Your Step-by-step Guide to
Content Strategy and Execution


In today’s digital marketing landscape, there are infinite channels and options for distributing your message. It is impossible to be all things to all people, and it’s a waste of your time and resources to focus on channels your customers may not even be using.


First, take an inventory of what you’re already doing.

To figure out where you’re going, you’ve got to understand where you’re starting. Here are some ways to gather the necessary information to orient yourself.

Stakeholder Interviews

Whether your marketing team sprawls across multiple locations, or you’re a multitasking superhero who relies on other departments, it is important to build on a foundation of shared understanding. By interviewing everyone who touches anything related to marketing—from the director of marketing to the CRM administrator—you can ensure your content strategy meets the needs of all stakeholders. Here’s what to ask:

Strategy and Goals

  • Is the current strategy meeting your objectives?
  • What metrics does marketing use to measure success?
  • Who are the primary audiences you’re working to engage?
  • What are your competitors doing? How can you be better than they are?

Marketing Channels and Tactics

  • Which marketing channels are most effective in building brand awareness, generating website traffic, converting leads to patients, etc.?
  • How much is allocated for paid media?

Internal People and Processes

  • How do internal stakeholders engage with key marketing functions, such as content creation, social media planning, governance, and measurement? Knowing this allows you to agree on who is in charge of what and identify gaps in your marketing process.
  • How do stakeholders feel the brand is currently represented? Is there a difference in opinion? Are the brand tone and message unified? Is everyone invested and aware of your hospital’s current brand standards? Have those standards been articulated?
  • How much time is the marketing team spending on each marketing function? Does each person have enough time to finish high-priority tasks?
  • Are current workflows mapped? Are they effective?
  • How are best practices shared across teams?
  • What are your stakeholders’ thoughts and ideas about the future state of the hospital’s marketing strategy?

Channel Analysis

Review your current marketing channels and take an inventory of every Facebook page, Twitter account, and YouTube channel your organization has ever created—even if it is not currently active. This will allow you to measure how much activity each channel is generating, which ones you should devote more resources to, and which ones can be eliminated if needed.

In addition to social media account details, include:

  • Internal content owners and stakeholders
  • Frequency content is shared
  • Who manages each channel
  • Current processes for the channel (e.g. load content on Mondays and pull reports on Fridays)
  • Budget allocated for each channel
  • Baseline performance (followers, engagement)

Keyword Analysis

If you are currently practicing SEO or running ads via Google AdWords, Bing, or other search engines, pull a list of the keywords you’ve used. Audit this list. Is it up to date? Are these keywords still important. Do they still make sense for your organization to target for a high ranking? It is important to audit your list for effectiveness and to be realistic. Broad keywords, such as “cancer care,” will be nearly impossible to rank for. Instead, aim for locality and specificity. “Best cancer treatment southwest” may be more effective than “cancer care.” By using these “long-tail” keywords, people looking for your services will be more likely find you easily, and your website will garner more visits.

Competitor Analysis

Analyze your competitors’ emails, social media profiles, website content, and blogs. Is your brand differentiated enough? What are competitors doing well? Do you see best practices that you could adopt? Use your competitors’ knowledge to improve your own marketing.



Map Your Strategy

Now that you have an inventory of your current marketing efforts and a sense of what is most effective, use this information to create audience personas and measurement plans.

Persona Development

A persona is a representation of your ideal customers based on market research. Personas may be general at first, but they should be constantly refined over time. As you get to know your customers and add more details to your personas, over time your marketing efforts will become more targeted and efficient.

Some questions you might ask to build personas: Which channels do your audiences use? What are your prospective customers’ primary concerns? Whose care are they also in charge of? How are they most likely to use healthcare services?

Taking the time to understand consumers of your key service lines will help you create the right content, delivered through the right channel, at the right time.

Once you understand your audience and which channels they use, you can apply best practices by channel to start building personas.


Content Types and Recommended post Frequencies

Social Media

  • Facebook—1–3 times per week
  • Twitter—3 times per day
  • Linkedin—1–3 times per day
  • YouTube—at least monthly as video production allows


  • Weekly to monthly, depending on the situation:
  • Weekly lead nurturing is best for responding to a health risk assessment or download of an online asset.
  • Monthly e-newsletters work well for brand building and engagement.


  • At least weekly, twice if you have the bandwidth

Paid search

  • 3–5 ads per ad group

Paid social media

  • At least 2 ads per ad group

Print Magazine

  • At least quarterly

Direct Mail

  • Bimonthly to quarterly, depending on campaign

Assembling your measurement plan

Think about your goals and business objectives. How can you measure them in your marketing channels? Some key performance indicators to consider include:

  • Website traffic
  • Form conversions
  • Likes and comments on social media
  • Email opens
  • Email clicks
  • Seminar attendees
  • Calls received
  • Appointments made
  • Service line profitability

Governance Processes

Having an active social media presence offers a great opportunity to receive feedback directly from your customers. Even if you do not currently encourage online reviews, people are leaving them about your hospital and your providers. But participating effectively requires a clear internal governance process so that you can be a part of the conversation and provide stellar customer service to those who are already talking about your company online.

Some elements to consider:

  • How are comments on social media handled?
  • Who is responsible for responding to comments on social media and review sites?
  • How frequently are social media accounts and review sites monitored?
  • What is your process for publishing blog content? Does it require approvals?
  • How are approvals handled? Who needs to be involved?
  • How does marketing work with other departments to get permission to publish content?


Now use this information to develop content.

Once you have a clear understanding of your current channels, the people you are trying to reach, and your marketing goals, it’s time to create and distribute your content.

We find it is best to think in terms of long-form pieces and how they can be broken up and distributed across your other channels.

For example, a recipe book for heart health could be a gated asset you use to get more email subscribers. Individual recipes can be shared on your blog and visual representations or short videos can be shared on social media.

When planning your content, it is important to prioritize your channels and be realistic about what your team can manage. Build an editorial calendar showing when and how you will cover key topics—you can always change it in response to new developments.



The truth is …
There is no finish line.

You created content and you’re distributing it on channels—but the journey is not over yet.

With a systematic measurement plan executed at regular intervals, you will glean insights that allow you to continuously improve your marketing efforts week over week, month over month, quarter over quarter. Be sure to share your content strategy across your organization so everyone understands what marketing is doing to get results.

Regular measurement ideally involves testing, which offers you tangible ways to improve your content and your overall content strategy. E-newsletters can be deployed with different subject lines, allowing you to see what language generates the strongest response. You can experiment with different headlines and teasers on social media, as well as different types of content, to see which generate the most clicks. By planning your content ahead of time, you can test certain variables to expand on your own playbook of best practices.



The Bottom Line

Take these steps to make your content strategy efforts successful and profitable.


Take an inventory of what you’ve already got.


Define your goals.


Understand your audience with personas.


Apply best practices to the most relevant channels for your audience.


Always test and learn.


Measure, optimize, repeat.


Want to talk through some ideas for your content strategy? Contact True North Custom CMO Jason Skinner at jskinner@truenorthcustom.com or (423) 305-7692.

At True North Custom, we put content strategy first. For 28 years, we’ve helped marketers grow their organizations and create healthy communities. Today, more than 500 hospitals and health systems turn to us for content strategies that achieve results. Our specialty is getting the right message, to the right audience, at the right time, in the right channel within your timeline and budget.



Learn more about how Content Strategy and Execution.

Contact Us →

Download a printable version of the guide.