Episode 008 – Building Authority with Consistent Content
On this episode of The Practice Marketing Podcast, hosts Garrett Smith and Don Lee discuss how you and your practice can build authority with consistent content. From a deep dive on the different types of content, to how you can get started with your own efforts, Garrett and Don unlock the keys to effectively using audio, video, and written text to grow your practice online. For more information about this episode, and the complete show notes, please continue reading below.
What You Will Learn
On this episode of the practice marketing podcast you will learn:
- What do you mean by “content”?
- What is content marketing and why is it important
- How to get started with content marketing
Segment #1 – What do you mean by “content”?
- Building authority through consistent content is an excellent way to go about setting yourself apart from your competition, and will make choosing your practice an easy decision. But what exactly is content?
- Think of it like your “Digital Health Library.”
- When you hear us (and others) speak about content, it could mean a number of things:
- Guest Editorial
- Social Media
- By creating and publishing online content through your website and social media profiles, your practice can become a local (or even national) leader in your specialty, helping to shape a perception of excellence amongst your patient demographics.
It’s best to think of content as your digital health library, a repository of audio, video, and written word that educates your targeted patients, and sets you apart from competitors as a leader in your specialty.
Segment #2 – What is content marketing and why is it important?
- The folks at Content Marketing Institute explain the concept well: “Content marketing’s purpose is to attract and retain customers by consistently creating and curating relevant and valuable content with the intention of changing or enhancing consumer behavior.”
- In lay terms, content marketing involves publishing and sharing online content (blog posts, emails, YouTube videos, or social media posts, etc) through your website, and online profiles.
- Content sets you up as an expert in your field, and the marketing of it helps you develop a level of trust with potential patients. As they read your content, they are assured that you provide the very best care.
- Content marketing gives patients what they’re looking for: valuable, helpful information that makes them feel comfortable coming into your office.
- With 80 percent of Americans searching online for medical information, according to Pew survey data, and 20 percent of those searching for a specific doctor, it’s more vital than ever that your content marketing be up to par.
- Consistently updating your website with fresh content about topics related to your specialty also improves traffic to your website, which will ultimately drive more patients into your office. It also helps your SEO.
With 80 percent of Americans searching online for medical information, there’s a tremendous opportunity for you and your practice to become the local “WebMD.”
Segment #3 – How you can get started with content marketing?
- If you’re looking to get started with your digital health library, and content marketing efforts, first ensure you have a page on your website for every condition treated, and service provided. From there, starting a blog to cover news, trends, or take deeper dives on topics is a great way to ease into things.
- First understand the type of content patients want:
- Easy to read
- Not advertising, or advice
- Next you will want to develop a content calendar, for a year, quarter, or month. You will want to determine how frequently you will publish, and where the content pieces will be published.
- From here, you will want to determine the topics and audience for them. This makes it easy for you to write, or work with a ghostwriter to complete the piece.
- With a list of topics, assign each of them a due date. Consistent is the key, so don’t try to to do to much too fast or else you will burn out.
- Once you have all of this, you can finally begin the process of creating the content, whether you are doing it yourself, or through an outsourced partner.
- Oh, and don’t forget to make sure you have a plan for promoting your content once you have it. Remember, just because you built it (content), doesn’t they come (patients).
The key to producing consistent content is to plan ahead of time. One of the best ways to make sure you publish regularly is to create a monthly or quarterly content calendar to keep your content marketing on target.
Full Show Transcript
Garrett Smith: 00:00 Hey everyone, Garrett here. For more information about building authority with consistent content, check out chapter seven in Book Now, internet marketing for healthcare practices, available at HealthcareMarketingBook.com.
Don Lee: 00:12 Hey Garrett, people keep telling me that I need to write blog posts, do social media, I need to build an audience because content is king. Well what do they mean?
Garrett Smith: 00:22 On this episode of the Practice Marketing Podcast you will learn, what do they mean when they say content? What is content marketing, and why is it important? And how you can get started with content marketing for you and your practice.
Speaker 3: 00:37 Are you looking to take your practice to the next level? Well you’re in the right place. Welcome to The Practice Marketing Podcast with your host Garrett Smith and Don Lee.
