One of the biggest hurdles to overcome with marketing your practice is the fact that all of your patients are different. They have different needs and values, and they respond to different things. Very few marketing messages are universally appealing.
Many different types of businesses combat this problem by creating customer personas, which they then use to plan out marketing strategies. You can apply this same strategy to your practice by creating patient personas.
What Are Patient Personas?
Patient personas help you segment your patient base into similar groups, so you can better target your marketing messages. While no two patients are exactly alike, you can likely find some commonality among the different types of patients you see in your office, as well as the type of patients you want to see.
Patient personas should help you easily manage your marketing messages and make them more personal. Personas can include demographic data like age, gender, and income, but it should go beyond that to identify patient wants and needs. Persona-building includes learning about patients’ lifestyles and health concerns. If you don’t know what your patients want and need, then the first step is getting to know more about your patients beyond their ailments.
It helps to give your personas a name for quick reference. For example, Concerned Carl is a retired older man with recurring health problems. He has a wife, children, and grandchildren, and is concerned about his health getting in the way of spending time with his family. He asks lots of questions, and may need more guidance than other patients.
Your practice may have several “Carls.” When you start noticing patterns like these among your patients, that is a persona. These personas allow you to better communicate with your patients, because they help you understand what your patients want from your practice.
Building Out Your Patient Personas
Ready to create your patient personas and improve your practice’s marketing? Here are some things to consider when building out your patient personas.
What are the patient’s values?
When building out your patient personas, it is important to understand the values of each patient persona. A patient’s values greatly influence the decision-making process. To effectively market to a particular group of patients, you need to appeal to their core values. For example, a patient who values family might be motivated to get treatment if it means they can spend more time with their loved ones. A patient that values shared decision-making will be motivated by open conversations with their physicians and informative materials. Values are key to helping you understand and develop effective patient personas for your marketing.
What are the patient’s needs?
Needs are different from values in that a patient may not know exactly what they need, or may avoid those needs due to fears or other environmental factors. As a medical practice, you need to guide patients in the right direction to help patients understand their needs and make sure they are met.
An obvious need for a patient is to get healthy, but you have to go deeper than that when building out your patient personas. Patients with chronic health problems like diabetes or arthritis will have different healthcare needs than patients who have an injury or illness that can be treated and resolved within a couple of office visits. A patient’s needs could include adhering to the treatment plan, maintaining a healthy diet, exercise, or even getting treatment at all. A patient’s needs are the things that must be addressed to help them get healthy.
What are the patient’s fears?
Fear is one of the biggest obstacles in getting through to patients. However, it’s important to understand and consider patient fears when building out your patient personas. By gaining a better understanding of what holds your patients back, you can figure out how to get through to them. For example, if a patient fears unnecessary treatment, you can combat that by providing them with information that backs up your recommendations. If a patient is afraid of surgery, you may be able to use patient testimonials to put them at ease.
In some cases, fear can also motivate patients to get things done. For example, a patient that fears losing out on family time may be more receptive to your treatment recommendations if it enables them to spend more time with their family. By understanding your patients’ fears, you can frame the conversation in a way that addresses those fears and puts the patient at ease.
Applying Patient Personas to Your Marketing
In evaluating your patients’ wants, needs, and fears, you can probably start to identify common scenarios and build out your patient personas. From there, you can use those personas to develop marketing materials, informative content, and processes to get through to these patients and get them the medical care they need.
- Assign each patient to a persona. This may take some work to set up initially with your current patient base, but should be easier to establish into your workflow with new patients. There are different ways to track personas, including adding notes in your patient files. Just make sure personas are noted in an internal system that patients can’t access. Even though personas are meant to improve patient communication, patients may not appreciate being categorized. Choose the way that makes the most sense for your practice and is easiest to understand.
- Use patient personas to tailor your marketing messages. Each patient persona is different, and your messaging for each persona should be different, as well. Persona-specific messaging can be applied to advertising, content marketing, email marketing, and social media efforts for your practice. Each persona has different needs, and you should create different types of content to meet those needs.
- Use personas to help identify communication channels. You may find that each patient persona is more receptive to one communication channel over others. For example, a patient persona representing younger patients may prefer to communicate via text messaging or email. A patient persona representing older patients may prefer to communicate over the phone. Knowing this information, you can apply patient personas to streamline your communication with patients.
Patient personas can help your practice personalize marketing and improve communication with your patients. It may take some effort to figure out and assign your patient personas, but the potential benefits are worth it.