Healthcare Content Writing
Anyone trying to spread the word about their healthcare business knows how difficult it is to get people excited about a white paper. That’s where Marnie Hayutin of Hayutin Creative comes in. Marnie is a former journalist and journalism professor who specializes in content marketing for healthcare audiences. In this podcast, she shares insights on how healthcare companies can improve their campaign results and find good writers.
In our chat, we cover:
- Part 1: What You Need to Know about Sponsored Content (10:08)
Find out how Marnie achieves record-breaking click-through and download rates on sponsored content for healthcare IT clients.
- Part 2: How to Write Great Inbound Campaigns (09:51)
Discover Marnie’s secret for creating inbound campaigns that deliver ROI.
- Part 3: How to Create Content That is Really of Value (09:33)
Learn what Marnie suggests to makes your white papers and case studies stand out from the competition.
This is an episode of the Leading with Health podcast, formerly titled “Healthcare Lead Generation.” In this podcast, healthcare IT disruptors, innovative healthcare providers and health sector company leaders join host Jennifer Michelle to discuss growth strategies and navigating change.
Jennifer Michelle, MPH, EMT is a marketing consultant specializing in the healthcare sector. President of Michelle Marketing Strategies, she has a Master’s in International Health & Epidemiology and currently volunteers as an EMT. Her unique background allows her to bring unexpected insight and depth to every interview.
Part 1: What You Need to Know about Sponsored Content (Podcast Transcript)
Jennifer: 00:03 Hi everyone, I’m Jennifer with Michelle Marketing Strategies. Today in Healthcare Lead Generation, we’re talking with Marnie Hayutin of Hayutin Creative. Marnie is a former journalist and journalism professor who specializes in content marketing for healthcare audiences. She can be found at hayutincreative.com. In Part 1 of our podcast episode, we’re talking about what healthcare companies should know about sponsored content. Marnie, welcome. I’m so glad to have you on the program.
Marnie: 00:32 Thank you. Glad to be here.
Jennifer: 00:35 So, now what listeners don’t know is that you and I go back a couple of years now to the Healthcare IT and Marketing Conference, which is where we first met, and one of the things I’ve learned about you over the years is that you have an astoundingly good click-through rate and download rates on sponsored content at really key healthcare IT magazines online. So I think you are the absolute best person to talk to us about sponsored content and I’d love to know what you think about it and what people need to know about it.
Marnie: 01:08 Thank you! So, I would say the first misconception, a lot of people think that it’s expensive and it is expensive, it can be very expensive, but if you are one of the people that fits the set of criteria where it’s relevant for you, it’s really worthwhile. That’s what I’ve found.
Jennifer: 01:26 So what do you think is that point where it becomes worthwhile? How do people figure that out?
Marnie: 01:32 There are a couple of key things. One, if you need exposure and you don’t have a large database of your own. We all have our websites, we all have our lists, but when our lists are small, it’s really valuable to tap into the large qualified network that you can get from a paid opportunity.
Jennifer: 01:50 So for instance, if somebody is a small, new IT company and they want to let people on Becker’s know or Modern Healthcare is that what you’re talking about?
Marnie: 02:05 That is, that is what a lot of those paid opportunities allow you to do is really target exactly who you want to reach. So yes, you’re paying a lot, but you’re paying to get to exactly the CIOs or CEOs or whoever you want, whichever title, whichever size health system you want, and you can target that and get exactly in front of them. So there’s no question that you’re getting in front of a valuable audience.
Jennifer: 02:30 Well, and one thing that is lucky is in healthcare, there are so many trade journals out there and so many different specialties. So, if you’re in orthopedics, if you’re in radiology, there are a whole bunch of options that are even more tailored than the more general healthcare IT ones, or healthcare in general ones. So tell me this, how do you think people should go about creating that content and what would they want to present that is going to draw people in?
Marnie: 03:00 One of the nice things about sponsored content, too, is that in addition, when you’re working with a publication for sponsored content, you also have access to their content experts. They know their audience. So you’re not going blindly when you go with sponsored content; you’ve got the ability to have their content editors help you design content, which is really cool.
