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