In marketing, content is the information an organization provides consumers to attract, retain and motivate consumers to perform a desired action, such as utilizing a service or purchasing a product. Traditionally, content for medical practices encompassed the provider’s advice, handouts and instructions delivered during an office visit. As medical practices have felt growing financial pressure, the focus on “pushing” content to create more revenue has increased.

The increased focus on content is reflected in trends such as content placement, branded content and leading content, which take content out of the exam room and into the community to generate business. Content placement occurs when practices “place” their content in other organizations with similar clientele. For example, practices may provide an area fitness club with flyers on common health issues in the hopes that fitness club members will see the content and be attracted to the practice.

Branded content occurs when other parties provide relevant content for the practice’s use. Even though the content is created by another party, the practice has permission use the content. The most common use of branded content occurs on practice websites that incorporate articles, blogs and posts provided by third parties.

Leading content can also be branded content, but leading content is defined by its presentation. Leading content provides “teaser” information to consumers to elicit an action. “Here are the three leading causes of fatigue. For the rest of the top ten causes of fatigue, register with our site…” Without performing the required action, the consumer does not receive the complete content.

Like networking, each of these content trends should produce some level of the desired consumer action. The question is whether or not these actions are worth the risk to the practice. Unlike networking, the danger from ineffective content is much greater than wasted time. Ineffective content can result in integrity issues for the practice. Placing content in an upscale fitness club may prompt claims of elitism. Patients who discover branded content may feel deceived, while leading content may leave patients feeling manipulated.

As the phrase “Content is King” has become the marketing mantra for many, it is important to realize how powerful–and dangerous–content can be. Content represents the practice, so providers should think twice before utilizing content placements, branded content and leading content. When patients discover that a practice’s blog is really the blog of a dozen other practices, the practice’s reputation takes a significant hit.

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