If you visit the Accenture Life Sciences website, there is a compelling infographic, “The State of Content: Survey for Life Sciences,” where you’ll read, “Almost everyone spends more time managing the operational details of content management and production compared to actually using the assets for marketing and branding.”
This probably describes your activities in managing your face-to-face program. You spend time with product managers and their agencies; next with your exhibit house, attempting to bring the agency product to a three-dimensional environment; and then you wait for approval from medical/legal/regulatory (MLR). While this activity generally results in getting your exhibit to the show floor, it doesn’t ensure the continuity and cohesion that an actual content marketing strategy would provide.
Like any strategy, a content marketing strategy should start with fulfilling a goal that is larger than simply success at a trade show or retweets on Twitter—and then move to tactical implementation of that strategy, bolstered by objectives that measure its effectiveness. It should start with
- an assessment of the market, every segment of the market.
- agreement on the message and the brand promise.
- a compilation of the assets created to deliver this message consistently across every channel.
- a plan to ensure that the strength of each channel works synergistically with every other channel.
Damian Farnworth cuts through a lot verbiage on CopyBlogger when he defines a content marketing strategy as a plan for building an audience by publishing, maintaining, and spreading frequent and consistent content that educates, entertains, or inspires to turn strangers into fans and fans into customers. The Content Marketing Institute’s definition is similar:
Content marketing is the strategic marketing approach of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action. In short, instead of pitching your products or services, you are delivering information that makes your buyer more intelligent. The essence of this content strategy is the belief that if we, as businesses, deliver consistent, ongoing valuable information to buyers, they ultimately reward us with their business and loyalty.
At the heart of the matter is the same strategy we present in our Creative Bravery for Face to Face Marketing in Healthcare guide applied across all channels. (Additional guidance can be found in our How to Write a Marketing Plan guide—again, applied to all channels that are listed in that guide.)
As face-to-face marketers, you need to appreciate the fact that where once content meant copy on your panels (and probably still does to some in your company), the definition of content has exploded as message delivery now includes websites, blogs, social media, video, all forms of digital marketing, advertising and promotional channels as well as trade shows.
Recent FDA warnings about lifestyle images that imply positive results without balanced risk information demonstrate how the definition of content has expanded. If a brand develops an animated character promoting a product, will it work at trade shows as well as on TV? Will the scrutiny be more (or less) intense in the face-to-face environment? As the person who delivers content in that environment, wouldn’t you want to weigh in on the use of this character as part of the overall content strategy? When a product manager comes up with some cool, new shiny object for your exhibit, you need to be the one to say it doesn’t fit the content strategy. Or, to echo our recent post, you need to be in the room where it happens.
Accenture’s research indicates that “content strategy and objectives are not clear to most marketers,” and that “lack of a content strategy and objectives puts growing investment and dollars at risk.” While healthcare marketers see the potential in a multi-channel approach, without a content marketing strategy, the message becomes fragmented and dissociative. Or, as Accenture puts it, “without a clear strategy and objectives, these activities independently will struggle to overcome operational challenges and improve the way companies engage with their customers.”
As the person responsible for what may be a very aggressive exhibit program with a concomitantly large budget, you are not only steward of the brand, but you are the person responsible for the only multi-sensory delivery of content. You need to be part of the strategy discussions.
Learn more about developing a comprehensive strategy for healthcare marketing when you download our free guide, Creative Bravery for Face-to-Face Marketing Strategies in Healthcare.