It seems like marketers and marketing agencies publish content highlighting the importance of “digital” for the future of the healthcare industry every single day.
Better social media profiles.
Smarter advertising campaigns and search engine optimization.
But there’s a key problem with this content—one that is symbolic of a larger problem that’s endemic to the healthcare marketing industry:
It fails to use language that conveys actionable value.
Yes, an article like this has value (what hospital or health system wouldn’t want to know what patients hate), but it doesn’t have actionable value—practical, step-by-step direction that a hospital or health system can follow to create impact through measurable results.
The advice offered, while valuable, is too nonspecific to create needle-moving results.
A piece of content that discusses “the four marketing trends every orthopedic practice should know for 2019” has value, but not actionable value.
If it had actionable value, the article would not only discuss “the four marketing trends every orthopedic practice should know for 2019”, but also highlight what specific actions an orthopedic practice should take to capitalize on those marketing trends.
Defining content that has value versus content that has actionable value
Content that has value (like this) contains information healthcare organizations and hospitals can use which makes it practical.
But what it doesn’t contain is instructions that healthcare organizations and hospitals can follow to create positive results—if it did, it would be actionable as well as practical.
That is the difference between content that has value and content that has actionable value.
Making marketing practical and actionable for patients
For healthcare marketing to be truly effective, it must be both practical and actionable—giving patients quality information is no longer enough.
Yes, people will still read and watch content that has value, but hospitals and healthcare organizations don’t want readers and viewers.
They want patients.
Content that’s practical and actionable is the kind of content that inspires confidence and sticks in people’s minds like glue, ultimately motivating them to become a patient.
Healthcare organizations that create educational content cannot truly succeed in marketing their expertise and services to patients unless that content is easy to understand and apply to everyday life.
(While it’s not targeted to patients, this is a great example of actionable content.)
What happens when a healthcare organization delivers actionable value
When healthcare organizations deliver actionable value through their content, they indirectly improve the health of the community at no cost to the community.
As people in the community come to identify the content distributed by these healthcare organizations as sources of actionable value, they simultaneously come to view the people and facilities associated with these organizations as knowledgeable, ethical, honest, and—most importantly—worthy of their “business” (a.k.a dollars and cents).
How to create content that has actionable value
For healthcare organizations looking to increase the actionable value of their content (and their marketing in general), it’s important to adhere to the following steps…
Step 1 - Think long and hard about what the community really needs
Different communities have different healthcare needs, which means what they perceive as valuable can be radically different.
For example, the healthcare needs of (and the actionable value sought in) a community like Sausalito, California (a small, wealthy suburb located just outside San Francisco), are going to be very different from those of a community like Flint, Michigan.
If the content doesn’t speak to the most pressing needs of the community, it can’t have any actionable value.
Step 2 - Outline where the general value is
Once specific needs have been defined, outline how those needs can be addressed with value.
For example, if an independent hospital is located in a community with a high rate of diabetes (e.g., struggling with diabetes is creating a need), the hospital’s marketing director could outline content topics that speak to preventing diabetes (e.g.,5 Foods Linked to Diabetes) because those content ideas will have inherent value to potential patients.
Step 3 - Find ways to transform the value into an actionable value
With a need defined and value-based content ideas outlined, it’s time to transform those general ideas into sources of actionable value.
In the example from Step 2 where an independent hospital has identified diabetes as a primary medical need of the community and outlined a topic that speaks to preventing the disease, the marketing director must now find a way to take a valuable idea (e.g., 5 Foods to Linked to Diabetes) and turn into an idea that has actionable value (e.g., 5 Foods to Avoid if You’re Worried About Diabetes, or 5 Foods to Stop Eating and 5 Foods to Start Eating if You’re Worried About Diabetes).
By making a commitment to delivering actionable value and following these three steps, healthcare organizations can significantly improve the effectiveness and impact of their content, where effectiveness and impact are defined as bringing more patients in the front door.