Ann Handley on Healthcare Content Marketing

by Heather Hammond, Managing Editor - 09/04/19

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Content marketing leader Ann Handley speaks to True North Custom about voice, common writing mistakes and the one thing she wants you to know (it will surprise you).

Screen Shot 2019-08-30 at 3.05.00 PMAnn Handley’s turn of an idea or a phrase is often unexpected and always refreshing. As an official content partner of the Cleveland Clinic Health Summit at this year's Content Marketing World (CMW), we spoke with Handley about the state of healthcare content marketing and her keynote presentation at the conference.

As always, her answers are thoughtful and a breath of fresh air compared to the cloud of buzzwords shrouding today's marketing pro.

If you want to more insights and perspective from her, our editorial department recommends (and reads) Handley's biweekly email newsletter, Total Annarchy.

In a world where “Everybody Writes,” how can content marketing companies convince stakeholders that they should get a professional to do their writing for them?

Hmmm … I’m not sure writers should ghost-write for stakeholders. At least, not exclusively.

It’s not because I don’t believe professional writers don’t add value. (They do.)

But I’d rather see stakeholders tap into their own unique voices. Teach them how to write, and help them understand why writing matters.

Convey how good writing makes someone trustworthy and accessible. And show how it can help an exec think more deeply and clearly about issues.

That way, when you do bring in a professional writer … the exec already understands the inherent value. He/she gets it.

What’s the biggest mistake writers are making when creating web content?

The biggest mistake I see is an organizational one … not necessarily an individual one, and it’s a doozy: writing by committee.

Writing by committee strips the humanity from any piece of writing. It sands off any of the interesting edges. It makes writing generic and ordinary. And it generally comes from the fear organizations have of appearing less professional if they show personality and point of view.   

My life’s work has been to get companies to embrace the idea that their writing voices matter. The edges are what make you interesting and unique.

What hurdles are healthcare marketing professionals facing right now?

  • Making their facilities feel trustworthy, accessible, and yet also professional.
  • Cultural resistance to change.
  • Focus on profitability and ROI.
  • How to serve the needs of the chronically unwell with those interested in wellness.
  • Creating marketing content that is patient-focused versus institution-centric, and managing stakeholder expectations around that.

Can you share an anecdote or experience that illustrates how an organization has successfully overcome these difficulties?

I like the way Dayton Children’s is using Facebook Live to act as a community resource, humanize its facility, and to build trust. I don’t know that it’s addressing ALL the challenges modern healthcare marketers face, but I really love the approach to hitting at some of those challenges.

What is the most important thing you want attendees to take away from your presentation?

That the key to Content Marketing in 2019 (and into 2020) is to … slow down. Do less … and obsess.

Also, I’d like them to laugh. 

Get More Expert Perspective

Want more great content like this from Content Marketing World 2019? Check out our other interviews with presenters at this year’s conference. 

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Topics: Content Marketing

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