With the healthcare industry constantly expanding and becoming more diverse than ever, how can one establish thought leadership in healthcare marketing?
It’s a question many healthcare businesses both large and small are currently asking, and we’re going to take a look at just some of the ways you can establish yourself as a thought leader in the continually evolving industry that is healthcare.
What makes good thought leadership, anyway?
Thought leadership is generally born out of finding a way to strategically differentiate yourself from the cacophony of corporate voices, and proving your worth in a saturated industry.
Another way of looking at it is this: imagine there’s a constant discussion going on, with a number of voices all clamoring to the spotlight to be heard. Thought leaders are the ones that add to the ongoing dialogue, rather than distracting from it.
True thought leaders end up becoming more valued than businessess who are simply trying to push a product or generate sales, but unless you get lucky, it takes more than just a blog published in the right place and the faith that people will like it and somehow place your firm on an escalated pedestal of praise.
Establishing yourself as a thought leader actually takes a lot of work and perseverance.
1. Always lead on ideas, not sales
This is the most important rule of all. The biggest mistake you can make in healthcare marketing – and you may be familiar with these tactics yourself – is getting halfway through a seemingly well-researched article only to then be offered the answer to all these problems, before being presented with a bunch of product names and how utterly fantastic they are.
The main point of becoming a thought leader is to let your ideas do the work for you, and if buyers value those ideas, they will come to you. Being all salesy will instantly lose you credibility.
2. Don’t sell your ideas
Whether you develop a whitepaper, secure key guest posts in leading industry publications, or successfully execute a social media campaign to get extra attention on your blog, the one rule remains the same; never charge for your ideas.
Your thought leadership should be freely available to anyone who wants to research, read or simply stumble across your chosen topic.
Basically, this means don’t spread yourself too thin by bouncing around various topics and coming across as disjointed or like a company with ADHD.
A good way to find the right focus in healthcare marketing is to take a customer-centric approach in your chosen healthcare sector, and consider the problems that are currently being faced. How can those problems be solved?
4. Offer a unique perspective
Consider your place in the healthcare industry, and think about areas where you can offer a perspective on something meaningful that will help people look at a situation or problem with fresh eyes.
It may be a vague explanation, but becoming a thought leader means thinking outside the box and not narrowing down your possibilities. If you can approach a topic from a new angle that puts a fresh spin on a current and relevant topic or issue, you’re well on your way to becoming a thought leader.
Get involved in conferences, workshops and presentations. Participate in public engagement and show your passion for the area you’re getting involved with. Is there a specific area of research you’d like to sponsor, or an official body you’d like to join and contribute to?
Actions speak louder than words and showing you care about more than sales will increase your credibility.
6. Market your ideas
This may seem like a confusing message, but the one thing marketers are good at doing is marketing. In order to get your voice heard, you have to get the message out there. For example, if you take part in a presentation, put the video on YouTube, on your blog, and on social media.
Put as much effort into marketing your thought leadership as you normally would market a product.
7. Be honest
If you don’t have all the answers, that’s okay. Your audience will appreciate the truth, and will listen more to what you do have to say. Don’t be the one that gets up on stage or posts out a blog claiming to know everything, as these are the people who lose their credibility when it turns out they can’t deliver all they said they could.
8. Be thoughtful
In the end, becoming a thought leader isn’t really up to you; it’s up to the people you reach out to. These are the people who hear your message and decide to listen. Be thoughtful and use your podium wisely; this means not jumping on the bandwagon for every argument going just to get your voice and opinion heard, diluting your worth.
If you can illuminate a current topic or issue and move it forward by contributing in a way that is deemed valuable, you will be taken seriously.
So, how can you be heard? Healthcare marketing isn’t about just selling a product anymore. Being a thought leader requires passion, enthusiasm, focus and participation. Try to look at current topics and issues with a fresh perspective, and offer up something new, without resorting to salesy tactics.
Now it’s your turn
What are your experiences in thought leadership? Do you have what it takes to become a thought leader?