Healthcare Content Marketing: The Power of Empathy

“You never really know a man until you understand things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”    Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird.

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. It’s the emotion that allows us to appreciate another person’s perspective. It brings people closer together by building connections.

In healthcare content marketing, empathy is crucial. I noticed this theme when I attended the Content Marketing World Health Summit in September. Without empathy, medical organizations may struggle building a connection with their audiences. Why? Because content marketing should be all about your audience, and without empathy, it isn’t.

First, let’s take a step back. Why is content marketing in the healthcare industry so important? For one, we know that healthcare is bought, not sold. You can’t create a demand for healthcare – nobody wants to see a doctor. Second, content marketing plays a major role as the conversation starter in the sales process. Lastly, as Scott Linabarger and Amanda Todorovich from the Cleveland Clinic stated in their CMW session:

“Our audience doesn’t know who we are and they don’t need us. They don’t even want us. But they might…someday.”

When that someday comes, will your healthcare organization be top of mind? Will you have an established relationship with your target audience? Will the audience feel a connection to you, or someone else?

Consumers of content crave connection and transparency. They love to engage because it makes them feel like they belong. Knowing this, healthcare organizations have a huge opportunity to establish and build relationships with potential patients through content that uses the power of empathy – content that connects.

Another presentation at the CMW Health Summit led by content strategist Ahava Leibtag reviewed the cycle for building this connection. She called it the Customer Loop, and it has four steps:

  1. Start a relationship (attract)
  2. Answer questions (acquire)
  3. Establish trust (engage)
  4. Nurture (drive profitable action)

Empathetic content is the driver of these steps. For instance, what’s one reason many Americans don’t seek healthcare treatment? It’s because they’re scared – scared to find out what’s wrong with them, scared of testing, scared of the cost, whatever it may be. You can ease their fears through content. Tell stories and make patients the stars of those stories. Don’t start with your brand; start with your audience’s concerns.

To conclude, I’d like to leave you with a video that, I believe, hits the empathetic content nail on the head (warning: it’s a tear-jerker). If there’s ever a piece of healthcare content that puts the audience first, it’s this one. Use it as fuel for incorporating empathy into your content strategy from this point on.

Click the link to watch: Empathy: The Human Connection to Patient Care


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