Whether you are working for a company in health care, pharmaceuticals, finance, insurance, or alcoholic beverages, developing a successful content marketing program within a highly regulated industry is hard. But it’s not impossible.
While there may be more stringent rules to follow in order to secure legal approvals, there are many best practices you can implement to expedite the content creation and approval process while remaining compliant with industry regulations.
Here are 9 tips to help you create and execute an effective content marketing program that will improve your brand awareness, drive quality leads, and ultimately convert into sales for your business.
1. Get leadership buy-in
Before you create any content, you need to first get your leadership team to understand and support your content marketing program. Talk about the business challenges your content marketing efforts can help solve for your company. Show how your content marketing program will contribute to the bottom line in terms of cost and revenue.
Make sure you’ve done your research so you can back up your proposal with good data and metrics. Think through potential questions and concerns your leadership team may have. Cover those topics throughout your proposal and presentation, and prepare well-thought-out answers to convince and get them on board with your content marketing program.
2. Document your content marketing strategy
The latest B2B Content Marketing: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends research from Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs found that 61% of the most effective marketers have a documented content marketing strategy.
Those marketers enjoy higher content marketing ROI and results compared to their peers who don’t have a documented content marketing strategy.
Your content marketing strategy is your roadmap to achieving the goals you and your leadership team have agreed to. It ensures that every piece of content you create and distribute is relevant and valuable to your target audience, and supports your content marketing goals.
What your content marketing strategy needs to include are a couple of things: your content marketing objectives, target audience and existing content gaps, content types and formats, editorial calendar, promotion and distribution plan, and lastly the KPIs and metrics you’ll use to measure performance.
Here’s a step-by-step guide that goes through each of these topics in detail, which you can use to create your content marketing strategy.
3. Partner with legal team
Your legal team is not an obstacle or roadblock to your content marketing efforts, but should be seen as a strategic partner and resource for your team.
According to this Harvard Business Review article, the marketing team at the financial services company BPV Capital Management worked with their legal team to come up with creative solutions to speed up their content review process, allowing them to get legal approvals in as fast as an hour.
Sit down with your legal team and walk them through your content ideas. Rather than accepting “no” answers, work together to find alternatives that both teams can agree or compromise on. And lastly, discuss what you absolutely cannot write about and any other specific guidelines you need to comply with.
4. Meet with your team regularly
The same study from CMI and MarketingProfs last year found that 61% of the most effective content marketers meet with their teams on a daily or weekly basis. Effectiveness is greater among teams who meet more regularly and frequently to discuss their content marketing efforts.
You’ll want to go beyond your content marketing and social media team here, and meet with other stakeholders who are also involved in executing your content marketing strategy and those could support your efforts, such as your sales department.
A great idea is creating a working group or committee with representatives from each team you work with, so everyone can share progress and updates, discuss questions and challenges, and brainstorm ideas together.
5. Establish and optimize processes
Working with your internal teams or the working group you have set up, map out how the entire process looks like, from ideation to production, review, approval and publishing. Brainstorm ideas on how you can streamline and expedite these workflow processes.
One example is creating a “compliance checklist” that covers all your editorial do’s and don’ts, as well as any other brand guidelines, which have been approved by your legal team. This helps anyone who is creating content to stay compliant with all your legal regulations and editorial guidelines right from the very beginning, so you don’t waste time and resources going back and forth on content review and editing.
Another example is building out your editorial calendar in advance, which is actually a good practice regardless of the industry you’re in. If you can plan out your content ideas for the next three to six months, you can review and get approval by your internal teams or working committee ahead of time. This will save you tons of time down the road when you start creating your content. Having a planned editorial calendar also ensures that you’re publishing content regularly, which is key to growing and engaging your audience.
6. Find your key differentiator
In industries like pharmaceuticals or alcoholic beverages, there are regulations in place that may prohibit you from explicitly promoting the benefits of your products or services.
But that shouldn’t stop you from publishing content. You just need to get a little creative with how you communicate your key messaging, in a way that resonates and adds value to your target audience.
For example, numerous research and studies have shown the health risks associated with the consumption of energy drinks like Red Bull. So how does Red Bull still manage to create its $1.6 billion market share worldwide?
The powerful content marketing strategy behind Red Bull’s success is effective storytelling. Red Bull tells the stories of extreme sports and adventures. By doing so, Red Bull effectively creates a lifestyle brand that differentiates its product from other energy drinks in the market.
Red Bull sells the lifestyle of extraordinary people who live extreme lives, appealing to the daredevil and rebel that lives within people and the desire to lead the kind of extraordinary lifestyle Red Bull sells.
So how do you find and tap into your key differentiator to create the kind of brand value that Red Bull enjoys? Seek out and listen to your most loyal customers and fans. Find out what their needs are and what content they’re looking for to help solve those needs. From there, you can create content that taps into those customer needs, publishing in the formats and distributing to the channels your target audience prefers to consume content.
7. License content
Successful content marketers not only create original content, but they also curate and share credible third-party content that is relevant and valuable to their target audience.
Licensing high quality content from established publishers, such as The New York Times and Forbes, helps your brand build authority, expertise and credibility as a trusted source for information, which in turn earns your customers’ trust and improves your engagement with them.
Licensed content is also legally licensed, protecting you against copyright infringement issues if any arises, unlike aggregated, unlicensed content.
8. Take advantage of technology
There are many technologies you can leverage to automate and speed up your content creation and approval process.
For example, content monitoring technology can help you review and highlight any compliance issues or risks so you can maintain compliance without spending weeks on legal audits.
There are also many collaboration tools out there that you can use to help speed up the content brainstorming, review and publishing as well as social posting process, by allowing marketing and legal to communicate and provide feedback in real time.
9. Become an industry expert
For heavily regulated industries, it’s sometimes not possible to share or give specific recommendations as to what their customers should do like in other industries.
For example, financial services companies might not be able to write blog posts that directly advise their readers on which stocks they should sell and buy. But what you can do instead is offering recommendations on how people can diversify their investments or monitor the stock market to improve their long-term investment success.
Another way to establish yourself as an expert on your industry is sharing your knowledge and writing about emerging or current trends, regulations and changes in your space that may affect your target customers.
By offering valuable and relevant insights that your customers are looking for, you’re effectively building your authority and credibility as a trusted advisor and partner to them. And the trust you’ve built is what ultimately will set your brand apart from your competition and convert customers into sales and revenue for your business.
I hope these 9 tips will help you create an effective content marketing program for your business within a highly regulated industry. If you have any other tips, please share your ideas below!
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