Content Marketing Secrets from the Best Hospital Brands

doctors conversing

The report “Humanizing Brand Experience: Healthcare Edition” ranks hundreds of healthcare brands. Two Ohio hospitals took the top spots in 2022. The Cleveland Clinic was No. 1, and The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center was No. 2. Their content marketing leaders shared some of the secrets to their success, and some of them buck traditional healthcare marketing tactics. Read on to learn how these hospitals are telling compelling stories.

Set a Digital-first Storytelling Strategy

Authentic patient stories and a digital-first marketing strategy are the major factors that made the Cleveland Clinic the No. 1 healthcare brand in the United States. The hospital invests in social media, website content and podcasts. “We’ve really embraced digital storytelling and digital content. And that’s become a critical driver of our brand,” said Paul Matsen, Cleveland Clinic’s chief marketing and communications officer.

Like the Cleveland Clinic, Wexner also emphasized a human-driven approach. “People don’t remember facts and figures. They remember great stories that connect with them emotionally,” said William “Skip” Hidlay, Wexner chief communications and marketing officer. He convened marketing, communications, PR and digital strategy teams, so everyone focuses on identifying great stories.

Be a Trusted Source of Information for Your Community

Hidlay told the report’s authors that Wexner’s ability to become a trusted source of news during the pandemic was key to its success. “Our team expanded on our strong partnerships with our physicians, and we led with their expertise,” Hidlay said. “Our physicians always made themselves available to help educate our communities and combat misinformation.”

Wexner Medical Center produced six new TV ads during the pandemic. All the videos featured physicians, nurses or other staff promoting vaccine safety, telehealth, safe in-person care and the need for timely illness screenings. “We played these new spots on the highest-profile TV events—the Super Bowl, the Olympics, March Madness and, of course, Ohio State football,” Hidlay said. “I think this showed the community we were there for them no matter what the pandemic threw at us.”

Lead With Providers and Expertise

While patients play a huge role in telling those great stories, physicians are also a critical part of content marketing. Hidlay said Wexner is building deep content packages around individual physicians and scientists. “At many organizations, it’s always about promoting the service lines or running grateful patient stories. Over the years, I’ve found from analyzing website traffic that the best-performing pieces are about physicians, including FAQs with physicians as the source or byline, or any content about research advancing care at the bedside. We lead with our clinicians and their expertise. They are the core of our marketing strategy and storytelling, and we make sure their voice is heard.”

The end product is two-fold for Wexner. The content teams provide quick health answers based on what’s trending and deeper, detailed content based on physicians and their medical research. Hidlay says there’s a misconception that people won’t read long content. “If you are researching a health condition, and you find a deep profile about a scientist doing cutting-edge research in that area, you are more likely to say, ‘Well, that’s where I want to go. I want to be treated by someone world class, someone with the expertise.’ That’s the type of content we are trying to build.”

Want More Healthcare Content Marketing Secrets?

Check out our blog post on the healthcare writing do’s and don’ts.