Jennifer: 03:22 So tell me a little about that process. Let’s say you are the CEO of a healthcare startup and you’re trying to [establish] yourself more as a thought leader. How can you use the sponsored content and how do they help you craft that message?
Marnie: 03:40 They are very adept at helping you. So what’ll happen is that you’ll go in and you’ll work with them and you’ll maybe have a vague idea [that] I want to talk about interoperability or I’d like to get in on the discussion on data security or something like that, and they will be able to help you design something that will be quality and that will be educational enough for this very educated readership. This is valuable I think sometimes because we know what we want to talk about and we’ve got an agenda but they can help us really make sure that what we’re putting in front of those readers is exactly something that they’ll be learning from it. Something they’ll like.
Jennifer: 04:21 Well, you know, this ties into something that is kind of a little, almost a bugaboo of mine, which is the constant need to encourage company leaders to not talk about their product but to talk about their vision, or where they see the sector going, or a specific problem they want to solve because I think it is so much more intriguing to people and especially if they have a fresh approach to it, I think it’s much more likely to be shared and passed around, which is obviously the whole point of doing this. What do you think are some of the topics that people find really engaging right now?
Marnie: 04:57 So, you know, it depends on your industry and actually I’m glad you asked that point because really I think there’s a misconception that topics are what matter the most and that’s not true.
Jennifer: 04:57 Interesting.
Marnie: 05:09 We’re all talking about the same topics. I’ve written papers on the transfer handoff scenarios for patients for many different industries and everybody’s kind of talking about the same things. Interoperability, as I mentioned before, those are the key things. It’s not good enough just to have the right topic. You’ve got to have a different take on it. You’ve got to be bringing something different. And I think one of the key things that thought leaders need to know is that if they’re coming in and they’re just talking about features and benefits of their product, they’re not going to get anywhere with that. So they’ve got to be really advancing the industry on a topic. So you know what topics everybody’s talking about and we all know what those are, but to really be bringing something different to the discussion is what you’ve got to be striving for.
Jennifer: 05:55 So what would qualify as something different on interoperability, I mean because that’s a very high bar to achieve, but I don’t think it necessarily has to be.
Marnie: 06:09 So, you know, I’m not qualified to answer that question at the moment. It just depends on the exact thing that your company is bringing, and doing the research to find out what it is. Your CEO probably has an idea of something that nobody’s been thinking of.
Jennifer: 06:29 You know, that’s a good point, because healthcare IT [executives] tend to be very, very well educated and well versed in their niche and if it’s very, very specific, they tend to have a very unique perspective that others in a slightly different niche wouldn’t have even if it is on the same issue. So, is that where they would help draw out more of a perspective that is more unique and is more of a leadership perspective?
Marnie: 06:50 Absolutely. You tap into the knowledge — vendors do have quite a bit of knowledge. They’re researching their products, they know what works, what doesn’t, and they have that knowledge. So bring it to the table, but bring it to the table in a way that doesn’t just list the features that they offer, but really advances the discussion of the whole industry and can bring something that’s educational. I think that’s the main word —educational.
Jennifer: 07:14 Where do you think the role of stories is in all that? Because a lot of times there are case studies that, you know, you don’t necessarily want to present a case study but they can really flesh out why you’re talking about something and why it’s important. And I’m just wondering if that is useful in the sponsored content you’ve seen as well.
Marnie: 07:33 It can be. Anytime you can make a connection with an anecdote or with a personal story, it definitely can help as well. One point I really want to make too, as well, is that it’s really important to vet your media partner. So there are, you know, 25 different publications out there. They’re not all right for you. You’ve got to really do the research, find out which ones your customers are reading and go with those. For example, if you know that this print publication is a print publication that people are reading and hanging onto, that’s one where you want to do print-based sponsored content. So you want to be paying attention to all the nuances of this. It’s not just sponsored content or no sponsored content.
Jennifer: 08:19 Wow, that’s a very good point. Tell me also this about the whole print versus digital. Do you find sponsored content can be equally effective no matter which of those it is?
