6 marketing tips clinicians want you to know

Clinicians need information about your new products — but timing and placement is everything.

Content marketing is a powerful tool to bring healthcare professionals up to speed with the benefits of your products. 

Throughout the length of the sales funnel — from initial customer awareness to the point of purchase — smart, informative content showcases the strengths of your brand and your offering, and puts it into a market context that ties it directly to the needs of the people who are going to buy, use or be treated by it. 

Consumers increasingly expect relevance from brands’ content, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. In a recent survey by NBCUniversal Advertising Sales, 69% of respondents said they want to see brands reference current events. 

Relevance is crucial for business customers as well, but be aware: The more specialized the audience and the more constrained their time, the more precise you’ll have to be about the form, function and placement of your content. 

Doctor’s orders

Case in point: Clinicians face a constant struggle to stay informed about new developments that can help them do their jobs better and create the best outcomes for their patients. 

It can seem like a paradox: The demands on clinicians’ cutting-edge skills makes it difficult for them to hone that edge with the latest information. As COVID-19 stretches their workdays and attention even further, medical professionals must seize moments to learn about new developments — and their engagement depends on content that’s in the right place at the right time.

To get a read on clinicians’ content consumption, Springer Nature recently commissioned a survey of 100 oncologists about their biggest challenges keeping up to date. 

During a typical 12-hour workday, respondents said they prioritize patient care and administrative work. 

Patient care is a top priority — 59% of respondents spend at least 17 minutes with each patient — while 55% of oncologists spend at least 10 hours a week on administrative tasks. 

This hectic workload requires clinicians to consume content in short, concentrated bursts that add up on average to less than 60 minutes a day. 

And that in turn dictates the form and placement your clinical custom content must take if it’s going to connect with this valuable audience. 

Rules for success

Here’s a checklist of best practices, with one common theme: Don’t waste clinicians’ time. 

Don’t lose focus. With so little time to catch up, clinicians are extremely particular about the relevance of the content they’re consuming. Oncologists who responded to Springer Nature’s survey said their top types of information were treatment advances (94%); research (75%) and clinical trial information (74%). 

Tune your content for search. Ensure that you’ve tagged and categorized content to reach the precise subspecialties that need that specific information. Post it to finely targeted, trusted sites and email lists; besides maximizing the value of your marketing spend, you also avoid frustrating clinicians who discover that they’ve spent precious reading time on material that offers a promising headline, but ultimately proves less-than-relevant to their specific professional needs. 

Mind the calendar and the clock. Oncologists’ content-consumption habits follow some weekly patterns, according to the survey: Monday through Wednesday afford them the most reading time, and that time is concentrated between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Weekend content consumption is more focused on catching up on conferences and workshops. 

Pro tip: Push marketing for specific content will succeed best during these specific times. 

Tailor it to the clinician’s mindset. With those consumption patterns in mind, do you intend your piece to be read in-between patients or as a deep dive in the evening or weekend? Different topics and presentations lend themselves to quick absorption or longer analysis by readers — determine the mindset the piece will require of your readers, and write to that goal. 

Don’t forget the format. Obviously, clinicians are making quick decisions about what content will give them the most information. That means leading key findings, abstracts and article highlights. Bulleted lists and callouts speed absorption of the content. 

Don’t ignore delivery platforms. Digital delivery is the key piece in a content marketing campaign, especially since COVID-19. According to a GlobalData survey, 79% of cardiologists, gastroenterologists, pulmonologists and respiratory physicians reported an increase in their use of telehealth consultations since the pandemic. That means even more screen time, and more chances they’ll use that screen to catch up on content. (N.b.: Provide an option to download the content so this audience can “rip and read” information of special interest.

What’s more, the tools clinicians commonly use in their work — mobile devices and laptops — are the likeliest places for them to consume content. Optimize your campaign to be read on small screens, and look to multimedia content such as podcasts so clinicians can catch up on the move.

Conclusion

The focused attention of clinical specialists is valuable precisely because it’s so scarce and the subject of such heated competition. 

Custom content is an ideal vehicle for the value your product represents for patients, healthcare professionals and health organizations — but its effectiveness will rise or fall on your ability to focus, aim and deliver it effectively.

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