Healthcare Blogging: How to Build Strong Content Foundations

Healthcare marketers aren’t the only ones struggling to create compelling content.

A lot of corporate content is centered around stuff that no-one reads such as press releases and product pitches. That’s not the kind of content prospects want.

Healthcare blogging needs content that entices prospects to subscribe to your email channel because email is where permission-based selling takes place. This is called content to content conversion (more on that later).

But how do you create enticing content in the first place?

Build strong foundations

My kids love the Katie Woo book series by Fran Manushkin. Katie is a spunky, sassy, stylish school-girl that young readers fall in love with. Her stories are perfect for explaining life changes, family celebrations and growing up. Kids love her because she helps them understand life better yet she’s fun and relatable.

The first step in creating content that entices prospects is to understand what makes them tick or what they respond best to. The idea is to create content that is so persuasive that it will move your readers’ hearts and eventually their wallets. This is the foundation for successful content marketing and it requires three building blocks.

i) Buyer persona(s)

Buyer personas help you to know that you’re engaging with the right prospects i.e. those who are most likely to buy from you. Yet according to a Frost & Sullivan Research Report only 46% of marketers had developed buyer personas by 2010.

By creating buyer personas you’re able to have a crystal-clear understanding of your ideal customer in order to initiate relevant conversations that inform, educate and gradually build their trust in you. Here’s a guide to creating patient personas i.e. buyer personas for healthcare content marketing.

ii) Editorial calendar

Without an editorial calendar your content can be arbitrary and off the mark. With it you can create content that is always consistent, valuable, and relevant to your audience. An editorial calendar helps you to:

  • plan ahead
  • provide key-word focus
  • establish clear call to action (CTA’s)

Here’s a complementary non-gated guide to creating an editorial calendar for content marketing.

iii) Content mapping

Developing buyer personas and creating an editorial calendar is just a part of the larger content mapping process.

You also need to understand and identify the type of content that will appeal to your specific audience (buyer persona) based on their unique needs throughout the various stages of the buying cycle.

You should always ask yourself what their needs are at each stage and what kind of content they require to address those needs. Too much too soon will scare them off and too little too late will send them to the competition. Here’s how to map content to the different stages of  personas buying cycle.

 Quick Wrap up

If you’re thinking about starting a healthcare blog or you already manage one, make sure that you have these foundational content marketing principles in place before you start publishing. That way there is no danger of creating content that is arbitrary or doesn’t resonate with your prospects.

Your Turn: Have you developed buyer personas and an editorial calendar for your content marketing process? Please share how these have helped you.

Content Mapping: How Buying Cycles Inform Your Content Strategy

Most B2B marketers recognize that great content has the ability to influence potential customers.

What is not so clear is when to share content and how much to share.

It’s a bit like explaining sex to your kids – When they’re really young they don’t need too much information. But as they grow older, their curiosity intensifies and their questions become more sophisticated. At that point you will need to give them more (age-appropriate) information. If you don’t, they’ll get it one way or the other (yikes!)

What do they need to know

It’s the same thing with your prospects when they’re at different stages of the buying cycle.

You should always ask yourself what their needs are at each stage and what kind of content they require to address those needs. Too much too soon will scare them off and too little too late will send them to the competition.

Image credit: this image was taken from the leadformix.com/blog

Stages of your prospect’s buying cycle

Very early stage – the prospect is probably unaware of their problem. At this point good content could go a long way in making a difference. You want to talk less about your product and more about the challenges they are facing. Best content types at this stage are white papers, ‘lunch and learn’ sessions and interactive webinars.

Early stage – the prospect has identified the problem but doesn’t know what he needs to do about it. At this stage you want to talk about the benefits that your solution provides (not about the product itself). Best content type at this stage is a case study, a benefits-oriented podcast or checklist.

Early Mid stage – the prospect is clear about his needs and has started to consider potential solutions. He wants to know how your product will help him. At this stage it’s time to talk about your product and to demonstrate how it can help him. Best content type at this stage includes a technical brief, a video demo or a webcast.

Mid stage – the prospect needs a clear demonstration of your expertise. Allow him a free trial of your product to confirm whether it suits his needs. Make it easy for him to compare your product to others. Your content will demonstrate the features of your product and how it compares against others in the market. You could also offer him a Q&A interview so that he may ask questions and resolve any concerns.

Late stage – You’re almost there – if you can cross this last hurdle! At this stage the prospect needs a lot of reassurance. Third party validation is required to seal the deal. Your content type should include client testimonials and success stories, special discounts and so on.

Understanding your prospect’s persona and knowing where they’re at in the buying cycle will help you to map content that will capture their attention and influence their decisions. Remember – this might be a time-consuming effort but the benefits far outweigh the inconveniences.

