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Turning Eggheads into Thought Leaders

It’s no secret that today, content is king. But content marketing is more than just the recorded musings of your resident eggheads. A thoughtful approach can ensure your developed content creates waves of impact—reaching potential customers, engaging them with your content, and pulling them into the sales funnel through your owned and earned channels.

Thought leadership through content development can tout your expertise, bring in new business leads, and demonstrate your healthcare prowess. But to get noticed, you’ll need to identify unique points of view and compelling perspectives that will break through the existing clutter and noise.

Here are a few tips on how content marketing helps you reach prospective customers:

1. Think about your industry and find the gaps.

In healthcare, certain topics are overused and over-discussed. Reiterating the viewpoint of the day will not bring eyes to your blog or website. However, a new spin on a hot topic can!

These may come from unexpected places—but don’t shy away from ideas that don’t fit the mold! Those provocative points of view that run counter to the zeitgeist can make for the most compelling content. And hitting on an area your experts feel is underrepresented in the media can provide you with an opportunity to kick-start and own the conversation. After all—your differentiators are what separate you from your competition.

Takeaways:

  • Don’t be afraid of perspectives that run counter to the spirit of the day.
  • Look for areas where your experts think not enough attention is paid.
  • Search through industry media for gaps in coverage—where a story is missed or the “industry” appears to have it wrong.
  • If it doesn’t feel a little bit uncomfortable, then your content isn’t new, unique, or ownable.

2. Develop a content marketing approach.

Once you’ve mapped your spokespeople to a few compelling viewpoints, we recommend developing content that aligns an annual theme—a broad view of your organization’s vision—with quarterly sub-themes to help focus your content.

Within each theme, identify unique angles that maintain your organization’s viewpoint while allowing for individuality. Each executive should not be a company drone, but a personality with a particular, nuanced view of the topic at hand. This can be accomplished by having the author share their point of view with those preparing to draft the content, or having them edit developed content to add their own flavor and spice.

Expert tip: Depending on the level of sophistication of your content marketing, you may wish to switch themes more or less frequently than every quarter.

Takeaways:

  • Map spokespeople to their areas of expertise.
  • Four quarterly sub-themes that roll up to a powerful annual theme can ensure content cohesiveness. Focus on doing a few things well instead of trying to hit too many messages or themes.
  • Individual authors should keep their own tone! Whether they are writing for themselves or not, allow the byliner to own and edit their attributed content.

3. Be thoughtful about timing.

For our clients, we research the editorial calendars of the highest-quality target trade publications and align content with planned themes for long-lead publications. You may also want to align content with industry milestones or other events that provide a natural hook, such as the U.S. Presidential election, critical industry conferences, or national holidays and months tied to specific health conditions (e.g., February is heart health month).

As an example, when your customers are attending a conference, use social media to align your content with highly trafficked topic areas using the conference hashtag.

Takeaways:

  • Industry milestones can provide hooks for your content and help generate topic ideas.
  • Use social media to harness well-trafficked hashtags and draw in new audiences.

4. Use targeted keywords to draw in your audiences.

Your expertise can be your most effective lead generator—but it won’t get you far unless your customers can find you. A little bit of keyword research can go a long way in optimizing your content for searchability—and can also help you identify those gaps in industry discussions that you’re primed to fill.

We help our clients identify the keywords that will draw in customers using Google AdWords’ keyword tool. We can use the tool to identify targeted, customer-friendly keywords with high levels of search traffic and low levels of competition, so your content won’t get lost. Identifying that sweet spot can differentiate your content so it is highly visible. And it also can help to hone your thought leadership topics so they are specific and useful to your customers.

Takeaways:

  • Research keywords that have low competition and high traffic for your specific target audience.
  • Use the keywords to identify content gaps where your thought leadership can take hold.

5. Hold yourself accountable, but be flexible.

Effective content marketing must have a consistent drumbeat: Best practices are posting two blogs per week, and we recommend at least one piece of contributed content placed per month in an external earned media publication to bring in new readers. To stay on track, develop a content calendar that will keep you accountable for meeting internal deadlines as content is developed. Keep in mind that content written on behalf of company executives requires additional time for their review and approval, which can take days depending on the executive’s schedule.

But while sticking to deadlines is critical, the calendar will need to bend and flex, as well, to be able to take advantage of industry trends, news items, and other announcements that pop up unexpectedly. When these happen, be ready to re-evaluate and prioritize, and respond quickly.

“Newsjacking”—quickly responding to events in the news with your own data or perspective—can make for particularly compelling content, but it is most effective when the response is immediate and engaging. You can do this by identifying data or capabilities that are unique to your organization, and mapping them to the industry topic gaps you identified as opportunities for thought leadership. Then, be ready to create content that highlights these differentiators when relevant news comes up. A flexible content calendar that allows for shifting dates will help to keep you on track!

Takeaways:

  • Hold yourself accountable by creating internal deadlines, not just publish dates.
  • Always keep an eye out for compelling stories in the news related to your work as opportunities to “newsjack” with relevant content.
  • Know which content is evergreen and which content is tied to specific dates, and be as flexible as you can.

Keep these tips and takeaways in mind, and your content marketing program will take off!

April 22, 2016
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