6 Content Curation Tips for Delivering Maximum Value to Your Audience

Do you curate content from other sites on your own blog?

If so, you’re probably doing it one of two ways. Either you’re just posting excerpts (not the whole thing!) of other people’s articles and including a link back to the original source (this is actually called content aggregation).

Or you’re posting excerpts of other people’s articles and adding your own commentary to provide additional insights and context to the article (true content curation).

The first method offers some value to your audience in the sense that you’re doing a lot of the heavy lifting on their behalf thus giving them a quick resource for keeping up to date with relevant content. In exchange they rely on you to point them in the right direction for content on a particular topic(s). See Alltop.com as an example.

The second method offers even more value (to your audience and to you!) because adding your voice and unique perspective to the curated article tells people why the topic is important and also positions you as a trusted thought leader and expert in that area.

If you’re curating content on your website, here are 6 best practices to ensure that you’re delivering maximum value to your audience:

  • Make sure the excerpt from the original source is not too long
  • Include your own commentary to give insight and guidance to your audience
  • Turn off your ‘no-follows’ – the no follow attribute on hyperlinks tells search engines not to give SEO credit to the site you have linked to. Don’t use no-follows on links to the original publisher.
  • Make your commentary longer than the excerpt because it reduces the amount of duplicated content and is thus better for SEO value.
  • Re-title the article so that you’re not competing for the same title on search engines.
  • Share only the thumbnail size of the original image unless you have permission to share the full-size image

For more content curation tips check out Curata’s blog.

6 Tips for Using Content Marketing & Social Media for Any Doctor

Are you a doctor who’s interested in learning how content and social media marketing can help grow your practice?

For decades doctors were able to get away without investing too much money in advertising or marketing. Then when the Internet changed everything, many of you started to use (and are still using) costly methods of online advertising to market your practices e.g. banner ads.

The problem is patients have completely tuned out to some these tactics and developed chronic cases such as banner blindness.

According to Pew Research, today’s patients are increasingly turning towards the Internet to find information (not advertisements) about symptoms, treatment and support. That means if you want patients to find you when they go online, you need to be involved in content marketing and social media.

And in case you’re wondering how social media and content marketing are related here’s what you should know…

Both are about educating people, answering their questions, and sharing interesting news about your practice. When you do this primarily on your blog it is content marketing

But there’s more.

Social media promotion is critical to online content marketing success. Because there are millions of users on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other social sites, it is very likely that people who need your medical expertise (yet don’t know that your blog exists!) are hanging out there.

The best way to reach them is by taking the stories that you’ve posted on your blog and placing them in these sites.

It’s that easy?

Well, yes and no.  Yes, because once you have all your content ready, all you have to do is promote it on your social media networks. But preparation is key.

Social media is a very active space. There are a lot of interesting conversations taking place at the same time and since your target audience has a short attention span, they can get distracted very easily.

The challenge for you as a doctor using social media, is that you have to be more interesting and more creative than the other people or brands in your target audience’s network!

How do you that?

Here are 6 content marketing and social media success tips for your medical practice.

#1. Blog Regularly

If you don’t already have one, develop an editorial calendar to help you blog regularly and consistently. Remember too that social media content benefits from planning and regular updating.

You need to plan for the interesting stories that you will share on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest. Of course many of these stories will be inspired from your blog, but once in a while you may also need to add other content (photos, video, podcasts etc.) to engage audiences within those specific networks.

#2. Tell Awesome Stories

Use your blog to tell stories about your industry, practice, people and events. Each story should be unique and interesting enough to create appeal and draw new audiences on Facebook, Twitter and other social sites that you use.

Human-interest stories are very popular on social media. As a doctor, you have no shortage of such stories although you have to be careful not to violate patient privacy. Patient stories help to illustrate how your practice is impacting people’s lives, and thus generates more interest from other online audiences.

#3. Execute well

Even though 99% of patient stories are interesting by default, how you execute them on social media is very important.

