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From the Trenches

Your Product Marketing Isn’t Cutting It. You Need Content Marketing.

Mike Sweeney | June 18, 2024
product marketing vs. content marketing

The use of technology continues to revolutionize the healthcare industry at breakneck speed. Yet as progressive as many healthtech companies are in terms of their product and service offerings, their marketing — which is usually focused on old-school product marketing — trails their peers in other technology sectors.

To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with product slicks, brochures, big launch events, and the other methods that make up product marketing. Each has its place in the sales process.

But when you combine an increasingly discerning business buyer who desires education over selling along with a rising crop of younger, digitally savvy decision makers, traditional product marketing falls short.

To complement your product marketing efforts, you need stellar healthtech content marketing. I’m talking about long-form blog posts, white papers, eBooks, videos, and case studies — the whole nine yards. But just as important, you need a comprehensive content distribution strategy. 

5 Reasons Content Marketing Is Essential for Your Product’s Success

1. Content marketing aligns with decision-makers’ current buying patterns.

In general, the traditional product marketing and sales methods require human-to-human interaction. The problem? Up to 80% of the B2B sales process happens before any human interaction occurs.

Thanks in large part to Google, modern business people conduct self-led online research to make most of their decisions. This is perhaps even truer in a post-COVID world where many prefer to do everything (or as much as possible) from home.

Here’s how it works: Right now, potential customers are browsing your and your competitors’ websites looking for the right fit. They’re not talking to you or your salespeople. In reality, they may convert — or leave you behind forever — without ever talking to someone. But trust us, they’re lurking.

If your product specs, features, technology, and price points (read: your product marketing) are on par with others in the healthtech industry, what will propel prospects to choose you over your competitors? What makes your product stand out?

The answer, of course, is exceptional content marketing.

Content marketing gives you the space and opportunity to prove your expertise, which establishes trust and sets you apart even if your technology seems the same as others’ in your sales materials. With content marketing, you can give your target audience solid advice about which product to choose and why. As they continue to read and become captivated by your content, you’re subtly establishing loyalty and convincing them that your product is in fact the best choice out there. The more they know, the better they’ll feel about taking the leap to buy.

Most importantly, effective content gives you an outlet to show readers you empathize with their pain points in a way “cold” sales materials never could.

Think of it this way: You can show your human side and connect with that anonymous online prospect even if you never have the chance to meet them face to face. 

2. Content marketing satisfies top-of-funnel prospects and Google.

As we said, no one’s denying that straight-up sales content matters. But it shouldn’t be used at the top of the funnel. Period.

Top-of-funnel folks are just looking to learn, especially in the healthtech space where a lot of the products, services, and software platforms are brand new and confusing.

Take this example: One of our clients created software that tracks medical equipment (think defibrillators and oxygen concentrators) throughout a hospital without tapping into the Wi-Fi. Hospital admins understand the general concept and importance of equipment findability, of course, but they likely need guidance on how it runs without Wi-Fi and, crucially, why that matters to them.

These kinds of early stage, answer-seeking prospects will be turned off by hit-them-over-the-head sales pitches and product details — at least at first. They need to be guided through the funnel with lighter touch content that aims to educate, empathize, and connect.

In other words, buy your early stage prospects dinner first.

Also, top-of-funnel content tends to be your best SEO fodder. For one, when done right, a blog post is longer than a brochure. And Google seriously values long-form, expert content and rewards it accordingly when it provides valuable, in-depth information that meets user needs.

Finally, well-done top-of-funnel content answers questions — meaning it incorporates keywords — real people are asking Google. Product marketing doesn’t do this as well because it uses company- and product-specific language rather than high-search-volume phrases. 

3. Content marketing is never out of the office.

Part of the reason some product marketing methods — like in-person sales meetings and hard-copy collateral materials — aren’t enough is because they aren’t “on” 24/7. Your salesperson goes on vacation. Industry conferences end. Hospital admins don’t want to talk all day.

Content marketing, on the other hand, is always working. Even if it’s 2:00 a.m. on Tuesday night, a single blog post that ranks for a killer keyword — say paperless patient intake — will attract prospects to your site. Also, while you should refresh your content, you only have to do the hard work of writing a blog post or producing a video once and it could continue to convert leads for years.

Put simply, content marketing is your nonstop lead-gen machine. 

4. Content marketing combats M&A and technology confusion.

As you’re well aware, there’s tons of merger and acquisition (M&A) activity in the healthtech world. If you’ve gone through these types of transactions, you know how product and/or service lines get extended as two (or more) companies come together as one.

Product marketing falls seriously short in this common scenario.

Suddenly, previously competing product marketers are expected to cooperate and function side by side. But they often disagree on how to talk about and “package” their new collective offering.

Enter content marketing.

As mentioned, content marketing pieces are usually longer, more robust, and more explanatory than numbers-and-facts sales collateral. There’s plenty of space to explain everything — including how the product and/or services work together and, most importantly, how they bring value to the customer. 

5. Content marketing is already competing against you.

If nothing else, you need content because your competition has content. And their strategies are becoming more robust all the time, we assure you. You may as well borrow and adapt (and improve upon) what your competitors are doing.

Healthtech organizations who fail to see the value in content marketing and enact a plan will fall into laggard status sooner rather than later — even those with impressive, promising products.

Look, the healthtech world is only becoming more competitive and harder to rank for on search engine result pages. In fact, Google made at least nine algorithm updates in 2023 alone. And each time it does that, it rewards remarkable content.

But if your content doesn’t even exist, Google can’t help you.

Editor’s note: This content was originally published on August 27, 2021, and has been updated to maintain its relevance.

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About Mike Sweeney:

As Right Source’s co-founder and CEO, Mike Sweeney creates, plans, and implements our vision, mission, culture, and strategic direction as well as serving as an advisor to our clients. Mike received a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a major in marketing from the University of Notre Dame and has more than 20 years of experience in B2B marketing strategy, including digital, content, and marketing technology. You can find Mike on LinkedIn.