Garrett Smith: 00:49 Hey there, welcome back. This is The Practice Marketing Podcast, episode number eight, building authority with consistent content. With you as always, I’m your host Garrett Smith here with my cohost Don Lee. And today we’re gonna be talking about something that is near and dear to both of us, content and content marketing. And so Don you hit us with a little bit of a question, a comment about content to start off. So that’s something that I hear often when I’m working with providers and- and practices. What is content? And so, you know, today I’m really looking forward to talking with you about what is content, what is this idea of content marketing? You know? Why is it important? And then also, you know, how you can get started with, uh, content marketing for your practice.
Don Lee: 01:32 Yeah, yeah. And being someone who’s been in the business of producing content for a while now, it’s definitely a word like starts to mean a whole bunch to you and I. Like we can say that, and it has this whole foundation and structure behind it, and it means all this stuff. And it’s gonna be easy to talk to a doctor about this when you’re trying to get them to grab onto the concept. And just throwing that word out content, content, content probably in all different contexts, and have them just like … Uh, well everyone knows conceptually what content means. Right? But they don’t know what it means in the context that they’re usually hearing it from people like us. And that’s why that’s the opening question is, what is content? What do people really mean when they’re telling me I need to build content?
Garrett Smith: 02:17 Absolutely. And- and so I think to help crystallize this, one of the things that- that you should think of is … When- when you hear content or one of these things, or a number of these things. Right? And so first and foremost, oftentimes when you’re hearing about content in the context of internet marketing or SEO, or social media what they’re talking about usually first and foremost are blog posts. In addition to blog posts are things like eBooks, these are kinda short, uh, guides that, uh, are similar to kinda like white papers, or maybe do a deep dive on a particular service, or treatment, or condition.
Garrett Smith: 02:50 Obviously there’s long form guides that, uh, tend to be very deep and long form about, again a particular topic. But content could also be things like guest editorial, so writing a piece for your local newspaper or a local online media outlet, it could also be even, uh, interviews that you’re doing. Like what we’re doing right now, this, it could be a podcast. Right? Uh, podcast is a- an example of content in addition, you know, the actual posts that are written or the- the videos that you are publishing on your social media. And again maybe you’re gonna start doing some YouTube videos or some Instagram videos. All of these things are what we refer to as content. And so, you know, when you think about content, I really want to encourage you to think about using content to set yourself apart from your competition.
Garrett Smith: 03:41 And kind of helping you help the patient become a little bit more calm, cool, and relaxed when it comes to making the choice to come in and- and visit you in- in the practice. And so at the end of the day, if you do content right, and you consistently create and publish online content, both on your website and your social media profiles, one of the things that- that ends up happening is your practice can become that local, or even national leader in your specialty. And alongside of things like your online reviews and- and other items that we’ve mentioned previously, really helps shape that perception of excellence of you in the practice, right, amongst patients in your area, or even patients outside of your area who are looking for a provider such as yourself.
Don Lee: 04:30 Yeah. And I think that is from my perspective one of the, uh, very valuable things of the content marketing, is the, uh, the content itself is that it gives you that opportunity to in a sense stay in contact with your patients in between visits. It’s a way to one, you know, if they’re, if they’re new and they’ve read some of your stuff before they come in, it’s an opportunity to start your relationship with them a little bit early. And if they’re existing patients, it’s a way for you to potentially provide them value along the way. So it’s not just about, hey look at me marketing, it’s about I’m doing again a valuable service for my potential patients, and for my existing patients. And that’s improving our relationship and it’s improving my ability to help them know how to take care of themselves.
Garrett Smith: 05:17 Yeah absolutely. And the concept that- that I usually go with when we talk about content creation, and later on content marketing, is that your goal really with this is you want to build your own digital health library. You want to basically document your expertise and your experience around the topics that are most closely associated with your practice, and your specialty. And then use that information to inform both new patients, but also aid existing patients. Uh, we work with a lot of practices that are using content and email, and- and text messages after a service. Or after a treatment or a surgery case, uh, in order to reinforce instructions, to check in with patients.