Marnie: 08:32 It can, but again, it depends on the strengths of the publication that you’re working with. When I was doing this, there was only one publication that I chose to do print with because they were really strong with print. But other ones are exceptionally strong with digital, so you’ve got to do the research and the background to understand that. The other thing with digital that I really like is it allows you to test it. You don’t necessarily have to do a year’s worth of a contract, you can try one and see what the results are and then what you want to do is look at your results. How much did I spend? What kind of leads did I get? And really do a scoring system that would rate the quality of the leads from each one, and then, next time, you know which ones performed well for you, and then you can pick a longer schedule.
Jennifer: 09:19 And also digital gives you so much data on who viewed it and all of that, that you get a lot of bang for your buck in terms of analytics too, which is always helpful.
Marnie: 09:19 Absolutely.
Jennifer: 09:31 Marnie, thank you. That is I think so informative. I think it gave me even a lot more perspective on what to look for about sponsored content.
Marnie: 09:31 Thank you.
Part 2: How to Write Great Inbound Campaigns (Podcast Transcript)
Jennifer: 00:05 Hi, everyone, welcome back to Healthcare Lead Generation. We are speaking with Marnie Hayutin of Hayutin Creative. Marnie is a former journalist and journalism professor who specializes in content marketing for healthcare audiences. She can be found at HayutinCreative.com. Now in Part 1, we talked about what healthcare companies should know about sponsored content, but now we’re going to talk about how to know what to write for your inbound campaigns. Marnie, I’m so glad to have you here today. This is such a big issue. I think everybody knows that inbound marketing is really wonderful and [they understand] the goal we’re all shooting for, but how do you really know what to write?
Marnie: 00:43 That’s a great question. I think this is a challenge for a lot of people. What I recommend, first and foremost, is you really have to look at your product or service with a fresh eye. Think about it from the perspective of somebody who’s coming to your site or reading your emails or receiving your content and has not got the same kind of understanding of your product or service that you do. And that’s really hard because we live and breathe it all the time. But what we’ve got to do is pretend we don’t know anything about our products and services and answer the questions that those who are new to our products and services would be having. It’s very, very difficult.
Jennifer: 01:23 You know, I think that’s such a good point. I actually did a Quick Tip about this earlier this week, which is, think about the questions you get asked most frequently because I think that tells you where people’s mindset is. You know, it tells you what questions they’re having and it’s often much more basic than you realize at least at the beginning. What are some tricks that you have for helping people understand or find out where their new leads’ questions and perspective and confusions might be coming from?
Marnie: 01:55 I think, you know, you look at the kinds of questions you might be getting and you look at the pages that get hit the most. Look at what they might be looking for. So an About page, those kinds of things. You want to look at that and make sure that, if that’s where they’re coming in for the first time, for example, or if you’re tracking the path that they take on your website and you’re seeing where they hit first, you’ve got to make sure that those pages are answering the very basic questions. You’d be surprised how much you would look at your About page and realize, you know what? that doesn’t really say what we’re about, but our brains fill it in because we know what we meant to say. But sometimes we’re not really as clear as we should be.
Jennifer: 02:36 I think especially in some of the more obscure kinds of technologies out there. I mean, we do a lot of different kinds of IT in the healthcare world and not everybody knows what they are or the different things that make them unique. So talking to people who have a very different world. I mean, you know, if you’re talking to doctors or nurses or C-suite or directors or all of these different roles, very few of them are dealing with IT every day. Unless you’re dealing with the CIO, they don’t necessarily know the different kinds of technology that you’re using. It doesn’t make sense to them off the top of their heads because that’s not language they’re used to. So how do you help people start thinking at a more beginner level for people’s initial questions?
Marnie: 03:21 One of the surprising ways that I discovered whether or not we were doing a good job on our website was new hires coming in or people who are coming for an interview. If they came in and they understood what we did, we felt like the website was doing well. Sometimes if they came in and they didn’t understand, that showed us places where we had opportunity to do better on explaining our content a little bit. If you test your content with people who are new in that way and not necessarily your customers yet, but somebody who’s coming in, that’s a great place to start.
