Nov 23, 2021

Translating Complex Healthcare Topics Into Compelling Inbound Content

By: Josh Dougherty

Content Strategy Inbound Marketing

Advance care planning, care coordination, credentialing, and advanced primary care. Turning these complex concepts into compelling inbound content is challenging, especially at the beginning of the buyer’s journey.

The challenge comes because of the complexity of the topic and the degree of accuracy required. Marketers rely on subject matter experts (SMEs) like physicians, researchers, and technologists to gather the background information needed to create great content. 

This is when it becomes challenging. Great marketers create content that meets prospects where they’re at. When a prospect is at the beginning of the buyer’s journey, they aren’t sure at all if they need your product. In fact, they may not even be very knowledgeable about the type of product you provide or how you talk about it. At this point in the process, content must be simplified and speak to the felt needs of your prospects. It cannot be written for someone with the SME’s level of expertise. And, as you probably know, that can make it a big lift to get the SME to approve the content without adding back in the complexity and technical language you’ve tried so hard to simplify.


Two questions logically follow:

    1. How do we successfully talk about healthcare concepts in a way that is truly helpful and relevant to a prospect while still being accurate and true to the input of the SME?
    2. How do we get the SME on board with the final product?

This post will explain how to answer both questions in your content creation process.

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Start with Intent

Creating content that will move your prospects through the buyer’s journey and satisfy your SMEs begins with a solid understanding of intent.

Intent is a term used in SEO to describe the purpose of a user’s online search. To state it another way, it explains why a user is searching for a specific term. For example, if I’m at happy hour and have a sudden craving for tacos, I’ll search for tacos on my phone. My intent is to find taco restaurants nearby, not taco recipes. Google will smartly then decide to show me a map with taco restaurants nearby on the search .results page based on my location, the time of the search, and other context clues,

Intent also applies to the overall buyer’s journey. Let’s explore how by examining a fictional buyer’s journey for a physician credentialing platform:

    1. Initial pain point: A hospital credentialing expert gets frustrated with the clunkiness of their credentialing experience.
    2. The cry for help: Once they’ve had enough, they present the areas of inefficiency and frustration to their manager or leadership to build buy-in for a search for a new system in the coming budget year.
    3. Research begins: In the meantime, they may have already been searching to answer some of the following questions:
      1. Is anyone else having the same challenges that I’m having?
      2. Are there any easy shortcuts that I can use?
      3. How can I make my challenge less painful?
    4. The wait: Because major medical systems and facilities operate on annual budgets, it can be months until action can be taken. 
    5. Requirements list: Once they receive approval, the buying committee will likely catalogue a full list of needs for the future tool.
    6. Formal information gathering: Armed with a formal list of requirements, an initial search of available tools begins.
    7. Finalist identification: Once the buying committee has an idea of the tools available, they’ll narrow it down to a few key finalists.
    8. Outreach: Only at this step of the process will they reach out to the sales team and each of the finalists to talk through specific pros and cons of their platforms.
    9. Decision: Once all the finalists have been evaluated, the buying decision will be made.

Even looking at this simplistic example, a few things stand out. First, this is a complex and nonlinear process. Second, there are likely going to be multiple people with different needs involved in the process. Third, the buying committee is going to be looking for content about felt needs way before they start evaluating individual platforms.

Their intent is to solve a problem or find an answer to a question. Your inbound content must be relevant to that intent, or it will not be effective. This will likely require simplifying your content and even speaking about things only tangentially related to your core product.
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How to Discover What Your Prospects Care About

We’ve established that a firm understanding of prospect intent is essential. Now it’s time to find out what they actually care about not our assumptions about what they care about.

Let’s go back to our credentialing platform example. Here are five ways we recommend researching intent:

ABN_Translating Complex Healthcare_graphic3In-depth interview with existing customers: Each member of the buying committee, should find time with at least five customers. They should spend 30 minutes with each of them discussing what drove them to search for a new platform, what questions they were asking when they started their search, etc.

ABN_Translating Complex Healthcare_graphic4In-depth interviews with prospects who didn’t hire you:
Next, reach out to some prospects who didn’t hire you. You may need to ask a few more to find some takers. Ask them similar questions to what you ask your existing customers, but also dig into why they chose not to work with you. 

ABN_Translating Complex Healthcare_graphic5Keyword research:
Google is the world’s best intent machine. This is the entire basis on which a search is built. You can discover insights about intent with some good old keyword research. The methodology for doing this, though, is a lot more in-depth than I can cover here. I recommend you pick up a copy of SEO for Everyone for a more detailed explanation about how to approach that.

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Quora and LinkedIn Groups:
Once you’ve talked to your customers and have a good idea of the questions they are asking, you can use tools like Quora and LinkedIn Groups to find others who are asking the same questions and see what answers they’re receiving.

ABN_pie_graphConduct a competitive analysis:
Finally, take a look around at your competition. See if they are doing anything innovative or different. You can use this research to either identify opportunities to create content that doesn’t exist in the market or to find approaches you might want to copy or modify for your program.

Make Your Editorial Planning User-Centric

Now that you’ve had a chance to gain a firsthand understanding of what your prospect’s true intent is at the beginning of the Inbound flywheel, it’s time to put that knowledge into action with some editorial planning. 

We are big believers in the content cluster model of editorial planning. In this approach, you will select four to five themes to focus on and then create content to support those themes.

Our recommendation is to choose topics for your clusters based on your prospect’s intent and then map out how you would lead someone from initial intent-driven content all the way down to content that focuses on converting them into customers.

Once you have your overall clusters identified, you can fill in the top questions prospects are asking about each topic and then orient your editorial plan around those questions. One blog post for each question. Easy!

Meet Both Your Prospects & Your SMEs Where They’re At

Now it’s time to create content. There are a few steps here:

ABN_Translating Complex Healthcare_graphic8Gather background info from SMEs: We’re back where we started at the top of this post. Take the time to have an intentional conversation with the right SMEs and get all of the in-depth info that you can from them. This interview is also a good time to prep them that the final content won’t be as technical as they would expect because you’re trying to meet prospects where they are at.

ABN_Translating Complex Healthcare_graphic9Create the content:
You know how to do this. Write your content. Create that video. Design that interactive experience. Whatever the format, use your prospect’s perspective as a litmus test to tell you if you’re on point.

ABN_Translating Complex Healthcare_graphic10Guide SMEs through their review:
Send the content back to SMEs with specific instructions and some solid reminders that it isn’t going to be written in the technical way that they would have approached the topic. They’ll inevitably try to push you back that way, stand firm. Emphasize getting it to accuracy, not to the right level of technicality.

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Make sure you give prospects the chance to dive deeper:
Make sure your content provides avenues for prospects to dive deeper and move beyond their initial questions to a true compare and contrast of different products and functionality.

Their Challenge Is Their Opportunity

Ok, so now you have a plan. It’s time to put it into action. Always remember, your prospects’ challenges are great opportunities to create helpful content that will build trust and, in the future, close a sale.

If you want to learn more about our approach to B2B Healthcare marketing, check out our blog post: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About B2B Healthcare Marketing

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