Personas, or customer profiles, can be powerful tools for building an effective sales and marketing strategy or creating the perfect product.

What are personas?

Personas are fictional characters that brings a target audience to life. They contain the usual metrics like demographics and attitudes on health, and more obscure information, such as hobbies, media consumption, and personal values. The more detailed a persona is, the better they perform.

A well built persona paints a clear picture of a segment of your audience, which makes it easier to come up ideas. For example, if I told you to come up with a way to market women’s health services to retirees, what might you come up with? You might already have some ideas, but it’s more likely that you won’t know where to start. Because retirees is such a broad category, it’s difficult to make a deep connection.

To tackle this issue, create fictional characters or ‘personalities’ that bring to life user data for a target audience. Anticipate and understand what patients, providers and caregivers may think, do and feel when engaging in a particular product, service or experience with your healthcare organization.

Personas make it easier to understand and embody the point of view of others and to identify issues and opportunities for improving healthcare interactions. Personas also humanize the process and help to generate compelling narratives that reflect the people you serve.

It is important not to base personas off of known individuals as this can inhibit perception. Use personas as an engaging exercise with your marketing team to reflect on the individuals that you aim to serve, and assess whether the means for engagement is relevant or if additional opportunities may exist.

We recommend conducting the appropriate user research prior to engaging in this exercise. Be cognizant of your organization’s policies and procedures when conducting research.

 Advantages of using one

  • Personas keep the focus on the people, which helps you come up with answers that address their needs.
  • Personas make it easier to understand and embody others’ point of view, and to identify issues and opportunities for improving healthcare interactions.
  • Personas build empathy and humanizes the process, helping to generate compelling narratives that reflect the people you serve.
  • Personas facilitate communication and decision making for the marketing team, which improves workflow and increases productivity.
  • Personas provide a preliminary way of measuring marketing success, serving as a litmus test for marketing ideas.

Addressing common concerns

Personas are a waste of time and energy, why should I spend time creating fake people when I could spend my time actually marketing?

A key component of success in marketing is the ability to connect with the target audience. Going without a persona can often lead to marketers substituting themselves or, worse still, stereotypes in for their audience. Moving forward in those situations can easily result in tone-deaf messages that harm the organization’s brand.

If I build and use personas, I will be so focused on marketing to one group that I’ll miss the rest of my market. When a marketer decides to focus on the “entire” market, what they’re really doing is marketing the the average person. The reasoning, it’s assumed, is that this way they can cover the most number people. This turns out to be a fool’s errand, however, as the average does not exist and by focusing on marketing to the “average” they end up marketing to exactly no one.

Use personas in your marketing efforts

Personas make a lot of sense for healthcare marketing. Give them a try. Bring them to your next meeting. Having them will help you focus your team to create more patient-centered marketing.

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