Getting the most out of your compelling content for your life science brand.
Managing the life cycle of your content for maximum impact
Content marketing is the process by which you give away information that is valuable to your prospects, and in return get permission to establish a dialog with them. In this issue we’ll focus on managing the process so that you can harvest the largest impact from your life science content as it is developed, published and promoted.
P7 – The content life cycle for life science companies.
Figure 1 shows the “life cycle” of your content; it describes how you can maximize the benefits you receive from the content you create. To harvest the maximum benefits, neither content creation by itself nor promotion alone (through social media, for example) is enough. Content must be actively created, managed and promoted. It is the active integration of these three tasks – the basis of this content life cycle – that will provide the most benefit. This newsletter will discuss the ways you can leverage this process to extend the reach and the impact of your content.
Let’s go through the steps in the content life cycle, one at a time.
1. People – Your life science content marketing begins and ends with your audiences.
Content marketing for life science companies starts (and ends) with a clear focus on your audience groups. To get the most out of your content marketing initiative, you must broaden your definition of “audience” beyond just your prospects to include other groups – groups that also have contact with your prospects. Examples include the editors and publishers of trade publications as well as the producers of major events, such as trade shows and conferences. These individuals are generally regarded by your audience as trusted sources, so they can boost the success of your life science content marketing initiative if you are able to enlist them to help you spread the word. And spreading the word is the first step in driving conversions.
(Remember that a conversion is a specific action you want your audience to take, such as visiting your website, or signing up for your newsletter, etc. The ultimate conversion that everyone seeks is a signed contract, but the granularity of the Internet allows us to measure intermediate steps along the way to this sale, and these are known as conversions. Tracking conversions helps you determine how to improve the impact of your life science content marketing investment. )
Having urged you to think more broadly about your audience, and who else your content might be relevant for, let’s now think more specifically about the various subdivisions that make up your target audience. Most people with marketing responsibility in the life sciences have a general sense of these subdivisions. They may have identified different bioscience niches, such as decision influencers vs. decision makers or users vs. managers. There is now a growing trend to focus even more specifically on individual audience micro-niches by creating a series of personas. A persona is a fictitious personality that embodies many of the traits of a specific audience micro-niche. Each audience subdivision might be composed of multiple micro-niches, each represented by a persona.
We will cover personas in greater detail in a future issue. For now, understand that creating personas allows you to author content with specific individuals in mind, rather than just a broad swath of your audience described only in demographic terms. One advantage of focusing specifically upon individuals, rather than on broad audience segments, is that you will focus on addressing specific problems rather than general ones.
Remember, the content marketing life cycle begins and ends with your audiences.
2. Probe – Before you create compelling life science marketing content – Get Curious.
We have covered the Probe step in detail in the past two issues; it involves determining what topics are of interest to your audience. You can determine this in a variety of ways. In addition to probing the needs of your audience, you should probe internally to determine what resources you have available:
- What content do you already have? Can it be reused – for example, can you repost the slides from your latest webinar and reach additional prospects? While editors who accept your story ideas will typically insist upon the language being exclusive to their publication, this does not mean that you can’t cover related or similar themes in different pieces.
- What resources are required to create new content? What expertise do you have internal to your organization that will enable you to create compelling content? What expertise will you need to hire?
As you probe these questions, plan the ways you will measure the impact of your life science content marketing initiative. Define the conversions you want individuals to take, such as signing up for a newsletter, attending a webinar, or visiting the home page of your web site. Determine how these will be measured and if any specific tactical implementations are required to support your measurements, such as programming a specific landing page with a unique url.
3. Plan – An editorial plan will organize your life science marketing content and the possible opportunities.
Create an editorial list to organize the content ideas that you have developed. Your list will have a variety of items on it in various stages of development. For example some content will be publication-ready, e.g., a transcript of a completed presentation; other items on your editorial list may be just the germ of an idea for content that could be created – a brief outline of a topic for a white paper. All of these topics that have value to the audience should be placed on your master editorial list. The list can then be sorted according to many different criteria, such as readiness for publication, alignment with current market interest (that is, what topics are “hot”), your firm’s positioning (for example, “We want to be known as the formulation experts for parenterals, so we’re going to run a series of webinars on the changing regulatory requirements in this area), etc.
