Four Steps to Great Content Marketing

by Diane C. Boland @ EarQ Group, Inc.


“Content marketing” is a trendy term that’s started picking up speed as social media and digital marketing have become ever more important. But what is it? By definition, content marketing is the use of relevant and valuable content put forth by a company with the intent of changing or enhancing consumer behavior. In simpler terms, this means creating and sharing things that resonate with the people in your target market so that they will be inspired to become loyal customers (or, in the hearing healthcare world, patients).

People are very good at ignoring marketing efforts that don’t interest them. Still, many companies only use social media and other forms of communication to try to convince people to do business with them. Many of their posts say, “We’re the best, so you should choose us. Have you made an appointment yet? Come on, make an appointment.” In contrast, good content marketinginspires people to do business with you. These posts say, “What matters to you, matters to us. We’re a good match. Let’s be partners.” In this way, content marketing is a way of communicating with potential patients without selling to them. Some say that out of every ten posts on social media, only one should directly try to get people to buy something. Sharing and creating content that resonates with your patients will not only get their attention, but it will also show them that your practice’s values or interests align with theirs. This inspires trust and, importantly, action.

Sure, that sounds good in theory. But how does one actually do that? Where does one start? Good content marketing can indeed seem intimidating at first, but following these four steps will help break down the process in order to make it feel simple and natural.

The point of content marketing is to show your potential patients that their values are the same as yours. However, to do that, you need a clear picture of what those values are. Sit down with the others at your practice and craft a mission and vision statement. If you’ve already done this in the past, revisit them to make sure they’re clear and up to date. A vision statement is just what it sounds like: your vision of what the world will look like because of your practice. For example, you might say that your vision is to create a community where everyone’s lives are happy and healthy and their relationships are not hindered by hearing difficulties. A mission statement is slightly different; this states how exactly you are going to get to your vision. For example, your mission might be to educate and treat all members of your community who have hearing difficulties by providing outstanding service and making them feel like part of your practice’s family. The vision is where you’re going, and the mission is how you’re going to get there.

Next, make a list of what’s important to your practice and who you really are at your core. If you feel a bit stuck, ask yourself, “Why should people like us?” The answer isn’t because you are the best (even though you might be). The answer should be something bigger than that: something that resonates with people emotionally. People will visit your practice because they feel something about it, not because they’re told it’s the best. You can also start by making a “this but not that” list. Write down things your practice is and follow each one with what it is not. For example: professional but not stuffy, fun but not silly, efficient but not hasty.

Once you’ve figured out what you have that can resonate with potential patients, you need to decide what kind of people will connect with that thing. Try making a list or a sort of mind map of qualities that describe your target patients. For example, you might decide that your practice is open, friendly, and dedicated. Potential patients who might connect best with those qualities could be family-oriented, hardworking, and looking for personal connections. Tailor your content to these people, and they’ll find it. If it means something to them, they will notice it, feel connected to it, and share it with others. These are your people and your practice’s brand evangelists.

Remember that content marketing isn’t a one-way street. Listen to your ideal customers: ask questions, read and respond to comments they make on social media or blog posts, and look out for topics and ideas that interest them. You can use all of these things to find what will resonate most with the people you’re looking for.

Now that you know how you want others to see you and who those others are, it’s time to dive in. Make a content marketing plan that includes essential details, such as:

Once you have this plan, make sure any members of your team are on board and understand it. If you make a schedule for social media or blog writing, stick to it. Put it into your calendar if you feel like you “never find time for that stuff.” Take it one post at a time, and jumping off the content marketing diving board will seem more like easing yourself slowly down the pool’s ladder.

The final step, and one that’s often ignored, is tracking what works and what doesn’t work. Social media sites like Facebook make it easy to see how many people are getting your message and how effective it is. More advanced tools can track your website’s traffic and clicks. Perhaps you can test out which days or times are best to give content based on how many people see or share it. However, you can also just pay attention to whether or not you’re setting more appointments and how those people heard about your practice. You might not see an effect right away, but if you continue with the plan you made, chances are good that things will change over a longer period of time. If, after giving it ample time to take hold, you find that something is not working the way you want it to, go back and reevaluate. Look at whether you’re targeting the right people or whether you’re showcasing your values in everything you share.

Content marketing is important and potentially very effective, but it doesn’t have to be scary. If you follow the steps above, you could be on your way to higher engagement and more patient referrals and appointments in no time.

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