Do you have a business of medical writing? Or are you thinking of starting one?
Or, are you looking to start or build your career in medical writing?

Here are some thoughts we’ve developed over time to help you think about marketing yourself.

Marketing? Did you say “Marketing?”

Yes, I did. Let me tell you how.

1. Medical Writer as the Introvert

A medical writing student of ours is a marvelous practitioner of the art, and we were having coffee one day and talking about what drew him to medical writing. He is a physician by training, but we think this insight applies to many of us in medical writing. (Jonathan was offering him advice on building his medical writing business… he was having a hard time of it.)

Medical writing is a very thoughtful process and profession, and our student is a very thoughtful guy, especially as we have seen his work product develop through one of our Courses.

He confided that he’s an introvert, and he’s very aware of it. When he talks he frequently does not make eye contact, but looks down close to his shoes. Very clearly present WITH us. Just not showing it with his physical body. The good news is, we all know he is thinking great thoughts.

We joked that an introvert physician looks down at his shoes, while an extrovert physician looks down at your shoes.

So, how does a medical writer, either introvert or extrovert, handle the growth of his/her business, when the idea of promotion or marketing or sales is:

We think the answers are fortunately simple, and quite actionable.

1. Medical Writer as the Extrovert

FIRST, you are promoting, marketing and selling your medical writing business today, whether you know it or not. You CAN work on being more effective.

Promotion, marketing and selling are all expressions of what a product, service or person is, what features and benefits it has. You are wonderful at what you do because you are a good receiver, an observant, thoughtful writer. AND, you are wonderful at what you do because you are authentic, effective and perhaps personable.

AND, while you are receiving information, you are absolutely sending out information as well. People see who you are, they get messages about you, from you.

You’re likely paying little attention to the quality or quantity of your outgoing content.

So, let’s not kid ourselves, and let’s stop the fantasy that you are not promoting, marketing, or selling. You ARE, merely by taking money from people for what you do.

Let’s focus more productively on what your outgoing messaging content is, and how you might make it more effective.

SECOND, I want you to be authentic as you consider your outgoing messaging content.

Know that you never have to be anything less or more than you are. If your training, research, and writing are strong, so is your authenticity. Promotion, marketing, and sales for you never have to be inauthentic. They can be strong, just as your training, research, and writing are. You are not misrepresenting, or over-pushing. You are simply being authentic with your clients and potential clients, and you are admitting that you have messages to share.

So, first, know that you do send messages, and second, know that they can come from your authentic training, research and writing.

Make a list of your authentic strengths. No hype, no pushy, no stretch. You know you’re good. Make a list.

THIRD. Now that we have you aware that you do have outgoing content to your clients, let’s reverse your talent for being a receiver, and focus on what your clients are receiving, from their perspective.

I’m not talking about your training, your research, or your great writing. That is not what your client receives. They don’t care about that. You do, but they don’t.

If you are having success with your clients, do you think they are telling their colleagues or bosses about your great training, your great research, your great writing? They might be, but that’s a sideline of the conversation.

The primary conversation with colleagues and bosses the great results your output is getting from readers or the audience, how smart they were to hire a good writer, how they delivered on time… not you…. they.

Make a list of your clients’ biggest problems or challenges, and match that with a list of the biggest benefits they enjoy as a result of your training, research and writing.

Challenges in Column 1 and benefits in Columns 2. Note here that we’re leaving out all the specialties and techniques you trained in and all of your science background. What matters is the client’s perceptions.

FOURTH, for each of the client problems and benefits you have listed, craft simple statements that explain how clients experience solutions to their problems with your help.

You want to focus on solving your client’s problem, not your expertise.
Refocus your phrasing to let clients know HOW you can help them.

Now you’ve got some messaging! Congratulations.
It’s about your clients and how they benefit, not you and what you do. Keep that focus in your marketing.

If you’ve completed the four steps above, you now realize you have:

– messaging
– that’s authentic
– that acknowledges client problems and the benefits they receive
– that’s crafted in client-centered statements
– that can be used in your more conscious marketing of your business
Does this speak to you?
What are your thoughts?
Try it and let me know how it goes?

2. How can I learn more?

Become a Member of the Medical Writing Network for FREE.  Follow our email series.