This editorial list will not be static; you will be updating it often. As you develop a methodology for pushing concepts through the P7 process, you will find that you become sensitized to new ideas and identify new concepts more readily. Continue to add these to your editorial list.
Another list you will want to create and manage is a list of keywords – words that your audience will be using to search for information on the topics on your editorial list. You’ll use this in step 5: Preparing your compelling content. Knowing the keywords that your audience uses and the keywords that your competitors are optimizing for will be important as you create your content.
For more information on keywords, you can read more in this article that Forma recently authored for Med Ad news, available here.
4. Propose – Getting others to help spread the word about your life science marketing content.
So now you’ve got an editorial list of topics that your audience will find valuable. The next step is to develop a list of industry-specific target publications. Review recent issues of publications and editorial calendars to determine topics of interests, writing styles, audience, contacts and submission deadlines.
Before you start creating content, take the opportunity to reach out to editors and other publishers. PR firms are specialists in getting notice from the press, and I’m not advocating that you can replace their services completely. However, you can augment their impact by using some of the techniques here. Ensure that you are not duplicating their efforts; don’t approach the same editors.
The editors you approach can help you determine if any of the topics you have on your editorial list align with the interests of their readers. Now several things are true of editors. First, many (but not all) are hungry for externally generated content that their readers will find valuable. Second, they appreciate an independent, unbiased approach, so don’t try to disguise a sales pitch for your product/service as an article. Third, they want exclusive, original content. Fourth, they’re busy. After all, they’ve got another issue to publish and another one after that, so don’t waste their time. And last, each editor is an individual, with individual preferences for the method of contact. Generally the best method is to use email with a follow up phone call a few days later. With the help of services like helpmonks.com/team-collaboration, you can send email to hundreds of people, with or without the same message, with just one click.
Considering all these factors, a direct approach is often useful when contacting editors. Pitch a few of the relevant content ideas to the publication contacts via email. The email should include information on the author, content outline or brief header and first paragraph (but no more than that), potential sources, potential word count and timeline for completion. For example, “I’d like to propose a 1200-1500 word article, dependent on space, reviewing the changing nature of best practices in patient enrollment for clinical trials, with a focus on the Asian market. I can have it for you within the month.”
If the editor in question agrees with your proposal, then this can be a true partnership: the editor gets access to original, exclusive content that their audience values, and you get a chance to publish content as an expert in a respected trade publication. If the editor turns you down, don’t be disheartened – ask what topics they would be interested in. Also, since content can be reused, repurposed and recycled, take any idea that has been turned down, and examine it: does it have real value for the audience? If it does, present the idea to another publication.
By approaching editors before your content is created, you give them a say in tailoring that content as it is created. This allows you to customize your content to the unique needs of the editor’s audience, which means you’ll maximize your chance of getting published. It will also lessen the chance that you’ll expend resources creating content that editors are not interested in. If you are unable to find any interested editors, you can always create and then self-publish the content.
5. Prepare – Creating your compelling life science marketing content.
Your content will be worth little if it is not compelling. In our previous issue we covered the creation of compelling content, through the use of the right focus, the right form, the right filters and the right frequency.
If you are creating this content for use by another publisher, such as a trade journal, make sure you follow their editorial guidelines. If you will be self-publishing this content, make sure you choose a form for the content that is most appropriate for your audience. Some of the possible forms include: white papers, newsletters, blogs, webinars, video, slide presentations, podcasts, etc.
Ensure that your content incorporates the keywords that your audience will be using to search for information about the topic in question.
6. Publishing – Where your branded life science content greets the world.
At this point in the process you are ready to publish your content. Remember that content can be reused, recycled and repurposed, so look for multiple avenues to publish your content. If you are self-publishing, the most likely place your content will appear will be on your organization’s web site. In addition to your own website, you can use other sites, such as SlideShare, YouTube, Flikr, etc.
