In your experience as a healthcare provider, you know that the best way to connect with a patient is to meet them where they are.
Meeting them where they are means paying attention to their health literacy level. It means taking into account their level of acceptance with their diagnosis. It means considering their health insurance status before prescribing a wildly expensive drug.
It also means literally meeting them where they are.
If your patients, or people who could be your patients, are online—and based on the statistic you just read, they are!—then that’s where you should be too.
What is healthcare content marketing and what’s all the hype about?
At its core, content marketing is providing an audience with information designed to provoke a certain response from that audience.
Healthcare content marketing, in particular, is often designed to educate, answer questions, debunk myths, and explain unfamiliar medical concepts.
Educational content is some of the highest performing because it helps the person consuming it solve a problem. And it builds the author’s perceived authority on a particular matter.
As the owner of a health practice or company, why does content marketing matter to you?
If you’re an independent healthcare provider, you’ve probably got a good gauge on how many patients are coming to your practice and what your practice revenues are.
And chances are, you want both of those numbers to increase.
Content marketing is one of the most reliable ways to bring new patients into your practice and keep them there which, in turn, increases your bottom line.
Content marketing helps you attract new patients
Finding a new doctor isn’t quite like buying a new house or car. You don’t usually get an open house tour. You don’t get to test drive it first.
So it’s important to give your prospective patients an idea of what it’s really like to be a patient at your practice. Give them a sneak peek so that they know what to expect if they become your patient.
Content is an excellent way to provide practice information to prospective patients in an interesting way!
Live video tours could help them visualize what your offices and medical exam rooms look like. Photos could help them get familiar with your staff. Blog posts could explain how you handle insurance concerns or common ailments.
The point here is that people are much more inclined to work with and pay people that they know, like, and trust—a.k.a., the know-like-trust factor.
Content helps you increase your know-like-trust factor with prospective patients.
(Spoiler alert: The 7 Unbreakable Rules of Healthcare Content Marketing are designed to help you maximize your know-like-trust factor!)
Content marketing helps you retain existing patients
If you’re bringing in new patients but they’re leaving your practice just as fast, you’ve got a problem. But there’s good news.
Content that helps solve problems your existing patients have motivates them to stay with your practice.
Providing great care is a must, but when you go the extra mile to make your patients feel informed, appreciated, and cared for—even when they’re not in your office—that builds deep veins of loyalty.
They’ll be excited to see you and tell their friends about you. And you know how valuable patient referrals can be!
Content marketing helps increase your practice’s revenues
When you’re bringing in new patients and keeping your old ones, what happens naturally? Your providers’ schedules fill up and your practice’s revenues increase.
And you know what they say: Mo’ Money, Mo’ Profit.
There are SO many types of content. What types of content marketing should you use?
Ahh, The Strong and Mighty Blog Post. It’s carried the Internet so far, but there’s so much more content out there to explore and experiment with.
Here are some examples of just a few:
- Blog posts
- White papers
- Live videos
- Recorded videos
- Fact sheets
- In-person meetings
Okay, stop teasing me. What are the 7 unbreakable rules of healthcare content marketing?
There’s plenty of room for diversity and innovation in health content, but there are certain rules you should always try to follow. Following these content marketing rules helps make sure your content is always engaging, educational, and entertaining.
You can’t afford for it not to be.
1. Be strategic.
Imagine a patient walks into your practice. She’s tested positive for gestational diabetes and wants to know what her next steps are.
You cover your eyes, stand in front of a poster with a list of every diabetes med imaginable, and turn in a circle 3 times. Eyes still tightly shut, you place your finger on the poster. Whichever drug your finger lands on is the one you’ll prescribe.
Pin the tail on the antihyperglycemic.
Sounds great, right?!
That’s what it’s like when you try to create content for your health practice without a written, intentional content strategy.
Think of your content strategy like you think of a treatment algorithm.
It’s not necessarily a fixed tool that you absolutely have to adhere to in every case. But it’s a tool that helps guide you towards a desired health outcome for your patient and gives you a clear journey for doing so.
Your content strategy helps guide your healthcare content marketing efforts towards a desired outcome for your patients or prospective patients. And it gives you a step-by-step plan for doing so.
Megan Nichole, PharmD | Healthcare Content Marketing Expert
Without a content strategy, you’re floundering in the dark, wasting time and possibly money.
2. Think like a patient.
Content is for the patient—period. So when you’re creating your content, it helps to put yourself in the patient’s or prospective patient’s shoes.
- What do your patients always ask you about?
- How do they phrase those questions?
- What’s their health literacy level?
- How do they prefer to consume information?
- Where do they go for health information?
You’ve got to keep in mind all of these questions and more so that you can meet your patients where they are.
