Earlier this year, PAN announced its NXT Stage initiative designed to help companies succeed in the fight to reach brand awareness, funding and ROI goals. What does that mean, specifically, for healthcare brands? Well, many things. But, in this blog we’ll highlight a few of the bigger strategies you can use to take your brand to the NXT Stage, whether it’s moving from Series A to B funding, growing through acquisition, global expansion, or entering the public markets.
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At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what segment of the healthcare industry you’re in. Across the board, there is one simple reality: You have an audience who can choose to buy your products or services…or go with a competitor. How do you, as a healthcare marketer, make sure you are attracting new business, engaging with the right audience and increasing awareness (and bottom line) for your healthcare business?
Content is King
In 2019 we at PAN firmly believe, regardless of channel or campaign, that content is still king; it all comes back to telling a good story and providing your audience with assets that are of true value to them, while also connecting them to your brand and your thought leaders. In today’s age where information is at the tips of virtually everyone’s fingertips via a simple search or click of a mouse, you must understand that your audience(s) first goes online to educate itself before interacting and transacting with a vendor. While that can sound scary—depending on where you are in your marketing journey—it shouldn’t be. Because, as a healthcare marketer, it presence an amazing opportunity to create content that puts your brand in front of the right audience at the right time. And, we’re not just talking about your website here. Think bigger and more broadly…and consider where your audience personas go to get their information. This could include your blog, social platforms, and/or other highly influential digital platforms (i.e., influencer’s channels, industry organizations and associations).
Speaking of a blog, it goes hand in hand with a strong content strategy. Take advantage of all your company’s and executive’s POVs, your customer successes, patient stories if you have them, and other industry- and company-centric insights that you can use to package up as posts and promote to your audiences. A blog is an ideal landing place to direct those audiences via social promotion, newsletters, news releases and other customer-centric communications. Be sure to plan and create an editorial calendar in advance, factoring in cadence, tone, author(s), and themes/topics (i.e., voice of the customer, industry POVs, company milestones, health months/milestones or other timely topics relevant to your company and your audience).
Lastly, give thought to targeted HTML email campaigns and newsletters as supporting components of your content strategy. While it’s true that many people go searching for information via search engines and, more specifically, on your website, emails and newsletters are a way to stay a step ahead. What if the information was in their inbox before they had to even look for it? By sending out targeted emails and/or a newsletter at least once a month, you’ll continue to educate your key constituents by providing them with fresh content they can apply to their own roles or use in a decision-making process when looking for the right vendor. The key is to provide your email database with a variety of information to best capture their interest. Use email personalization and segmentation based on a recipient’s interests and needs so they’re receiving information relevant to them. Send out a video, a current blog post or provide industry news that will give readers information on various topics. Be sure to plan these ahead of time so they are timely according to what’s going on at your organization or in the industry.
The Power of Video
Did you know that YouTube isn’t just a website but a search engine? It’s true. According to one Forbes article, with 3 billion searches per month, YouTube’s search volume is larger than that of Bing, Yahoo, AOL and Ask.com combined. And, if YouTube’s user base were a country, it would be the third largest in the world. What’s the point? When it comes to healthcare, there isn’t anything more powerful or engaging than video. Look to make video front and center in your marketing playbook. Think about how you can get your people/executives/thought leaders/clinicians, company, products/services as well as your customers to personalize your health brand and make it more approachable and relatable in an industry where people are often intimidated by the notion of healthcare, doctors, drugs, medical and lab equipment, and hospitals. Look to edit longer videos into shorter, snackable segments that can be posted on your social channels and your website, included in your e-newsletters, or used as part of a larger corporate YouTube channel initiative. And, remember, videos don’t have to be perfect (you don’t need professionally produced pieces in all instances). A regular cadence—whatever you decide to be comfortable for your company—is what you’re aiming for. Be sure to balance quality with quantity, but don’t let yourself or your team get caught up in the minutia of making hundreds of small edits in the search for perfection while days, weeks or months go by until you share new video content.
Along these lines, while they’re not video, podcasts are another excellent format that allow you to bring your story to life. They allow you to feature executive, customer, influencer, and advocate voices in a way that helps personalize your brand and connect with your audience(s) when and where they choose. And, they are extremely popular; as of April 2019, according to this article and infographic, there were more than 29 million podcast episodes.
A Consistent, Strategic Social Program
Many healthcare companies today are simply “checking the box” when it comes to social media. They have accounts and handles on LinkedIn and Twitter, and maybe a Facebook page for culture purposes. They post sporadic content, much of it self-serving. In other words, they are merely “present” on social media and feel they have it covered. Think again. Being “present” is a start but you need to look at how you can evolve your company to “participate” and, ultimately, “lead.”
First off, not all networks are created equal. It’s important to understand what the audience is on each network and the overall purpose of the platform. Each network’s unique audience also has its own expectations for what it wants to see posted. When planning out your healthcare social media strategy, keep in mind that you don’t have to manage a profile on every network. Use the information you gather about each audience and pick the ones that benefit you the most. Once you’ve determined that, be active. Consistency is key, while also avoiding the overzealous approach. A few good rules of thumb are to post between five and seven days a week, once a day on Facebook and LinkedIn, three to five tweets a day, and one Instagram post per week. Being active also refers to liking posts, commenting, joining discussions when you can present your brand and thought leaders as an authority in the space. In addition to being active, keep your brand consistent across networks (i.e., similar header and profile images and company descriptions on each network). And, while organic is one way to share content and be active, don’t forget to mix in paid social media posts which allow you to specifically target your ideal client base.
Another way to maximize and get the most impact out of your social strategy is via influencer relations. Audit who the executives, companies, individuals, policymakers, media and analysts are. Start to follow them, engage with their content, and build an online relationship with them. The goal: Transition that online relationship to an offline relationship that can take the form of jointly-authored content pieces, joint speaking engagements, co-authored bylines, guest blog posts, video Q&As. This associates your brand with credible sources in the industry, giving your brand validation and also, and perhaps equally as important, extended reach and frequency by leveraging their networks.
Keeping Track of It All
A strong healthcare marketing strategy is most effective when it is managed in a streamlined way, where each component is in sync with one another, rather than siloed. In addition to meeting regularly with your team about your marketing strategy to discuss changes or updates, think about connecting your marketing elements through a content management platform. This enables you to not only track the performance of your collective efforts (which is a must when reporting the ROI up the food chain to those overseeing your budget!) but also identify areas for improvement. In fact, many healthcare companies that PAN works with are managing their marketing efforts on HubSpot, Pardot or other similar platforms. Doing so allows them with one access point into their efforts for ease of managing, reporting and adjusting—three critical elements of a modern and sophisticated marketing strategy.
PAN’s healthcare team works closely with brands across the entire healthcare spectrum, partnering closely with each to create the ideal mix of PR and integrated marketing programs. Looking to get to the NXT Stage? Contact us. We’d be happy to help!