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Amy Post
by Amy Post
on May 27, 2015

When you work in a highly regulated industry, it can be a struggle to make inbound work within the mountain of restrictions your business faces. You know you want to make rich, engaging content and marketing initiatives, but the lawyers and editors just chop it down to meet the endless requirements and restrictions of the business. It may seem like all your content suddenly becomes cluttered with boring disclaimers and legal jargon. Not only that, those lawyers and editors can take a ridiculously long time to review the material, which creates a host of other planning problems.

Some of the more common industries that face these types of regulation issues are:

  • Pharmaceuticals: Lawsuit claims against these companies happen all the time, so in order to prevent additional lawsuits and problems, they have a mountain of regulations to sift through.
  • Healthcare Companies: Because of local, state and national laws within the healthcare industry, these organizations can lose their license to operate if a marketing campaign goes wrong.
  • Liquor Companies: These companies are not permitted to market to anyone under 21 years old in the United States.

The good news is that inbound marketing CAN work for you, it just takes a little tweaking to fit within the parameters you are working with. To help you navigate through your regulations and restrictions, here are some best practice tips for inbound and regulated industries:

Best Practice Tip #1: Focus on The Real Purpose of Inbound 

Keep in mind that the goal of inbound marketing is not to provide so much information that your customer doesn’t need you anymore. The purpose of the process is to educate the audience enough so you prove to be trustworthy and knowledgeable. That way, your prospects can come to trust you with their business.  As someone who is an advisor on a complex problem or issue, you already know that you should never use your mass content to address or offer advice on a particular customer’s problem. With inbound marketing, you will instead establish trust through your well-written and informative content so they know you can resolve their particular issue or need.

Within regulated industries, it’s best to keep content focused on more generalized problems or needs of your customers. Use your content to illustrate common questions in a way that proves you understand the need they have and that you are equipped to handle it.

Best Practice Tip #2: Be a Master of Your Regulations 

To create the content and information your reader desires, you need to know the parameters of what you are allowed to present to your audience. That means you have a complete understanding of the restrictions on your industry. You also must remain up-to-date on the changes in those limitations. If possible, set up Google alerts and RSS feeds so you don’t miss a change that could potentially bite you later.

Best Practice Tip #3: Implement Effective Use of Disclaimers

Content development will likely include some beautiful (and lengthy) disclaimers within them somewhere. It’s just one of those things marketing professionals in these types of industries have come to know and understand. The best advice is to have a clear understanding of what your disclaimers are (Remember Best Practice Tip #2?). Then, before you send your content to be reviewed by the lawyers or compliance team, allocate enough space and make sure nothing in your content contradicts their content either.

Best Practice Tip #4: Have Realistic Timing Expectations

If you work in a regulated industry, that “Publish” button is not something you get to use without some serious time and effort. For example, a regulated industry may deal with content development steps like this:

  1. Blog content created
  2. Content sent for editing and design
  3. Reviewed by the lawyer or compliance team
  4. Content is sent back to the marketing team with changes or requested revisions (This process may be repeated several times)
  5. Content approved for publishing

Usually, marketing teams are creative people who are pretty eager to capitalize on an idea or opportunity. Unfortunately though, the compliance team is usually more concerned about any potential legal repercussions of that awesome idea. Understanding and respecting both sides of the process is essential to successful inbound marketing implementation. The inbound process is much easier for regulated companies if both sides of the organization focus on the process being a team effort, rather than the lawyers and compliance team's regulations vs. the marketing team’s timelines.

Best Practice Tip #5: Know Inbound Is Possible

The biggest hurdle to overcome is the acceptance that these regulations exist and finding creative ways to work inbound within those parameters. Thousands of regulated businesses are using the inbound process to generate interest in their products and services and grow their sales funnel. As marketing professionals, we are expected to get creative and find ways to get our business message across as effectively as possible despite the individual business challenges.

At ManoByte, we are working with businesses within regulated industries every day to ensure they are leveraging inbound marketing to grow their business.  We want to be the trusted resource companies turn to as they navigate the inbound process for their business. Contact us today if you want to understand more about how we take your marketing process to the next level.