We’ll be talking a lot more about this, because finding work, getting clients, keeping clients, is a major endeavor for all medical writers.

Let us know what you think by emailingl us so we know what other advice or help you need.

We cherish feedback from you, and put it to good use, to your and everyone’s benefit.

Consider getting trained.

That’s a big part of what we are about.
Training exposes you to new ideas.
Training helps you get practice.
Training gives you feedback.
Training works.

Did you find this helpful?

Thank you very much for your feedback.

Any questions or comments, please email us. We are here to help!

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What is Medical Writing?

A lot of people ask what is medical writing so I looked it up on Wikipedia to see whether they knew. And they said it is the activity of producing scientific and medical documentation by a specialized writer. I’m Helen Baldwin, and I’m a medical writer and also I am the past president of an association, which is called the European Medical Writers Association. 

My medical writing is generally broken down into two categories. The first category is called regulatory writing and the second one is called medical communications. Regulatory writing is the sort of writing that is generally done in the pharmaceutical companies and it is the writing of documents that are related to the pharmaceutical development process. So, drug development and the people that we are writing regulatory documents for are the people who are performing clinical trials such as doctors and nurses. Also, the pharmaceutical companies themselves are the regulatory authorities which are the government bodies in each country that are in charge of deciding whether or not drugs are allowed to be marketed. So, what are the regulatory documents that we need to write about these clinical trials? Well, the first one is called a clinical study protocol and that is like a recipe book that explains to the doctors and the nurses how to actually perform the clinical trial so it is their instruction guideline. 

There is another sort of medical writing which is called medical communications and that is writing documents that are destined for healthcare professionals such as doctors and nurses who are actually prescribing the drugs and need to be able to make decisions about whether or not to prescribe a particular drug. 

We also write conference abstracts, conference posters, and slide presentations. Sometimes we are even lucky enough to be sent to a conference and to take notes during the conference and write a report about it.  

We also write educational tools for patients to understand more about the medications they are being prescribed. We also help write websites for pharmaceutical companies for research institutes etc. 

Some medical writers also participate in other activities. These include medical translations: translations from English into their native language or from their native language into English. 

So maybe you are asking yourself, am I the right sort of person to be a medical writer? I think that you need to understand complex science in any field. I think you need to be able to explain ideas in a clear and logical manner. You need to be someone who is good at presenting data in the most appropriate way. So, knowing how to decide where the data are best presented in tables or graphs or text. You need to be someone who can distinguish good science from bad science and recognize when data are biased. You need to be able to write short clear sentences and to build a logical argument. You need to be able to organize information in a clear way using headings and subheadings.

So what would be the required experience and qualifications that you would need if you were thinking about becoming a medical writer?
Well, I would say that firstly it would be very helpful to have a scientific or medical qualification. If you have a science background and you’ve done laboratory research in a University, for example, you would find that useful. Especially if you had also written during your research career some scientific publications because that is one of the things that you will probably do as a medical writer.

So where do medical writers work?
If you were thinking of looking for a job as a medical writer you could contact pharmaceutical companies, you could contact the sort of company that is called a contract research organization or a CRO which is a company that organizes clinical research on behalf of the pharmaceutical industry. There are also medical communications agencies and specialized writing companies such as my own company. You could also work for a University. Last but not least there are many freelance medical writers who actually work from their own homes.

The European Medical Writers Association has been around for 20 years now. In fact, this is our 20th birthday. We are an association of more than 1000 members. We have two conferences each year and up to around 300 people attend each of these conferences. They are a fantastic opportunity for networking, for meeting other medical writers and also for training. These workshops are provided by experienced medical writers who very generously and on a volunteer basis share their knowledge and expertise with us, and with their colleagues. I really love these conferences and I have been to nearly every conference for the last 13 years since I’ve been a member. There are a lot of advantages of being a member. One of those advantages is that you will receive our journal every quarter. We also have a fantastic website, and this website has an incredible resource for medical writers and for people who are thinking about being medical writers. I highly recommend people to join. 

I have to say, I really love medical writing. I find it very rewarding and very satisfying I get to use my scientific education and skills every day. I am constantly learning and having to keep up with the latest science, which changes very fast. And, of course, I love EMWA, the European Medical Writers Association because medical writers really are very friendly people.