Garrett Smith: 06:01 And do a lot of things that you couldn’t do, you know, 10, 20 years ago or you had to do very manually, which was expensive, uh, time consuming, and oftentimes had a lot of errors because a human was powering it. And so, you know, when we’re talking about content, you know, we’re talking about these specific things, they’re all used differently. But the end of the day, if you start participating, creating content, marketing your content, you’re really gonna end up with a really robust digital health library.
Garrett Smith: 06:29 That’s something that you can point to that has documented your expertise, and your specialty and your area. And these are assets that you can use throughout your practice whether that is turning blog posts into a book that can sit on, uh, in the waiting room that is, you know, talks through, uh, lots of different conditions or services or treatments. Or whether that ends up becoming something that helps a patient out through the recovery process.
Don Lee: 06:54 Yeah. I love that concept. It’s so important of, to think of content as an asset because that’s exactly right. It’s like once you’ve written it, you know, if … Yeah. Let’s say it’s a blog post. And you took the time to sit and it’s flu season, and you’re writing an explanation to your patients about who the flu vaccine is most important for, or who, what’s the best approach to fitting a flu shot into your, uh, your busy schedule. Or something along those lines. Like that thing, that’s gonna live forever. And, you know, something like that doesn’t like the- the guidelines around this aren’t gonna change that often on the flu vaccine. So now every, like once you take the time to write that once, now whenever there’s a need for it, you have something to point people to. And it’s at the ready, and you can continue to use that over, and over, and over again.
Garrett Smith: 07:41 Pro tip number one. It’s best to think of content as your digital health library, a repository of audio, video, and written word that educates your targeted patients, and sets you apart from competitors as a leader in your specialty.
Don Lee: 07:59 All right. So we got content down now. The other thing we hear about all the time is content marketing. What is content marketing? Why is it important?
Garrett Smith: 08:07 When I talk about content marketing people ask me for a definition, I usually point to the folks over at the content marketing institute who have defined content marketing as, or talk about content marketing as, you know, content marketing’s purpose is to attract and retain customers by consistently creating and curating relevant and valuable content, with the intention of changing or enhancing consumer behavior. And so in lay terms, what I think of content marketing as is the second half of the process. The first half is you’ve got to create the content. You have to create a blog post, you have to create a video, a guide, or an ebook or whatever, uh, whatever it may be. But then once that happens, just because you built it doesn’t mean that people are gonna come online.
Garrett Smith: 08:51 So really the content marketing is promotion, it involves the publishing and sharing of your content online, whether that be through your websites or your online profiles. And so really it’s the most important step. I mean, obviously you want to put a lot of time and thought into the creative, you know, content piece itself. Uh, however if you just create a lot of content but don’t tell anybody about it, don’t expect it to be very effective in terms of increasing your visibility, increasing your authority, or driving new patient appointments. And so it’s really important to kinda distinguish between content creation and then content marketing, or as I like to refer to it as content promotion.
Don Lee: 09:32 All right. So now you’re tell, you’ve told me what content marketing is. But you still really haven’t told me why is it important?
Garrett Smith: 09:40 Yeah. So when you think about content, really the- the purpose of content is to, uh, help build a perception of you as an expert in your field. And by marketing it, right, and- and promoting it to potential patients, you ensure that, uh, a high percentage of them actually read your content. And as they’re reading this- this content, one of the things that starts to happen is they become assured that you actually know what you’re talking about. And that you are interested in providing the very best care. And so at the end of the day, by marketing this content, by promoting it, you’re really giving patients what they’re looking for.
Garrett Smith: 10:15 Which is valuable, helpful information that clues them in to- to whatever condition or ailment they have. And really leaves them feel- feeling comfortable to- to come into the office to see you. And- and so the thing that I- I tend to point to is that 80% of Americans, right, are searching online for medical information and really at the end of the day, this is a tremendous opportunity for you as a provider. And the reason for that is, is that I hear a lot of providers start to complain about Web MD. Right?
