Wendy Lewis offers guidelines for defining an effective content strategy

Wendy lewis is President of Wendy Lewis & Co Ltd, Global Aesthetics Consultancy, a marketing communications group in New York. An award-winning writer, her textbook. Aesthetic Clinic Marketing in the Digital Age. (CRC Press) will have a second edition in 2022. She is a frequent presenter at virtual and live conferences worldwide.
contact wl@wlbeauty.com

Are you drowning in content but not sure what to do with it all? Do you often find yourself endlessly staring at your various screens, trying to figure out where to post what and when? Having intermittent moments of feeling clueless about what will work for growing your digital brand?

You may be suffering from a chronic condition sometimes called ‘Content Chaos,’ and it’s all too common. 

It can be overwhelming to sort through the best strategy for content that delivers the right result, especially since the rules are constantly changing. It can be challenging for many aesthetic practices and medspas to learn how to create good content or what that even entails. It can be tricky to determine why they are not attracting enough new patients or selling more treatments from all their efforts. 

Content marketing is a marketing strategy used to attract, engage, and retain an audience by creating and sharing relevant articles, videos, podcasts, images, infographics, and other forms of media. This approach is key to establishing your expertise, promoting brand awareness, and keeping your business top of mind when customers are seeking what you have on offer.

It requires more than just a better way to organize your content; rather, it needs a universal strategy to quickly determine how to optimize the best content for the right channel at the right time. Content chaos creates unnecessary diversions that can keep key stakeholders in the practice too busy sorting through it all to use it in a timely manner. 

Content creation

Each marketing channel you may be active on tends to appeal to a subset of viewers in a different way. For example, you wouldn’t use the same exact content in terms of verbiage, style, and images, on Facebook and LinkedIn, although I see this very frequently. A Facebook business page is primarily used by aesthetic practices to reach consumers, whereas LinkedIn is a B2B platform where you can connect with colleagues, vendors, and like-minded businesses. Clearly, consumers and prospective patients are also active on LinkedIn, but it’s important to reach them in a different way with key messages that vary from other social channels. 

If you collect a deluge of content in the form of photos, audio, video, articles, images, etc., you need a system to sort through it all. Get organized by creating a simple way to manage your content in all forms to be filed, distributed, shared, or deleted as needed. A collection of content that is not carefully evaluated and properly managed can waste valuable time that may be better devoted to finding new opportunities to market your practice and stand out from the competition. 

In some cases, great content can be repurposed for several platforms in different ways. For example, a great video of a provider doing a treatment can be posted on Instagram first and then re-used on another channel at a future time. You may also re-post it on Instagram as a ‘#throwbackthursday’ post with a fresh caption and/or intro copy. An article about a new product or research work may be cut down to 500-750 words for a blog post with an image added. 

There is no ‘one size fits all’ template for building a content marketing strategy. Each one should be unique to its owner. It needs to be customized based on your goals, bandwidth, and ultimately your budget. Your strategy should outline your key business and client needs and how your content efforts will address them.

Quantity does matter, but quality trumps quantity. You need more of your better content and less of the content that does nothing useful for your brand. 

Content marketing strategy

At its core, a content marketing strategy is your understanding of the ‘why, who, and how.’ Why you are creating content, who you can help, and how you will help them in a way that stands out from the pack of providers in the market. Strategic content marketing will work to build an audience and to achieve results that may include increased revenue, improved value proposition, lower costs, or additional loyal customers who spend more in your business. 

If you don’t have the bandwidth to prepare a lengthy and detailed strategy, start with a one-page outline. Break down the more detailed strategy you had in mind into just a single page to make it easier to share and execute. This can serve as a good first step to defining a content marketing strategy for your practice. 

Content marketing is the process of creating valuable, relevant content to attract, acquire, and engage your audience. Providing helpful and entertaining content can form a strong bond between your brand and customers that continues to grow and strengthen over time.

Personalized messaging is a strong strategy for aesthetic marketing practices to succeed. This can be defined as producing content that is relevant for every stage of the customer journey. People tend to trust solutions that aim to walk them through various paths toward decisions rather than just giving them one choice at a time. This tone demonstrates to prospective patients that you offer solutions that meet their needs and respect their ability to evaluate what is best for them. Strive to hit all stages of the customer journey from the initial contact to signing up for a procedure.

Get ready to make a change

Start by focusing on what you want your practice or medspa to accomplish in the next 12 months, as an example. Work up a growth strategy and key targets. This can be in the form of a percentage of growth year over year or a specific revenue number. Profit targets may be considered as a percentage or as a set monetary amount over last year’s performance. 

Think about how you expect to achieve this growth, for example, new patients and customers, bringing on a new treatment or device or upgrading your current treatment portfolio, incentivizing staff with perks and benefits based on sales and revenue, product add-on sales to current clients, attracted a steady stream of new clients, staffing up with more providers, and more. Consider any other factors that may arise to contribute to your success within the specified time period; a new strain of COVID-19, increased competition nearby, economic challenges in your local market, construction in or around your facility, lack of adequate parking, etc.  

Even brilliantly crafted, eye-catching content may not be sufficient to meet your needs for growth and revenue. This is just one component of a comprehensive marketing strategy. All or most of these seemingly minuscule details can be critical success factors, so carefully consider this before you build your content marketing plan. Include key stakeholders in the process to work as a cohesive team, set reasonable and attainable goals, and meet or exceed them. 

Simply creating more content will not get you where you want to go. Rather it needs to be about creating the minimum amount of content that will encourage the maximum amount of behaviour change in your clients. To do so, the content you are creating must add value, be useful, compelling, and above all, differentiated.