For example on Facebook and Pinterest, posting visually appealing and well-edited photos will go much farther than posting links to your blog. On Twitter you will need different executions skills such as how to craft a compelling tweet with 140 characters, or how to use relevant hashtags to make it easy for people to find your content.

Every social media platform is different. It’s important for you to learn those environments and leverage their unique features to reach a wider audience with your message.

#4. Include location

One of your primary marketing goals is to attract more patients to your practice. So start by creating or updating your Facebook page, Twitter profile and Pinterest account and adding your physical location and your contact information.

When patients come in for their appointment, encourage them to ‘check-in’ to your location using Facebook Places.

Checking-in on Facebook has the same effect as word-of-mouth marketing. When a Facebook user sees (on her Newsfeed) that her friend (your patient) has checked into your location, she’ll be curious to learn more about your practice and will probably click through to your Facebook Page for more information.

#5. Work on your ‘About’ section

The ‘About’ section of your Facebook page should be optimized with keyword rich names, categories and descriptions. The words you use to describe your practice should reflect the natural conversational language that your audience uses. This will increase the likelihood of appearing on Facebook’s Graph Search results.

Similarly, the ‘About’ page of your website should not just focus on keywords that match the medical conditions you treat, but also on answering questions that typical patients would ask. Think about some of the common questions that your patients have asked in the past and update your About page with content that provides those answers.

#6. Consider contests, promotions & giveaways

Contests, promotions and giveaways are very effective ways of acquiring new clients via social media. Because contests can produce outstanding results, it’s important that you make yours stand out by offering a prize that will create excitement and enthusiasm among your audience. Giving away a free iPad has nothing to do with your practice, so don’t bother.

You can give away a relevant product with a ‘limited time only’ message to create a sense of urgency and interest. Avoid giving away free services as this might encourage people not to buy until they find out if they’ve won. To ensure high participation encourage Facebook fans to submit photos of themselves, or share stories for a chance to win.

Your Turn:

Which of these content and social media tips have you used to market your medical practice? Please share your experience in the comment box below.

Social Listening: Consumers Don’t Like It and What Your Brand Should Do About It

It’s common for companies to listen to conversations on social media. This way, they can understand consumer opinion about brands, products, and services.

The problem is consumers don’t like it.

A 2012 study by JD Power and NetBase shows that 40% of consumers think social listening intrudes on privacy, even though this is “social media.”

False Expectations?

The question is should users even expect to have online privacy in the first place?

Last summer Google basically told a federal court that people who care about privacy should not use their service and as Molly Wood, executive editor at CNET subsequently pointed out:

“Google reads your e-mail, knows what’s in your calendar, looks at your photos, and knows who your friends are, and that’s just via its in-house services. When you include the breadth of its search, Google knows everything about you that’s public information, from your address to all your online profiles, to your marital status and much, much more.”

I think part of the misunderstanding between consumers and marketers is that they look at privacy differently. Marketers spend a lot of time online – researching, studying and trying to understand how vast amounts of online data can be used to improve services.

But consumers aren’t as informed (no disrespect) about online data and how it’s used. Most of the time, they’re just afraid that their personal information is being used for something “covert” and they don’t like it.

But I want to have my cake and eat it too!

What’s interesting is that consumers want it both ways. They don’t necessarily want brands listening to their conversations, but they definitely expect them [brands] to respond if a consumer has a complaint!

There is no magic formula to help brands figure out what to do. What’s clear though is that marketers have to act in such a way that consumers are persuaded about the benefits of social listening.

What’s a brand to do…?

At the end of the day it’s all about respecting the customer, always getting their permission and going out of your way to explain why you need specific personal information from them. Here’s what social listening should look like:

  • Don’t just listen; understand the full picture before you respond.
  • Consider the context of online updates and conversations – your response should always satisfy consumers’ expectations.
  • Engage with the intention of delivering mutual value i.e. better experience and incredible customer service.
  • Demonstrate how listening builds relationships, rather than simply ‘intruding’ on consumers’ conversations.

The benefits that come from social listening end up flowing through to consumers as well. Marketers should therefore be bold about educating their customers and explaining how online conversations are used. This not only builds consumer trust, it also alleviates fears based on lack of knowledge.