Are you using content mapping as a strategy to influence your prospects’ buying decisions?

**This is the last article in a series that explains the role of content mapping in your organization and how to create content that overcomes resistance/influences buyers’ decisions throughout the buying process.

Content Mapping: How Buyer Personas Drive Your Content Strategy

The chorus about content marketing and how it influences buyer behavior is getting louder.

No-one in Corporate America will argue that content has not emerged as a powerful tool to address buyer concerns, shape brand perceptions and ultimately influence purchasing decisions.

The problem however is that marketers aren’t necessarily creating the kind of content that persuades prospects to buy their products.

Pushy Messaging

Many brands are still investing heavily in content that gives off heavy marketing vibes – product information, self-centered messaging and other irrelevant information that turns off prospects and generates buyer resistance.

In order to create content that resonates with buyers and actually influences their purchasing decisions it is necessary to develop detailed buyer insights that tell why prospects behave the way they do.

This is the reason we develop buyer personas – a research-based effort that allows you to create a detailed profile of the buyer that your company hopes to persuade.

Developing buyer personas

As you develop buyer personas that inform your organization’s content strategy think about the following:

  • Start with your target audience – it helps to think of your existing real life customers as the primary consumers of your content.
  • What is their job title and their key responsibilities? You want to gain a deep understanding about the role they fulfill in their own organizations. List all the duties that they are responsible for.
  • Where do they fit in the buying decision? Are they the initial researcher of the product, an executive decision-maker, or perhaps a key influencer in the organization?
  • What are their pain points? What frustrates them about their job or their work processes. Do they have resource or technical challenges that need to be addressed? What do they need to help them do their job better?
  • What motivates them to buy? Is it a desire to gain, or a desire to avoid loss? What exactly are they hoping to gain or lose?
  • What drives their purchasing decision? Is it cost, efficiency,  good service, competitiveness, business benefits?
  • What are their media habits? In other words what are their content or informational needs? Do they prefer case studies, white papers, trade journals, business blogs, podcasts, instructional videos etc.?
  • How can you craft a message that appeals to your specific buyer? Consider the tone (formal or casual). Is it an instructional article or a research-based special report? Is it text-only or a combination of text and visual enhancements?

The ultimate goal

Keep in mind how all this fits into your content strategy.

Remember that the ultimate goal is to give your prospects the kind of information that will persuade them to buy your product. It involves a detailed understanding of the potential buyer’s behavior.

Developing buyer personas is part of the larger content mapping process that enables you to understand and identify the type of content that will appeal to your specific audience (buyer persona) based on their unique needs throughout the buying process.

In the next article we’ll talk about how different buyer personas behave throughout the buying cycle. Stay tuned.

**This is a series of articles that explains the role of content mapping in your organization and how to create content that overcomes resistance throughout the buying process.

Content Mapping: Creating Content to Overcome Buyer Resistance (Overview)

Why is selling so difficult?

Think about this for a moment. Your clients need to justify (to themselves and to their boss) the amount of money they spend on your solution. They will ultimately resist a purchasing decision if they’re not convinced of your product’s inherent value.

Therefore the inability to communicate value to a prospect remains the most significant cause of buyer resistance.

How do you overcome buyer resistance?

It’s not easy. It requires a good amount of research and the ability to provide relevant and persuasive information. Marketers need to understand and identify the reasons why prospects are hesitant in the first place. Is it an operational or a financial hindrance?

Marketers must also provide the kind of information that will break down that resistance and persuade prospects to make a purchasing decision.

Content mapping

Prospects are people. People with different informational needs. People who fulfill different roles within their organizations. People who might buy your products.

As a marketer your job is to understand them, their interests, their roles, and the challenges they face while doing their jobs so as to persuade them and finally influence their buying decisions.

Content mapping does this by:

  • identifying your prospect’s buyer persona (their role, concerns, motivations etc);
  • identifying what stage of the buying cycle they’re at (early stage where they’re unaware of the problem, or mid stage where they’re evaluating potential solutions, or late stage where they’re differentiating between several solutions);
  • creating content that seeks to answer the questions that they have at each stage of the buying cycle.

Apart from servicing your clients’ informational needs a content map also serves as your organization’s blue print for creating and distributing content that is relevant and meaningful for lead-generation and conversion. It is a useful resource for both your sales and your content marketing personnel.

I realize that I’ve oversimplified it a bit here. I intend to break down each phase of content mapping into detailed yet digestible chunks – the next article will dive into the buyer persona discussion.

**This is a series of articles that explains the role of content mapping in your organization and how to create content that overcomes resistance throughout the buying process.