Posted: February 16, 2017

When I first started at Influence Health as a content marketing writer, before I ever put pen to page/finger to keyboard, my first task was persona development. As a seasoned writer and marketer, why would I begin this way? Why wouldn’t I just start cranking out content? Everyone knows “Content is King,” right? Actually, in content marketing, and really in all marketing, Audience is King.

The most effective marketing is all about your audience. It’s not about you and how great you are – it’s about reaching through the noise and connecting with people on a personal level, understanding their problems. So making me slow down and understand my audience (You!) first, was crucial.

The same principle applies to healthcare marketing.

Of course, healthcare is more complicated. Unlike in retail where a company might have two or three different types of buyers for their particular brand of shoe, healthcare marketers are managing many different goals and priorities across service lines, physicians, etc. Plus, healthcare marketing has an inherent complexity because of privacy and security concerns. Your audience is essentially the entire population of your city or region, and you can’t talk directly about some of their most sensitive health issues.

By defining different segments of your audience through persona mapping, you can determine which message is most appropriate, at what time, and across what channel. You wouldn’t necessarily Snapchat your 75-year-old grandmother, and you probably wouldn’t write a letter to your 3-year-old niece.

Persona building is all about efficient marketing. You need to know which messages work best for which parts of your audience, so you can maximize your time and budget and not waste those precious resources on someone who doesn’t care about your message.

Personas keep you on target. And you can create as many as you need to serve as many of your goals and audience segments as makes sense. Hubspot defines a buyer persona as: “a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers. When creating your buyer persona(s), consider including customer demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals. The more detailed you are, the better.

You can create a persona for an arthroscopic surgery candidate or a cardiology patient, even an adult child caring for a parent. But unlike in other industries, healthcare marketers need to consider more than just the ideal consumer. You have to keep who your population actually is in mind. This is where data, from your CRM or web analytics, etc. helps.

So how do I do it?

Creating personas isn’t terribly difficult, especially if you have great market research, but it does require some time and thought. Create a list of relevant demographic and health questions, and then respond to those questions for each service line or goal you’re marketing for.

As you consider each buyer persona, there are also some key questions you should ask yourself along the way about their individual journeys through your health system.

  • What’s the general length of time from first marketing touch to scheduled appointment (or seminar signup?)
  • How can you encourage more people to schedule?
  • How can you nurture relationships along the way?
  • Where do your consumers generally exit the funnel?
  • How can you generate more broad awareness and engagement?

Once you have this framework in place, you can start creating stellar, engaging messages to push across channels so each of your persona groups sees relevant advertising, content, and calls-to-action, specific to their needs.

Want to learn more about building personas and other healthcare marketing tips, templates, and tools? Download our free Healthcare Digital Marketing Toolkit today.