What do you think? How should marketers behave in order to leverage the benefits of social listening? Please leave your feedback in the comment box below.

The Key to Success with Sponsored Content

The use of sponsored content (also known as native advertising**) is on the rise, though not many brands understand exactly what it is, how it works, or who is currently using it.

Sponsored content is content (e.g. blog posts, articles, Facebook posts, videos, tweets and Infographics) written (or co-written) by a brand (say SAP) and published on a publisher’s domain (say Forbes.com) for the purpose of acquiring new audiences.

Sponsored content is interesting, engaging, quality content NOT a marketing message. It should add value to the user’s experience (i.e. entertain, educate, enhance communication etc.), and always, always line up with the reader’s expectations on the publisher’s site.

It should also be labeled clearly as originating from the brand or sponsor and not the editorial team of the publisher. Here’s a great example of sponsored content on Forbes.

Why use Sponsored Content – The challenge

In recent years consumers have developed a severe case of “banner blindness.” The banner ads we’re used to seeing alongside regular website content are suffering from consumer suspicion, doubt and even contempt.

Hence marketers have been forced to reconsider the way they advertise since they’re not reaching the audiences they want to.

The opportunity

Sponsored content is more aligned with the media that today’s consumers are used to. It provides brands with an opportunity to engage with consumers using a more relevant message and without losing credibility.

According to the State of Native Advertising 2014 report authored by Hexagram and Spada, the most popular reasons why brands and marketers use sponsored content are:

  • To provide a more relevant message to audiences (67%);
  • To increase consumer engagement (63%);
  • To generate awareness or buzz (62%);
  • To create word of mouth advertising (48%);
  • To combat “banner blindness” (43%).

Who uses Sponsored Content?

The Hexagram report indicates that 62% of publishers offer sponsored content opportunities to advertisers; 41% of brands use sponsored content, and 34% of agencies work on sponsored content campaigns.

Done right sponsored content can benefit both the publisher and the brand. However there’s one rule that should be followed to ensure an effective campaign.

The Rule

Brands must put the needs of their audience first and avoid pitching at all costs.

This forces them to think of creative ways of relaying a brand message without resorting to old advertising tactics that consumers hate and don’t interact with anyway.

When sponsored content is done right it tells a fluent story that is highly appropriate and useful to consumers. Somewhere within the story, a brand message is “tucked in” so tactfully that the reader’s experience is not disrupted with a pitch – like this IBM article published on Forbes.

If this can be achieved then consumers will receive and engage with relevant messages, and brands will invest more with publishers.

Some Final thoughts…

Some brands are not comfortable with the concept of sponsored content – they worry about blurring the lines between editorial and paid content, which could jeopardize consumer trust. This is understandable.

But at the end of the day, as long as readers are getting the kind of content they want and not complaining like in this case, and as long as there’s transparency about the origin of content (e.g. ‘Sponsored Content’ or ‘Brought to you by…” or something similar) then brands have nothing to worry about.

What do you think? I’m interested to hear your views or experiences (both good and bad) about sponsored content.

5 Things Highly Effective Content Marketers Do Differently

Are you wondering what the best content marketers do differently?

Why not take a peek into their habits and practices, to glean insights that could take your own content marketing to the next level?

A while back, Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs published their latest report, B2B Content Marketing: 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends – North America. The report shows two sides of content marketing.

On one hand, the industry is still growing and has a long way to go. On the other hand, things are looking up and confidence is growing as many marketers start to get it right!

Where Are We Headed?

What’s clear from the report is that the most successful B2B marketers are doing more! “More what?” you ask. Well, they’re spending more money, paying more attention to strategy, using more tactics and social media platforms and even producing more content.

Let’s dig deeper into five things that show exactly what the most effective B2B content marketers are doing.

#1. Have Someone to Oversee Content

Seventy-three percent of all B2B organizations have someone in charge of content marketing strategy. However, the majority (86%) of the most effective or best-in-class marketers had someone to oversee content strategy, compared to only 46% of their least effective peers.

