By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer
[Healthcare Content Marketing Series]
Anyone who grew up in a small town will tell you that it seemed like everyone knew everyone. Often, they conducted their everyday business with folks they knew…and merchants who knew them. Individuals engaged in conversation, got acquainted, and people did business with the people they knew and liked.
We were reminded recently that the opportunity for that level of personal connectivity—between and among people doing business—is lost in the “big city,” or less common in our hurried daily living. (Is there anyone busier than doctors?)
It turns out that the “engagement opportunity” is still alive and well; particularly for busy doctors. Of course, at the top of the list, engaging in face to face, doctor/patient conversation is premium time, well spent. But the Internet age provides dozens of additional communications channels.
Relevant, Valuable and Engaging
The broad label is Content Marketing, and a primary objective is—as it was in the past—to connect, converse and become acquainted. More precisely, the definition we wrote about previously in this series is:
Content marketing is the process of developing and sharing relevant, valuable, and engaging content to target audience(s) with the goal of acquiring new customers [patients] or increasing business from existing customers [patients].
To better understand and appreciate the value that content marketing has for a medical practice, here are some additional ideas that physicians and practice decision makers should consider.
1. Doctors have a unique “soapbox,” and people are ready to listen. Professional practitioners hold a respected place in society. An authoritative source of information commands attention and tends to attract a receptive audience. Engaged people have a genuine—and not just a casual—interest.
2. You learn about the people in your marketplace. One of the greatest benefits for the practitioner is in listening, and in discovering the needs and interests of patients and prospective patients. What you have to “sell” is less important than what people are ready to “buy.” Informed consumers are better customers.
3. You’ve got your finger on the pulse. The two-way nature of flowing information provides an opportunity to learn about the marketplace, including any changes and competitive forces. Awareness and insight keeps you ahead of the competition.
4. Engagement enhances reputation and inspires referrals. People who are emotionally bonded to a practice or practitioner are informal ambassadors, typically ready to vouch for the people they know and like. Things you share with the audience, and things they share with others, extends your message. Using this platform spotlights you as a thought leader.
5. Content marketing spreads your branding message. How you shape and share your material is a reflection of your brand. And you have control of the message.
6. Content messaging engenders trust, rapport and connectivity. Doctors are people treating people, and not impersonal institutions. This personal affinity sets the stage for a positive patient/customer experience.
7. Your overall marketing efforts are magnified by content. Engaging the public builds awareness, brings traffic to you and/or your website, and its relatively lower cost means your marketing return is higher.
Publishing information that is interesting and useful to the public—about topics where you are an expert—has the power to engage prospective patients, influence their purchase decisions, and inspire their referrals.
For more on this topic, see these additional articles in this series: 5 Basic Rules of Healthcare Content Marketing and Why Content Marketing is a Natural Fit for Healthcare.
Written by: Lonnie Hirsch