Introduction

When many practitioners think about marketing they tend to think about websites, logos, branding and ads but rarely do they think about content marketing. Whether it’s in the form of blogging, video or social media, creating valuable content can be one of the most powerful tools available to you.

It’s a perfect tool for you to demonstrate your subject-matter knowledge, establish your authority, generate demand for your service and improve your rankings in Google Search (which in turn will help generate even more demand). However, the success you see from your content marketing efforts will largely depend on the quality of content you publish. 

To truly help you harness the power of content marketing , I’ve created this super simple guide that will teach you everything you need to know to get started. I’ll cover: 

  • What content marketing is and what its benefits for your private practice are
  • How to create a content marketing strategy for your practice
  • How to easily generate relevant content ideas 
  • How to actually create good content 
  • What to do after you’ve hit ”publish” 

What is content marketing in the healthcare setting?

Content marketing is a wide-ranging term that can include any type of material you publish for your audience to read, watch or listen to. This can include everything from blog posts, eBooks, infographics, podcasts, YouTube videos to social media posts.

To help you really understand exactly what content marketing is, I think it would be best to first take a look at what content marketing is not

One of the most common myths when it comes to content marketing is that its purpose is to promote your practice. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Content marketing isn’t about you – it’s about your audience. It’s about helping and providing value to your clients without trying to sell to your service. 

In today’s economy, your audience is blasted with marketing messages everywhere they go. So instead of trying to interrupt your audience during their day to try to sell to them, the idea of content marketing lies in sharing your valuable knowledge for your audience to find when they need it. 

By providing this type of high-quality content, you’re establishing yourself as an expert in your field and slowly building a relationship with future clients. This type of marketing won’t bring you overnight results but is a long-term strategy that will help you grow a reputable practice that can withstand the test of time. 

The key to successful content marketing lies in the value that your content provides. Many professionals fall into the trap of producing a large amount of subpar content – just for the sake of publishing something. But I’d like you to approach this with a quality over quantity mindset. Unless your content is truly helpful and trustworthy – you’re most likely going to waste your time. 

If done correctly however, publishing content can become the crucial piece of your marketing efforts that can ripple out into everything you do. Aside from demonstrating your knowledge and authority, good content will help you rank higher in Google which will in turn help you generate more traffic to your website. It will provide content to share via email, social media and paid ads as well as give you valuable insights into the topics and issues your audience cares about. 

How to create a content marketing strategy for your private practice

As with everything, your success with content marketing will heavily depend on how strategically you approach it. So before you get started, let’s take a look at how to create an effective content marketing strategy for your practice. 

1. Set your goals and success metrics 

The first thing you’ll need to get started is a clear idea of what goals you want to achieve with your content marketing. These should align with your overall marketing goal and the client journey you’ve mapped out for your practice.

Overview of the 7-step client journey for private practice

If this sounds unfamiliar to you – I suggest you check out our full guide on how to create a marketing strategy for your private practice here. In it, I cover how to set your marketing goals and map out a framework for your client journey (as well as many other things).

In general, there are four stages of your client journey that your content marketing efforts can support: 

  • Awareness: Using your content to inform people in your audience that you exists
  • Consideration: Using your content to encourage people to interact with your content and start building a relationship with you
  • Decision-Making: Using your content to help educate your audience about your service and encourage them to become paying clients
  • Client Retention: Using your content to build a stronger bond with existing clients, even when they aren’t currently in your office 

For each goal, you will want to look at different metrics to measure your success against the goal. Your success metrics (or also called key performance indicators = KPIs) will help you determine if your content is doing well or it needs improvement. 

The exact metrics will largely depend on your unique situation but there are definitely some that you should keep an eye on to monitor the performance of your content. 

  • Awareness: page views, video views, number of followers, etc.
  • Consideration: likes, comments, shares, mentions, etc.
  • Decision-Making: new email signups, free consultation signups, etc. 
  • Client Retention: client engagement (likes, comments, shares), email responses, etc. 

