Ann Handley on Healthcare Content Marketing

by | Sep 4, 2019 | Healthcare Industry Insights | 0 comments

Content marketing leader Ann Handley speaks to True North Custom about voice, common writing mistakes and the one thing she wants you to know (it will surprise you).

Ann Handley’s turn of an idea or a phrase is often unex­pect­ed and always refresh­ing. As an offi­cial con­tent part­ner of the Cleve­land Clin­ic Health Sum­mit at this year’s Con­tent Mar­ket­ing World (CMW), we spoke with Han­d­ley about the state of health­care con­tent mar­ket­ing and her keynote pre­sen­ta­tion at the conference.

As always, her answers are thought­ful and a breath of fresh air com­pared to the cloud of buzz­words shroud­ing today’s mar­ket­ing pro. If you want more insights and per­spec­tive from her, our edi­to­r­i­al depart­ment rec­om­mends (and reads) Han­d­ley’s biweek­ly email newslet­ter, Total Annar­chy.

In a world where “Everybody Writes,” how can content marketing companies convince stakeholders that they should get a professional to do their writing for them?

Hmmm … I’m not sure writ­ers should ghost-write for stake­hold­ers. At least, not exclu­sive­ly.
It’s not because I don’t believe pro­fes­sion­al writ­ers don’t add val­ue. (They do.)

But I’d rather see stake­hold­ers tap into their own unique voic­es. Teach them how to write, and help them under­stand why writ­ing matters.

Con­vey how good writ­ing makes some­one trust­wor­thy and acces­si­ble. And show how it can help an exec think more deeply and clear­ly about issues.

That way, when you do bring in a pro­fes­sion­al writer … the exec already under­stands the inher­ent val­ue. He/she gets it.

What’s the biggest mistake writers are making when creating web content?

The biggest mis­take I see is an orga­ni­za­tion­al one … not nec­es­sar­i­ly an indi­vid­ual one, and it’s a doozy: writ­ing by committee.

Writ­ing by com­mit­tee strips the human­i­ty from any piece of writ­ing. It sands off any of the inter­est­ing edges. It makes writ­ing gener­ic and ordi­nary. And it gen­er­al­ly comes from the fear orga­ni­za­tions have of appear­ing less pro­fes­sion­al if they show per­son­al­i­ty and point of view.My life’s work has been to get com­pa­nies to embrace the idea that their writ­ing voic­es mat­ter. The edges are what make you inter­est­ing and unique.

What hurdles are healthcare marketing professionals facing right now?

  • Mak­ing their facil­i­ties feel trust­wor­thy, acces­si­ble, and yet also professional.
  • Cul­tur­al resis­tance to change.
  • Focus on prof­itabil­i­ty and ROI.
  • How to serve the needs of the chron­i­cal­ly unwell with those inter­est­ed in wellness.
  • Cre­at­ing mar­ket­ing con­tent that is patient-focused ver­sus insti­tu­tion-cen­tric, and man­ag­ing stake­hold­er expec­ta­tions around that.

Can you share an anecdote or experience that illustrates how an organization has successfully overcome these difficulties?

I like the way Day­ton Children’s is using Face­book Live to act as a com­mu­ni­ty resource, human­ize its facil­i­ty, and to build trust. I don’t know that it’s address­ing ALL the chal­lenges mod­ern health­care mar­keters face, but I real­ly love the approach to hit­ting at some of those challenges.

What is the most important thing you want attendees to take away from your presentation?

That the key to Con­tent Mar­ket­ing in 2019 (and into 2020) is to … slow down. Do less … and obsess.

Also, I’d like them to laugh.

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