Anyone who grew up in a country town or a regional area will tell you that it seemed like everyone knew everyone. Often, they conducted their everyday business with ‘mates’ they knew…and shop owners who knew them. People engaged in conversation got acquainted, and people did business with the people they knew and liked.

I was reminded recently that the opportunity for that level of personal connectivity—between and among people doing business—is lost in the “big city,” or less common in our hurried daily living and busy lifestyles.

It turns out that the “engagement opportunity” is still alive and well; particularly for busy practitioners. Of course, at the top of the list, engaging in face to face, practitioner/patient conversation is premium time, well spent. But the Internet age provides dozens of additional communications channels.

The broad label is Content Marketing, and a primary objective is—as it was in the past—to connect, converse and become acquainted.

Content marketing in Healthcare is the process of developing and sharing relevant, valuable, and engaging content to target audience(s) with the goal of acquiring patients or increasing return visits from existing patients.

To better understand and appreciate the value that content marketing has for a healthcare practice, here are some additional ideas that practice decision makers should consider.

Practitioners have a unique “soapbox,” and people are ready to listen. Professional practitioners hold a respected place in society. An authoritative source of information commands attention and tends to attract a receptive audience. Engaged people have a genuine—and not just a casual—interest.

You learn about the people in your marketplace. One of the greatest benefits for the practitioner is in listening, and in discovering the needs and interests of patients and prospective patients. What you have to “sell” is less important than what people are ready to “buy.” Informed patients are better patients.

You’ve got your finger on the pulse. The two-way nature of flowing information provides an opportunity to learn about the marketplace, including any changes and competitive forces. Awareness and insight keeps you ahead of the local practice competition.

Engagement enhances reputation and inspires referrals. People who are emotionally bonded to a practice or practitioner are informal ambassadors, typically ready to vouch for the people they know and like. Things you share with the audience, and things they share with others, extends your message. Using this platform spotlights you as a thought leader.

Content marketing spreads your branding message. How you shape and share your material is a reflection of your practice brand. And you have control of the message.

Content messaging engenders trust, rapport and connectivity. Practitioners are people treating people, and not impersonal institutions. This personal affinity sets the stage for a positive patient experience.

 Your overall marketing efforts are magnified by content. Engaging the public builds awareness, brings traffic to you and/or your practice website, and its relatively lower cost means your marketing return is higher.

Publishing information that is interesting and useful to the public—about topics where you are an expert—has the power to engage prospective patients, influence who they go & see, and inspire their referrals.