Key Takeaway

Don’t kid yourself—you do need someone to manage your content marketing! To be successful in this industry, there should be at least one person in your organization designated to ‘own’ the content marketing initiative. This person is in charge of executing the content goals that you want to accomplish as an organization.

In his book Epic Content Marketing, Joe Pulizzi says that a lot of times when content marketing fails, it’s not because your organization lacks good content. It’s because execution has failed.

Even if you’re a small business and don’t have the budget to hire a dedicated person, you can get one of your managers within the company to supervise content production (UPS does this!)

#2. Have a Documented Content Strategy

Among the most effective marketers, 66% have a documented strategy compared to 11% of the least effective marketers. But overall, only 44% of B2B marketers have a documented strategy.

Key Takeaway

There’s no content marketing success without a strategy.

If you’ve been operating without a documented content strategy, it’s time to stop gambling. Most likely, any success you have achieved up to this point has been sheer luck.

Figure out what you want content marketing to do for you. Write down your goals, your plan to achieve those goals and what indicators you’ll use to prove your success. Make sure everyone who’s involved in content production is on board with this document.

#3. Use More Tactics

The most effective B2B marketers use an average of 15 tactics compared to the least effective marketers who use only 10. Interestingly, the use of infographics has increased significantly with 38% of marketers using this tactic last year compared to 51% this year.

Key Takeaway

The most effective marketers understand that they have to keep up with consumers. That’s why they cast a wider net and invest in more tactics (e.g., text, images, apps, video, audio, etc.). Of course the size of your budget also dictates what you can or can’t do.

If you have a small business, why not start out with the most cost-effective tactics such as social media, e-newsletters, articles and blogs and then gradually add other tactics as your budget allows? Always be expanding your content menu; don’t be satisfied with the handful of tactics you were using last year.

#4. Use Social Media More Frequently

B2B content marketers use an average of 6 social media platforms, up from 5 last year. In addition, they’re using all social media platforms to distribute content.

As expected, LinkedIn is the top social media site used by B2B marketers, while Facebook is 10 points behind. The social sites that have experienced the biggest increase in use are SlideShare (23% last year to 40% this year), Google+ (39% to 55%) and Instagram (7% to 22%).

Key Takeaway

No content marketing initiative is complete without social media. That’s because social drives awareness of your content, which in turn impacts lead generation.

In fact, a different report from Brafton stated that 70% of consumers click through to a brand’s blog content after reading stories shared on their social networks. Once they get there, they’re more likely to download more content or fill out a form.

As a B2B marketer, you should try to repurpose your content specifically for each social channel (particularly LinkedIn) in order to capture interest and engagement. Keep in mind too that social signals (likes, retweets, +1′s, comments, shares, mentions, etc.) influence Google, thus maximizing your brand’s online exposure

#5. Produce More Content

On average, 73% of B2B marketers are producing more content than they did last year. Of the best-in-class (most effective) marketers, 78% are creating more content compared to 57% of their least effective peers.

Key Takeaway

B2B marketers are increasing their investment in content creation. Why? Because the ultimate purpose of content is to attract new customers and retain existing ones. Your content has to solve problems and answer all of your prospects’ product-related questions in order to drive those purchasing decisions. That means you have to be a content machine without sacrificing quality. If you’re not convinced that more content is better, here’s some food for thought:

At Content Marketing World 2013, a panel of experts was asked whether producing more content is better than producing less. The most compelling answers came from:

Joe Chernov“Quantity. You can create something awesome, then it takes 3 months to create your next great thing. What happens in the meantime?”

Marcus Sheridan“Quantity is intimidating for people who are too afraid to create content, because they think it must be epic. Let quantity lead to quality. Content marketing is not launching a rocket. Just do it.”

What do you think about these findings? Do you agree with them? Does anything surprise you? Share your comments in the box below.

Millennials, Brands and Digital Content [Infographic]

Jay (not real name) is a 26-year old grad student from Chicago. He is single, is active on Facebook, Twitter and Flavors.me. His favorite websites, newspapers, magazines or TV shows are: The Economist, The Onion, Slate.com, Theoatmeal.com, Xkcd.com and Dexter.

