Becoming an Influential Content Expert
Invest your time wisely with content marketing that makes a difference.
By Madison Brinson
Expert. A title that commands respect from a listening ear. Or does it?
By common definition, an expert is a person “having or displaying special skill or knowledge derived from training or experience.” If you are reading this article, it is likely you are an expert in the field of private practice physical therapy. Your extensive knowledge as a business owner took years of formal schooling, continuing education, conferences, and plenty of on-the-job training to achieve. What you know is highly deserving of respect. However, expertise alone is insufficient to create a growing and thriving business.
Expertise alone will not open doors to a captive audience hungry to hear what you have to say and ready to refer you patients. There is a lock on the door called influence. You must know how to turn the key and position your expertise as a resource. Whether your target audience is a potential referring physician, a specific patient demographic, or a community partner, engage your listeners so they will receive your message. Once you understand your audience and your message, you will begin to attract the desired population to your practice.
Turning the lock of influence requires three key steps.
TAKE TIME TO LEARN WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO YOUR CUSTOMER
As a marketer, one of the biggest faux pas I see practices make in their marketing efforts is to assume their target audience will consider their expertise valuable without ever asking. Before rattling off a long list of impressive information to your customer, talk to your customers and find out if what you intend to say is meaningful to them. There is no faster way to lose the ear of an audience than to begin a conversation they will not find valuable. Resist the temptation to make assumptions about what they need or value. Instead, test those assumptions with conversations. Ask curious questions, even if you think you already know the answer. By taking a step back to listen and learn about the audience first, you will understand how to craft an engaging message based on what your customer truly needs and finds valuable.
If you are marketing to a community or specific population, will they consider your services unique, innovative, or needed compared to what is currently available to them? If you are marketing to an athletic team or sports league, consider not only their ages and common injuries, but also potential barriers that must be overcome to get to a physical therapist. Do they have concerns about scheduling, cost, insurance, and whether a referral is needed? The only way to find out is to ask genuine, curious questions.
If you are marketing to a physician, is their patient population one who can benefit from the specialty you want to promote? Do not assume having a credential you have worked hard for is meaningful in their eyes. Ask questions to discover if they see value in the services or are open to learning how their patients can benefit: What other alternative treatment protocols does the physician currently use to treat the same condition your specialty treats? Do they have any current perspectives either positively or negatively affecting the way they will perceive you, your company, and your message? What are their prior experiences or beliefs about physical therapy? Are they happy with the results of the patients they refer to physical therapy? You get the gist.
CRAFT A MESSAGE THAT POSITIONS YOUR TEAM AS A RESOURCE
The quickest way to become a valued resource in customers’ lives is by doing one of two things: solving their problems or removing their pain points. Trust is established when you take what you learned about your customers, identify the problems or pain points in their world, and implement action steps to solve or remove them.
For example, if you are marketing to primary care physicians you have learned are concerned over wait times for their patients waiting to be seen by orthopedists, identify ways you can be a resource. Rather than waiting idle for an appointment, perhaps the patient can start care with you. In turn, you can commit to updating the orthopedist on progress when the appointment date arrives. If the PCP is unsure if a patient truly needs orthopedic care, offer to evaluate the patient to help determine if they do, indeed, need specialty care. If they do, you may be able to help streamline the process. If they don’t, you can begin a treatment protocol to help the patient much more quickly and save them an unnecessary specialty copay. You identified a pain point and positioned your team as a resource to alleviate it. The patient will appreciate prompt care directed by their PCP and it will strengthen the partnership your team has with the PCP group.
DELIVER THE MESSAGE DEMONSTRATING YOUR EXPERTISE IN AN INFLUENTIAL WAY
Demonstrate your expertise by presenting your message in a way that is solution-based rather than simply knowledge-based. Knowledge by itself is not always enough to be influential. Influence grows when knowledge is positioned to solve problems with humble confidence.
Let’s say you want to promote your ability to treat tension migraines with dry needling. Instead of saying, “Dry needling can be a great resource to treat migraines,” a stronger delivery is, “Dry needling is a non-pharmaceutical approach to reducing the frequency and severity of migraines often providing same day relief.” Now you delivered a message with the desire to solve a problem, not just to relay information. If you want to promote physical therapy as a resource to a geriatric community group, instead of relaying, “You can manage arthritis with physical therapy,” try something like this: “You can greatly improve your knee and hip mobility with physical therapy making those stairs much easier to climb.”
The goal of all marketing is to be a relevant, valuable, and accessible resource to your audience. When customers see you have attentively learned about them, have taken their problems to heart, and delivered a message in a way that makes their world better, trust is built and influence is gained.
ROI ON YOUR TIME
Lets talk about return on investment (ROI) and time management when it comes to delivering your influential message. How do you track the return on the time and financial investments involved in delivering your message?
First, identify the cost of preparation. Plan the steps needed to accomplish the previously discussed process of learn, craft, and deliver for your message. When steps are outlined, back into the amount of time that is needed and that you can realistically dedicate to completing those tasks. For example, if you have two hours a month to spend on content research, preparation, and creation, lay out your plan with in those hours and schedule the activity to avoid the task becoming a time eater and productivity tanker.
Second, determine the cost of distribution for your message. Is it a free social medial campaign? It is paid advertising? Is your Physician Liaison delivering the message to your referring physicians directly? Whatever distribution channel you choose, you can tie dollars to that either directly or indirectly through staff hours required. Last, define what the ideal return looks like for you. Is your intent to utilize a distribution channel that should directly impact your new patient numbers such as a Physician Liaison who interacts with physician referral sources? Or is your goal to generate value outside of new patient numbers like brand awareness, community perception, or community engagement?
In identifying the investment you are willing to give and defining the expected return, you can clearly track the success of your campaign.
Madison Brinson is a senior health care consultant at Mill Creek Consulting and specializes in helping practices increase revenue through referral development strategies, physician marketing, sales training, referral conversion training, and CRM implementation. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.