Illustration showing how to prioritize content

“Can you announce this award on our social channels?”

“Our heart and vascular service line needs more promotion.”

“Here’s a great patient story. Thought I’d share.”

If you work in content marketing for a healthcare organization, chances are colleagues flood your inbox with messages like this daily. When it comes to managing content, it can feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day or people on your team to create and distribute it all. Here’s the good news: you’re not alone.

Content marketing teams are often small, under-resourced and over-burdened. In a survey we recently conducted, 32% of our WriterGirl clients have a content marketing team of 2-5 people and 21% are a one-person department. Across health systems, survey participants reported “competing priorities” and “finding the time and budget to complete marketing goals” as pain points. Healthcare marketers are exhausted, and the burnout is real.

So, how do you prioritize content from multiple service lines? How do you maximize the efforts of a small team, doing more with less? And is it possible to make everybody happy?

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by competing priorities as a marketer, keep reading. I’m going to show you how to prioritize content, starting with the three essential pillars: Data, strategic priorities and talent.

Dive into data

To know what content to prioritize in the future, start with what performed well in the past.

If your organization has a history of content marketing, set aside a day to look at how your efforts have performed over the last year. Dig into organic social insights—what kinds of posts had the highest engagement? Then check in with paid social insights. What trends are you seeing? Find out what website pages received the most traffic, what digital ads had the highest click-through rates and—most importantly—where you’re seeing the best returns on your investments. If you can, rank the channels where you’re getting the most (and least) bang for your buck.

If your organization doesn’t have a history of content marketing or your efforts have been inconsistent, tap your network. Talk to fellow health system marketers you’re friendly with to find out what has been successful for them. The Society for Health Care Strategy and Market Development also has great information on healthcare marketing trends.

Once you have these data points, create a simple slide deck that will help you relay this information to key stakeholders. Include screenshots of analytics, the content that performed well, the content that didn’t perform well and notes on your findings.

Pin down strategic priorities

Now that you have the data, it’s time to lay strategic groundwork. But you can’t do this alone! To get aligned on marketing priorities, set up a strategy meeting with the key leaders in your organization. Your data will help them think about strategic priorities of the organization in light of what’s actually working in marketing, so send them your slide deck prior to the meeting.

After you recap your data findings, here are questions to ask in the meeting:

  • What are our primary business objectives?
  • What service lines and offerings best align with our organization’s strategic priorities? This may differ from the most profitable service lines. Faith-based organizations might prioritize general health and wellness because they are serving underserved communities, even if that’s not a major income generator.
  • What service lines have the greatest revenue contribution? Which ones have the least?
  • Which service lines align most with community needs? Every three years non-profit hospitals are required to do a survey of community needs. Service lines may be prioritized based on how likely they are to meet the needs of the community.
  • What clinical specialties are we pushing?
  • What service lines and offerings are not as important to promote?
  • Are there any service lines that have low capacity or aren’t accepting new patients? If you’re pouring a large percentage of marketing resources into orthopedics, for example, but they don’t have capacity or availability to take on new patients, something needs to shift.

Now that you have the two crucial elements of a content process (data and strategy!) you can start synthesizing. Remember: Healthcare marketing connects people with the help that they need by promoting content that is both aligned with your mission and accessible to your patients.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is content from high-priority service lines currently performing well across channels?
  • If it’s not, how can I apply insights from what is performing well to content creation for high-priority service lines?
  • On what channels can I get the highest rates of engagement for the lowest cost?

As your strategy shifts, know that in order to make room for something new, you’ll need to put some service lines and some marketing channels on the backburner, and that’s OK. As you evolve and grow, your initiatives do too.

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Tune into talent

 Try a talent inventory

Now that you have your data and priorities, it’s time for the final puzzle piece: your team. Get clear on the functions you need to fulfill within content marketing and the various skill sets your team members have. One of my favorite ways to do this is a “Talent Inventory.” We have one of these on our application page—check it out here! Have everyone on your team take this inventory to uncover any hidden talents that people may not be used in their current job function. Maybe Sarah has been learning to code for fun or Chris has been doing photography on the weekends—how valuable could those assets be to your marketing team? A word to the wise—a project manager is one of the most crucial but often overlooked roles on a content marketing team.

Invite other departments to share

Even though your marketing department may be small, everyone in your organization has marketing assets to contribute. Send an organization-wide email inviting everyone from surgeons to the environmental staff to capture the good things going on in your hospital network and share pictures, videos and stories with you. You may also have a number of volunteers who are passionate about your mission who would be willing to help with marketing efforts.

Enlist outside help

Next, don’t shy away from outsourcing high-value work to external partners. (Like, say, WriterGirl!) Agencies like ours function as an extension of your in-house team, taking on project management and content creation when you don’t have the bandwidth.

Streamlining your content process

So, when the rubber meets the road and you’re sifting through an inbox full of requests, what do you do? If you’ve taken the time to look at the data and align with leadership, you have the expertise to offer alternatives to content requests that don’t align with strategic priorities. Remember: You are the marketing subject matter expert, and you know what works and what doesn’t. Here’s some practical advice for streamlining your content process:

Get ahead of service line leaders

Be proactive and email people about content before they email you. Two email ideas I love: “We created this digital ad for our cancer service line. Send me information so that I can do the same for rheumatology.” or “I’d love to share a report with you on recent marketing efforts for your service line and my plan for moving forward.”

Triage content

Declutter your inbox by creating a project intake form that service line leaders and physicians can fill out when they have a request or idea. It’s as easy as creating a Google Form and having them check a box that their request aligns with specific strategic priorities. (That way it’s vetted before it even gets to you!)

Get organized

Use a tool that everyone within a service line can see, have access to and sign off on. Trello is a great place to create a content calendar and label posts by category and channel. Excel sheets are also great tools for this. There is no such thing as over communicating to your stakeholders!

Create templates

Templates serve a beautiful dual purpose: They make content creation easier and create cohesion across your organization. Create templates for social captions, ads, designs, and more. This makes it easy for others to help you in your marketing efforts!

Recruit physicians

Encourage physicians to post on their personal LinkedIn profile page. When doctors advocate for your organization on LinkedIn by resharing posts and creating their own content, you’re building brand loyalty on a 1-1 level.

So, there you have it—all of my secrets for how to prioritize content as a healthcare marketer. Yes, you’ll still feel overwhelmed at times. The difference is that you’ll be able to stand firm in knowing that your priorities are aligned with leadership and your content marketing efforts are reaching the right people.

Your job matters. Your content reminds people to be proactive about their health, and there’s no greater priority than that.

Do you need help prioritizing your content? WriterGirl’s team of healthcare writers and strategists partner with your organization to create content that resonates with your audience. Send us a message to learn more about how we can support your content marketing initiatives.