Jay has this advice for companies who want to truly reach him and his friends:

“Take time to engage with us. Don’t just push your message, but listen as well. Social media networks make this very easy for you but they’re often misused or underused by companies like yours. Prompt a response, a discussion and relate your company to someone’s life. Don’t be afraid to step outside your specific product and go for the bigger message to which we can relate and participate.”

Millennial conusmers a.k.a. digital natives, are fast becoming a very influential group of consumers. Brands like yours can no longer afford to ignore them.

We created this infographic (information sourced from Edelman/StrategyOne) to give you a better understanding of millenial consumers like Jay and to illustrate their relationship with other millennials, with business brands and with digital content:

Over to you: What steps are you taking to engage with millennial consumers like Jay?

3 Lessons on Influence Marketing and the Ultimate Inner Circle

Most senior executives are well acquainted with the concept of influence marketing.

The idea is to build relationships with a group of people who are able to sway the buying decisions of your target audience. We’ve been conditioned to thinking of influencers as celebrities, public figures, or Twitter profiles with a Klout score of 70. But these are not the people who influence your customers.

In fact, when shopping for your products, prospects are more likely to be swayed by their families, friends, and peers – people with whom they have common interests and a trusting relationship. But since most CEO’s don’t have access to this “inner circle,” what other options do they have?

#1. Digital Friends

Well the good news is that today’s consumer has a whole new set of individuals and brands that make up their inner circle. This is a group of “trusted digital friends” whom consumers rely upon to give them advice on what to buy and where to go. They include writers, niche bloggers, industry analysts, industry peers, event speakers, investors and more.

If you’re trying to identify the “movers and shakers” in your industry, these are some of the folks who offer a level of trust, credibility and expertise to prospects that you have yet to reach. They offer your company another route to an untapped market. For this reason it is well worth your time to identify and interact with them.

#2. Business Benefits of Influencer Marketing

With email and social media, the time it takes to reach out to influencers is little compared to the benefits that you can achieve. Here are some cost-effective benefits of influencer marketing:

  • Drive more traffic to your website – When an influencer mentions your company and its products, a lot of people (whom you previously had no access to) will go to your website to get more information. They trust the influencer’s guidance and will be open to learning about your company.
  • Increase brand awareness, inbound leads and inquiries about your company – When you invest in a relationship with a key influencer in your industry, they might review your products, guest-blog on your site, or just talk about your company’s values and mission. These are all opportunities for a wider audience to learn about your offerings.
  • Boost positive sentiment, build credibility, overcome sales objections – When an influencer gives your company ‘the stamp of approval’, people who trust him or her are also more likely to trust your company, making it easier for your sales staff to do their job faster, without spending much time selling the company’s value proposition.
  • Test your brand’s messaging and value proposition – if you can’t sell your company’s offerings to influencers, chances are you will receive the same friction from prospects. Influencer marketing provides vital feedback (whether positive or negative) that gives you valuable insights about how your company is perceived.

#3. Getting the Attention of Influencers

It’s not always easy to identify influencers, let alone get them on board with your company’s mission. Most of them have a laundry list of pre-requisites for working with brands – partnership, a long-term commitment, respect, compensation, relevant products, clear campaign goals and so on.

Brands that want to create successful partnerships with influencers find that they must meet these requirements. However there’s no doubt that they have a great potential to help your company achieve the marketing goals you want.

If you don’t have an influencer outreach program, or a staff to help execute it, consider hiring an Influencer Relations Specialist to help you. Their role is to represent your company well, reach out and get the attention of influencers, communicate your company’s message clearly, and deliver tangible results based on the goals set by senior executives.

Hopefully your company will start to engage with key influencers in your industry so that you can generate trust and credibility around your brand, and reach more customers!

Your Turn:

Does your company have an influencer outreach program? What kind of experience have you had? Please share in the comment box below.

6 Steps for Creating High Conversion Healthcare Content

Your job as a business owner or healthcare marketing professional is to get more customers to buy from you.