2. Determine your content type and channel 

After you’ve narrowed down what you want to accomplish with your content, you can take a look at how you’re going to accomplish it. Whether you’ll want to start blogging, creating YouTube videos, run a Facebook page or host your own podcast, will depend on many different factors:

  • What you like doing and what you’re good at (e.g. writing, talking to a camera, graphic design, etc.)
  • What channels your audience spends their time on (it’ll be no use to host an amazing podcast or publishing amazing infographics on Pinterest if none of your audience members spends any time on these channels) 
  • How much time you have available to create your own high-quality content 
  • How much money you have available to pay someone to create content for you (if you don’t have the skills or time) or to promote the content once it’s published 

Knowing what goals you are trying to achieve and what types of content you are going to create to achieve them will provide you with a solid foundation to help you in the next stage – coming up with ideas for your content. 

How to generate content ideas 

Many people are intimidated by content marketing because of this idea of constantly having to come up with new topics to write or talk about. Thankfully, there are a few simple and straightforward ways to gather more than enough ideas to help you get started. 

1. Start with a brainstorming session 

First, you’ll want to start with a good old brainstorming session. This can be as simple as sitting down with a pen and paper and writing down anything that comes to mind. You can do this alone or with anyone in your practice or industry who has decent knowledge of your target audience. 

To get started, simply ask yourself what kind of problems, challenges and questions your target audience may have. Having done proper client research can be extremely helpful in this step. (If you need help on how to get started with client research, check out our article here).

Additionally, think about what kind of questions come up in every client session. Is there anything you’ve had to explain over and over again in the past? What do you wish your clients would know about themselves or your service? What kind of misconceptions do you see in your industry? 

2. Look at what others are talking about

Once you’ve written down everything you could possibly think of, you can then take a look at what other people are talking about. This can include your direct local competitors but also other professionals in your industry who are offering the same types of services you do. 

The key here is to use other people’s content for inspiration not plagiarism. Look at what other people are talking about and try to think of ways that those kinds of topics could be relevant to your individual audience. 

Further, you’ll want to start making a habit out of staying on top of all of the trends within your industry. The key to knowing what other people are talking about is reading, reading, reading. I would suggest you start putting aside 30 min to an hour every week to consume other people’s content. This may seem like a lot but knowing what topics are on the minds of people within your industry and target audience will automatically feed you with inspiration for your own content.

3. Find out what your clients are searching for

Another tool for easy inspiration can be looking at what people are searching for on Google or other search engines. To see this, you can simply look up some of the topics and questions you’ve identified in the two steps above into a tool like Google Keyword Planner. This would not only allow you to see how many people are searching for this every month but also give you a bunch of suggestions for related searches that might trigger some interesting content ideas. 

Screenshot of keyword data for the keyword "social anxiety" taken from Google Keyword Planner

Source: Google Keyword Planner, 2020

If you’re a psychotherapist who helps clients with their social anxiety, you might use these keywords ideas taken from the Keyword Planner to create individual pieces of content around the signs of social anxiety, what causes it can have or what the treatment options are. 

Once you have a list of content ideas to start with, you’ll want to rank them in some sort of way to decide what topics to cover first. What topics are most important, is pretty much up to you. You could rank your content ideas by their search volume (again, Google Keyword Planner will show you the amount of searches each topic/keywords gets per month) or by their current relevance (an article about how to improve your anxiety during lockdown might be more relevant in 2020 than one on how to cope with anxiety during a large group event). 

You don’t need the perfect list of content ideas, nor the perfect ranking. Once you start getting your hands dirty with creating content, you’ll quickly learn what works and what doesn’t work. You’ll have new ideas based on feedback you’re getting and gain new insights from fellow content creators. The most important thing for now is that you gather a few high-quality topics and then just get started.

How to create your best content 

After you have your goals and your first few topics figured out, it’s time to actually start creating the content. But how do you go about it? 

When it comes to content creation, there really are no set rules as to what constitutes “the best content”. It will fully depend on what you’re trying to accomplish, where you want to publish your content and who you’re publishing your content for. And to make things even more complicated, any google search will show you more “do’s and don’ts” for content creation (many of them contradicting) than anyone could ever read.

I know you’re busy and you’d much rather be spending your time helping your clients, so let me boil it down to the basics for you: 

1. Pick the right channel for your content: 

The first step in creating content is figuring out what channels you’ll want to publish your content in. This will of course highly depend on where your audience “hangs out”, how much time you have available and your knowledge/interest in creating different types of content. 

In general, most practices start with writing a blog and publishing informative, long-form articles (just like the one you’re reading!) but you could also start a YouTube channel, a podcast or social media account. 

