Content marketing lessons from a broken hip

My mother’s had a bad time recently.  She fell and broke her hip and it’s been quite an ordeal all around.  Strangely, despite all medical advice and treatment she’s been given, she thinks she broke her coccyx.

My mother reveres doctors.  Doctors, in her mind, are oracles.  Always perfectly informed, always wise and always right.  And she’d think it a gross impertinence to query anything, even when she doesn’t understand what’s going on.

I, on the other hand, want to know.  I’ve spoken to her GP, the orthopaedic surgeon, the physician, the physio and the occupational therapist and I know exactly what she broke, how badly (happily not very; it wasn’t displaced) and what we need to do next.  (Unfortunately, she doesn’t quite believe me.  After all, I’m not a doctor.)

“So what”, you might be thinking, “wouldn’t everyone find the facts?”  The short answer is no, not my mother’s generation anyway.

And just as she wouldn’t question a doctor, most of her generation wouldn’t dream of challenging a lawyer, a bank manager or an accountant either.

But we’re different.  We read health articles in newspapers and magazines.  We watch programmes like Carte Blanche and develop opinions about obscure and remarkable conditions.  And most of all, we ask Google!

Web MD is one of the best websites in the world.  It’s ranked in the top 400 sites in the world, and with about 20 000 new websites registered every month in South Africa alone, that’s quite an achievement.  It attracts huge audiences of people looking for information about conditions, real or imagined, their own or those of their nearest and dearest.

It also attracts serious advertising revenue from all sorts of non-medical companies keen to reach their enormous following – even a couple of South African ecommerce sites.  Who’d have thought that a medical website would have that kind of pulling power?

But Web MD is credible, reliable and up-to-date.  It offers accessible advice from experts in their fields. It’s written for the layman, so it’s easy to understand. And it’s free.  So it might not be that surprising it’s so popular.

Consumer behaviour is changing.  Like the rest of us, your target market is no longer simply accepting what they’re told.  And not just about medical care.

They’re asking their friends, reading up online and downloading information.  They’re questioning, criticising and sharing.  Most of all, they’re very much part of the process, the conversation.

Whether your target is consumer or business-to-business, they’re doing their homework too.  They want to hear what you have to say, and often, they’re going out of their way to hear it.

And if you’re not giving them the input they need, they’ll find it elsewhere.  In the process, they’ll develop a relationship with that brand, see them as expert in their field.  And you don’t have to be in the healthcare market for this to be true.

Content marketing isn’t really new.  It’s just a new approach to giving your target market what they’re looking for.  You have a wealth of knowledge and probably take it so much for granted that you don’t realise how valuable it is to your target market.  And in the same way that your Web MD has created a massive, loyal audience by providing useful content, you can use this knowledge to do the same.

You might not have the resources to create the same vast quantities of content, but with an effective, strategic content marketing approach and quality content, you can build a reputation for thought-leadership and industry specific expertise.

Related articles:
How to avoid online obscurity
Warning, your expertise could wreck your content marketing campaign
Technical and industrial buyers want information
How a small ad agency reached page one on Google Search (And how you can too!)
Taking content marketing offline
How does your QC compare?


1 Comment

  1. Hugh on August 21, 2013 at 10:48

    Good article and a wake up to those who haven’t yet stepped into the digital arena. It also negates that old Management top down style where no one is expected to challenge a “Boss”. People are better informed than ever before.

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