In his new book, Youtility, author Jay Baer says that companies need to focus less on hype and more on help. Spend less time and money trying to get people to believe how amazing your company is, and more on providing helpful information they will appreciate and value.
In the world of healthcare marketing, one stellar example of how to do that comes from St. David’s HeathCare, based in Austin, TX.
The organization has a site focused on helping Austinites get healthy. Called Live Healthy, it is a blog written by members of St. David’s staff that covers a range of topics from atrial fibrillation to women’s health and just about everything in between.
According to Denise Bradley, St. David’s Director of Corporate Communications & Public Affairs, the reason the site was launched was to serve as a resource for information on healthy living.
“Austin is considered one of the healthiest urban centers in America, and people who live and work here are always looking for resources for healthy living. As a healthcare provider who cares about the health and well-being of our community, it made good sense for us to serve as that resource,” said Bradley.
Live Healthy Site Content
Here are three examples of the types of healthy living information the site provides:
The article outlines risk factors and screening recommendations. Pretty standard stuff, but the fact that it resides on a St. David’s branded site means the hospital gets the reader’s attention, not WebMD or other third-party.
Pregnant women have to travel, too, and we’re not just talking about trips to the OB/GYN or labor and delivery unit! This post contains practical tips on travel from one of St. David’s physicians.
St. David’s focuses on holidays and special events to share healthy tips, such as this one on how to safely handle fireworks.
See what I mean? Practical, helpful information that patients, family members and caregivers can use. (And everyone else for that matter, including Google.)
According to a Pew Internet and American Life study, 72% of internet users say they looked online for health information within the past year. Harnessing the power of the Internet through content is a way to gain and hold people’s attention.
“When people need health information, they have to go to many different websites to find it and don’t always know where to look,” stated Bradley. “If their community healthcare provider can be a one-stop shop, that’s pretty powerful.”
In terms of benefit to St. David’s, Bradley remarked, “This was an opportunity to connect with our community and provide people with information to help them live healthier lives. In building a relationship and sense of trust with people when there’s not a health-related need, when the time comes that they have a need, we are top of mind.”
How to Make Content Work for Your Healthcare Organization
You may be thinking, “We’re a small regional hospital (or physician’s practice) and we simply don’t have the staff to implement such an approach.”
I hear you and understand the resource limitations you face. There are ways to make this work, however.
1. Start with a plan
The first is to outline the reasons why you’re taking a content approach. It needs align with the mission of the organization and support its marketing goals and objectives.
The “why” for Live Healthy grew out of St. David’s commitment to the community. “We’re out in the community on a regular basis helping people learn how to live healthier lives. This was an extension of what we already do,” said Bradley.
Once a rationale has been determined, there are several tactical steps to take:
- Create blogger/writer guidelines and governance policy;
- Develop a content calendar (St. David’s creates an annual calendar);
- Set up a blogger/writer selection process and training program;
- Establish a content review/editing process;
- Determine an appropriate technology platform;
- Design and deploy the site, and then set the plan in motion.
2. Get others involved
Note that Live Healthy is written by members of the medical staff, not the marketing department. St. David’s staff had the knowledge and expertise to provide useful information, and many were anxious to participate.
Are there staff members in your facility who could contribute an article once per month?
3. Curate instead of create
Another way around the resource limitation obstacle is to use technology tools like Rebelmouse, Scoop.it, Bottlenose or FlashIssue to find information produced by other sources, which you then curate into a digest-style blog post, much the way we did with our “Five for Friday” series.
All you need is a title and short description of the article’s content, which you link back to. This does not require a great deal of time and can provide a wealth of information for your site visitors.
(If yours is a Bizzuka website, you already have a blog component built into OnDeCC, our content management system, so there is no need to create a separate site.)
4. Start an informational email newsletter
Instead of a blog, you could take curated content and send it via email to an opt-in subscriber list. This won’t get you the same SEO benefit, but is one more way to get the information into the hands of those who will value it.
Of course, the best plan is to take content created or curated on a blog and re-purpose it for email, just as we do with our monthly eBurst newsletter. That way, you to get a two-for-one punch.
5. Outsource content production
While this is not a best practice – it’s better to “insource” than outsource – if you simply do not have the time or internal resources, consider using a third-party content provider. Freelance writers who specialize in healthcare are abundant. LinkedIn, for example, lists more than 2,000 of them.
If you’re spending money on marketing, it’s time to take into account what works and what does not. In online marketing, having a great looking, highly functional website is a good thing, but that’s no longer enough. Content is king and, everyday, people are searching for information on how to live better, healthier, longer lives.
If it sounds like I’m trying to sell you on the idea that you need to be that resource provider, you would be absolutely correct. It’s a safe bet your competitors aren’t doing it.
But, as I always say, you’ll never know until you try.