The importance of educational content in healthcare B2B marketing can't be underestimated.
Marketing Content Strategy

An Introduction to Educational Content for B2B Healthcare Marketing

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Creating productive educational content requires measured, intentional steps, but panic is strangely common in the world of B2B healthcare marketing.

I don’t mean the organized and purposeful rush of an ER that might just be perceived as panic. I’m talking about more of a dull, unanswered urgency that honestly affects certain members of B2B healthcare organizations more than others. I hear it all the time—content marketing staff and leadership who feel “behind” or like they’re “playing catch up” with competitors, partners, or even the industry overall. This, of course, leads to a rush to create.

Some organizations get it right on the first try. They understand that the best way to address “panic” is with content that meets their readers’ and their organization’s needs through education. Maybe it’s because of great sales teams, an experienced marketing director, or even a visionary CEO, but those organizations get the importance of educational content from the beginning and they reap the rewards early.

For those that don’t (and the internal content heroes who do and need the rest of their team to jump on board with their vision), there’s hope, and that hope comes in understanding exactly why educational and informative content is so powerful for B2B healthcare organizations.

Educational Content and the Complexity of B2B Healthcare

Healthcare content is content that educates.

One look at the B2C side of healthcare marketing and you’ll find massive, influential, and profitable platforms built off informational content alone (for example, WebMD just changed hands for $2.8 billion). That’s why it’s a little surprising that B2B healthcare hasn’t jumped to take advantage of the latent power of content in our industry.

At the same time, though, it isn’t.

B2B healthcare is never simple. Our products and services are complicated, our sales cycles are long, and our users range from patients new to the healthcare experience to highly educated and focused practitioners who have little time for anything beyond desired results. That isn’t to say that understanding symptoms and teaching proper nutrition is child’s play, but it’s a lot more straightforward than, say, implementing an EHR in a seven-facility hospital system.

From physician practice management software to revenue cycle consulting, B2B healthcare is complex, and that complexity means that launching (or relaunching) a content presence is more challenging. It’s also highly rewarding for organizations willing to lay the groundwork.

The Payoff of Content that Teaches

No one should be creating content for content’s sake. Let’s just get that out there. Investment in B2B healthcare marketing that aims to educate should be exactly that—an investment, and one from which an organization should expect returns on multiple fronts.

Better Customers

A good customer is an educated customer.

The stronger a customer’s understanding of how a product or service aligns with their problems, the more likely they are to optimize their use. That optimization means higher satisfaction rates, but also higher-quality feedback to use in refining and continuing to market what you offer. Well-designed content also kicks off a self-filtering effect, allowing non-ideal customers to pull themselves out earlier in the sales process and prevent wasted investment in converting them.

Better Relationships

A customer in the hand is worth two in the bush (or something like that, right?).

We all know that retaining customers is cheaper and more profitable than going after new ones, so it makes sense that businesses should be working to build and maintain the best relationships possible with their existing buyers. One of the best ways to do that? Keep them educated.

Ongoing education not only sends a signal to your customers that you care about them but also enhances your relationships by improving product use and establishing you as a partner in their healthcare goals. The best part is that positive relationships mean better word of mouth, stronger testimonies, and a larger pool of excited subjects for impactful B2B healthcare case studies.

Stronger Branding

We’re an information-based sector and competence isn’t just respected; it’s expected across the board.

I think that expectation leaves a lot of businesses taking the importance (and value) of demonstrating knowledge, competence, and expertise for granted. As more organizations step into the content spotlight and the race to prove specialized knowledge increases, content that informs will become even more critical to establishing a brand that encourages confidence by demonstrating specialized understanding of healthcare challenges.

A World of Options for B2B Healthcare Marketing

So what does this kind of healthcare content look like in the world of B2B?

No doubt you’ve run across it from organizations like HIMSS and their expansive library, but you’ve got so many more options. Anywhere you, your sales team, or your leadership find themselves answering questions is an opportunity to get in front of your customers’ needs with content. Let’s start with a simple, real-world example.

Product pages are some of the first points of contact your target market will have with your company. They show up with a problem in mind and are curious about how, exactly, your products and services can address those issues. A well-thought-out product page considers all those questions ahead of time and puts those responses into the form of content. GE Healthcare’s product pages do this amazingly well.

A mix of article previews from General Electric's healthcare website

They’re the result of a mature content strategy, but it isn’t difficult to see where education comes into play. Take a look at their patient monitoring devices. You’re immediately invited to sign up for Clinical View (a clinical information resource that connects you with white papers, guides, and in-depth articles), and SmartMail (a subject-specific email service that keeps you updated on products and events across multiple clinical specialties and modalities). That only scratches the surface of GE’s work in educating their customers.

Another great example comes from HSA Bank, who took the time to release an educational paper on the AHCA and the expansion of HSAs across the country. Content like this will always be in demand, since our industry is full of time-sensitive, complex changes that are frequently difficult to understand or time-consuming to digest in their original format.

Even if your organization is nowhere near the size of GE or HSA Bank, you’ve got a world of options for creating content that informs, including:

  • How-to guides
  • White papers
  • Informational guides
  • Influencer articles
  • Overviews and summaries of pertinent regulations, standards, and laws
  • FAQs
  • eBooks
  • Clinical/technical interviews
  • Courses
  • Product application guides
  • Quizzes

This is really only an introduction. The complexity of the B2B healthcare buying environment lends itself to using content in broad and creative ways, so jump on the opportunity! Your organization has the chance to get in front of its competitors, showcase your unique internal knowledge, and leverage the diversity of educational content in ways other industries can only dabble in.

How to Get Started on Your Informational Content Plan

Building out any type of content is a process, but it’s one that’s much easier if you take the time to answer a few basic questions.

  • What do our customers need to understand to get the most out of what we offer?
  • What questions do we get the most frequently?
  • Who will our content be educating? (What kind of education, certifications, and experience do they have?)
  • What can we teach differently than our competitors?
  • What can we educate our readers on over time?
  • Who in our organization has the most knowledge and is most excited about sharing? How can we turn that into content?

Ultimately, any content should be an outgrowth of organizational strategy. Take the time to understand and communicate that alignment and you’ll not only have an easier time gaining buy-in, you’ll also have a much clearer idea of how to build an impactful and profitable content strategy overall.

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Featured image attribution: Michal Jarmoluk

I'm a freelance business writer with 10 years' experience in healthcare (hospital consulting), over a decade's work in online content creation, and an MBA. I create engaging, informative content on general B2B topics, healthcare B2B, mobile healthcare, dental, and freelancing as a career. I have created content for clients including Samsung, Cintas, and Business Solutions Magazine. While I specialize in healthcare, my education and experience also give me the ability to create interesting and effective content on almost any business topic. I create thought leadership articles, blogs, news stories, case studies, and website content for emerging and established B2B healthcare brands. I have a unique mix of style, industry experience, and education that brings a signature tone and competence to my work. I believe B2B content in healthcare will benefit from a shift in tone...a shift to one that is rooted in the seriousness and formality of the industry, but that still understands the need for humanity and a more editorial feel.

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