Content marketing is ideally suited to healthcare providers for connecting both to patients and referring physicians. A planned program using events, print and e-newsletters, blogs and your website will establish your practice as an authoritative and respected source of trusted, reliable medical and healthcare information.
As with any successful endeavor, the key is to be honest, consistent and reliable with your communications and marketing efforts over the long term. Short bursts of newsletters or email or advertising rarely produce the kind of long-term sustained connection needed to retain patients or maintain patient referrals. Consequently, a successful content marketing strategy requires a long-term commitment.
To do that it may be helpful to think in terms of communicating with your patients or peers in an ongoing, engaging and educational manner rather marketing to them. Think of a blog as a way of extending the patient-physician discussion, allowing more time to explain diagnostics or treatments. Taking the time to communicate information that benefits your audience is more likely to succeed in maintaining the connections you want and need to be successful with your content marketing strategy.
Here are 5 keys to successfully using content to establish and maintain connections for long-term business development:
1. Audience focus – this might be an obvious point, but you’d be surprised how often it is overlooked or under emphasized. It is essential for connecting with an audience to always, always focus on your audience’s needs, and providing them with the information and material that is pertinent and relevant to a specific audience.
As an example, many large practices or medical centers produce a newsletter that will contain a smattering of articles touching on a few service lines and sending the newsletter or magazine to all patients on their various lists. This was an economic imperative in the days when paper newsletters were the primary means of content marketing.
With online marketing, however, it is now economically feasible to target a series of e-newsletters, blogs and social media to specific service lines and, even better, specific patient populations. An e-newsletter providing news and information supporting the specific needs of MS patients, or diabetes patients is much more likely to connect with those patients.
2. Strive for the 3 “Cs” – Using creative, clear and conversational language is a time-validated method for connecting with patients or peers. People-oriented story-telling or conversational tones humanizes the educational or evidence-based information you are presenting and puts your audience in a more receptive frame of mind. Drawing on your own experience and putting it in terms your patients or peers want to read will be much more likely to connect with them.
3. Relationship over action – In contrast to advertising, content marketing aims to establish, support and maintain a relationship, whereas advertising is aimed at generating a response. Rather than promoting your own expertise and skills to differentiate yourself from competitors and asking for action, use content marketing to provide your audience with information that they seek and value. Provide impartial and unbiased information that builds a sense of trust and believability.
4. Time and consistency – The payoff of content marketing takes place with consistent, valuable, education and information delivered over time. It isn’t measured in business growth over six months or a year, it is measured in terms of retention rates and patient loyalty or referrals over time.
5. Confidence and commitment – Building confidence in your practice among patients or peers depends on your commitment to being there reliably and consistently. Make sure you are able to sustain your content efforts over time. A blog, for example, that extends the physician-patient discussion with educational and motivational content builds confidence in your practice, but if the effort is not sustained, blog posts that are infrequent actually undermines that confidence.
If you are developing or implementing a content marketing strategy, Medical Digest Publications produces customized content that connects with your patients or referring providers. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 206 499 3479.