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As you consider plans and goals for the new year, we encourage you to focus on the editorial calendar for 2023. Editorial calendars, which have traditionally been used by news and media outlets, list coverage planned for the year. For example, an outlet may develop focus sections to explore issues of relevance to their readership, viewership, or listenership. These topics are accompanied by scheduled run dates. Dermatology practices, too, can leverage this organizational tool. Additionally, your practice may wish to leverage other organizations’ editorial calendars.

The Backbone of Solid Content Development Strategies

Health care practitioners intimately understand the importance of developing routines and habits. Your patients may embody the challenges and opportunities presented by forming and sustaining healthy habits. They may struggle with maintaining consistent skin checks or using proper sun protection measures. Once the routine is established, though, there is considerable peace of mind and certainly other benefits associated with healthier, more beautiful skin.

The development of a marketing calendar supports a beneficial routine. A little consideration up front can save you a lot of hassle and time in the long run.

You may already have some sort of informal plan in place regarding preferred content, news, and communications to share with your valued communities. For instance, you may be aware that a new laser system launching in Q1 calls for some sort of announcement or promotion to your patients. Furthermore, you may know other new technologies, team members, proprietary products, partnerships, or locations demand attention on social platforms, e-blasts, newsletters, YouTube, TikTok, and other channels. Likewise, you may have some vague notion of creating and publishing articles on your blog or website about abating dry skin in the winter or the “ABCDEs” of melanoma to coincide with awareness months—from National Cancer Prevention Month in February to Skin Cancer Awareness Month in May.

How is this informal (“It is all organized in my head somewhere!”) approach to developing, managing, and deploying content working out for you? You may be intimately aware of the problems that arise with unstructured, nebulous “wish lists.”

Marketing calendars provide much-needed structure, but they need not be designed in an overly complex or sophisticated way. Simply go the “old-school” route. Create a list of topics to explore and news items to promote in a document. Print and post it in the office for appropriate team members to peruse. Ensure the list is modifiable through a secure internal server or file-sharing platform. Use what has worked for you, your associates, and your staff in the past—no need to reinvent the wheel here.

The overarching idea is to go beyond the onslaught of randomly suggested ideas thrown out at the most inconvenient times. By developing a calendar, your team has a dedicated hub to brainstorm and store their thoughts, ideas, and novel approaches to topics. By “writing it down,” there is also a level of accountability. Think of the calendar as your team’s “accountability partner.” The calendar embodies how you all are in it together. Your plans are “set in stone.” There is a much higher likelihood of goals’ coming to fruition when objectives are “set” and when an entire team of individuals is engaged, motivated, and inspired by each other.

Successful Content Strategizing in 1, 2, 3 …

Congratulations! By resolving to commit to a calendar-driven strategy, you avoid missed opportunities. You no longer have the new treatment or product that wasn’t promoted (or promoted adequately) or the stressed-out associates and staff scrambling at the last possible moment to push something, anything, out there to the social universe. The content was lifeless at best, full of grammatical mistakes and technical inaccuracies at worst—simply because all-important announcements and opportunities to educate, inform, and inspire were left to chance.

The path to quality, timely, consistent, impactful content that further leads to more patients and stronger practice “advocates” is characterized by the following straightforward steps:

1. Brainstorm the skin care, health, and other dermatology-specific topics you wish to communicate to your community in the coming months. We encourage you to plan as far into the new year as possible. The more time on your side, the better.

2. Inventory the anticipated practice- and team-specific news. What plans are in motion to, for instance, expand in the market in the coming year?

3. Consider all the topics and news items that surface during your brainstorming. Narrow those items down to your “stars” for content.

4. When selecting topics and items to pursue in 2023, confirm their relevance to your current and aspirational patients. Solidify just how these topics align with your team’s in-house capabilities and expertise.

5. Take a good, hard look at what you are trying to accomplish with each topic, issue, or announcement. Do you need to provide education on a new treatment? Are you looking to entertain your current and future “fans” with interesting or funny content on skin, hair, and nails? Defined goals for content also inform the development of that content. Posts can be built around clear objectives. You never lose sight of what you are trying to accomplish and your community’s unique composition.

6. Clarify the “treatment” you wish to give each topic. Does the content lend itself well to video? Podcasts? Think of all the ways each item will resonate with your community. Also, note if announcements or topics lend themselves well to promotions, such as product giveaways or cross-promotion.

7. Once you have ironed out how each topic or news item will be used, isolate a “run date” when such content will publish or go live. Establish a “deadline” that represents the last possible day content can be submitted. That way, you are not scrambling to complete the news item before your launch date.

8. Include with each item the individual assigned to submit such content. Depending on the internal composition of your practice and its structure, this feature of the marketing calendar may be self-explanatory. An administrator or employee may already be assigned such responsibilities. If not, a good practice is to assign content to the individuals who know it best. When enlisting this strategy, there is less risk of errors. Additionally, the authentic passion for the topic often comes through in the typed or spoken word when the creator is genuinely jazzed about it.

9. Make use of pre-developed content! A myriad of content is available on specific topics of interest in dermatology circles through professional and industry associations. Use it! For starters, articles and other forms of collateral have generally been vetted by other dermatologists. The information is there to take, simply reference, or cite as needed or noted.

10. Lastly, be sure to leverage other organizations’ calendars. By that, pinpoint local, regional, and national business, trades, industry, and professional publications. For instance, you could engage with these outlets as a guest author or regular contributor. You may offer yourself up as a source for a relevant focus or special section, whereby the topics within the area align with your expertise.

Experts Available

Of course, if you struggle with any aspect of marketing strategy, enlist an expert in health care marketing communications. Their expertise may be applied to work with your team in a scalable way that also complements other operational goals and factors, such as your budget.

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