Garrett Smith: 10:50 You know, and patients being misinformed. And so if you don’t like the fact that patients are going to Web MD to get their health information. Well you can start to create that content yourself. And like we talked about with SEO and- and other aspects of your marketing, you know, Google and other search engines understand that patients are looking for information and providers that are local to them. And so if you start to write about these topics and produce content, videos, guides, you know, Google is going to recognize that. And so when patients start to search for particular topics, they are going to start to see you, and they will see you in the fold right along the health grades, and the Web MD’s, and all of these other places that patients are going. And so content marketing is- is really important because it’s not enough to just, you know, like we were talking about, uh, in the reputation management episode, it’s not enough just to practice great care.
Garrett Smith: 11:46 It’s not enough just to produce great content. You also have to let patients know that all of this is out there, it’s available to them, and that they can access it. Further, the more you are consistently updating your website with fresh content, about topics that you’re talking to at depth, it’s also gonna help your SEO. The more pages that you have targeting, you know, potential search phrases that patients are searching for, the more likely you are to- to rank, and the higher you rank the more traffic you get, and the more potential patient appointments you’re gonna have. So again as we kinda started this before, you know, the marketing and promotion of your content is almost important than the actual creating of it.
Don Lee: 12:24 Yeah. And, uh, I’ve actually heard someone say before that it doesn’t have to be good, but it does have to exist. I don’t completely agree with that statement but it speaks to what you were just saying there, is like, that it’s more important. But I love the focus, I love that you still focused on the create good content. Be valuable, you know, that should always be step one. And we’re talking about care, give good care. Be valuable, then make sure people know about it. When you’re writing content, write good content, be valuable. Then let people know about it. So I love that, I love that continued focus on do … On- on that value first.
Don Lee: 12:58 And I love the comment too about the Web MD, if we’re gonna complain, “Oh don’t go there. Don’t go there. That’s, uh, you’re gonna read stuff and it’s all junk and it’s not gonna tell you anything.” And, you know, me as a parent with kids in daycare, and some of the phrases that I’ve had to go Web MD when the breakout at the Pre-K and, uh, like lost my mind. And then I’d call my doctor and it would go from Web MD’s version of something really bad might happen, to my doctor, “Oh that’s no big deal. If- if this shows up we’ll give you some [inaudible 00:13:27] … Don’t, no big deal.”
Don Lee: 13:28 But the point is, is that if we’re gonna just say, “Don’t do that.” And not offer an alternative, what do you think the patient’s gonna do? Do you think we’re not gonna Google? You know? That’s like, we’re not gonna, uh, like allow this vacuum of information exist. So if you can do that, use this instead. I think is a great thing. So create good content, let them know about it, use this instead, instead of just telling them what not to do.
Garrett Smith: 13:52 It’s like the rest of the things that we’ve talked about. I think the, you know, the perception that, uh, a lot of providers and practices have is that they can’t control any of these things. And as you- you continue to see episode after episode, you have the ability to take control of these things and you can influence, and you can do something about this internet landscape that, uh, for an awful lot of you listening, is quite pesky. Right? And so you’re kind of making things worse by ignoring it or just complaining about it. Embracing and getting involved is really going to be the thing that you’re gonna want to do if you don’t want to just continually, I think, be pained with this stuff. Or also, you know, lose out on potential business to other practices that just get it and, uh, they’re embracing it, and they’re going for it.
Don Lee: 14:42 Yeah. That control bed. Uh, I actually wrote something down when you said that, you said, “Google will start to recognize this.” And that’s where I’m sitting here going through this framework with you. And I’m starting to see now how like you’re building a marketing house, and like all of these things, all of these different systems are gonna start to play together, and influence one another. And I think that’s really cool.
Garrett Smith: 15:07 Pro-tip number two. With 80% of Americans searching online for medical information, there’s a tremendous opportunity for you and your practice to become the local Web MD.
Don Lee: 15:21 All right Garrett. So I’m gonna go the same place that I kinda always go as we get towards the end of these episodes is if I buy in, I’m a doctor, I’m listening and I buy into all this. And I say, “All right. You’ve made good sense to me.” How do I get started? How do I start to do content and content marketing?