Jennifer: 03:56 Absolutely. And I know it just kills me when you think, oh, this is perfect, and then you [realize] we didn’t convey the basic message of what we did.
Marnie: 04:05 We forgot to say that we do X …
Jennifer: 04:08 Yeah, we do X … they ask every possible bit of information they could possibly want about us except, oh yeah, the actual just clear sentence that this is what we do. So and it’s funny because, you know, in any kind of marketing or sales, they always talk to you about elevator speeches. But seriously, you want to at least make sure you get the key thing across.
Marnie: 04:25 Yes. We don’t always do that.
Jennifer: 04:27 Now, tell me this, do you ever do interviews or surveys with existing clients or kind of focus groups? Because that’s something that I have found kind of useful at times and I’m wondering if that’s ever been a way that you found people can get a new perspective on things?
Marnie: 04:48 Yeah, absolutely. Those kinds of opportunities give a ton of information. What’s trickier sometimes is getting your senior leadership to believe it and to really listen and understand. The senior leadership are the ones sometimes that really fight the “intro to our company” copy. You know, because they’re so used to it and they understand it and they really sometimes don’t want to go back to the beginning, but they forget that they really need to do that.
Jennifer: 05:14 They’re so wrapped up in the jargon of what they do, they don’t understand that none of that meant anything to the Nurse Manager that they’re trying to sit down and have a conversation with.
Marnie: 05:14 Absolutely.
Jennifer: 05:26 Well, I don’t know if this is the quite the same thing but one thing I did want to also talk to you about is the general messaging of a company because sometimes people decide that their tagline is boring or they’ve been saying the same thing too long. And I’m wondering how you feel about that when people want to change their messaging. How does that impact their inbound campaigns?
Marnie: 05:48 You know, actually it ties right into what we were just saying with the senior leadership, that they’re ready to move on to something else, but they don’t realize that all the customers coming to your website, or those ones who are receiving the first few emails, have never seen any of this before. So when your senior leaders are tired of your messaging, there are so many customers who haven’t seen it yet. We really have to rein ourselves in and make sure that things stay consistent. We want to grow, we want to evolve. We definitely want to move and continue to go forward. But you don’t want to lose those basic things that help everybody understand their way through your path, through your inbound campaign and through your website.
Jennifer: 06:29 You know, I always think of it as people who teach, and you might learn more and more about your field, but you’re still teaching your Intro class. And every year you still have to teach the Intro class and everyone there is going to still need all the basics that you think are not interesting anymore. And I think that sometimes it’s a good thing to remember, especially when you’re talking to people who’ve just found your company, who are just learning about what you offer. So, tell me this, what are some of the different kinds of things that people write for inbound campaigns? I mean, I think we know about white papers and case studies. Are there other approaches that people can take?
Marnie: 07:05 There are and, you know, I love your teaching analogy because it applies here, too. When we’re talking about teaching, there are also people who respond to different teaching styles. That’s the same with content. So you want to have, in addition to the real technical white papers, you want to have the more anecdotal case studies that are stories about people who are using your product, and you really need to recognize that people want to see things in very different ways. We’ve got several different kinds of things, a short blog post for some who have maybe the shorter attention span or just want a little bit of information. The case studies are where you sort of identify with the person that you’re reading [about] and you can really see a product in action. There’s a place for that technical, highly specialized content. But then also that more, you know, touchy-feely patient experience kind of copy is essential as well. So we need a broad mix.
Jennifer: 08:05 Absolutely. And I think that relates so much to funnels, and I’m always talking about funnels. What somebody needs when they’ve just heard of you is very, very different from someone who’s been in a sales conversation with you for two months and is really thinking they’re leaning toward you and just need a couple of final details before they can say yes, let’s sign. So you’re going to get much more technical and detailed information out to that person than you would at the person at the very beginning of getting to know you, and they are going to want different formats. That’s, I think, a given.
Marnie: 08:38 They really are. And if you hit them with the wrong content at the wrong time, it really can be quite damaging. I drew a funnel, it’s sort of a reverse funnel, to try to explain to my team where people were at different phases. I described that sort of top of the funnel as, “Hey, what do you guys do?” Well, if you’ve got someone coming to your trade show booth saying, “Hey, what do you guys do?” you can’t hit them with “This is our high-level security information and this is our highly technical stuff.” You’ve got to really hit them with “We make this.”
