Creating Messages Your Patients Will Consume, from Content Marketing World

Two weeks ago I had the privilege of attending my very first Content Marketing World Conference in Cleveland, OH. As a first-timer to Cleveland, I was impressed by the city itself, especially the food! It turns out Cleveland’s claim-to-fame isn’t just the baseball team – with the Indians winning 22 straight games – it’s the incredible foodie scene.

Naturally, while attending the sessions and dining out in the evenings, I learned a thing or two. Here are the four main takeaways I gathered from Content Marketing World:

What you’re serving up is less important than why you’re serving it.

For most restaurants, selecting the menu is ever-so-important, but it’s only one piece of the pie. Restaurant owners also have to think about the location’s atmosphere and guaranteeing top-notch service. Why do we dine out? Not just for the food, but for the experience. You want to make sure your customers relax, have fun and connect with others while they’re enjoying your delicious menu items.

Healthcare marketing isn’t that different. When you sit down to define your healthcare content marketing strategy, before you figure out what you’re doing, or who you’re doing it for, get to the heart of why you’re doing it.

Nicole Latimer, CEO of StayWell referenced Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle in her presentation, which was all about getting to the “why” of what your organization is doing. Stop and ask yourself: why does your organization exist? What is your mission/purpose?

Jay Acunzo, author, creator and host of the Unthinkable podcast, also alluded to this during his keynote presentation. He called it your aspirational anchor: the root of why what you’re doing is special, and why you’re the person or team to do it.

Perhaps you want to increase referrals into your physicians. Why? You want the organization to be profitable. Why? You care about the livelihood of yourself, your physicians, your patients and your community. Ahhh…there it is.

Of course you want to increase volumes and revenues, but that’s because you want your hospital or health system to succeed so it can continue to serve the community and promote better health and wellbeing for everyone.

Once you have the why defined, the rest of your strategy will fall into place.

It’s all about your customer.

If there was one main theme resonating throughout Content Marketing World, it was this: audience, audience, audience, audience. Should I say it again? Instead, I’ll reiterate it through the words of Amanda Todorovich, Director of Content Marketing at Cleveland Clinic. “Listen to your audience. They should be your universe!”

You’ll succeed if you make them your world. Just like a restaurant, you want to get people in the door. And then once they’re there, they need to be treated like royalty. You know the old phrase: the customer is always right. So once you know the why, think about your audience and define who they are. Where are they? What are they doing?

Jay Acunzo said it, and I quote, “When we pay more attention to the customer than the industry, the customer pays more attention to us.” Make the time to create profiles for your audiences – learn about their demographics, behaviors and habits, and find out what they care about.

Then speak to what matters to them. People are emotional – you should strive to inspire action, not demand it. Nobody cares about your award-winning facilities or doctors. They want to be reassured that they’ll be able to visit you and return back to their normal lives. Or they want to know that you’re going to try to prevent them from getting sick in the first place.

Once you have your audience defined, come up with new and different ways to find unexpected audiences and share your story with them. Linda Boff, Chief Marketing Officer of GE, said you should find out who you’re NOT talking to, and reach them in new ways. For example, some marketers assume Millennials only want to be reached digitally, but research shows they actually prefer direct mail. Don’t be afraid to think differently. By doing this, you can turn your audiences from interested, to engaged, to loyal.

Know your secret sauce, but go light on it.

I had a spectacular salad at Pura Vida. With the dressing on the side and the greens, cheese, egg, smoked bacon, avocado and chicken perfectly positioned on the plate, it was almost too pretty to eat. My point is, nobody wants a Cobb salad with so much ranch dressing it takes you straight into the Hidden Valley. And nobody wants your brand shoved down their throat.

Linda Boff of GEZontee Hou of Convince & Convert, and Rob Walch of Libsyn all attested that your content should be lightly branded. Walch said, “Your finished material should be 90% content, 10% product or service”.

So go easy on the dressing. Limit the facility photos, logos and award medals you’d like to add to your content. Focus on what the audience cares about and save your pitch for the end.

Experiment, test, learn, reinvent.

How often do you return to a restaurant with a static menu? The server at The Greenhouse Tavern said, “Our menu changes frequently, so if you haven’t been here in a while, it’s probably nothing like what you remember.” Restaurants are constantly trying new ingredients and flavor combinations to appeal to different demands and changing palates.

It’s so important to do the same in healthcare marketing. No, you can’t constantly get new equipment, or frequently update your offices, or even change what services you’re offering on a regular basis; but how you present it to audiences can absolutely change. The content we serve should never be static.

Boff recommended experimenting early and often. She said, “the barrier of experimenting in the beginning is low, and so is the cost.” You can’t be afraid to try new things. Amanda Todorovich of Cleveland Clinic sent us off with a mission: “Be bold, and brave, and ask. Start by looking and listening to the data. Use that data to fuel your decisions and focus on better, not more. Then change something because of what you learned. And measure and test and then test again. Never be content.”

Perhaps a few of the things I learned in between eating my way through Cleveland will help you attempt the impossible task of cutting through the clutter and reaching your most valued audiences.

Becky Goplin

Marketing Manager, Tea Leaves Health & WHPRMS 2018 President