If a 37-year-old married mom of two walked through the doors of your medical practice, would you immediately prescribe treatment? Of course not. You need to know more information—a lot more—before you can make a diagnosis.
But for some reason, when it comes to marketing, we try to do exactly that. We create marketing campaigns based on bare bones demographic data, without taking the time to get to know the real people who will read what we’ve written.
We shouldn’t be surprised when we don’t see results. So how can we create marketing campaigns people care about? How can we write content they will read?
Successful healthcare marketing isn’t as hard as you think. It starts with patient personas.
Healthcare Marketing Personas: More Than Market Segmentation
Market segmentation has been around a long time. Dividing people into categories based on age, gender or income level is nothing new. But patient personas dig deeper than that. With audience segmentation, you’re still speaking to a large group of people, and that makes it hard to get specific.
Patient personas, by contrast, distill data, demographics, preferences and motivations down to create a single person. That person represents a patient who could walk in the door of your practice at any moment.
For example, let’s meet Vigilant Valerie:
Age: 37 years old
Family: Married with 2 children
Education: Has a bachelor’s degree
Work: Works part-time as an administrative assistant
Total Household Income: $75,000 with insurance benefits
Valerie has always been health conscious. She buys organic, local food whenever possible, limits sugar and exercises regularly. Now that she has kids, she’s more concerned than ever that she’s making the right choices for their long-term health. She has a child with celiac and the whole family eats gluten-free for that reason. She frequently researches health-related topics like food allergies, gluten-free recipe options and screen time limits for children. She is very informed about her child’s medical condition and she wants a doctor who will respect her preferences and offer suggestions within that framework.
Wouldn’t it be easier to create offers and write content for Vigilant Valerie than for an anonymous married mom of two in her 30s who works part-time? Valerie lives and breathes. She has real health concerns, specific goals, and a unique approach to medical care. She’s a real person.
And that’s the power of personas.
Bringing Your Patient Personas to Life
But you can’t just make up a persona, even if it seems like a reasonable representation of your patients. And you can’t use a persona that worked for someone else. Healthcare marketing personas are fictitious, but the information you use to create them comes from actual patients who have interacted with you. They need to represent your audience. Here’s how to create them:
1. Gather Data
Start with what you know. Use data you may have collected from email subscribers or forms on your website. Look for basic demographics and behavior patterns that will form the outline for your persona. You should also include information like which pages on your website receive the most visits and what people click on most.
2. Brainstorm With Your Team
Next, talk to your team about their observations. What questions have patients asked them? What kinds of content have received good interaction from your current audience? What are the most frequently read posts?
3. Talk to Real People
To flesh out your personas with the details that make them powerful marketing assets, you’ll need to get input from real patients. Conduct surveys or interviews with loyal patients who represent your target audience. Ask them questions about what they’re looking for, why they chose your practice, what they like about their doctor, how they search for health information online and what kinds of content are most helpful.
As you’re conducting research, remember that the goal isn’t to create an “average” patient. It’s to create one specific patient—one person—who has clear needs and challenges.
What Does Your Patient Persona Tell You About Marketing?
Now you have a detailed description of an ideal patient—someone who is looking for a practice like yours. What do you do with that persona? You use it to build connections.
Here are some things your patient persona can tell you about your marketing strategy:
- How to choose offers and topics that people will respond to. Vigilant Valerie has goals, challenges and motivations. You can use those to create targeted content that speaks to her needs.
- What style and tone to use. Valerie also has very strong ideas and opinions about the health of her family. She won’t respond to a tone that seems to minimize her concerns or disregard her preferences. She wants to have a conversation with someone who respects her. Content aimed at Valerie should reflect that.
- Where to promote your content. Your research will reveal where Valerie spends most of her time and how she prefers to receive content. If she’s hanging out on social media, promote your content there. If she is more likely to respond to email offers or postcard mailers, you’ll want to create campaigns on those channels.
The detail of healthcare marketing personas is precisely what makes them so powerful. If you need more ideas on how to create an inbound strategy using your personas, call one of our healthcare marketing consultants for your free consultation!