You’ve got a blog, an email newsletter, and an active social media presence. And that’s all great—as long as you’re using those channels to publish original content that your network of patients (current, past, and prospective ones) actually want to consume. Otherwise, you’re putting in an awful lot of work for very little reward. But how do you ensure you’re (1) generating physical therapy blog ideas that actually resonate with your audience, and (2) executing them well? Here are three keys to creating content your patients actually want to read:
1. Know your audience.
You’d be surprised how many companies attempt to reach customers without really knowing who their ideal customers are. And trying to be all things for all people is never a good idea. Instead, take the time to get to know the patients you’re best able to serve. Specifically, you should know:
- How your patients spend their time;
- What motivates them to seek rehab therapy;
- How they speak about rehab therapy;
- Which rehab therapy services they need;
- Where they get their information about health care and rehab therapy services; and
- What aspects of care delivery they value most (e.g., a speedy recovery, seeing a PT at every visit, or a spa-like setting).
Establish brand standards.
That way, you can create content—and establish a voice—that actually resonates with your audience. Speaking of voice, you’ll want to set guidelines and standards for the manner in which you write to your audience. That way, whether you’re churning out your own content—or you delegate content creation to someone else—there’s consistency in your tone and approach (albeit not monotony).
To be clear, you’ll probably choose a different voice if your customers are mostly college-aged athletes as opposed to Medicare beneficiaries. That’s where knowing how your patients speak about rehab therapy—as well as their motivation for seeking your services—comes in handy. After all, you probably wouldn’t want to take a cold, clinical approach if you’re writing to, say, parents of young children whose biggest motivation for seeing you is to help their children walk. In that case, you may want to use a voice that is clear, reassuring, and optimistic, with an emphasis on simple at-home strategies that busy parents can incorporate into their already-full days.
For example, WebPT’s brand standards govern how we communicate here. Namely, we’re “good-humored, spirited, and friendly.” So, we keep our writing “human—clever, conversational, and honest.” Yet, we always “demonstrate expertise and credibility” and “a high standard for professionalism.” While all of us writers strictly adhere to the same standards for consistency’s sake, you’ll still get a different flair from each of us based on the article topic—and our own personalities and writing quirks.
2. Create—and adhere to—a schedule.
By now, most organizations know the benefits of having a blog—including the positive impact blogging has on both search engine optimization (SEO) and the cultivation of thought leadership. However, many companies set their sights unrealistically high when they aim to publish a new blog post every day—or even every week. After all, that’s a tough schedule to stick to, especially if you’re also attempting to run a busy practice and care for your patients.
Set realistic expectations.
Truth be told, it often takes a team of professional writers to churn out high-quality content daily. If you’re just starting out—or you don’t have the time or money to devote to full-time blog development—that’s okay. “Don't get caught up on the idea that you need to create a lot of content (i.e., publish a lot of blog posts),” says Aaron Treguboff, WebPT’s Organic Reach Lead. Instead, set a schedule (a.k.a. a content calendar) that you can actually adhere to and then, as WebPT President and Co-Founder Heidi Jannenga recommends here, stay consistent with it—even if that’s only one blog post a month.
Consider outsourcing your writing.
If you’d rather outsource writing, editing, and content development, that’s an option as well. You can either accept contributed articles from other experts in your field or hire a freelance writer to execute your vision. That said, creating your own content is a great way to connect with prospective patients before they ever make it in to your clinic. Your voice, perspective, and care approach will come across in your writing. So, even if you outsource most of the content development, do try to write a piece at least every now and then.
3. Write well.
It really is crucial to set a high standard for the content that you produce—and that means only publishing pieces that are well-written, well-edited, and high-value. Sure, typos and grammatical errors happen to the best of us, but those should be few and far between. Otherwise, your patients may assume that your less-than-stellar writing is representative of the quality of your services. And that would be a shame. So, before hitting publish, do yourself—and your patients—a favor, and ensure you:
Use keywords organically.
Keywords are great for helping potential patients find your content online, but ideally, you want to use them in a way that’s so seamless no one actually knows they’re there. In other words, don’t stuff your content with keywords. Google doesn’t like it, and neither will prospective patients.
Read your content aloud.
It might feel uncomfortable at first, but reading aloud is by far the best way to pinpoint wonky sentences or flow issues. If you stumble over a sentence while reading it aloud, change it until is rolls off of your tongue effortlessly.
Put yourself in your audience’s shoes.
Over the years, I’ve coached a few excellent writers who, unfortunately, kept forgetting that their audience didn’t know everything they knew—which can make for some confusing content. While you’re undoubtedly an expert in your field, your patients probably aren’t. So, be sure to connect the dots for them in a way that makes sense based on their knowledge, not yours.
Ask for help.
We rarely ever final-proof our own pieces, and that’s because it’s easier to overlook mistakes and errors in your own writing, especially, if you’ve been at it for a while. So, tag a colleague who has a knack for grammar, and agree to proof each other’s content before it goes live.
According to Treguboff, it’d be a shame to “regurgitate something you found on WebMD.” After all, “patients can go anywhere to read a definition of knee pain.” What they can’t get anywhere else, though, is your perspective, your voice—or you. So, make sure that comes through in your writing.
There you have it: three keys to creating content your patients actually want to read. So, how do you ensure your content is valuable to your patients? What’s your in-house editorial process like? We’d love to learn more about how you juggle maintaining a blog and running a practice. Please, share in the comment section below.