In the marketing industry, “content is king” is a popular cliché.

The phrase is widely associated with Bill Gates in a blog he wrote nearly 20 years ago. Today, his messages seem prophetic, among them: “Content is where I expect most of the real money will be made on the Internet…” (see Netflix) and “No company is too small to participate” (see the millions of small businesses with a WordPress blog).

“Content” is shorthand for the engaging parts of your web presence—the blogs, photos, and videos, for example—that intend to connect with audiences rather than convert, or sell. And while some think of content purely through the prism of search engine optimization, a proper content strategy holistically considers the entirety of the user experience (another cliché) from the search query through the on-site conversion. In other words, getting people to your site is the first step, but they also need to find what they’re looking for, have a fulfilling visit, and eventually buy something from you.

This brings me to Lenz. When I joined the company way back in 2002, I was fresh out of UGA’s journalism school with visions of Woodward and Bernstein dancing in my head. Lenz hired me to write news and feature articles that would appear strictly on our clients’ web sites. When my friends would ask about my new job, I would say, “I write web releases, they’re kind of like press releases, but not important enough to send to the press.” Today I and the rest of the marketing world understand the value of blogging, while Lenz understood it from the beginning.

Ask a Lenzer how we market healthcare and she’ll tell you, “just like we market everything else.” Patients are people, we like to say. Lenz recognizes that healthcare is a unique industry and healthcare marketing, a specialized field. However, this does not mean you push the best marketing practices aside every time you work in a new industry. For patients, choosing a doctor—like choosing a soda, brand of sneakers, or presidential candidate—is a buying decision, and many commonalities apply.

According to the Pew Research Center, 72 percent of Internet users looked online for health information within the past year. And 77 percent of online health seekers start with a search engine—as opposed to going directly to a healthcare provider’s web site or an online review site.

Translation: Healthcare is a consumer industry and the web largely determines the winners and losers. And what comprises a winning website? Informative, entertaining, and insightful content that people want to read, view, share, and comment on.

When it comes to healthcare, the website’s job is to introduce the hospital or practice and its providers, demonstrate their qualifications and compassion, and establish trust—the holy grail in healthcare marketing—all before the doctor actually meets the prospective patient.

Research shows, time and again, that patients want to build relationships with their doctors. Lenz’s independent research has shown that patients care very little about their physicians’ training, board certifications, or leadership positions at the hospital. So, a great CV won’t cut it.

If you’re a physician eager to grow your practice, consider instead a blog retelling the moment you knew you wanted to enter medicine, share your favorite letter from a patient or a photo from your last mission trip, or produce a video that helps family members understand their role in your patients’ care journey. These are great ways to build the trust that your success depends on.

Remember: Content is king in healthcare, too.

 

-Mike Killeen