There’s no reason a website should take years to develop, yet sometimes they do. The biggest reason is not the design or programming that goes into it. Invariably, the primary roadblock is the copy.
It’s a common challenge across healthcare and community-based organizations of different sizes, with different missions, in different places, with different budgets.
And yet your website is your primary marketing tool. Ultimately, it’s the destination to which all your paid, earned, and social media outreach steers your audience. The URL is splashed all over your print communication. When folks in your community research hip replacements or look for a new physician or seek mental health care, they wind up on your site.
So your content has to be on point — engaging, effective, accurate, educational. It’s a big ask. No wonder organizations struggle with content creation.
In our experience with healthcare systems and community-based organizations, clients have shared a bunch of reasons why they think their internal people are best suited to create content for the website:
— We’ve got all this existing stuff from other projects: old brochures, presentation decks, press releases, bios of all our docs. We can just pull all that together for the website.
— We’ll ask all the department heads to write material about their specialty areas; they’re the subject-matter experts.
— Our marketing team has a couple of really talented writers; we’ll just have them write everything.
— Our budget is tight. It will be more cost-effective if we provide all the content and then the outside partner agency that’s helping us create the site can just “clean it up.”
— All that existing stuff is outdated, originated in different campaigns, and is full of holes. A healthcare or community-based organization’s website is most powerful when it communicates expertise and care in a consistent voice that inspires confidence and conveys compassion. It’s enormously challenging to stitch together content cobbled together from a range of internal sources into a cohesive whole. Any disconnected messaging sows confusion and undermines trust among your audience.
— Content provided by your department leaders is written by clinicians for clinicians. More than ever, health agencies and care systems need to communicate with consumers in a decidedly non-clinical way. Patient-centered messaging speaks to real people with real needs and concerns; it’s about them, not about your docs. Practitioners tend to find it difficult to communicate from the patient’s perspective — after all, they’re medical experts, not marketing writers. Plus, do they really have time to write copy for you? And do you want to hound them over missed deadlines?
— Speaking of having time to write copy: Tasking your small marketing team with developing content, in addition to their existing scope of work, is often the source of the content bottleneck in a large-scale website initiative.
Which brings us to budget. Marketing leaders often hesitate to add a line item for outside content development to a website project. But allocating resources for copywriting yields a strong ROI.
Engaging a content writer instead of DIY’ing it overcomes the biggest obstacle in website development: time. Outsourcing copy ensures that you get quality work, on schedule — so you don’t have to delay delay delay or launch with content that’s 75% complete (and promises that you’ll fix it later).
A specialist content writer marries marketing chops, familiarity with the healthcare field, and most important, a consumer’s perspective. They’re also effective collaborators. They’ll gather input from your internal stakeholders and interview your department heads. A skilled writer is great at translating complex subject matter into messages that are simple and relevant and emotionally relatable, so your consumers understand and take action. While they’ll certainly borrow from your existing materials, the writer’s goal is to create fresh content that works as a whole to communicate in your organization’s distinctive voice.
Because the writer works in parallel with designers and developers on the project, there’s no lag time while the copy is generated. Content pros know how to write specifically for the web: they understand how users navigate and how search-engine optimization works, and are comfortable creating copy that fits different online needs. Plus, outcomes are typically better when the writer works in parallel with the designers, as often one will influence the other, which ensures a cohesive whole..
And ultimately, we’ve found, the cost of hiring a writer is equal to or less than the expense of editing, unifying, and rewriting material we’ve been given by our client partners. It’s more resource-intensive to remedy poor-quality content than to create great stuff from scratch.
A website overhaul is a major initiative for any organization, and it should be. It’s important to get it right. Content is the key asset, and it’s worth investing in.
If you’d like help investing in your website content, let’s get in touch.
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Tenth Crow Creative is a communications agency that creates, aligns, and promotes the external and internal messaging for organizations that support living healthier lives.
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