Right about now many novice content marketers think: “I’ve put all this work into planning and creating this content. I must get something in return.” They lock their content behind a barrier and require that anyone who wants access to this content must provide personal information. This trend has been carried to such an extreme that some sites require users to provide almost as much information to download a supposedly ‘free’ whitepaper as to apply for a credit card.
Nothing could be more damaging to your relationship with your audience; do not erect too many gates in front of your content. Studies show that asking for information will cause large numbers of prospects to turn away. In part this is because users have to provide this information before they reap any reward from your “free” content.
If you are tempted to lock your content behind barriers, first perform the following test. Google the topic in question and see how much information you can find about it. If the content you have created is truly unique and can’t be found anywhere on the entire worldwide web, then it may be appropriate to ask for information in return for access to this content. If, on the other hand, users can find information similar to yours without giving away personal information, then think carefully about requiring users to give you personal information. Users will typically choose the path of least resistance.
Thought leadership is supposed to build trust. Requiring that your audience give you lots of personal information before downloading supposedly “free” content does not build trust.
7. Promote – Publicizing your compelling life science marketing content
Your content won’t do much good unless you maximize its exposure, so it is now time to notify your audience that your content is available. The ways to do this are almost infinite, of course, but here are a few common methods: email blasts, LinkedIn, direct mail, ads, trade shows, events, reprints and social sharing sites such as Digg and Delicious.
Social media can play a large role in helping you spread the word. But don’t rely on any one channel exclusively. And don’t forget the power of interpersonal relationships. At Forma, we ask almost everyone we come in contact with if we may add them to the subscription list for this newsletter.
Since the goal of life science content marketing is to create dialog, make it easy for people to provide feedback. Ask them what they think about your content. One method to do this is to publish a brief survey with every piece of content. You can also use Google Analytics and other tools to track your audience’s response (such as the average time spent on any particular web page). Whatever methods you use, pay attention to the results. After all, you are trying to start two-way communication.
Close the loop: Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle and Measure.
Unlike peer-reviewed articles, content created for content marketing purposes may be reused, reapplied, repurposed and recycled. For example the recording of a presentation at a conference could be the basis for a webinar. A slide presentation could be transformed into an ebook.
Note that many trade publications will demand that content offered to them be exclusive. Be sure to discuss this issue with them to clarify any possible misinterpretation. In the end, however, while specific language may not be able to be reused, themes and ideas will be able to be repurposed or reapplied.
The metrics you established early in the process will help you determine which content is getting the most traction. Measurement is the best way to determine the true impact of your life science content marketing initiative and to focus your organization on continuous improvement in every phase of the P7 cycle.
Life cycle management is the key to long-term content marketing success
Effective life science content marketing can help to position your firm in the space you strive to own, provide increased exposure, build brand awareness, establish and/or increase your reputation by generating thought leadership and help you achieve expert status in the industry.
If you manage the life cycle of your content correctly, you can extend the reach of your content far beyond your own sphere. By enlisting others to publish, promote and share your content, you can extend its reach and impact, and maximize your content marketing ROI.
- If you plan properly, your content creation cycle can be managed to maximize the impact for you and your organization.
- The life cycle for your content consists of 7 steps: People, Probe, Plan, Propose, Prepare, Publish, Promote.
- Proper life science content marketing begins with a clear understanding of the needs of the audience. Your audience is composed of your prospects in addition to editors, trade show producers, plus others who are already trusted by your prospects, etc.
- Harness others to spread your content. Ask editors if they would be interested in publishing your content; ask conference producers for podium time.
- When you create your content remember that it will be worth nothing if it is not compelling.
- Publish your content and publish it widely. Look for multiple avenues/channels to maximize the reach of your content.
- Promote your content. Harness the power of social media to help spread the word.
- Repurpose, reuse and recycle the themes and ideas that underlie your content.