When people are in need of medical treatment, whether urgent or future considerations, they seek information online regarding the options, outcomes, and quality of care. As a healthcare provider, it’s your responsibility to deliver resources that make that audience feel valued and confident in your services.
The Good News
Here’s the good news: There have never been more communication vehicles available to healthcare marketing professionals. Devising a strategy that puts the right information in front of the right people at the right time is, in theory, easier than ever. Unfortunately, theories donat always lend themselves well to the day-to-day practice of marketing, especially in the realm of healthcare. Patient census can change like the weather, budgets are tight, and there is one (or two, if you’re lucky) communications specialist responsible for a printed newsletter, brochures, media relations, internal communications, and somehow finding a way to manage electronic media.
The Not-So-Good News
With that in mind, here’s the not-so-good news for your healthcare marketing strategy: Every new vehicle, eNewsletters, blogs, and landing pages, requires content.The pressure of filling the plethora of “communications holes” created by the generation of electronic communications channels can be overwhelming. Even worse, it can lead marketing teams to do whatever it takes to get the messages out without considering audience, objectives, and quality of the messaging. Repurposing existing, original content is a common response to this healthcare marketing challenge. It’s not a terrible solution, but still demands time and energy, plus the content often misses the mark because people read newsletters differently than they read websites, blogs and eNewsletters. Regurgitating copy without making sure it’s tailored to an audience and marketing channel often waters down the tactic and can make a healthcare marketing strategy anemic.
Leasing Content: An Easy Way Out
The least effective approach to filling in the holes of a marketing strategy is leasing content. Many communications professionals decide to invest in leased content as part of their healthcare marketing plan because they receive fresh content that was written on demand by professional writers. Healthcare brands appreciate the access to a variety of stories on a variety of topics. Team members simply log in to the portal, click, and download. The copy is clean and well-written. It’s turn-key. It’s easy to use. Yet it is completely lacking in branding and authenticity, which is why we consider it to be deadly to a healthcare marketing strategy.
People donat read copy on your website, in your eNewsletter, and on your blog just because it’s there. They read it because it informs, educates, or inspires. It focuses on the actual treatment options available among your service lines. It provides insights that come from people they trust: your doctors, therapists, nurses and nutritionists. Just as important, custom content can illuminate what next steps are possible, telling the success stories of real patients. Hospitals will argue that there is no need for medical content to be specific to their brand a but we have to disagree. Sure, a knee replacement surgery may share the same preparation, procedure, and aftercare instructions as other hospitals. However, it’s critical to point out what separates you from other contenders. This includes introducing the doctors that would be performing the surgery, linking to or embedding videos of the procedure, sharing patient success stories, and mentioning relevant events. Visitors will read your content for the quality, targeted information. They read it for the confidence and comfort they feel after gaining knowledge from a credible source. And they read it for the stories, which communicate brand competence and commitment to patients.
Larger organizations are paving new standards of healthcare content, but it’s not always the Mayo Clinics of the world that should be held to this expectation. The Diabetes Center page on Carroll Hospital Center’s website provides exclusive content that was clearly written for the brand, with patients’ needs in mind.
In contrast, we found content on a brand’s site that many might consider sufficient. It explains the symptoms, risks, and services. But overall, the message is missing a branded voice, mention of physicians, downloadable resources, or patient stories. Factual information could be found anywhere online. It doesn’t set a brand apart. Healthcare organizations can educate patients with the medical facts while simultaneously infusing information that is specific to their brand.
You performed market research. You understand your audience. You certainly know your goals. So why dilute your healthcare marketing strategy with leased content that is likely used by other healthcare systems across the country? Imagine how former, current, and prospective patients will feel when they read a generic, leased story that might also appear on other websites as duplicate content. Canned content is easily spotted, and it may come across as impersonal and careless. At that moment, the personal relationship you’re trying to build with your audience, the trust, the confidence, the belief that they have a deeply personal relationship with their hospital or clinic, is gone. And that’s deadly to a healthcare marketing strategy.