What is Content Marketing Anyway?
Many of us think we know what marketing is. It’s all those beautiful flyers, pamphlets, mailers and media ads that companies buy and send out to the mass of prospective buyers in the hope that some of us will purchase their product(s). Of course that is hugely simplistic because marketing is much more than that; BUT, when most people think of marketing for medical device manufacturers - or any manufacturer for that matter - that is what we tend to think of.
You place these marketing materials in (hopefully) prominent spots and send sales reps (your own or through a distributor) to go on marketing missions (called sales calls) to a number of prospective buyers to get your marketing message out there, generate interest in your product(s) and close sales. This is the traditional, numbers driven, outbound marketing methodology. One problem with this methodology is that there is no good way of measuring the effectiveness of these marketing materials in generating an actual sale.
The inbound marketing strategy is a little different. Instead of sending your marketing message out to the mass of potential customers, it is designed to encourage the potential customers to come to you. The idea is to bring them into your online store (your website) to find a specific item (or items) that will address a particular need (or needs) that they may have. This post, Is Your Sales Process Connected to Your Buyer's Journey? provides the stats that show just how rapidly the purchasing process is changing to this new scenario. So the question you should have is, “How do we get these potential customers to come into our online store to purchase our solutions for their particular needs?” The answer is, you do it through content and inbound marketing.
Content Marketing has been described and defined by different entities in different ways. The key element in most definitions/descriptions is that content marketing provides valuable information to the recipient. However, providing information is not enough. The information must be clear, concise and pertinent to the needs of the recipient and must be presented in a way that elicits confidence in the trustworthiness of the content creator/provider.
Content marketing may take different forms. The most common of these forms include:
- Blogs/Articles - Essentially these are fairly short written pieces that address a specific problem, or pain point, for which the writer (in this case the medical manufacturer) has a superb solution.
- Infographics - These appeal to our visual sensitivities by incorporating graphic renderings of data and are particularly useful for showing comparisons or presenting pathways.
- Podcasts - These are great for mobile device applications. They are audio files that can be downloaded and listened to while driving, biking, jogging or just relaxing. They are well suited for conveying concepts and are usually accompanied by a written transcript for those for whom reading the material is more convenient.
- Case Studies - These are great ways to communicate real life issues and how they were resolved.
- Videos - A great way to add a more personal touch. They are well suited for personal interviews and product demonstrations, especially the step by step “how to” type.
- White papers and eBooks - These are generally longer written pieces that address multiple issues or many different aspects of a complex or complicated issue.
- Newsletters - Generally a periodic update regarding what is going on within the sponsoring company. Usually addressed to current customers, but may have an appeal to a broader reader base.
- Webcasts/Webinars - These are video presentations that are scheduled to air at a particular time and require registration to access the presentation. They often include a link for downloading later if the registrant could not attend the live presentation.
The blogs and infographics are, for the most part, open to anyone. They are designed to create awareness and attract attention. They are quite often used to invite interested parties to delve more deeply into a particular subject that is covered more extensively by a downloadable resource. Even though they are at the very beginning of the sales funnel they still provide traffic data regarding visits and page views which can used to judge the effectiveness of the piece.
Podcasts, case studies and videos generally fall into the category of a free downloadable resource while white papers, eBooks and newsletters almost always are in this category. These free downloadable resources are usually behind a form requesting basic contact information such as name, email address and phone number, plus company name, type and size of the company. Webinars almost always require registration and so would be considered a resource.
This process is really somewhat similar to the type of response you might get at a tradeshow. Some people may just walk by your booth without a glance, others may pause and look or even pick up a brochure (think of that as a visit). Still others may look at a demonstration and provide contact information on your lead form (that is a lead). Inbound marketing measures traffic and generates leads.
Do not think that content marketing is all there is to inbound marketing. It is a large part, but inbound marketing goes way beyond content. It includes many other elements such as website design and creation (your website needs to be current, inviting and easy to navigate), social media strategies, pay per click advertising, etc.
Also, do not think of inbound marketing (sometimes referred to as “digital marketing”) as a replacement for your traditional “outbound” marketing functions. IT IS NOT! Rather, you should think of inbound marketing as being complementary to your outbound marketing strategies, making them more robust and effective.
For a more complete picture of what inbound marketing entails and the part that content marketing plays in that picture follow up with us here. To learn more about how KBK Communications can help you promote your medical devices contact us here, or call us at 815.464.8565.