Jennifer: 09:12 Exactly. No, I think that’s perfect. Marnie. I always love talking to you. I always learn so much. Everyone, this brings us to the end of Part 2. We’ll be back in a moment to talk about Part 3, which will be how to make sure you’re putting out something that is really of value. Marnie, thank you so much and we’ll talk again in Part 3.
Marnie: 09:47 Sounds good. Thank you.
Part 3: How to Create Content That is Really of Value (Podcast Transcript)
Jennifer: 00:06 Hi everyone! Welcome back to Healthcare Lead Generation. We are speaking with Marnie Hayutin of Hayutin Creative. Marnie is a former journalist and journalism professor who specializes in content marketing for healthcare audiences. She can be found at HayutinCreative.com. In Part 1, we spoke with Marnie about what healthcare companies should know about sponsored content. And in Part 2, we spoke about really figuring out what you should write for your inbound campaigns. Now we’re going to talk about how to make sure that the content you put out is going to be really of value to your audience. So, Marnie, welcome back! I guess that’s the question: How do you know when you’re really putting something out of value? Because we all know there is so much stuff out there right now.
Marnie: 00:46 It’s very tricky, and I think a lot of people don’t know that they’re not putting out quality. So that’s the first problem. I think we have this expectation that, you know, this is what marketing content looks like, that it doesn’t necessarily have to be as engaging as a journalistic article, but it really should be. It should be fun to read. Even though it’s a white paper, even if it’s technical, it should be fun to read. And if it’s not, try again.
Jennifer: 01:14 Well now let’s talk about that. A fun white paper. Now most people would laugh when you say that because it’s rare to find that. You know, what, you know, how many, literally, how many white papers have you read — other than your own — that were really fun? And what do you think people can do to make it more fun because that’s a high bar and a lot of people have a hard time reaching it.
Marnie: 01:39 It is. So the first thing that we do is to get rid of the generalizations and the cliches. In a span of about three minutes, I went and looked online and found a dozen examples of white papers that all started almost the same way, with some generalization like “healthcare is a unique industry.” Or, “the only thing that’s constant in healthcare is change.”
Jennifer: 01:39 Right.
Marnie: 02:08 That can be said about any product. We don’t want to start a white paper in a way that could sound like it’s any product, any company, any industry. We’ve got to be specific. And you do that with an interesting compelling story to start the white paper, just as you see in Wall Street Journal articles. You start with something interesting, a story, something people can relate to.
Jennifer: 02:32 Well, and I think that’s one of the things where your journalism background is really so helpful and it’s such a benefit to the companies you work with because you do think in terms of what the most widely read newspapers do that make people want to read things. And I’ve read the white papers with those intros like you just described, and it is a big issue because it really does happen that you’re just reading nothing almost for the first half paragraph and then you get to the meat of it. And you’re right, that should not be what’s put out there.
Jennifer: 03:07 So let me talk to you about something beyond that. Let me talk to you about when you’re doing lead generation, you know the white paper is serving a purpose, right? It’s actually meant to get people into your funnel, to get people to engage with you. How do you present that in a way that it’s actually going to serve that purpose and not just be some generic thing people are maybe not going to take action on?
Marnie: 03:34 You know, the best way to do that is to have statistics. You can’t just say, these are the most dangerous places in the hospital. You’ve got to have the statistics that say, according to this research, these are the most dangerous spots in the hospital. You’ve got to be able to back it up with real stats. And when you are presenting real research, you’re already at a different level.
Jennifer: 03:55 Now, let’s just talk about that for a second because I remember you spoke at the Healthcare IT Marketing Conference this year and you talked a lot about finding the right statistic to convey your story. And I thought that was brilliant because you do see generic statistics out there that don’t advance the story, but your point is, to make it of value, you really had to do that. Could you talk to us a little bit about doing that?
