5 Simple Steps to Improving Your Content Marketing
Remember the classic Cheap Trick song, “I Want You to Want Me” ? The opening lines look like this:
Here’s a song in which the singer is trying to make a love connection with someone, and yet the singer refers to himself (I/me) 14 times as opposed to referring to his love interest (you) only 7. If your content marketing is loaded with self references (I, me, my, us, we, our, etc.), you may be suffering from a monolog. Truly effective content is more like a dialog that allows the audience to feel as if they are engaged in a conversation rather than sitting through a lecture.
With so many channels available for patients to interact with you, it’s critical for your content to feel more conversational than it may have in the past. Achieving this really isn’t too hard if you follow these five simple steps:
#1 Seek First to Understand - Then to Be Understood. The late time management and organizational guru Stephen Covey in his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People shows us that most people seek first to be understood. Not that being understood is bad - it’s clearly an important aspect in marketing - but if you are listening with the intent of replying rather than understanding, you may be missing some valuable opportunities to demonstrate your value to your patients and to provide them with information they want from you. If you’re using patient surveys in your practice, you may notice a trend of patients requesting information on a particular topic, or asking questions about something that’s been in the media recently. Perhaps a high percentage of patients have commented on your waiting area furniture or a new staff member. Posting about this in your blog, on your website, or in your patient newsletter shows that you are listening. These are opportunities for you to demonstrate that you read your patients’ comments and take them to heart.
#2 - Express Yourself. Whatever the topic, it’s important that the content be written with personality and a definite point of view. You may want to play it safe and hold back a bit on some topics, especially if they are controversial (such as discussing a new pharmaceutical that patients have seen on TV or a procedure featured on a talk show), but your genuine opinion will be valued by those who see the information, and you’ll most likely save a lot of time answering questions in office when those patients come in for visits.
#3 - Create and Maintain Your Brand. From your website to your patient newsletters to your social media sites, it’s important that you develop a unique brand for your practice, including a personality style for the content you’re going to provide, and then maintaining that style across your different sites. Decide in advance the tone you’d like to set (serious and professional, lighthearted and funny, caring and compassionate) and be certain this tone is reflected in your content regardless of where that content may be used. If you intend to have multiple employees involved in creating your content, be sure to discuss your brand personality and tone with all of them so you can ensure the consistency across channels.
#4 - “Talk to me, Goose.” Ask your patients to join in the conversation by encouraging their feedback on your social media platforms, your website, and by completing patient surveys and providing comments. To further encourage input from your patients, ask questions designed to prompt responses, encourage them to share their experiences and stories, and invite them to join the discussion on other forums as well. For example, if they are great at emailing your office, encourage them to post on your Facebook page. If they comment on your Facebook page, invite them to share with you on Twitter. Wherever you maintain a presence, you should encourage your patients to join you and begin interacting and continuing the dialog.
#5 - But Wait! There’s More! Once you open the dialog with patients, you can’t go backwards. Patients come to expect this level of communication, and they look for it from you, so once the door is open, there is no going back. The good news is, once you are listening, your patients will provide you with ample material to keep the conversation going. You’ll find that they become vested in the dialog you started, and they want to continue asking questions and generating information in anticipation of your response.
As technology continues to change the way you connect with your patients, it becomes even more important for you to listen to your patients with an ear to understanding them. Give them your attention here, just as you do in your practice, and not only will you maintain a healthy dialog, you’ll be building relationships that will last for years to come.