Garrett Smith: 15:38 If you’re out there, and you’re looking to get started with your digital health library, and your content marketing efforts, the first thing that you really need to ensure is that you have a page on your website for every condition that- that you treat, and- and every service that you provide. Not every practice website has that, and so this is a really great investment. I don’t think it’s enough to just have a services page or a conditions page. Each of these conditions, each of the services are too different, uh, oftentimes varied. The- they deserve their own pages. Once you have that, really the easiest thing to do is- is to start a blog. And begin to cover news, trends, or take deeper dives on different conditions or services that allow patients to learn a little bit more.
Garrett Smith: 16:21 Uh, and become more comfortable with the condition or the service. Before you get into actually writing, there’s a couple of things that you really want to consider. First and foremost understand that there’s a particular type of content that patients want. First and foremost, it must be patient centric. It has to be focused on the patient, we’re not writing for your peers and other providers. Second of all, it needs to be easy to read. You should avoid technical medical jargon, and if you have to use it make sure you explain it. But keep everything at an 8th or 9th grade level.
Garrett Smith: 16:54 From there obviously you want to make sure that it’s informational. The information that you are providing to patients is critical because this will help them form a perception or a better understanding of what’s going on with them, their condition, or what they’re possibly going to encounter when they come in for a service. After that you want to make sure it’s actionable. It’s not enough just to throw together a bunch of facts and put it together. But [inaudible 00:17:20] to reading this, what do you want a patient to do? Do you want them to come in for an appointment? Do you want them to share this? Do you want them to do something else?
Garrett Smith: 17:27 So make sure that there is some actionable information and some actionable steps in this content. And then finally make sure that you’re not advertising. Right? Self promoting, or providing too much medical advice. Number one, patients don’t want to hear your advertisement or your advertorial so to speak. And also, you know, there are some rules and regulations as to giving specific advice on the internet. And so you want to be careful in those two areas. But once you’ve gotten familiar and you understand, you know, the type of content that patients want, the next thing you’ll want to do is start to think about developing a content calendar. And usually you’re gonna want to do this for a year, a quarter, or a month.
Garrett Smith: 18:05 This is based on your budget, your resources, uh, and even how excited you are, or willing you are to participate in the content creation process. And really what you’re gonna want to determine with this calender again is how frequently will you publish, where are the content, where is the content gonna be published? And get yourself a- a really nice framework for understanding what the commitments are for the time period. After that, the next thing is you’re gonna want to do, and you wanna go out there and create some potential topics and understand who the audience is for this topic. Doing this really makes it easy for you to write or work with a ghostwriter or setup a video crew, or whatever it may be. A lot of times we see people kinda jump in and they just start writing.
Garrett Smith: 18:44 And that works for a little while, but what ends up happening is they- they quickly run out of ideas, and then once they’ve run out of ideas the flow of topics, the flow of information that’s coming from them, and the practice tends to be disjointed. And as you suggested before, it doesn’t really build on itself. So making sure that you’ve got a calendar, and some predetermined topics, and you understand where you’re going, what audience you’re hitting is crucial to having a successful content marketing campaign. Now once you’ve got these topics, you know, obviously you want to list those out, you want to assign a due to them. You know? The thing that we like to stress is that consistency is key. Right?
Garrett Smith: 19:19 So don’t try to do too much too fast or you’re gonna burnt out. Patients want to know that, and want to, and- and, uh, may come to expect that content is gonna come out from you in the practice at particular intervals. And so really it’s important to make sure that you stick to that schedule, and you make your publishing predictable. Now of course once you have all of this in place, going through this basic planning process, you can finally go through and start creating content. Whether you’re doing it yourself, or through an outsourced partner. I think it’s really important to remember that you don’t have to be Hemingway in order to create content. There are lots of great writers out there who will work with you to capture your- your knowledge, your expertise, your vision, whatever it may be.
Garrett Smith: 20:02 And turn that into written word or video, or guides, or whatever, social media posts that fit your personality, the brand voice of the practice and make you look like the great authority that you are. The last thing and, you know, this is something that you don’t want to forget obviously we- we’ve talked a lot about this is … Have a plan for promoting your content. Again I see lots of practices spend a tremendous amount of time and money to produce great content and then it just sits on their website. And they’re hoping that it goes viral or that it achieves a top ranking, or something else. Uh, and the reality is- is just because you built it, doesn’t meant that they come.
