Guest post by Melissa Turner, Director of Content, SmartBrief
Years ago, when my colleagues and I launched our content marketing service for our health care vertical, we spent a lot of time looking at what was working well, what wasn’t, and how we could best position our clients for content marketing success. Today, we are considerably more seasoned, but still doing a lot of learning from marketers who really get it – and some gentle teaching when clients come to us with what we see as not-quite-right ideas about how to serve their readers. Here’s what we recommend to marketers, no matter where they ultimately take their business.
Start with a (very) little navel-gazing: Not what you expected me to say? This advice might not resonate with everyone, especially with some of my fellow content marketers, but hear me out. Content marketing that is not tied to a marketing purpose is just content. Content is great! But if you are investing in content as part of a marketing program, the spending has to make sense. So get real about your purpose. Ten levels down in your marketing funnel, what are you hoping your reader does? Invest in your interoperability technology? That is a thread you need to gently pick up in your very first, most broad piece of content. Get clear on the end result you want before you start anything to maximize your ROI.
Now, do a 180: OK, so once you’re clear about where your content is designed to nudge your reader, shift your focus to that reader. If interoperability is the universe for your content, figure out where in that universe your reader lives and what the universe looks like to them. This is where you need to start your content plan. Because your reader doesn’t care about you, at least not just yet. Your reader cares about their day-to-day work and how to do it better.
Zero in on the pain points: What challenges does your reader face that you can help solve? What headaches do your subject matter experts know how to alleviate? Where do readers’ pain points intersect with what your team knows best? This is where content marketing magic happens. The reader has a need, and your content helps them address it.
Soothe those pain points with … information: If solving readers’ problems sounds like putting your product in their hands, you still might not be thinking about content marketing quite right. The best content marketing provides insight and answers. Meaning, information that helps readers even if they ultimately shop with your competitor. That might seem backwards, but the truth is – if your insights are good enough and really do help readers then you become the solver of their problems. Which is exactly who they want to buy from.
Maximize your investment: Finally, consider how you will get the most mileage out of your investment. We’d all love an unlimited budget, but few, if any, of us have one. If you are paying for a long-form white paper or webinar, can you then take that same information and repackage it into an infographic? An executive summary? A blog post? Do it – you’ll get more resources out of the upfront process, be set up for distribution across more channels and catch many more eyes in your target audience.
Content marketing has been around in some form for quite some time, but thinking this way is still fairly new for many marketers. So if you’re unsure how to build out a program, you’re not alone. As HealthcareScene CMO and Editor Colin Hung – an organizer of HITMC – recently told me in a SmartBrief webinar, your audience is a wonderful source of insight. If you’re not sure what they want, ask them. If you’re really listening to your audience, there’s little doubt your heart is in the right place, and your content will be, too.
About the Author
Melissa Turner is director of content for health care and life sciences at SmartBrief, where she oversees the team that creates curated newsletters and sponsored custom content for professionals in these spaces. She previously helped establish the custom content program in health care and life sciences at SmartBrief and has edited a suite of newsletters for health care providers, insurers and other professionals. Prior to joining SmartBrief, she held a research fellowship at North Carolina State University, where she studied genetics and the epidemiology of intracranial abscessation in white-tailed deer. She also spent a decade at a North Carolina newspaper, where she worked as a features writer and copy editor. Melissa graduated from Smith College with a bachelor’s in English and North Carolina State University with a master’s in wildlife and conservation biology plus a minor in biotechnology.
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