When it comes to healthcare content, it can become overwhelming to dive headfirst into curation, creation, and promotion. Start by reviewing what you’ve done in the past. Evaluate what worked and what didn’t, and make adjustments as needed.
Industry trends and customer behaviors change over time, and doing a routine checkup using these tips and best practices will enhance your content marketing efforts for the year to come.
Before finalizing this year’s content calendar, make sure you (and your team, if applicable) have worked through the following list. And, if you’re ready for more and appreciate a nifty downloadable worksheet, grab our Content Calendar Checklist & Worksheet for the Healthcare Marketer. Your team (or boss!) will be impressed.
1. DEFINE YOUR AUDIENCE.
Who are you trying to reach? Whether you work in a large hospital’s marketing and communications department or a private practice, you should be able to list specific characteristics of your ideal customer (Who bests fits with your services and products?). You may come up with more than one audience, especially if you work in a hospital. Try to work with no more than three at a time and map out one generalized, fictional character to represent each audience. What are their behaviors, needs, and overall goals as they pertain to your business? If your current marketing efforts are not reaching these audiences, this is the perfect time to shift your content strategy to better reach and serve this group.
2. DEFINE WEB PLATFORMS & MEDIA OUTLETS.
Where will you focus your content efforts this year? Online platforms might include a blog, social media channels, a newsletter, or a website news section. Print options could be direct mail pieces or a newsletter. If direct mail has brought in business, then continue to do this, but also consider online options that cost less to produce and can reach a wider audience. To note: 72 percent of Internet users say they look online for health information (source) and more than 40 percent say that information found via social media affects the way they deal with their health (source). If it’s a good fit for your business, take advantage of this marketing space.
3. DEFINE YOUR CONTENT GOALS.
Why are you doing this? Are you using content to promote your business to gain new customers? Do you want to build awareness and trust and ultimately stand out as an industry thought leader? Remember, even if your end goal is to get new customers to walk in the door, you should never lead with promotional content. Using helpful, informative content tailored for your audiences will inevitably establish you as a trusted resource that will be top of mind when your services or products are needed.
4. CREATE A CONTENT SCHEDULE.
Content marketing is like exercising or eating well—if you want to see results you can’t do it once a month—it needs to become routine. Figure out a schedule that works for your team or department. Consider your budget, resources, and time available. Don’t be overly ambitious at first—stick with a plan that can carry over week to week. You can always bump up production later, but avoid setting expectations too high at first.
5. IDENTIFY MAJOR THEMES & SUBJECT MATTER EXPERTS.
If your hospital is distinguished by an impressive trauma center or specializes in diagnostic testing, these would be areas of focus for content. You may identify a lengthy list of content themes, but try to prioritize them or assign specific months or seasons for focus. Next, figure out the person or team that is best suited to speak to these topics. Your audiences want to hear from the experts. Your organization is stacked with specialists brimming with knowledge—figure out the questions and concerns your customers and prospects have and provide content from these respected professionals.
6. IDENTIFY COMPLEMENTARY HOLIDAYS/THEME WEEKS/SEASONS.
There are organizations and publications out there doing great work throughout the year and they want to help you. Look at the year as a whole and pinpoint the time periods you want to highlight and the resources you can use to create great content. For example, January is Cervical Health Awareness Month and winter is a season where people search for flu prevention information. Bookmark the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Prevention and The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for future reference.
7. SELECT A CALENDARING TOOL.
Whether this is a solo endeavor or a team initiative, it’s vital to stay organized in one central location. There are lots of content calendaring tools out there. Pick one that your team will actually use. If you’re used to working in Excel, have your calendar live there. Other options include Asana, HubSpot, or Google Calendar.
8. MODEL & TREND CHECK.
In recent years the model of healthcare has shifted from sick care to wellness practice. Smart consumers understand the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. They search for information to keep them on track to stay out of the doctor’s office or hospital. But don’t fret—this change is not bad news for the healthcare industry, it just pushes organizations to provide even more content focused on prevention. Because, when it comes time to visit a doctor or undergo a needed procedure, this educated prospect is likely to turn to someone they know and trust—even if the relationship’s first few interactions occurred via content.
9. FIND SOME INSPIRATION.
There’s nothing wrong with picking up best practices from the pros. Create lists of competitors or other healthcare industry organizations that are killing it with content. If something works for them, chances are you can manipulate it to work for you. Stellar examples include The Mayo Clinic and WebMD.
10. HAS THIS CONTENT MET COMPLIANCE?
Communications professionals tend to enjoy content marketing because it encourages them to tap into their creative side and play with new ideas, but for healthcare industry professionals there is an extra layer of caution that must ground content. Review all outgoing content and be careful with HIPAA privacy laws. HIPPA gives individuals control over whether and how their PHI (personal health information) is used and disclosed for marketing purposes. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers guidance for marketers who have HIPPA questions.