According to Pew Research Center, 72% of adult internet users have gone online to search for health-related information. Publishing effective content gets your practice noticed by potential new patients, and helps you stay top-of-mind with existing and previous patients.
In their blog on 2017 healthcare marketing trends, Healthcare Success, says it this way, “Amid increased competition for the reader’s attention, today’s content must be fresh, social-sharable and reliable to earn respect and build trust.”
The question is — how do you come up with the kind of on-target content that drives people to your website, and ultimately to your practice?
That’s where content strategy comes in. Content strategy is focused on the planning and development of content for your business. If you’re new to developing a content strategy, getting started may seem a bit daunting. It doesn’t have to be. Content strategy simply drives the kind of content you want to generate, and why.
Put in basic terms, the goal for content is to draw the people who matter (your target audience) to your practice. It leads them to discover you, then to get to know you. The goal is for the audience to enjoy ‘making your acquaintance’ enough to be interested in more interaction.
Producing great content is like striking up conversation with people you want to meet at a party. You introduce yourself, turn on a little charm, and share an interesting story. Maybe it’s a story funny enough that your new acquaintance shares it with a friend the next day. In just that way, effective content makes a positive impression, gets shared, and sets the stage for further opportunity to connect.
Boiled down to its simplest form, content marketing is simply relationship building.
Content strategy has multiple elements, all of which rely upon quality content. To get noticed and help build attractive new relationships, your content needs to be these 4 things:
Keep it real. How do you want to be thought of? What adjectives do you want to come to mind for your practice?
Find the tone and voice that best represents your practice’s brand, and be sure that you and your content writers stick with that persona. Examples of content tone might be: casual and informative; formal and authoritative; lighthearted and helpful.
Keeping things conversational and easy to digest is best. It’s unlikely that your content audience will want to feel as if they’re reading a medical journal.
Relevant content is a lot of things, which we’ll get to in just a moment. But first, it’s important to point out what it is not:
Relevant is not a sales pitch.
Relevant is not all about your practice.
Relevant is defined as “appropriate to the current time, period or circumstances; of contemporary interest.” Relevant content is: timely, informative, interesting and entertaining.
The best way to determine what is relevant to your audience is to know them. Are they Gen Xers? Millennials? Baby Boomers? Do they like to travel? Are they health-conscious? Do they care about social causes? While you want to consistently establish yourself and your practice as expert and caring, you also want to be a source of enjoyable, useful information that happens to pertain to cosmetic surgery.
Content should be helpful or entertaining — ideally, both.
As the adage goes, “Meet them where they are.” This applies to both the topics you write about, as well as the channels you communicate through. Find the stuff that matters to your audience, and communicate it to them via the channels they use most.
Blogs that are directly related to cosmetic surgery like “How to Choose a Cosmetic Surgeon” or “Average Costs for Popular Cosmetic Procedures” are no-brainers. Highlighting the unique ways your practice gives the best patient experience and outcomes is also good — occasionally. It makes sense that these topics would be part of your content strategy.
However, consistently mixing it up with other less obvious topics indirectly related to your business keeps content fresh and meaningful. Less obvious topic ideas might include blog titles such as “Tips on Clean Eating” with an embedded link that goes to a list of the best local farm-to-table restaurants, “How to Work on Your Inner Beauty Through Yoga & Meditation”, and “The 5 Best Spa Retreats in the U.S.”
Whether they’re staff members or freelancers, the best content writers pay attention to current trends and events, educate themselves about your business (and industry), and perhaps most importantly — they have a knack for connecting with readers through emotion and storytelling.
Just like conversation with someone you’re first meeting at a party, you want your content to be witty and relatable so that the audience comes back for more — and best yet, shares it with their friends.
Besides offering entertaining and informative content worthy of the most engaging party guest, use a variety of formats. Blogs, videos, infographics, original images, webinars and ebooks are several of the most common types. Choose at least three to use regularly, and then deliver them to your audience via your practice website, newsletter and the social channels your target patients most use.
Be organized and consistent with your content output. An easy-to-use editorial calendar is essential for at-a-glance overview and management of frequency, channel, format and topics. Editorial calendars can range from a simple spreadsheet to automated tools like the marketing calendars offered by CoSchedule and Hootsuite’s social media management platform.
ContentMarketingInstitute.com is a great place for one-stop shopping when it comes to a wealth of guidance, advice from experts, and articles including a write up on editorial calendars and templates. Whether you’re a beginner or a content pro, you’ll appreciate the variety of useful information you can find on the site. Also, for a blog and a cool infographic on content marketing tools, check out this from curata.com.
Lastly, here are a few tips to keep in mind as you get into a content marketing groove:
Start slowly. Use your content marketing training wheels till you gain confidence and rhythm. Quality matters more than quantity. Content that represents your practice well and resonates with your audience is more important than experimenting with too many formats or channels.
Educate yourself on tools and resources. Ask colleagues what they’re doing with content marketing that works for them. Seek help from a PR agency or digital marketing company. There are plenty that specialize in medical practices and plastic surgery. Use the many available content marketing tools and websites as a source of best practices while you do your vendor research.
Don’t think you can do it all yourself. Although you may want to add your voice to the content mix, avoid trying to be responsible for the majority of what your practice publishes. Consider leaning upon freelancers for at least some of your content creation. Utilize trusted staff or a marketing company for management of the process.
Remember, content marketing is always a work in progress. It takes time to hit your stride and and gain results. Investing the right resources and energy in your content will go a long way toward increasing your online presence.