How to differentiate your content marketing strategy in highly regulated verticals
Content marketing is fantastic for pharmaceuticals, healthcare, and financial services, as long as you play the game of differentiation…
Some industries have it tougher than others when it comes to creating a quality content marketing strategy. Highly regulated industries like pharmaceuticals, healthcare, public sector, and financial services face unique challenges.
Marketers in these specialist sectors may well be envious of their colleagues in retail, travel or IT solutions, for example. While those guys are more or less free from constraints in creating content (within reason, of course), you have to be aware of a whole raft of factors:
- Legal regulations. Are we allowed to say/talk about this?
- Responsibility. What if people take this as advice and act on it?
- Confidentiality. Are we revealing too much?
- Anonymity. Have we ensured this case study subject (for example) can’t be identified?
- Transparency. Are we misleading people?
But don’t let the need to navigate ethical and regulatory factors stop you from harnessing the power of a content marketing agency.
All you need is a content marketing strategy in place to stay on the straight and narrow, while still delivering great content to attract prospects and convert them into customers.
So how do we create a great content marketing strategy in regulated industries?
Follow these 9 key steps to create great content that doesn’t flout the rules and brings all the benefits of content marketing to you:
1. Get buy-in from the leadership team
Senior management teams in regulated industries can be understandably wary about new marketing initiatives. You need to get buy-in by making the case for how a content marketing strategy can help and what safeguards you will have in place to alleviate their concerns. 41% of marketers don’t get the buy-in to be brave and differentiate their content marketing. Don’t be one of them.
2. Build a compliance list of dos and don’ts
Every regulated industry has rules to follow, and those relating to public communications are especially pertinent here. One of the first things you should do is gather together all the relevant regulations, codes and rules into a comprehensive playbook that your content marketing strategy must be compliant with.
3. Document your content marketing strategy
Ensure everything is clearly understood, traceable and transparent with a clear, written strategy. And it’s not just about accountability and compliance; it improves performance. Research shows that 69% of B2B marketers don’t have the time to plan a differentiated content marketing strategy.
4. Work collaboratively with legal
Be prepared to have frequent discussions with your legal people, especially at the beginning when establishing guidelines, parameters and processes. Take a collaborative approach and work together to find solutions that both marketing and legal are happy with.
5. Meet regularly
It sounds simple, but it yields results. Research by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) shows that 61% of the most effective content marketers convened their teams daily or weekly to discuss activities and ideas. This will also help to identify and deal with any issues in a timely manner.
6. Plan content ahead to streamline processes
Planning ahead is your friend when faced with a production and approval process that will likely involve multiple steps and several different people. You should map out a smooth process of planning content marketing ideas, getting the necessary approvals, production, final checks and publishing.
7. Differentiate yourself from the competition
Just because your industry is regulated, doesn’t mean you can’t be creative! Within the established parameters, you should aim to create a compelling and unique content marketing strategy that speaks to your target personas needs. 40% of marketers think their content is the “same as the competition”. If that sounds familiar, it’s time to act.
8. Use technology to automate and monitor
When you’re working in a multidisciplinary team of team members sharing ideas, marketers creating content, legal eagles reviewing it and so on, collaborative working tools can help to streamline processes. Marketers looking to differentiate should also focus on marketing automation technology such as HubSpot or Pardot to help them score and prioritise leads, manage bespoke user experiences, and measure ROI.
9. Be a true industry expert
In regulated industries, the guidelines are strict because of the potential impact your advice, products or services can have on people’s lives. So being authoritative, trustworthy and knowledgeable is triply important when creating a content marketing strategy.
Take a look at the content marketing possibilities within healthcare/pharmaceuticals, and financial services in this list inspired by Marketing Insider Group and Liz Bedor.
Healthcare & Pharmaceuticals
“In a study by Kantar Media, 47% of patients said reading stories online from fellow patients made them feel better about their own treatment.” — Peter Houston, PharmExec
People increasingly turn to online content to seek information about healthcare and pharmaceuticals. This provides an opportunity for healthcare and pharmaceutical companies to educate and build relationships with potential customers.
Key issues to consider
- Credibility is always crucial — both for safety and for building customer trust.
- Privacy is paramount — you must have explicit consent for any information shared.
- Stigma around certain conditions mean sensitivity is essential.
- Stating ‘this is not to be taken as advice’ won’t cut it — many people will do so, and so all your content must be reliable and up to industry standards.
How to do it right
- Focus on real-life scenarios (anonymised, of course) to show authenticity.
- Don’t forget existing customers/patients — many will have ongoing conditions.
- Tackle ‘taboos’ — the relative anonymity online environment provides a safe space for people to engage with embarrassing healthcare issues and learn more .
- Social media is a key channel — over 40% of consumers say it affects their health decisions.
UK healthcare company BUPA creates engaging stories around family’s healthcare issues. From this adorable cartoon about the tooth fairy to this story of a couple handling mobility issues in old age.
“As customer relationships evolve from in-person transactions to omnichannel engagement, banks and insurance companies have realised it’s time to step up their game.” — Dawn Papandrea, CMI
Online financial services is a growing area, with mobile banking in particular on the up — used by 49% of millennials, 31% of Gen X, and 16% of baby boomers. — JD Power 2017
Key issues to consider
- Credibility and customer confidence is vital — take extra care to show transparency and build credibility.
- Again: Stating ‘this is not to be taken as advice’ won’t cut it — many people will do so, and so all your content must be reliable and up to industry standards.
How to do it right
- Define a clear audience and target market to ensure your content is helpful and specific —not generic.
- Be educational and informative; resist the temptation to push products or services aggressively and focus on building trust and authority on the subject.
Santander bank are targeting Millennials with an online hub updated frequently with useful articles on saving money and overcoming debt.
American Express has created the OPEN Forum providing business owners with valuable expert-created advice designed to help them manage and improve their businesses.
- Companies in highly regulated industries shouldn’t shy away from content marketing; the key is to have a proper plan in place, along with clear compliance parameters.
- Creating great content will rely on efficient production and approval processes, original ideas, knowledge of the customer and industry authority.
- Healthcare and pharmaceutical companies should explore realistic patient scenarios while ensuring anonymity and sensitivity.
- Financial services companies must always be credible and trustworthy; offering useful advice and education is a good route.
- Marketers in highly regulated industries need not settle for mediocrity in their content marketing strategies. They should work with a specialist partner that can help them attain marketing success to stand out from the crowd.
Get even more expert insight on how to stand out from the content crowd. Take our content capability audit here
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