Don Lee: 20:42 What I love about the approach here is that number one, the first thing that you advise somebody to go do if they’re getting started here, is basically amounts to documenting what you’re already doing. Which is nice because now I don’t have to be super creative out of the gates. I can just say, “Okay. I want to create a page for all of the services I offer. I know all about these services. I can write a page of copy about those. I can put them up on the website.” And that’s like now I’ve taken that first step, and I haven’t really had to even go outside of my comfort zone at all. So I think that’s, I think that’s really really cool point.
Don Lee: 21:15 And the other thing is that once you do start trying to take that next step and create your own topics, that can be intimidating. Right? Just coming up with the ideas of what the heck am I gonna write about? And again I would just say just look back to what you’re already doing today. It’s all day long you’re having conversations with patients, those patients are asking you questions. And you’re giving them advice. What are the questions that come up most frequently? Especially like think about the time of year, I mentioned the flu season earlier.
Don Lee: 21:41 If it’s flu season, what are the questions that are commonly asked of you at flu season? Write that, put that out there. And then just like as you get into the process of doing this, it’s like anything else like, uh, you know, the old thing where you get a new car and then suddenly start seeing the cars you, that same car everywhere. Well if you tune your brain to trying to find things that are valuable to your patients, those ideas are just gonna start coming. You know? And as they come, just write them down, bullet list, write them down, write them down, write them down. And then when you need an idea, scan the list, pick one that you’re feeling at the moment.
Garrett Smith: 22:14 Yeah Don, I mean, that’s excellent advice and a great point. Uh, I can tell that you’ve done this before. Your patients probably are your greatest source of topics to write or produce some audio a- around. The other shortcut that- that we often use and- and Google’s a big help for this is to literally type in a service or type in a condition into Google. And look at the search results, and more often than not Google’s gonna have a little section that says, you know, people also ask. And there’s gonna be a number of little questions there. Google puts those there because those are popular questions that people have around that topic. And how do they know that? Well they’ve got tre, a tremendous amount of search data that says, “Hey. These are the questions, uh, that are most popular about this particular topic.”
Garrett Smith: 23:00 And so you can directly take those questions, make that the title of your content piece, and then, you know, go to town answering them. And so a lot of people will say the future of Google, the future of search engines are actually answer engines. You know? We didn’t really talk a lot about things like voice search, and other new modalities so to speak in search and social. But these things are coming and so as you suggest, you know, think of the questions that you get asked all the time about conditions that you’re treating, about- about services that you’re offering. And start there. Honestly for most practices the no brainer low hanging fruit will populate and fill out your content calendar for a really long time. We work with practices right now where we’ve got them scheduled out for two years based on things that they need to improve.
Garrett Smith: 23:49 And we can add things in there, you know, news and trends as it happens if there’s like some big changes. But for the most part a lot of this stuff isn’t going to change in two years and so, you know, we’ve got it scheduled in, we got a great process for producing the content, and publishing it, and promoting it. And it works really really well. And again most of that started with, hey do we have a page for every condition that you treat? Do we have a page for all of the different services, and then from there it’s, you know, what are the four to five questions that everyone’s asking about these things? Let’s create some specific pieces around that.
Don Lee: 24:22 Love it. Start with that low hanging fruit, great framework to get rolling.
Garrett Smith: 24:28 Pro-tip number three. The key to producing consistent content is to plan ahead of time. One of the best ways to make sure you publish regularly is to create a monthly or portly content calendar to keep your content marketing on target. On the next episode of The Practice Marketing Podcast, we will discuss how you can communicate with and educate patients using email marketing. See yeah next time.
Speaker 3: 24:55 Thanks so much to listening to this episode of The Practice Marketing Podcast with Garrett Smith and Don Lee. If you enjoyed today’s episode please leave a review and subscribe. And for more great content and to stay up to date, visit InboundMD.com/podcast. We’ll catch you next time.
Garrett Smith: 25:12 Hey everyone. Garrett here, for more information about building authority with consistent content, check out chapter seven in Book Now, internet marketing for healthcare practices available at HealthcareMarketingBook.com.