The Problem with Your Content is You (and Other Content Marketing Truths)

Here’s a valuable lesson for anyone involved in content marketing. Recently, I was chatting with a small group of guests at a party. Then, the other partygoers gracefully exited the conversation—and suddenly, I was trapped. I looked right. I looked left. But my efforts were futile. I was officially stuck in a never-ending conversation. Yes, I had entered the dreaded Party Vortex, which is similar to the Polar Vortex but much less cold and much more dangerous.

But the real problem, and what made the circumstances so precarious, is that the never-ending conversation wasn’t a conversation at all. It was a monologue without audience participation. It was a soliloquy but far less articulate. It was all about my new acquaintance, who would most certainly not make the cut to be called a friend. As he continued to talk at me for 20 minutes, which felt like 20 hours, I smiled and nodded but secretly plotted my escape. Yet, despite my best Party Ninja skills, there was no way.

Spoiler alert: I survived this party trauma and lived to tell the tale. But sadly, this blog is not about party etiquette. It’s about content marketing because my Party Vortex nightmare is undeniably similar to the experience that potential customers might be having with your content right now.

While content marketing missteps are many and frequent, the biggest, most overarching mistake is that your content is all about you. It’s all about your company and your solutions. It’s all about your technology saving the world. This is the sort of content that not so subtly shouts “buy this.” After all, isn’t that your end goal?

However, touting the features and functionality of your newest product under the guise of a white paper often fails to make an impact—especially as healthcare professionals becomes savvier to the idea that they’re being sold to everyday. It falls short because it doesn’t take readers, your potential customers, into account. It doesn’t address what readers really want to know and what will compel them to take action. It leaves readers hanging, and then what happens?

Rather than completing a “contact us form” on your website to learn more, they’re lost to you. They may have simply decided that it’s not the right time to buy or that your company isn’t the right partner. They may have even—gasp—moved on to one of your competitors.

From company-focused to customer-focused
When developing a content marketing strategy and crafting each piece of content to support that plan, it’s critical to keep your future customers top-of-mind. Remember that every decision-maker or influencer that engages with your content could be your newest client, smartest super user, or most reliable reference.

How can you better connect with your audience? It’s simple but shockingly hard to do. Write what they want to hear about, rather than writing what you want to say. Write what they are hungry to learn about, rather than what you’re desperate to teach them. It’s a small change in perspective that makes a big difference. And while that may seem obvious, it’s not abundantly clear to many marketing and PR professionals—unless they’re just doing it wrong.

Effective, customer-focused content prompts an “aha moment,” by sharing new ideas or even the same old ideas in a new way. This matters because encouraging readers to think differently is the first step to being seen as a thought leader in their minds and then as the ideal strategic partner.

These new perspectives aren’t necessarily earth-shattering but they draw readers in. Customer-focused content addresses the problem you’re solving, not just the solution.
It also doesn’t oversimplify the solution by presenting painless and perfect success stories of IT solutions that were seamlessly implemented and quickly gained adoption by all end users. Further, it provides insights on process improvements, change management, and other tactics that readers can put into action, aside from just buying your technology.

Real-world tips and lessons learned are valuable takeaways that readers appreciate much more than a bulleted list of your product’s bells and whistles.

Your new customer-focused content will not only satisfy readers but also help turn more potential customers into actual ones. Even more importantly, we know that your new, improved content will ensure that you’re invited back to the party. And isn’t being invited back to the party the ultimate goal of any marketing?

Lisa Chernikoff
Lisa Chernikoff has over a decade of experience in marketing and public relations. She began her career at the University of Michigan Health System where she worked closely with communications leaders and subject matter experts to write press releases on hospital news and industry hot topics. After spending a short time in consumer PR, Lisa returned to her healthcare roots, spending 4 years at the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). At AHIMA, she drove communication strategy for certification initiatives like the association’s clinical documentation improvement credential. She also led new initiatives to engage student members, including a career prep webinar series and a ground-breaking healthcare IT career map to advance the HIM profession.

Then, as the marketing leader at Strata Decision Technology, a Chicago-based healthcare IT company, Lisa collaborated with the executive team to support the company’s rapid growth with a strong integrated marketing and communications plan. Most recently, at Procured Health, a Chicago-based startup, she launched a content marketing and media relations program to emphasize the company’s thought leadership. At Procured Health, Lisa also launched a new executive webinar series and secured countless speaking engagements to increase brand awareness. Lisa has a bachelor's degree in communications studies from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
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