Do All Healthcare Brands Pursue ‘Content as Window’ Strategies?

Leveraging information obtained in interviews with marketing leaders from many industries, Omar Akhtar and I prepared and published a report, “Key Elements of Building A Content Strategy.” In this report, we identify steps to building a successful content strategy and five archetypes that organizations embody when building a vision for content in their business.

Archetypes, as you probably know, are shortcuts used to identify and select a model that can be best adapted to fit your needs. Of the five archetypes we shared, Content as Window (using content to be more transparent about who you are and what you stand for) felt like it might fit most players in healthcare. The Content as Window strategy might illustrate how your brand cares about patients, how skilled your physicians are and how your unique research and commitment has resulted in breakthroughs.

Due to its size and complexity across payers, providers and pharma, healthcare is a highly nuanced sector. Jeff Gourdji, who leads Prophet’s healthcare practice, and I wondered if assigning one archetype to everyone in the healthcare industry was a far too narrow assumption. After all, we see health systems and providers filling Twitter feeds with content far from the brand’s primary function (such as encouragement about healthier eating and living); meaning they fit into the Content as Presence archetype, too.

Healthcare Content Marketing is Important & Timely.

According to eMarketer, 46.8% of healthcare executives recently said they would spend more on content in 2016 than in the previous year, and nearly 10% will spend significantly more. Getting your brand’s posture and strategy right for content is a worthwhile investment.

We decided to test our theory, and so Jeff, Adam Kane and I conducted phone interviews with several senior healthcare marketers to test the archetypes and determine their fit. As a result, we affirmed that Content as Window does resonate in healthcare content marketing, but also that content and its important and emerging role in healthcare begs for more interactive strategies such as Content as Support, Content as Currency and Content as Community.

Reynick Martinez, Chief MarComm Officer at Presence Health, Illinois’ second-largest health system, shared that his brand’s major challenges are awareness and differentiation. His current campaign This is the power of Compassion, This is Presence differentiates Presence Health for its offering of compassionate care. The campaign focuses on the real, compassionate relationships Presence Health associates create in delivering care; all content leads back to this relationship-focused positioning.


Content as Presence and Content as a Window archetypes both could work as healthcare content marketing strategies if the most important objective was brand selection and the use case was a first experience. Once a patient has become a customer, then Content as Support or Content as Community archetypes could be useful.

At that stage of the patient journey, content can be broken down by need state and disease. Cancer care, for example, is a service line with plentiful opportunities for good, interactive content. Content for cancer patients can act as a community-building tool as it is shared amongst support groups for those inflicted by the disease.

Mike Yost, VP of Marketing, Outreach and Experience at Indiana University Health, agrees Content as Window is a primary anchor strategy, but at IU Health content is closely connected with customer experience. He said:

“As a category, we have an opportunity to improve when it comes to enhancing the digital customer experience, and targeted content plays a critical role in the process. At times customers can feel like they have hit a dead end in their search for information. Thus, improving our ability to design content based on a deep understanding of individual customer needs is critical to enhancing the overall digital experience.”

Matt Gove, Chief Consumer Officer at Piedmont Healthcare, took a posture close to Content as Window. Gove’s approach is focused on being relevant every day:

“Instead of doing what advertising tends to do, which is to tell people what’s great about you, what I thought was important for us was to invest resources in showing people what’s best about us. I have a journalism background so the format felt right to me. How do we tell stories that keep people engaged with us? Or create preference and loyalty? Stories on our website should validate decisions they have already made.”

In our interview, as a secondary approach, he also veered into Content as Currency territory:

“We need to be serving customers something that allows them to connect with us. The only place we have any legitimate voice is health, so how do we get into that lifestyle without feeling like a ‘me too.’ But I wanted to figure out how to build a relationship with customers, by finding a way to stay relevant to them when they’re not considering a purchase.”

Future Research on Content Archetypes

It’s interesting for us as strategists and content developers to see the archetypes play out across healthcare providers, and we’ll continue to explore how the industry is using them. Omar and I are currently fielding follow-up research to our “Key Elements of Building A Content Strategy” report and plan to provide hard numbers about content archetype use by industry. Subscribe to our mailing list and get immediate access to our research as it becomes available.