Building Relationships With Content Marketing

My last post introduced the concept of Responsive Relationship Marketing: the practice of listening first and communicating subsequently, allowing segmentation and tailoring to emerge dynamically. Just as responsive design is about creating engaging content for a proliferating number of devices, Responsive RM is about creating engaging content for proliferating patient and caregiver needs. At the core, a CMS (Content Management System) is being called upon to serve and respond to user interactions, while organic segmentation is borne out of the “dialogue.”

The feedback I’ve received is that pharmaceutical brands may not be ready for this level of complexity and responsiveness. Not only are there process and budget constraints, but I’ve also observed a reluctance to tackle this large an undertaking The evolution that many companies must navigate as they pull together systems and processes designed to help brands be publishers can seem overwhelming and requires a new set of skills and talent.

It’s much easier to keep doing the same old thing, right? The challenge requires that brands deconstruct their marketing machines, which currently places the majority of resources on mass marketing, to gain proficiency in alternate forms of content and media so that real relationships can be built – with patients, caregivers, and allied healthcare professionals.



For content to be successfully responsive at each point of interaction, brands must understand and engage with the full spectrum of content types. There are four content archetypes that should be considered when putting together a content strategy in the pharmaceutical industry:

There are myriad sources of good content and brands can provide value by doing the leg work of sifting and selecting quality content that is most relevant to the target audience. A popular tactic is to provide a single and convenient destination for users to access curated content. The benefit to pharmaceutical brands is the ability to hand pick content that supports the brand’s objective, and is approvable by the Medical/Regulatory team. A negative can occur if a brand is unwilling to allow the variety of POVs that curated content offers.

2. Co-created
Co-creation refers to a brand partnering with a known influencer to collaborate on content creation (and often distribution). Benefits include: 

  • Influencers are popular and have cache
  • The brand can remain current and embrace the zeitgeist
  • The brand can target new communities that might otherwise be out of reach

The drawbacks to co-created content:

  • Increasingly influencers wantcredit and recognition, potentially eclipsing the brand
  • As with curated content, the hard-hitting brand message may have to be diluted to keep credibility high (this is a pro for the community, though!)

3. Original
Original content is produced and owned by the brand, created specifically for its target audience. And by starting from scratch, and with complete control, the content can be maximally effective. Another advantage is that the brand is free to create in many forms, and disseminate in many ways. The downside in the pharma industry is the cost of production and the relatively slow process, which inhibits the ability to respond quickly to emerging trends and events.

4. Consumer-generated
Consumer or user generated content (UGC) is, by definition, content produced by the general public, i.e. not by professionals. The greatest benefit to this type of content is the credibility it has with other users (patients and caregivers), much more so than content produced or provided by the brand itself. And the brand benefits in growing trust with its audience for being willing to facilitate the user generated content. On the other hand, there are high risks here, as UGC can be inaccurate and of poor quality, and can fail to mention the brand enough. Daily monitoring and professional moderation is required for success. For these reasons, we don’t see much UGC that is brand-facilitated. 

My recommendation is for brands to leverage a blend of original, co-created and curated content in their strategy. Co-creation is especially appealing, as I believe that the healthcare professional, especially allied HCPs, is the key to putting education into patients’ hands and motivating engagement and action. The balance of these three content types can enable brand to be credible, responsive and truly helpful to health consumers. A solid content strategy is essential to generating engagement and building loyalty.

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