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The Demystification of Content Marketing

Nathan Stewart

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The concepts of content marketing and content strategy are still fairly new to many pharmaceutical marketing and communications professionals. And because the discipline is new to pharma, the terms get thrown around loosely and new content marketing “gurus” emerge everywhere you turn.

Content marketing and content strategy are disciplines that aren’t always well understood and, as such, aren’t generally fully appreciated. They often aren’t taken seriously either because the source of the “magic” isn’t entirely clear. It can seem a bit like sorcery — and therefore, understandably, well outside of a brand manager’s comfort zone.

In this post, my goal is to fix this shamanistic view of content marketing. To start, I’ll show that — as opposed to sorcery — the conjuring of effective content marketing actually involves a logical, methodical process. Below are the ten steps that Intouch Solutions content marketers follow in order to deliver successful content marketing programs for our healthcare clients.

Ten Steps to Successful Content Marketing

1. Needs analysis — This first step is paramount. We identify the needs of the user who is consuming the content, the needs of the business that is sponsoring the content, and the needs of the channel that will be carrying the content. (See this recent post for more on this.)

2. Content inventory — Before moving forward, we audit and gather everything our clients already have and everything we can determine about it. This includes such information as each piece’s format (e.g., text, video, etc.), topic, publication date and location. Often, we find that vast libraries of excellent content already exist.

3. Audience definition — The next step we undertake with our Intouch clients is to generate profiles of our potential audience members. They may be, for instance, a newly diagnosed patient, a long-term patient, a caregiver, a physician’s assistant, a general practitioner, and/or a specialist.

4. Content journey — From these profiles, we can develop the content journey that each audience member would travel. We determine the content they need at each step and map the existing content to the steps in that journey.

5. Gap analysis — With the content journey completed and research on what people are searching for and talking about, we next determine what the gaps are and recommend where and what content should be generated.

6. Content formatting — This is the step that some think is all that content marketing is, but even this one step is more complex than imagined. It isn’t about simply writing content, but rather having a discussion to determine what’s really needed. Does content need to be repurposed, updated or created from scratch? What is the best format? Copy? An infographic? Video? Animation? Interactive tools? What is the right messaging? Tone?

7. Performance analysis — Here we take what we know about the business goals and the content, and we make the phenomenally important decisions about how best to measure the success of the content. This is a question not only of content type, but also of audience needs and patient journey.

8. Content schedule — A calendar determines how content additions and changes will be rolled out in the months ahead.

9. Content syndication plan — Once content is made, where are the different places it can be published? It’s inefficient and short-sighted to think of one piece of content as having only one life. Materials need to be repurposed and shared, and the plan for doing so needs to be specific.

10. Content optimization — With a performance-analysis program and content schedule in place, you can then truly watch content marketing come to fruition. By adapting these steps based upon the response of the audience, a positive cycle builds and the brand’s content marketing continues to improve.

I hope this quick look at how Intouch Solutions approaches the content marketing and content strategy process for clients helps demystify the subject. Done well,  with a methodical, disciplined approach, content marketing can be an efficient way to reach consumers and healthcare professionals. Because consumers and healthcare professionals are constantly needing and seeking healthcare information — important and valuable content that pharma companies can provide.



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