An Introduction to Content Marketing for Irish Retail Pharmacists.
Welcome to the first volume of the Pfizer Digital Series - a series created specifically for Retail Pharmacists & Pharmacy Managers/Owners. In this series we will cover basic aspects of Content Marketing, Search Engine Optimisation, Social Media, Email Communications, and many other digital techniques in a jargon free manner.
Over the coming weeks, we will be discussing the ins and outs of digital communication, how to implement various strategies, with a view to supporting you in delivering an improved patient experience.
Most of the material will require with little to no experience and there will be a few advanced techniques covered under various topics that are simple and quick to implement.
In this instalment we will discuss Content Marketing, identifying what it is, simple content strategies, and the potential effect it can have on your patient’s journey.
Let’s dive straight in.
What is Content Marketing?
First of all let’s be clear and define content. Content can be described as:
“engaging, relevant, reliable, interesting, entertaining or enlightening in the form of text, image, video or audio”1.
It is essentially anything you publish on any platform and due to the rapid increase in internet speeds, and connected devices it has led to the phenomenon that is content marketing.
Content marketing can be defined as:
“Content is the emotional and informational bridge between commerce and consumer. Building that bridge requires more than a budget, editorial calendar, and vision. It requires people who care, who love content, and what it can do for people. Not just what it can do for revenue, but rather how it helps people live their lives”2
by Jay Baer, President & Social Media and Content Marketing Strategist, Convince & Convert.
This definition truly captures the essence of what content marketing is about, the readers, or in this case: patients. It demonstrates that content must be valuable for your audience of readers/patients, and has the potential to have a positive impact, in helping viewers understand more about their condition/illness/health/wellbeing/lifestyle. Your content can help amplify your existing services and continue to demonstrate how you as a community pharmacist can help support your patients.
How to begin a Simple Content Marketing Process
If in any doubt about content marketing, we’ve included an infographic at the end of this article to provide a useful summary of the key aspects.
Companies offering products and services are now focussing more and more on content marketing and use tools like editorial calendars to help plan out and structure their content. What content is right for you to create, originate or share? How can you continue to ensure supplying fresh and relevant content to your patients? What steps will you take to ensure you have engaging content available to publish each week? How will you make your content stand out? What are your preferred tools and platforms? How will you measure impact? Do you currently employ staff that may be able to support you in managing this?
Content marketing does not have to be complex, expensive or time consuming. Running and managing a pharmacy requires professionalism across a broad spectrum of areas, not only in supporting the healthcare needs of your patients. When considering where to start – it may be useful to focus on meeting a known need for information or understanding what problem/challenge you can help support. Community pharmacists play an integral role in supporting the healthcare needs of patients in communities throughout Ireland, and content marketing provides an opportunity to support your efforts and amplify your message and services.
The Steps Involved
Define Goals: When you have decided to move forward and invest time in your content marketing, a first area to focus on is to define your goals and objectives.
Is it to increase disease awareness within your community, add value for your patients by offering additional screening services or possible to increase traffic to your website in order to bring your healthcare content to more patients online or on social platforms. Once you have answered this question you will be able to determine the most suitable metrics in order to determine what pieces of content drive the most engagement. An ideal starting point is to better define the health content needs of patients to understand where an opportunity exists to provide support to meet this need.
Publishing Cadence: Another question you must ask yourself is how frequently you want to publish content. Start small and do your best to retain consistency in frequency. Try a 300 word article every 2 weeks to begin with. Word count is not essential for the moment as long as the content solves patient needs or helps patients overcome challenges or provides support in the form of useful and relevant information.
In later instalments of the series we will discuss how to format content to achieve Search Engine Optimisation benefits for your website. But for now publishing content at regular intervals and getting the process started is an important step.
Strategy, Structure & Themes: One final question to ask yourself is how you will structure your content and what is the strategy that you will adopt. What are the different themes that you will create content under to match the varied needs of different patient groups?
Examples of a theme could be simply ‘Health Tips’ or ‘Lifestyle Tips’ or ‘Healthy Eating Tips’. Lifestyle Tips could contain more detailed information on ‘How to give-up smoking’ or ‘How to avoid developing Type 2 Diabetes. You can create as many themes as you like but it is best to start small.
So what content can you write about to categorise under each theme? As an integral component of community healthcare, you are well placed to identify where a potential opportunity exists to create content that is based around a defined patient need. You are an experienced healthcare professional and understand what concerns patients have or what information is consistently being sought.
You could start writing a list of the most frequent questions received from patients and take time to present informed responses using quality sources and references and present them in article format.
Community pharmacies often change a window display to reflect seasonality and content marketing can operate in a similar way. Colds & Flus may be more prevalent in Winter, so it may be a good opportunity to make content available that informs patients and readers how to stay healthy as the weather changes. What foods are rich in minerals and vitamins and what lifestyle tips can you share in order to help readers & patients stay healthy.
Below are some popular article structures, and an example of each.
- How to articles – How to minimise your chances of catching a cold this winter.
- Top lists- Top 5 ways to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
- FAQ’s – Frequently asked questions about insomnia.
So you have created some great content but what do you do with it? There are numerous ways to activate your content, and get it noticed. Let’s focus on the most popular channels which are most likely to reach your audience;
Your Website – Your website should be your content hub. As well as maintaining general information, and all the latest news, develop a section of your website where you can publish your patient centric content. Give some thought to how your content will be structured and accessed. Ask your patients to review it regularly to determine what content is most useful. Review the possibility of expanding from images & text into video.
Email - Include links to your content in your newsletter as well as in-store news and events. To address the needs of customer who prefer non-digital content, a simple printed newsletter can offer a simple alternative.
Social Media Channels - Include links to your articles on your social media pages. For maximum effectiveness use concise and relevant text. Ask your viewers a question and let them know that they will find out the answer to the problem if they follow the link. Encourage activity, engagement and provide accurate, well-written content to help support your patients and readers.
Although this article suggests a starting point, creating a content strategy and taking those first steps can be both challenging and satisfying.
You are a busy healthcare professional and using content marketing can potentially help you in supporting your patients. Start small by addressing a defined need and test & learn what resonates with your readers and patients. Create 1 piece of content every two weeks and take it from there.
We will continue to share some useful tips as part of our Digital Series so please watch out for our next update. Thank you.
1) http://www.toprankblog.com/2013/03/what-is-content/ accessed on the 14th Oct 2016
Date of Preparation: November 2016