Marnie: 04:24 Sure, sure. I think the example that I gave was the statistic about strokes. And it was a very general statistic about how many times people suffer stroke in the United States. What happened? That happens when people start with a statistic and they just pick a general topic. I’m writing about strokes, so let me go out and find a statistic about stroke.
Marnie: 04:46 What you need to do is you need to look at, my white paper is solving this problem. This is what we do, we are promising to help people understand how to treat stroke faster. So now what I have to do is go find a statistic that explains how important it is to treat stroke faster.
Jennifer: 05:05 You know, I think that is something that people try to do and they don’t realize that it is hard to find a good statistic sometimes. I’m usually looking up lead generation statistics and it’s often the same statistic that’s been bandied about since like 2014 and it’s too well known and it’s not current. So I think so much of it is that investigative part of journalism where people really need to go and dig a little bit.
Marnie: 05:40 It’s true and, honestly, that’s what you’re paying for when you’re paying for a good writer.
Jennifer: 05:44 And let’s talk about that. What do you look for if you are outsourcing to a writer? What do you look for?
Marnie: 05:51 You’re looking for that. You’re looking to make sure that they’re giving you that kind of thing. Because when somebody is just giving you the kind of stat that you can find anywhere, they didn’t spend a lot of time. The statistics that I mentioned about stroke, when you go and find that right one, that can take an hour or two of digging. So when that writer is presenting you with that kind of stat, you’re learning something from your writer. That’s a good writer.
Jennifer: 06:15 That’s exactly it. That’s perfect. And I think one thing I know we’ve spoken about before, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on it, is, it’s your company’s reputation that you’re talking about, right? So it’s worth finding someone who’s going to be able to dig a little deeper because your white paper, it’s going to be up against a lot of competition. It’s representing you and you know it’s got to be able to stand out.
Marnie: 06:39 It’s really true. You know what I like to say is that a white paper is not benign. A bad white paper is not a benign problem that you put out there. You really could do damage to your reputation. If you put out something that’s not quality, in reality, that not-quality thing was probably done by a junior researcher or junior marketing person. But what happens is, your customer thinks that your salespeople only know that much. So that is very dangerous for them to think that that’s the best you’ve got.
Jennifer: 07:10 Absolutely. Now to switch away from white papers, which are by nature slightly drier than other things, tell me a little bit about case studies because you see a wide variety of how they’re written, too. And I’ve seen them be very dry, but it seems to me, when you’re telling a story, that should be a pretty engaging document.
Marnie: 07:34 It should be. The best way to do that is to make sure that you’re doing telephone interviews.
Jennifer: 07:34 Oh, interesting!
Marnie: 07:38 Or in-person interviews, if possible. You’ve got to actually be interviewing people and telling people’s stories with the product. So the dry ones happen when you’re just describing the nuts and bolts of how this company used this product. But you’ve got to bring it to life with the stories, and that happens when you actually speak to people and interview them and quote them.
Jennifer: 08:00 And that’s another thing, isn’t it? And I think this is something where your journalism background really helps, is knowing how to pull a good quote out of someone. Knowing when you’re listening to something that should make it into the final piece.
Marnie: 08:17 Yes. I had a journalism professor, my favorite one, who used to talk about how quotes should be like little jewels that you drop into your piece. And what he would say is, if you could say it better, you should say it better. We should never waste space on a quote that isn’t really strong.
Jennifer: 08:36 There you go. That sums it up. Marnie, I love talking with you about writing. I learn so much every time. I know that you have a 30-day sign-up course on your website about helping people understand better writing. And I thought it was brilliant.
Marnie: 08:36 Thank you!
Jennifer: 08:55 Yeah, I’m just delighted to have you on here to share your thoughts on this with us.
Marnie: 09:00 It’s been a pleasure. Thank you so much.
Jennifer: 09:05 Oh, I’m delighted. Great. And for everyone listening, we are talking like, you know, it’s just us, but for everyone listening, you can learn more about Marnie’s work at HayutinCreative.com. And, if you want to learn more about lead generation strategies for healthcare companies, please visit me at MichelleMarketingStrategies.com. Everyone, catch you next time. And, Marnie, thank you so much for being here!