But you can’t get today’s customers to buy from you using yesterday’s methods. Today customers have access to vast amounts of information (both online and offline) that informs their buying decisions. They want information from you as well. Not just product information or mere marketing messages, but rather information that provides tangible solutions to the real-world healthcare problems they are facing.

Creating this kind of content enables companies like yours to build trust in their communities, thus making it easier for customers to buy.

Here are 6 steps to creating high conversion healthcare content:

#1.Tie content to measurable marketing goals

For any content campaign to be successful you must tie your content marketing program to measurable business goals. It’s a bad idea to invest in any content activity just because ‘it’s the latest new thing’ or because your company has a lot of great information to share with your industry.

Your goals for creating content must be specific and measureable. After all, how does sharing great information with your industry help your bottom line anyway?

So before you even start to brainstorm your content marketing plan, jot down one or two goals that you want to accomplish with content. A simple example might be to increase next quarter’s online revenue by 10%.

#2. Understand customers’ information needs

The next step is to identify the information needs of your buyers. Don’t move into the content creation process until you have a crystal-clear understanding of potential buyers.

This is done through extensive research e.g. interviewing exiting customers, sending out surveys to your email list, meetings with your sales and customer-service staff to find out what kind of questions or concerns customers have.

Without this level of understanding you run the risk of publishing irrelevant content that may or may not produce the results you want. That sort of ‘hit-or-miss’ strategy will not help you accomplish your goals.

#3. Select Your Content Mix

There are many types of content you can create to connect with buyers, and close more leads. Some examples are websites, podcasts, print brochures, print newsletters, email newsletters, white papers, magazines, and more.

The type(s) of content you choose will largely depend on your budget and your customers’ needs (see number 2). You may rely on one core content product e.g. your website, to take the primary marketing role. But remember that other types of content provide multiple touch-points for prospective buyers, and also demonstrate a well-integrated content strategy especially when they enhance each other.

#4. Determine What Buyers Should Do

Many healthcare organizations create direct mail, newsletters, blog content and even custom magazines without knowing what kind of response they hope to get from customers.

You might be sending out newsletters every month, but have you told your readers what they should do after they read it? If you assume that they’ll pick up the phone and call your company, you’ll be waiting a long time.

Identify the specific action you want prospective customers to take and clearly tell them what to do. It could be trying a free demo of your product, or signing up for a webinar that provides more specific information about your offerings. Whatever it is, make sure it is clear and measurable as well.

#5. Get Help

The fact of the matter is most companies are so busy focusing on marketing their products, that they have a tough time thinking about content the way publishers do. Moreover creating content for marketing purposes is a skill by itself, and requires specialized talent to achieve profitable results.

If your company has in-house content marketing experts, then by all means use them. If not you should consider outsourcing your content activities to content marketing experts.

According to Gartner research, 50% of U.S. based companies outsource all or part of their digital content activities to an outside expert. Content marketing experts are trained to not just to produce engaging content, but also to help the organization meet its business goals. (See number 1).

#6. Measure Your Return

Finally, if you’re going to go through all this trouble to set up a content program, you should be able to know if it’s working or not. Don’t dare start your content activities if you don’t have a plan for measuring success.

Return on investment is directly linked to your business goals (see number 1). If you set out to increase your online revenue by 10% each quarter, you should evaluate your revenue at the end of that period to check if your projected sales numbers were achieved. Frequent measurement helps you to understand what’s working and what’s not working, so that you can adjust your plan accordingly.

In conclusion, well-crafted and creative content attracts prospects and closes deals. It’s not just content for content’s sake. It is a purposeful content plan that generates real customers. So whether your plan is to produce print or digital content, these six steps will help you stay focused on a strategy that produces tangible results.

Your Turn

Creating content that attracts customers can be challenging. What steps have you taken to close that gap?

8 Things Healthcare Should Know Before Launching a Content Marketing Campaign

It’s interesting.

Healthcare has taken longer than other industries to get into content and social media marketing. In fact to their credit, many healthcare marketers I’ve talked to are not interested in ‘me-too’ strategies.

