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Content Marketing Starts With the Consumer

Sarah Lacy

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In further support of the importance of content marketing stressed in December’s first-ever Pharma Content Marketing conference hosted by ExL Pharma; last week’s 2nd Content Marketing for Life Sciences was no different. On June 12–13th at the Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel in Chicago, I witnessed experts from across different industries share their insights and tips over the two-day conference. Our own Manager of Search Marketing Nathan Stewart presented on the significance of SEO paired with content marketing, and Senior Director of Social Media Strategy Sean Nicholson chaired a panel on content marketing and social media.

With a small but enthusiastic group of attendees, the conference opened with a panel defining the need for integrated strategic content for life sciences. Their overarching message was not the lack of content, but the lack of appropriate channels to distribute that content to patients.

“All content needs to be looked at through the eye of multichannel and multi-screens. Form follows function. Understand why you’re doing what you’re doing.” –Harrison Richards, Content Marketing Manager, ICU Medical

Next, Stewart presented, “Connecting the Dots: Needs + Meaningful Content + KPIs.” Nathan expertly covered the topic from the perspective of a long-time inbound marketer and SEO specialist with a passion for content marketing. His presentation can be viewed on SlideShare here

Personally, I enjoyed the last panel of the day, “The Patient’s Voice: The Most Trusted Content of All.” I gained a lot from the panel of patient advocates, which was moderated by Bo Brooks of WEGO Health. Oftentimes as healthcare marketers, we get so caught up in acronyms and analytics we forget that the most important part of what we do is help people. Jessica Gimeno of Fashionably Ill, Jenni Prokopy of Chronic Babe, and Andrea Meyer of The Great Bowel Movement all suffer from different invisible diseases, but agreed on many of the same viewpoints — one being that online communities weigh heavy on their healthcare decisions. 

When asked what type of content triggers community sharing, Prokopy replied, “Ask a question. I give a crap about what other people think. People want to share their experience and they want to help others.”

Gimeno stated, “Anything that makes people feel validated, that what they are feeling is okay.” 

And Meyer said, “Tools that are built to help patients educate others, recently diagnosed, or just making the disease better known.”

Day two was a mix of industry- and non-industry-related case studies. I enjoyed the presentation on media-snacking from Stephanie Moritz of ConAgra foods who stated, “Media-snacking is that instant consumable. Bite it, enjoy it, and if they want to learn more, they can click-through.”

She reiterated the fact that people like to scan for information. By providing consumers the relevant, useful information that they are seeking, it helps to drive brand preferences, recommendations and, ultimately, sales. 

Sean Nicholson chaired an after-lunch panel entitled, “Content Marketing and Social Media – Good for Patients, Scary for Life Sciences.”

Joining Nicholson were Gregory Cohn of UCB Pharma and Carissa Caramanis O’Brien of W2O Group. These three experts offered some great tips based on their own personal experiences. I liked O’Brien’s definition of content marketing:

 “Content marketing is telling patients the value of your business to their lives.” – Carissa Caramanis O’Brien, W2O Group

It isn’t about what content you are pushing; it’s about what people are trying to find. This is why Cohn pushes so hard for social listening. 

“Why wouldn’t you want to know what’s out there?” Cohn said. “Find out what people are looking for and can’t find. Also, look for misinformation that is being shared. Use that knowledge for your content creation.” 

All panelists agreed that being a connector of good information is almost as valuable as providing the information yourself. Nicholson reinforced that curation plays just as important of a role.

The conference included other great presentations and case studies by AbbVie, Pfizer, Eli Lilly & Company, the Altimeter Group and Medtronic. They all had inherently the same message, and it’s clear that content marketing is no longer just linked to digital strategy, but thought of as a standalone initiative. Content will always remain king, and it’s up to us to really understand and leverage the best channels out there to reach our customers. Content marketing is a topic worth paying attention to; your competitors certainly are.


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