2. Understand the best practices for each channel: 

Depending on what channel you choose to publish your content in, the best practices of content creation will look drastically different. The guidelines for proper SEO-based writing are very different from those for writing a social media post. Similarly, the best practices for getting your YouTube video to show in a YouTube search are very different from the best practices for getting your blog post to rank highly on Google. 

Once you’ve decided where to publish your content, make sure you spend enough time familiarizing yourself with the do’s and don’ts of those channels. A simple search for “best practices for X” on Google and YouTube will provide you with more than enough resources to get started. 

3. Set up a realistic content calendar: 

After you’ve narrowed down where you want to publish your content and understand the best practices for those channels, you’ll want to set up a rough content schedule that works for you and your practice. The key here is to find the sweet spot that allows you to post regularly (a one-off blog post every 4 months isn’t going to get you anywhere) but also gives you enough time so you don’t sacrifice on quality. 

Monthly content marketing calendar by Hubspot

Source: Hubspot Blog

For most practices, creating one high-quality, long-form piece of content a month is a really great place to get started. And once you’ve found a routine that works for you, you can build upon that and expand your content calendar however much you want.  

4. Find the right content creator for your situation: 

If you’re just starting off on your content marketing journey, you’ll likely want to start by creating your own content. However, once you’ve become accustomed to what works or you find yourself never having time to create, you might want to play around with the idea of hiring a freelance content writer (or video editor, or social media manager, etc.) or even a full-time content marketing employee to help you take your content creation to the next level. 

5. Use the right content creation/management tools: 

Depending on what kind of content you want to create, there are many tools available to help you in your content marketing quest. If you’re looking to write blog posts, you can check out Grammarly or ProWritingAid. If you’re looking to design any type of visual content, Canva and Figma are amazing free design softwares (or for a full list of free content creation tools, check out this great overview here). 

If you’re looking to take your efforts to the next level, using a content marketing software can be a great way to streamline the process from beginning to end. There is a very wide variety of tools that will help you manage the content creation process, collaborate with others, schedule your content or post to multiple channels simultaneously. If you’re interested in finding the right software for you, you can take a look at a very comprehensive list here.

6. Have a good editing process in place: 

No matter how well your content creation is managed or how much effort you put into creating the best possible content, it is always a good idea to have a proper editing process in place to double check your work before it goes live. Try to get feedback from at least one other person (if not more!) on every piece of content you publish. As we’ve established, you should strive for your content to be as high-quality as possible, so having someone go over your work and check if you’ve missed anything is crucial.

What to do after you’ve hit the “publish” button

Many people think that once they’ve created their content and published it, their work is done. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Creating amazing content is the first part of the equation but if you really want to reap the benefits of the hard work you’ve put in, you’ll want to make sure that you continue that effort after you’ve published your content.

1. Promote your content to increase your reach 

Like most industries, the healthcare industry can be a very competitive space so you’re most likely fighting for your audience’s attention with other healthcare professionals in your speciality.  That means that there is a lot of great content out there waiting to be discovered and unless you put a little effort into getting yours out there, your amazing work will likely go unnoticed.

To prevent that from happening, there are a few different ways you can promote your freshly published piece of content to broader audiences. 

  • Paid Ads: If you don’t have much of an audience or are looking for a quick and easy way to get your content in front of a lot of people, promoting it with some paid ads (particularly on social media) can be an incredibly effective way of increasing your reach. 
  • Email: If you’ve grown an email list of your own, make sure to share every new piece of content with your email list in a weekly or monthly newsletter. Depending on your niche, there might also be popular industry newsletters or paid promotional newsletters that let you submit your content for a chance of getting featured. 
  • Social Media: Another simple way of getting more people to see your content is sharing it with your audiences on all of your social media channels. 
  • Manual Outreach: If you’re just starting out and don’t have a large audience of your own, you can try to make use of other people’s audiences. Start by identifying any important players in your industry. This could include blogs, publications, influencers, anybody who your potential clients might like to follow. And then simply approach them with an email, tell them about this awesome piece of content you’ve just created and most importantly, let them know how this is going to benefit their audience. People with influence want to be of help to their audience in whatever they do, so if you’ve created genuinely helpful content then chances are high that people will be willing to share it. 