They want to know ‘the why’ of content marketing. Many of them understand the concept though not necessarily the strategy, and they’re asking some really good questions. I strongly believe this is the right way to go.

So if you’re a healthcare marketer who’s feeling the pressure to launch a content marketing campaign just because everyone else has, don’t.

Content marketing is a long term commitment. And while it is a beneficial strategy used by industry giants such as Johns Hopkins and GE Healthcare, beginners should give themselves enough time to be thorough, and to ask the right questions. Here are eight things you should know before you begin.

#1. What’s the goal?

Your organization has specific business or financial goals it needs to achieve, such as lowering costs, increasing patient acquisition or physician retention and so on. Before you launch a content marketing program, you should be able to identify how the new campaign will contribute directly to these goals.

Launching a patient education blog for example should attract people who are searching for online health information, and thus convert them into actual patients.

#2. What makes you interesting?

People want to share and discuss interesting information on the social web. The question that healthcare marketers (even those of boring brands) must ask themselves is, “What makes our organization so interesting that people will want to talk about it with their friends.”

It’s hard to succeed in content marketing if you have nothing compelling to share. Find out what makes you interesting or different from other organizations, and plan how to showcase that in your content marketing properties.

#3. Do you really know your customers?

Think of customers as people with needs and challenges, rather than people who can buy your products and improve your bottom line. Yes, content marketing is a business strategy. But unless you help others first, don’t expect a profitable exchange to take place.

Helping people means you have to understand them (and their problems) first, before they ever open up their wallets. The best way to discover who your customers really are for the purpose of content marketing is to develop patient personas.

#4. What do they want?

It’s safe to assume that every one of us is at some stage in the wellness journey. Which means we will all at some point need a doctor, a hospital or just a simple band aid. But talking endlessly about your comic hero band aid brand, won’t get me to buy it. In fact, I’ll simply tune you out.

However if you understand my lifestyle as a mom of (several) young boys, boys who climb and fall from trees, and my desire to keep them safe (i.e. not bleeding), then I might be interested in what you have to say. Are you acquainted with the lifestyles of your customers? Again, deeper insights about your customers are obtained through research (see #3).

#5. What kind of message will appeal?

Related to #4 is the idea that your message has to appeal to potential customers. Remember that they’re not interested in your product. At least not at first. They are interested in how you can provide for their lifestyle, or make their dreams come true.

People are tired of being sold to and traditional marketing is becoming less and less relevant. Smart healthcare marketers understand this. Rather than pitching your products, deliver information that will make your customers more intelligent. Ultimately they will reward your valuable information with their business and loyalty.

#6. Where do we need to be?

If you understand your customers (beyond demographics) and where they hang out both online and offline, you can determine which platforms you need to reach them. For instance plastic surgeons have a lot of success on Facebook (due to the image-friendly environment where they can share before-and-after pictures).

However it’s equally important to be where your story will flourish the most. Sometimes that means that you may also have to go offline and meet your customers at in-person events.

#7. Who’s going to do the work?

Content marketing is about giving away so much free information, that you actually become a publisher. This is hard for healthcare marketers whose primary task is to promote the organization’s products or services.

Yet content has to be planned, created, and published on a regular basis. Before you launch a content marketing campaign, you should determine if you have in-house talent to get the job done, or whether you need to outsource the work. It’s short-sighted to start a blog, only to realize you don’t have the time or resources to keep it going. Plan ahead.

#8. How will we know this is working?

Content for content’s sake is no strategy at all. The only reason why a healthcare brand should launch a content marketing campaign is to move your subscribers in the direction you want them to move, and that includes buying your stuff. If your campaign is working then you’ll see some of these goals come to fruition.

The best way to measure success is to have measurable goals to begin with. So if you start off with a goal of acquiring 25 new patients within three months, it’s easy to see how well your efforts are working simply be calculating how many new patients you have acquired since you started.

Your Turn:

Intrigued? If you have any questions about healthcare content strategy, don’t hesitate to give us a call.