A content inventory should ideally include key pieces of content across all relevant channels, i.e., website, blog, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, YouTube, etc. Organizing these content buckets in one place will make it easier to decide what to keep, update, or remove. This content audit will help your team determine which content is working for your business so you will know to create more of that form and tone. The audit will also unroof redundancies in your themes and messaging that should be tweaked or removed. For example, if you are posting a steady stream of offers and discounts, it will be clear that you need to tone this practice down. If you are publishing a plethora of articles on facial injectables and recycling the same points and patient photos, your audience will likely get bored and move on.

Executing your plan

Next step is to drill down to the actionable details, and assign tasks for who will do what, when, and how. Get your whole team involved to have ownership of their responsibilities and contributions. 

The budget to be allocated should be determined before executing your plan. There is no set strategy for predicting the total costs of content marketing needed to produce the results you want to achieve. This number will fluctuate by market, timing, size of your business, and overriding goals. Start with a budget that is manageable and track results to determine what is working to calculate the ROI achieved from each tactic. Begin with a budget that is affordable for your practice and go from there over time. For example, the more revenue generated through your marketing efforts, the more budget you may have to spend to take your marketing to the next level. 

Document your content marketing strategy to share with all stakeholders so everyone is on the same page. Start by keeping it to a single page that can be easily shared to maximize its impact and expediency with internal staff as well as any external content creators you may be working with. It is important to keep all content producers strategically aligned. This may include external agencies, freelancers, copywriters, digital marketers, influencers, and social experts on staff that will need to work from the same content marketing strategy for consistency of messaging. 

It’s important to circle back to your strategy periodically to change up your plan as new forms of content and additional channels emerge. 

Content plan

A content plan should be very tactical. It documents the specifics of how you will execute your strategy, and who on your team will be handling each task. It’s important to understand that you need a content marketing strategy before you build your content plan. Think of it as a marketing plan that specifically relates to content; thus, it should include details such as the key topic areas you will cover, what content you will create, when and how to share your content, and specific calls to action you will include.

Your strategy should be well documented so everyone involved is in the know and will be empowered to be successful. Adapt the template to suit your needs and include the most relevant elements. The next step will be to align all content creators involved in your marketing plan, both internal and external to your practice.  

What should be included in your content marketing strategy? 

Think of a content marketing strategy as an outline of your key business and customer needs, plus a detailed plan for how you will use content to address them. There is no ‘one size fits all’ template for building a content marketing strategy. It will need to be unique to your business model, however, there are certain general guidelines to follow. 

Updating your content strategy

Content marketing helps to build brand awareness organically. When your content ranks high on key search engines or is shared across social channels, your visibility soars without having to buy into pricey promotions or ad campaigns. This content also is also more sticky because your target audience is more likely to engage with it over paid promotions. A program that includes both can help cover all your bases. People tend to buy from brands and businesses that they have relationships with. 

Some components of your strategy, such as your mission and goals, can remain consistent even as your content marketing program evolves. However, other aspects of your content marketing should be reviewed and updated periodically. To ensure that your strategy stays on target, revisit this periodically, quarterly or semi-annually — to evaluate where you are with active channels, core themes and topics, best performing posts and images, etc. The more you review your plan, the quicker you can respond to something that is not delivering results or may be negatively affecting your digital presence in some way. 

Build authentic engagements through snackable content

Content is the heart and soul of the customer experience. It takes center stage when it comes to creating connections with patients and clients. As our attention spans keep shrinking, content needs to be fast and snackable to get seen by your audience. Headlines should be short and catchy. Videos are getting shorter; most people won’t watch videos that are longer than 30 seconds. Images should be crisp and clear to get more eyes on them.

In a world where we are inundated with choices, it is increasingly hard to stand out. Start by building connections through sensibly paced marketing and content where you are building a strong, healthy relationship over time. Positioning your brand and business as a source of information can help get you there. 

Focus on developing a deeper connection with customers by providing real value. It is not just about speed, length, or time. It’s about finding the right data and using meaningful creative ideas. Strive to increase consumption of your content by consistently giving your audience text and visuals that resonate and are memorable. Content that is emotion-driven or personal tends to make people more loyal and build trust with a brand. They will also be more open to forgiving errors and mishaps that may arise along the way. 

There is no such thing as a perfect content strategy. Every strategy needs to evolve and change over time to stay current and interesting to your target audience. By nature, we are always hungry for a good story and an appealing graphic or image. Give your audience what they crave and cannot get everywhere else, and they will be more likely to keep coming back for more. 

Future of Content

By all accounts, advancements in AI will push the envelope in terms of emerging trends in content creation and how content gets deployed. Pay close attention to these developments to stay on top of future innovations that will undoubtedly affect your content strategy. 

In the simplest terms, the ‘Metaverse’ (which combines the words ‘meta’ and universe’) can be defined as, “a digital place where people seamlessly get together and interact in millions of 3D virtual experiences.” It is considered a future evolution of the internet also referred to as Web 3.0 that promises a rise in 3-D or virtually augmented reality experiences. Right now, to me at least, it seems like a remake of Blade Runner, The Matrix, or just another plan cooked up in Mark Zuckerberg’s big brain to torture us all. But it’s here and it’s happening, so we can no longer afford to ignore this encompassing trend. 

As David Baszucki writes in WIRED1, ‘The Metaverse is arguably as big a shift in online communication as the telephone or the internet. Within the next few decades its applications will exceed our wildest imaginations.’

References

  1. David Baszucki. The Metaverse is coming. Wired. Jan 2, 2021. Available at: https://www.wired.co.uk/article/metaverse. [last accessed 15 February 2022.]