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Pharma Content Marketing: Just Do It

Chris Nelson

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I’d like to issue a challenge to pharma brand managers: Take 10% of your media spend and reallocate it towards content strategy development and content marketing efforts.

In information-driven verticals like healthcare, content marketing matters. Creating valuable content organically attracts patients, HCPs and caregivers to your digital properties by recognizing a gap in communications and addressing it with the right audience at a key point in their decision-making process. At the same time, this content is providing relevant information and assistance to these audiences, helping them better understand their disease and treatment options and positively influencing their health or overall quality of life. A proper content strategy can help you to create content that provides real value at a time of need.

At Intouch, we’ve noticed that content marketing’s value proposition aligns with the mission statement of nearly every major pharmaceutical company. For example, Pfizer states, “We at Pfizer are committed to applying science and our global resources to improve health and well-being at every stage of life.” And Sanofi states, “We work to protect the health of the earth’s 7 billion inhabitants, improve their quality of life and respond to their potential needs.” In part, Pfizer and Sanofi, by making these commitments to the people they serve, are committing to provide their product, services and information to people as they need it in the interest of public health. And, in short, that’s what content marketing is all about in healthcare.

If you’re still scratching your head when it comes to content marketing, here are a few tips to help get you started.

Listen and Learn

If you want to support patients, start by listening to them. Use keyword research, on-site search logs, social media activity and market research to help inform what content you should create. Seek out the gaps in communication. Consider the different types of content needed at different points in the patient journey. Then, overlay your brand’s business objectives to identify the best opportunities for your content strategy. This will drive your initial rollout efforts, as well as help determine ongoing content needs and priorities. Expect your content plan to be a living document — audience needs will change over time.

Go Beyond the Obvious

Patients, HCPs and caregivers have lots of specific questions. Think beyond the obvious “how does product X work” type of questions and, instead, mine deeper for more specific audience needs. For example, patients have frequent questions about the product’s use in their daily life — like, “Can I drive while taking product X?” or “How much does product X cost?” or “Can I have a glass of wine while I’m taking product X?” While they may seem like simple questions at first glance, they can mean the world to the person seeking an answer.

The good news is a large portion of this information likely already exists within your organization. You just have to track it down and make it available for users.

Consider the Content Delivery Device

Be sure to review site analytics to understand how users are viewing your content. Via desktop? Tablet? Smartphone? What do they see, and what is their experience when they visit your properties via these devices? According to Google, typically consumers use desktop computers to stay informed, smartphones to stay connected, and tablets to be entertained.

Content marketing doesn’t stop within the walls of your own websites. Consider also what information patients and professionals are seeking outside of your own properties and how you can work to meet their content needs wherever they are.

Keep Trying, Even if it’s Hard

Legal/medical/regulatory reviews of content shouldn’t be a nightmare. If your organization is presenting barriers to expanding your content offering, it may be time to reevaluate your approval process as a whole. For example, do you have a centrally maintained digital ISI in place so you’re not resubmitting the same piece of content over and over? (We’ve been doing this for clients since 2008.) Do you have an electronic approval process? Do you have a streamlined review for digital micro-content (e.g., social posts, short form product Q&A, etc.)? Do you have global content templates already approved? If the answer to any of these is “no,” it’s likely time to consider modernizing your approach.

Content Marketing is Parallel to the Company’s Vision

It’s true that some content topics — such as pricing differences across insurance plans and direct product comparisons — are areas that are difficult to address. But in most cases, pharmaceutical companies are well-equipped to provide the content their audiences are seeking.

By providing this value, you will strengthen your brand’s perception and bottom line for all marketing efforts. And, in turn, you will directly support the company’s overall mission and vision in the process.

For just 10% of your current media spend, that’s a bargain.

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