You also don’t have to rely on your own content alone to reach new audiences. Many blogs and publications allow “guest posting” on their websites which basically means that they will allow you to share unique content in your name on their website. This provides them with content for their blog (at no cost) and allows you to increase your reach by talking to new and larger audiences. If done right, this can be an incredibly easy way of growing your audience. 

2. Repurpose your content to increase your efficiency

The lifecycle of your piece of content doesn’t have to stop after you’ve published it and promoted it for a few weeks. Instead of creating original content for every channel, try to see if you can repurpose your main piece of content into different smaller pieces for different channels. 

Let’s say you write an extensive step-by-step guide on how to deal with social anxiety during a pandemic. Instead of just publishing that one piece and promoting it as you could go one step further and use the structure of the article for talking points in a YouTube video, Instagram video or podcast. You could break down each step and create individual carousel posts for Instagram, Facebook or LinkedIn or turn it into a great looking infographic to share via your email newsletter or on Pinterest. 

Not only does this allow you to increase your potential reach across multiple channels but it can be incredibly efficient to not have to start the content creation and research process from scratch for every piece of content you publish. 

3. Monitor your results to improve your content 

In order to make improvements to your content, you want to make sure that you keep an eye on the success of each piece of content you publish. That way you can determine what works and what doesn’t work and improve your strategy accordingly. 

To properly track your results, you’ll want to ensure that you have Google Analytics set up correctly on your website. If you don’t have it set up, you can follow Google’s step-by-step instructions here.

Google Analytics will show you metrics like the amount of page views you’re getting, the time users are spending on each page, how many people are “bouncing” (coming to your page and then leaving without interacting). If you’re looking to increase awareness in your community, these would be great metrics to keep an eye on. 

If you’re looking to build a relationship with your audience, you might also want to monitor your engagement metrics such as likes, comments, shares, etc. This will give you great insights into whether your content is succeeding at creating a community around your practice. 

Tracking your shares and comments can also be a great way for you to engage in what is called “social listening”. Don’t just post your content and then move on with your life. Watch who is engaging with your content, listen to what people are saying about it. What are they saying when they share your blogpost with their followers? Aside from just evaluating metrics, this type of feedback should definitely fuel the improvements you make to your content strategy.

4. Scale your content marketing efforts

And last but not least, after you’ve been creating content for a while, you’ll inevitably learn what works and what doesn’t work for you. This is of course a never-ending process, you’ll never reach the state of complete enlightenment because you and your audience will constantly be changing. However, once you’ve uncovered the basics that work for you – you might want to consider scaling up your content marketing efforts. 

This doesn’t have to be as scary as it sounds. It can look as simple as :

  • hiring a writer or other content creator to help you create more content 
  • venturing out into new forms of content or new channels that you haven’t tried yet
  • putting more budget into promoting content that you know will work   

But as I mentioned at the beginning of the article, be careful not to scale, just for the sake of scaling. You never want to compromise the quality of your content for the quantity of it. Always scale in accordance with the marketing goals you’ve set for yourself.

Conclusion

All in all, content marketing can be an incredibly fun, creative and effective way of marketing your practice. It allows you to fully tailor your content creation to your own knowledge, your audience and your goals, giving you the freedom to try different things and figure out your own personal recipe for success. 

Here are the most important takeaways from today’s article on content marketing: 

  • The purpose of your content is not to promote yourself and your practice, it is to be helpful, informative and add value to your audience’s life. This is the key element you need to consider, otherwise you won’t see the impact you’re hoping to achieve. 
  • Before you start creating content, always determine what goals you want your content to achieve. This can include more awareness for your practice, a better relationship with your audience or an increase in new clients.
  • When generating new content ideas – always circle back to asking yourself this: Does this piece of content provide a solution to a problem my audience is having or answer a question they are asking themselves? 
  • Creating content will be a highly individual process that depends on the type of content and channels you are trying to publish in. Educate yourself in the best practices of your chosen channels. Perhaps consider hiring someone to help you create content so you can focus on the services you offer. 
  • The work doesn’t stop after you’ve published your content. Find effective ways to promote and share your content that are right for you. Try to use each large piece of content for additional smaller pieces to increase your efficiency and always keep an eye on your success metrics to help you make improvements moving forward.