So What IS Content Marketing?

Randall Gerber, CEO, The Gerber Group

As my 8th grade English teacher used to day, “Good question!”  

Obviously, there seems to be a need for this answer, because my email inbox is flooded with promotions for “Content Marketing” workshops, summits, and conferences.  (NOTE TO SENDERS: These emails are NOT Content Marketing.)

On the other hand, a quick Google search of “Definition of Content Marketing” will spit out a screen full of thoughts by other folks.  When comparing these “thought leaders’” elements to my own, a series of intersecting circles forms in my mind.  In the center, are all those elements that are in common with my thoughts?  Additionally, there are some elements in my definition that are not found these Google highlights.

Here are the elements common to most definitions (including mine):

·  Free.  It should require no more than a “click” to read the article.

·   Relevant and valuable content.  Relevant to the needs of someone looking for information on a specific health issue: Stroke, Hip Replacement, or Incontinence. Valuable is the sense that it adds to the knowledge of the reader. Valuable in the sense that it helps build the reader’s trust in your healthcare system.

·   Targeted Audience.  You can’t be relevant if you don’t know whom you are talking to. You need to know whom you are talking to in each blog.  Where do they live? How old are they? Why might they need to know about this topic? In radio, they used tell announcers, “Don’t talk to everyone.  Just talk to one person – your mother, father, spouse -- on the other side of the microphone.” We should write the same way.

·   Conversion.  You are not “selling” a physician or service.  Your ultimate goal should be to convert the interested reader (or a relative or friend) into a patient.

Here are my specific requirements.

·   Non-Medical.  Of course you’ll be mentioning some medical topics and terms. But the “voice” should be conversational.  When possible, explain or define medical terms in words a 6th grader might understand.

·   SEO the topic BEFORE you write.  Research the most frequent terms people are using to search – and what competition there is for those terms – helps you include key terms and to better craft SEO-effective content.

·   Include a Call-To-Action.  Remember you are not promoting a service.  But you can allow the reader to search for a physician, cardiologist or gynecologist.  You can ask them to give you an email for notification of future posts or to download a free e-book on the subject.

·   SEO Again.  After the article is complete, run another SEO on Keywords while planning and placing the PPC ads.

·   Measure EVERYTHING.  How many exposures is your ad garnering (I don’t like “impressions.” Just because an ad is exposed on a page, doesn’t mean it was seen or left any kind of impression.) How many clicks?  How many people are reading the article DURING and, then, AFTER your ads run?


What Content Marketing is NOT. What to AVOID:

·   Straight Sell. Talking about how great your technology, doctors or services.

·   Asking people to give you their email BEFORE they can read material.

·   Simply reposting patient testimonials.  These belong on your web site or as links of Facebook and Twitter. 

Successfully incorporating the appropriate elements (while avoiding the traps) will give you a solid start in Content Marketing.  And remember, to be most successful, Content Marketing is like a temporary tax – it starts now….and goes on forever.

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