By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer
A curious challenge within the art of hospital and healthcare marketing is that large segments of your target audience simply don’t care. They don’t have an immediate need for your services or facility.
Individuals with a current or pressing medical need are one thing. But there’s always a significant slice of the people who are not in the market…at the moment. As the well-traveled axiom goes, the challenge is to engage consumers today for solutions they many need tomorrow.
For the sake of this list, let’s assume that your Internet marketing plan has all the fundamental tools—website, blog, social media accounts and the like—a specific plan, and someone who is responsible (and accountable) for regular updates.
Here are several tips and ideas to help create engagement, inspire action and encourage social sharing.
Interesting content. Material that rises to the level of “only adequate” isn’t going to attract or retain readers. Raise the bar on creative content, and if it isn’t truly relevant or interesting (or if you can’t find an interesting angle), don’t drive people away with boring information.
Know your audiences. That’s audiences, plural. You will have more than one, big, generic audience. Although there will be overlaps, drill down to the specifics of exactly who you are talking to, what is relevant to their needs and interests, why you want to reach them, what formats or media reach them best, and precisely what you want them to know.
Listen at least as much as you speak. Stay tuned into the conversation, comments and feedback that play into the “voice of the customer.” Support and extend topics and ideas that are of greatest interest among the audience (even if they are a surprise to you.)
Keep it fresh with frequent updates. Content gets stale faster than yesterday’s fish, and it’s just as welcome. New and updated content attracts attention, but visitors assume that slow-to-change material holds little or no value. (See “boring,” above.) What’s more, search engines also like regular updates and don’t like static pages.
Three useful categories…
Depending on your goals and the platform(s) that you are using, information that fuels engagement, inspires action and/or encourages social sharing can be organized under one or more of these broad headings.
- Authoritative advice, direction and/or answers. Audiences appreciate “how-to” information that is practical, easy to do or follow, and convenient to share with others.
- Surprising, unusual or little known info. Facts or data that register as unfamiliar to the reader make a mental impression, but they may require evidence or explanation for believability and acceptance. People are eager to share refreshingly different ideas.
- Open-ended, provocative conversation extenders. This would include direct questions, surveys, calls to action, opinion solicitation, “What do you have to say about this?” entries, or “Who do you know that would appreciate having this?” directions.
Consider how any given factoid or bit of information might play out under each of these categories and use the approach that gives your info the greatest impact. Also, rotate your work among these approaches in order to give your content variety, and so you are not always giving advice or always asking a question.
Engagement is a continuing process that contributes to your branding and ongoing “top-of-mind” messaging. Tell us what we might be missing here. How do you engage your target audience or readers? We’d love to hear what you would add to this list.
RELATED: Watch for more in this series, and for additional reading on this topic, see these previous posts: