How Cleveland Clinic Wins with Content

by | Mar 6, 2019 | Content Strategy

Discover how a consumer-centric, data-driven content strategy earns big wins, fostering brand and revenue growth for one of the country’s largest and most respected hospitals.

Amanda TodorovichIn a recent Health­care Rap pod­cast inter­view, Aman­da Todor­ovich, senior direc­tor of con­tent and cre­ative ser­vices at Cleve­land Clin­ic, high­light­ed the phi­los­o­phy and best prac­tices behind the hospital’s high­ly suc­cess­ful wins in paid, earned and owned media initiatives—including Health Essen­tials, the No. 1 hos­pi­tal blog in Amer­i­ca with more than 7 mil­lion ses­sions per month.

Todor­ovich, 2016 Con­tent Mar­keter of the Year and mem­ber of the Health­care Insight advi­so­ry board, leads a team of about 30 peo­ple. The team also devel­ops con­tent for the hospital’s physi­cian blog Con­sultQD, social media accounts (includ­ing a Face­book page with 2 mil­lion fol­low­ers), and oth­er Cleve­land Clin­ic chan­nels and campaigns.

Todorovich’s keys to an effec­tive con­tent mar­ket­ing strat­e­gy, which often includes a non­tra­di­tion­al health­care mar­ket­ing mind­set, are list­ed below.

Check the Data, Not the Boxes

“Unfor­tu­nate­ly, most peo­ple in our indus­try are doing what our CMO calls ‘check the box’ con­tent mar­ket­ing,” Todor­ovich says. “You have a Face­book page, Twit­ter account and maybe even a blog—but are you actu­al­ly mak­ing an impact on your busi­ness? Are you being strate­gic and serv­ing those audi­ences? Do you deserve those fol­low­ers by earn­ing their time?”

To answer these ques­tions, Todor­ovich rec­om­mends mar­keters drill into the data to deter­mine the type of con­tent that res­onates with the tar­get audi­ence. She says the met­rics often chal­lenge assump­tions that dri­ve health­care mar­ket­ing decisions.

“There is way too much going on in our space where we’re brag­ging about how great we are, rank­ing this and rank­ing that, and our audi­ences don’t want that,” she says. “We have been real­ly focused on what our ana­lyt­ics are telling us about what our audi­ences want and under­stand­ing who they are.”

Put Your Audience First

Todor­ovich cit­ed Google data that shows 75 per­cent of con­sumers think hos­pi­tals put prof­its before patients. This sends a sober­ing mes­sage that health­care mar­keters must inter­nal­ize and use to inform their con­tent mar­ket­ing plan.

“Con­sumers are think­ing about how we push pro­ce­dures or treat­ments that dri­ve rev­enue rather than the things that help them live well and stay out of our facil­i­ties,” she says. “What con­tin­ues to make our team suc­cess­ful is being hyper dili­gent about focus­ing on what our audi­ences real­ly want and view­ing our chan­nels as prod­ucts instead of plat­forms to just push out messaging.”

Todor­ovich encour­ages health­care mar­keters to embrace the respon­si­bil­i­ty of cre­at­ing con­tent that con­tributes to the health and well-being of their audience—not just the organization’s bot­tom line.

“Every health­care orga­ni­za­tion is about tak­ing care of peo­ple, and your con­tent should do the same,” she says.

Contribute Your Unique Voice to the Conversation

Todor­ovich boils her team’s con­tent strat­e­gy down to one sen­tence: “It’s all about engag­ing in dai­ly con­ver­sa­tion uti­liz­ing con­tent relat­ed to health, well­ness and clin­i­cal top­ics that are unique to Cleve­land Clinic.”

To bor­row a page from the hospital’s play­book, she sug­gests think­ing about how to pro­vide your organization’s unique per­spec­tive on top­i­cal issues that are rel­e­vant to today’s con­sumers. This approach dif­fers from con­ven­tion­al health­care wis­dom, where the lat­est awards and tech­nolo­gies take cen­ter stage, and cre­ates oppor­tu­ni­ties for mar­keters will­ing to shift focus to the com­mu­ni­ties served.

“Great care is table stakes in health­care, so if you’re con­stant­ly telling peo­ple that you pro­vide great care, what does that mean to them?” Todor­ovich says. “Effec­tive con­tent mar­ket­ing is much more about pro­vid­ing con­tent that’s mean­ing­ful to your audi­ences in their par­tic­u­lar sit­u­a­tions and show­ing how your exper­tise ben­e­fits them—and a lot of orga­ni­za­tions aren’t doing that.”

Build the Case for Customer-Centric Content

While Todor­ovich and her team are high­ly suc­cess­ful, they still face the chal­lenges com­mon to all health­care mar­keters when col­lab­o­rat­ing with peers.

“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had dis­cus­sions with ser­vice-line lead­ers who want quo­tas for blog posts,” she says. “There are a lot of tough con­ver­sa­tions, and I spend a lot of time say­ing ‘no,’ but the key is hav­ing a doc­u­ment­ed strat­e­gy with data that sup­ports your decisions.”

Todor­ovich says the data that res­onates most involves top­ics peo­ple are search­ing for on Google, as these are ques­tions that aren’t being answered in a mean­ing­ful way, show­ing cur­rent and poten­tial patients that the hos­pi­tal cares.

By shar­ing heart-healthy recipes, exer­cise tips and the hospital’s view on hot top­ics like “Is It Pos­si­ble to Become Addict­ed to Social Media?” the hos­pi­tal builds trust and long-term rela­tion­ships that dri­ve brand loy­al­ty. Todor­ovich says this approach to con­tent mar­ket­ing requires a com­mit­ment to a long-term, con­sis­tent strat­e­gy that revolves around the audi­ence. She adds that it isn’t easy and doesn’t hap­pen overnight.

“The shift is hard to make, as most hos­pi­tal mar­ket­ing depart­ments have done things a cer­tain way for years and clin­i­cal part­ners expect cer­tain things from us,” Todor­ovich says. “You have to do it small and incre­men­tal­ly. Test some­thing and show that it works. That’s how we got start­ed with Health Essen­tials. We told our lead­er­ship that we were going to try a cou­ple things and come back and show what hap­pened. When we start­ed to post things like recipes, tips and tricks for liv­ing with a con­di­tion, and how to pre­vent cer­tain things from hap­pen­ing, those top­ics start­ed to get more engage­ment and traf­fic. That led to more peo­ple see­ing our brand, and that ulti­mate­ly sup­ports our mission.”

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