info not ads: how content marketing is connecting with healthcare consumers

Numbers can be deceptive (sometimes). But some statistics are just too big to ignore. Exhibit A: Nearly 90 percent of all healthcare businesses are leveraging content marketing -- tied for third among all industries.

And that’s just one example of how content marketing has become pervasive in healthcare. Many hospitals are bigger publishers than their hometown daily newspapers. They are also seen as more credible. is seen by even some journalists as more trustworthy source for health news than WebMD.

But healthcare, despite all these developments, lags behind other sectors on leveraging content to drive their businesses. That’s why I thought it was so important to help launch the Content Marketing World Health Summit with Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute. Pulizzi runs the all-encompassing Content Marketing World event every year.

How big is content marketing and its potential for healthcare? I put some of those questions to Pulizzi to drive home the importance of the Health Summit and its ability to help drive content innovation in healthcare.

Why a healthcare-focused content marketing conference?

Simply put, healthcare needs to play catch up. Because of the regulations, I think there is an irrational fear over distributing instructional and helpful web content. The industry needs this, which is why we’ve brought the best in the world to one place to focus on how to integrate a content strategy into the overall marketing program.

What details about content marketing would blow the mind of most of the people in healthcare?

I think most healthcare marketers would be surprised that about 25 percent of marketing budgets are allocated to content creation and distribution. Most marketers we talk to have a hard time believing that, but when you think of all the content and staffing dedicated to the content for our social media, e-mail marketing, traditional custom publishing programs and more, it’s not so hard to believe.

What’s changed in content marketing over the last five years? What’s innovative?

There are no more barriers to entry. Healthcare marketers now have the ability to develop media channels directly with their customers. Even though the practice of content marketing is over 100 years old, most marketers are just now seeing the impact that can be made from building one-on-one relationships with customers and prospects with content. In the past, we had to go through other media channels (traditional TV, radio, print, etc.). Now, we can be the creators of that great information.

Was there a seminal moment for content marketing?

The watershed moment in content marketing is often given to Coca-Cola when they developed their “Jerry McGuire” mission statement called Content 2020. Content 2020 is a two-video collection stating that over the next 8 years, Coke needs to move from creative excellence to content excellence. This is a big statement from a company that spends more on advertising than almost every company in the world.

What is the big assumption that everyone makes about content marketing that is wrong?

I can tell you the biggest problem -- most marketers are creating and distributing content all over the place, but lack a strategy or editorial mission statement. Less than 10 percent of all marketers actually have a content marketing mission statement. It’s almost impossible to succeed at content marketing without a vision that’s tied to business objectives.

What is the big “next step” in content marketing?

We are finally starting to see less focus on “tactics” like Facebook, Twitter, email, etc. and a growing focus on the Why? -- the Content Strategy part. We are starting to see large brands stop the “more content” thing and look at developing truly substantial content that is tied back to business objectives.

Join Joe Pulizzi and marketing thought leaders from Mayo Clinic, Covidien and Johns Hopkins at Content Marketing World Health Summit November 7 and 8 in Cleveland.

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