Despite the fact that the human condition is at the center of everything you do, the truth is that without insights it can be difficult to create truly human-centered marketing in healthcare.

For example, if I told you to come up with a way to market emergency services to retirees, what might you come up with? You might suggest something that your hospital already does, like ER billboards, or, perhaps you don’t know where to start. This can happen because “retirees” is such a broad category that encompasses many different people with different values and motivations. Without knowing where to begin, it’s easy to play it safe (and bore your prospects) or not know where to go at all.

You can overcome this issue by creating personas that bring to life user data for a target audience.

As we’ve  discussed before, personas, or consumer profiles, can be powerful tools for building an effective healthcare marketing and communications strategy. Frequently used in design thinking and content marketing applications, personas are fictional characters based on composites of real people that bring a target audience to life.

The Value of In-Depth Healthcare Marketing Personas

Human-centric healthcare marketers build personas to envision and understand their stakeholders- patients, providers, and caregivers through a human-to-human lens. Personas help you understand what these stakeholders may Think, Feel, and Do when engaging with your healthcare organization. They enable you to see the world through their eyes, and understand what drives their actions and interactions with your healthcare organization.

Having established personas makes it easier to understand, embody, and contextualize the points of view of others. Likewise, personas can help you identify issues and opportunities for improving healthcare interactions. Finally, personas can humanize the process and help to generate compelling narratives that reflect the people you serve.

Crafting healthcare personas is a key step in developing an authentic marketing voice for your organization. They can help guide your strategy, spark creative ideas, or simply help you keep the focus on your audience. But personas aren’t just related to demographics. While things like age, gender, and income are important, they often play a secondary role in a person’s decision-making. Think about it—when was the last time you decided to do something because of how old you are?

When you’re building a persona, consider information beyond demographics. Think about their background, beliefs, values, motivations, job, marital status, children, faith, hobbies, strengths, weaknesses, and perception of health and wellbeing. The more detailed a persona is, the better it performs. And therein lies the rub. How do you get down to this granular detail in an accurate and effective way?

Often, we recommend that your personas be informed insights gained through conducting ethnographic research in your community. But that may not be an option available to you, in which case you will be on your own to imagine your personas based on your own perceptions and experiences. And he fact is, creating personas in a vacuum without this insight can be tough.

How to Create Personas Without Real-World Insights

Creative block is real, and it can be an uncomfortable feeling when that blank persona template stares back at you. Instead of trying to remember everything, turn to these 33 questions to break the mold and put yourself in the shoes of your stakeholder:

1. How would we describe this person if we were a family member, friend, or neighbor?

2. What’s their name?

3. How old are they?

4. Where do they live?

5. Who is a part of their family?

6. Are they married, single, in a relationship?

7. What’s their education?

8. What do they do for a living?

9. What are their beliefs, values, and motivations?

10. What’s their personal life like?

11. What’s their culture or heritage?

12. How social are they?

13. What’s their professional life like?

14. What gives them fulfillment?

15. What makes them happy, sad, stressed, or frustrated?

16. What roles do they play in their home? Or outside of their home?

17. To whom are they important?

18. How would friends or family describe them?

19. What’s their personality like?

20. What do they enjoy doing?

21. What’s their level of physical fitness?

22. What’s their health like?

23. How’s their physical, mental, and emotional state?

24. What are their goals and struggles?

25. What do they worry about?

26. What have they overcome in their life?

27. Who do they trust?

28. Who supports them?

29. Who do they go to for advice?

30. What are their trusted sources of information?

31. What is their experience with technology?

32. What’s their ‘healthy’?

33. What does ‘wellness’ mean to them?

Tying It All Together

Effective healthcare marketing personas go beyond the expected components of demographics and media consumption habits and provide a snapshot of the human condition. While not all of the questions above may be important or relevant to your organization, considering these questions should provide you with the inspiration needed to dig deeper and develop more human-centric personas that can be mapped to your strategy.

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