Correctly executed, an integrated content marketing campaign will allow you to tell your story to myriad audiences while maintaining the integrity of the core message — and most importantly, delivering measurable results.
Any reputable marketer will tell you among the first steps in a marketing plan is to identify your key audience. It seems simple enough. A hospital, for example, may assign its highest profitability to privately insured women, aged 45 years or older, living in one of ten specific zip codes. But what happens when someone outside that demographic has a stake in your campaign? And what happens when your carefully crafted message, so engaging to your demographic market, falls flat or backfires with the individuals or groups you never even considered?
Although content marketing has gained substantial buzz of late, the practice of engaging a particular audience through compelling, valuable content has been around for over 100 years. John Deere is credited as the first to market in this manner when, in 1895, the company launched a magazine offering advice and solutions for its target consumer market: farmers. Over the years, Coca-Cola, Jell-O, Michelin, Sears, and a host of others have followed suit.
The commonality among all these business giants is, while successfully harnessing the power of content marketing, they also remain mindful of the considerable influence of internal and external stakeholders. These oftentimes-unidentified audiences can be critical to your marketing campaign, particularly in a hospital setting.
So which are the audiences you should consider and how do you communicate a message to one while appeasing the others? Let’s take them one at a time:
1. The Target Consumer
This critical audience is your potential patient base and should be well defined in the research and development stage of a marketing plan. Your message to this segment should be clear, relevant, entertaining, and informational. Research shows hard-sell content fails to resonate with consumer audiences, so your point of engagement must be perceived to be without the expectation of patronage. General health topics (think: heart health, diabetes control, nutrition, fitness, and stress relief) along with strong headlines and sub-heads will build trust with the consumer, while compelling design elements, polls, quizzes, social media posts and videos will encourage engagement and build relationship.
2. Internal Stakeholders
Your internal stakeholders may not fall into the same demographic bucket as your target consumer audience; nevertheless, they should each be considered when developing your content.
- Physicians — The best way to earn support from your doctors is to involve them in the process. While not losing sight of your primary audience’s interests, ask physicians to be interviewed and quoted in articles. They will appreciate the recognition as thought leaders and their expertise will resonate with readers.
- CEO — Your CEO has an obvious interest in the success of your content marketing campaign. As such, he or she will want to see something more than general articles meant to establish relationships. CEOs want ROI! Along with your message to the consumer, include a call to action (CTA) that directs the reader to specific hospital services. In keeping the hard sell contained to the CTA, you retain the reader’s trust while meeting the CEO’s demands for measurable results from marketing.
- Employees — Don’t forget to consider your biggest asset when crafting content for consumers: your team. Employees want to be proud to be a part of your organization. As such, be truthful and sincere in your messages. While avoiding grandiose claims of greatness, present your services in a way that underscores the skill and commitment of the professionals who work there.
3. External Stakeholders
Outside stakeholders come in forms both friend and foe. In developing your marketing content, remember that your magazine, newsletter, or blog entry may land in the office of one of these:
- non-affiliated physician
In all of these potentialities, there is only one content strategy to take—produce excellent, valuable, honest content of the highest quality. Use editorially unobtrusive material that gives healthcare lobbyists, fundraisers, and recruiters the means to better do their jobs. For example, include a sidebar that briefly describes the positive impact that one of your programs has on your community or consider a powerful patient feature story. In either case, you are showcasing your facility as one that is integral to the community.
Just because individuals are not in your target consumer audience doesn’t mean they don’t have an opinion and a stake in your message. Building a strong content marketing campaign should always include consideration for these important groups.