3. Be relatable.
When it comes to actually producing the content, you’ve got to be relatable. And here’s where it’s easy for healthcare providers to slip up.
See, you value your degree and qualifications. And you should. You worked really hard for them.
Your prospective patients value those credentials too. But they don’t want you to talk to them the way you had to speak or write to get those credentials.
In other words, you wouldn’t explain a cancer diagnosis to a colleague the same way you would to a patient.
So when it comes to your online content, you’ve got to find a balance between medical accuracy and a relatable voice.
4. Don’t be boring.
As healthcare providers, learning about novel drugs with new mechanisms of action, pharmacokinetics, and the latest diagnostic tests really gets us going!
To the average person though, these things are—quite frankly—boring. Or at least, they can be.
No one’s going to consume information that’s boring! So you’ve got to find a way to spice it up for the gen pop.
Think back to your academic years. Your favorite professors were probably the ones who made learning interesting and engaging for you. Not the ones who lectured in a monotonous voice and didn’t know how to make concepts relevant.
The point here is not to negate the impact of entertaining. Even with a subject like healthcare, grabbing and holding your audience’s attention is critical.
You can’t inform someone who isn’t listening. And people won’t listen if they’re bored.
5. Don’t lecture.
Imagine that you attended a lecture. The speaker was knowledgeable and you learned a lot. You’re glad you went.
Now imagine you have a conversation with someone. There’s interesting dialogue between the both of you. You’re invested in this interaction.
Would you be more likely to build and maintain a relationship with the lecturer or the conversationalist? The conversationalist, of course!
Make your content conversational. It’s much more approachable and relatable to your patients.
6. Tell a story.
Now you might be wondering: if I’m not talking at them or presenting, what am I doing? You’re telling a story. Or at least that’s what I hope you’re doing.
There’s a reason why most people prefer lying on the couch watching Hulu instead of attending a talk or presentation. Televised content is storified.
And you can also storify your health content.
Stories hook the listener in and help keep their attention, all while planting pieces of information in the mix. By the end of the story, their view of the world is often different than it was before they started.
7. Use what you know works. (Don’t recreate the wheel.)
Content marketing isn’t new. It’s just becoming more popular. And while there’s plenty of room for innovation in the online world, you don’t have to make the wheel from scratch.
Sometimes taking a look at what other health practices and hospital systems are doing successfully (and not-so-successfully) in terms of content can help spark ideas for you.
Keeping your ear to the ground can also help you make better use of your time and money by shedding light on what content formats, types, and topics resonate best with your prospective patients.
Want to see some examples of effective healthcare content marketing?
Okay Megan, I understand what content marketing is. I know why I’d want to use it for my health practice. I’ve even memorized all 7 Unbreakable Rules of Healthcare Content Marketing.
But what does this content stuff actually look like?
Great question! I’d love to show you a few examples of highly effective content marketing.
Johnson & Johnson’s Innovation Podcast is an example of captivating, audio-based content marketing.
The J&J Innovation Podcast blossomed from an existing podcast, “Joe & Joe,” where two average Joes who worked for Johnson & Johnson shared the stories of Johnson & Johnson employees. The Joe & Joe podcast was an internal tool that allowed listeners to understand and appreciate the impact of their fellow employees on their company.
The J&J Innovation Group then decided to team up with the individual Joes to cover the latest healthcare trends in anticipation of the BIO2017 Conference. Since that time, they’ve continued to publish podcasts that highlight individuals and entities pushing healthcare forward through innovative technology.
Takeaway: In content marketing, the focus is not on you (or at least, it shouldn’t be). Your audience is your focus. Always keep your audience in mind.
The Mayo Clinic’s deep database of diseases sets the bar for written health content on a website.
Not all written website content has to be presented as a blog. The Mayo Clinic’s database dominates Google’s search ranking for disease state inquiries for good reason. The information here is accurate, it’s thorough, and it’s understandable.
It’s the perfect example of going hard or going home.
Takeaway: Find a topic or group of topics that your ideal patients really take to, and dominate that area! Build your authority in that space and you’ll begin to attract patients who value that authority.
Nucleus Medical Media demonstrates their expertise through video content marketing on its YouTube channel.
Wow, just look at Nucleus Medical Media’s YouTube channel. Who wouldn’t want to get medical animations and illustrations from them?
Nucleus uses this YouTube channel to display their expertise but more importantly to provide answers to their audience’s health questions in the best way they know how—through animations.
Just because your health practice is smaller than each of these companies doesn’t mean you can’t make a big splash in your part of the pond.
If you’d like to learn how you can take advantage of content marketing for your medical practice, pharmacy, or wellness center, let’s talk!