- Posted by Nigel Edelshain
- On February 4, 2017
If I had to bet on one thing you have not done, this would be it: I’d bet you have not developed personas of your patients.
I’d bet on this because I’ve developed a persona of you. My persona of you says you have very little time. And with very little time available this is a step in marketing it’s very tempting to skip. (I’ve skipped this step many times myself and I’m in marketing too.)
But skipping this step is a bad idea.
Having a well-defined patient persona (or more likely personas) is the root from which all your marketing stems. If the root is not firm, your marketing will not flourish.
Your messaging will miss the mark.Your website, e-newsletters, emails and social media posts won’t be as good as they could be. Your results will not be as good as they could be.
It’s about doing your homework
Coming up with a well-defined buyer persona is all about knowing your audience. Knowing your patients does not come about magically. It comes about through doing homework.
This homework includes:
- Interviewing real patients and asking them questions to understand them better (more on the questions you need to ask below)
- Asking staff in your hospital who interact with patients the same kind of questions
- Sending out a survey to ask your patients these questions
- Searching social media to see what your patients are saying online
Target markets are not personas
Before marketers had personas we had target markets. Personas and target markets (or target segments) are related but they are not the same.
A persona goes further than a target market definition by asking questions that are more personal.
In consumer goods a typical target market might be defined as “soccer moms: they drive a minivan, have 3 kids and have an average household income of $62,000 per year”. A persona includes this information but goes further, asking questions that “get you into your patient’s head”.
A patient persona template
So how do you actually put a patient persona together?
I know you don’t have much time, so if you’d like to just get cracking, grab our template for creating a persona here (no form).
Here are the 9 questions in our template and some notes on how to answer the questions:
- What is your patient’s demographic information?
This is the stuff that we’re used to in target marketing. What is the age range of your patient, are they male or female. College degree? Do they have a family? Where do they live? Do they drive a minivan?
- What does a day in your patient’s life look like?
So here’s where we burrow into our patient’s psychology and understand what their life looks like. So how is their day? Do they have a family? Are they rushing around? Do they commute to work? Are they juggling 100 things each day? Are they retired?
- What are their pain points?
What are they are struggling with? Maybe they have a chronic illness. Maybe they worry about the quality of care they may receive from a doctor. Maybe they have financial concerns. Maybe they are overwhelmed by the complexities of insurance.
- What do you help them solve?
So what does your hospital do for this type of patient? Do you have a department leading the way in a particular treatment or surgery? Which of their pain points do you address and how?
- What do they value most?
What do patients like this value most in a hospital? Is it great care in a particular speciality? Is it helping them understand and not worry about medical bills and insurance?
- What are your patient’s goals?
What do these patients hope to get from being treated at your hospital? Do they hope to be pain free quickly? Are they hoping to get back to an exercise program in 6 months?
- Where do they go for information?
Where do patients like this look for information on hospitals and health systems like yours? In magazines? Online? Where online? Do they ask other patients about their recommendations and experiences on social media? Of course, this all feeds into where you want to be.
- What experience are they looking for when seeking out your products or services?
What experience does the patient hope to get? Friendly staff? A clear explanation of their treatment? Quiet private rooms? Good food during their stay?
- What are their most common objections to your product or service?
What stops patients from coming to your type of hospital? What would make them choose a different hospital or an outpatient facility or do nothing at all.
In the end the quality of our marketing comes down to how well we understand the audience we are addressing. Persona marketing is a tool to push us to inquire more deeply about our prospective patients and document what we discover.
If you don’t already have personas of your patients, I think you’ll be surprised how much insight you get when you do develop them. You’ll also see how this insight helps you produce better marketing campaigns.
If you want to dig deeper into the subject of personas here’s a set of webinars by Hubspot on the subject.