from friends and family, but from hospitals and physician practices reminding me to get my annual physical, schedule a mammogram, or attend their 100th anniversary celebration.
A caveat: There are some ways that marketers can use cell phones to deliver messages that serve to market your organization in a subtle way while delivering information that the customer actually wants to receive.
Of course these would have to be opt-in messages. That means you've got to do the work of getting those phone numbers. And you won't reach as wide an audience as you would with traditional mediums although, in many cases, such targeted marketing is more effective.
But keep in mind that people can delete cell phone messages as quickly and as easily as they can (and do) delete e-mail messages. Bottom line: Take predictions about the latest be-all and end-all wave of the future, those hot trends that are touted as the solution to all problems, with a healthy dose of common sense: