Developing your Patient Personas allows you to be highly effective in delivering the messaging your patients want to hear.
As step #2 of our Medical Practice Marketing Strategy Plan, this article provides you a structure and process for building out your critically important patient personas.
In our article, Your Simple Medical Practice Marketing Guide, we outlined a 5-point plan that is designed to help your medical practice outperform your industry peers, as well as add significantly to your bottom line.
This article represents step #2 of that 5-point marketing guide: Developing your Patient Personas.
To begin, let’s do a quick recap to define what “patient persona” means and why it is a critical aspect to your 5-point medical practice marketing plan, as well as your medical practice's digital marketing activities..
Patient Persona Defined
A “Patient persona" can be characterized as a person, imagined or real, whom you either want to win as a patient, or keep delighted as an existing patient. Patient personas are based on market research and real data about your existing and target patients.
Developing your patient personas is critical in that you need to define whom you want to target as a patient before presenting them with your messaging. This will help ensure that your messaging is accurate in creating interest and intrigue with your medical practice and ultimately winning (and keeping) patients.
In addition, building out your patient personas will allow you to harmonize your messaging with your brand identity (step #1 in the 5-step medical practice marketing plan).
Now, unless you have a significant budget and are able to hire a market research agency to create your patient personas for you, you will have to do this on your own. But have no fear! You can get this information yourself with a little time and effort.
Where can I get patient persona information?
Now that you know about the importance of patient personas and that you can indeed research this on your own, the next question to ask is from whom can you get information to build out your patient personas in the first place? Here are three suggestions:
1. Existing patients
If you already have patients for your medical practice, these lovely folks are your primary source of information to build out your patient personas. They will know you best, and they will be the ones who were attracted to your medical practice in the first place.
Your patients will also give you fantastic insights for how to further fine tune the messaging in your brand identity so that your messaging resonates even more strongly with your patients. This will enable you to double down on what works best, and jettison that which doesn't.
2. Referrals from Patients
As you know, referrals are precious for your practice. As a general rule, it is critical to create fantastic connections with your patients in order to generate positive referrals and thus win you more patients. Tap into this resource on a consistent basis
3. Referrals from other Practices
Depending on what kind of medicine you practice, you may find it important to generate referrals from other practices. For example, we at Arrow Northwest have worked with ophthalmic practices in San Diego, Portland, Los Angeles and even Eugene (Oregon) to create strategic referral alliances between ophthalmologists and ODs.
On thing we have consistently found is that having a strong, well-engrained and compelling brand identity makes it far easier to facilitate longer-term alliances with referral partners. This is simply because organizational cultures that have a similar professional view of the world have a far better shot at producing mutually beneficial, sustained and positive results. This is why you need to have a strong sense of organizational self, as seen through the lens of a well constructed and compelling brand identity.
How can I get the above information?
Now that we know from whom we can get information to build out our patient personas, it is a good idea to know which methods you can use to reach them. There are three main methods for getting information that will help you build out your patient personas. These are:
- Online surveys (which can include surveys sent through paid advertisements on social media channels, or through your email list. Survey Monkey is a fantastic resource!)
- One-on-one interviews
- Focus groups
A few tips when recruiting interviewees
In order to prompt people to want to provide you information in building your patient personas, keep the following tips in mind when recruiting your interviewees:
- Explain that you are not selling anything
- Provide fun incentives to participate in the process
- Make participation easy
What about Bob?
As an example for how to build out a patient persona, let's start with one of your medical practice’s existing patients (remember, starting with your existing patients is the best place to start in building your patient personas). For our intents and purposes, this patient's name is Bob. The following is a list of seven points that you can ascertain about Bob in order to build out one of your patient personas:
- Where is Bob from?
- Family size?
- What inspires Bob in life?
- To what does Bob aspire?
- Is there anything that would inhibit Bob from returning to your medical practice?
- What are Bob's Immediate goals?
- What are Bob's goals in life?
After you have detailed the above information about Bob, the next step is to integrate Bob’s patient persona into your overall medical practice messaging. Remember:you need to do this through the lens of your overall brand identity.
Once you have gone through this process with Bob, do the same with a handful of your other patients. When you have finished, you will have mapped out a variety of patient personas and identified what they will respond most positively to in your future messaging.
Creating detailed patient personas is highly important in outlining exactly how, and through what methods, you want to reach out to, attract, and ultimately win incredibly loyal patients. Thorough patient personas also provide you a fantastic way to build out and reinforce your brand identity.
Remember, to create the most accurate and effective patient personas possible, you need to have done your research by coming up with detailed answers to the above bullet points. You can also, to a lesser extent, use anecdotal information when creating your patient personas.
Clear answers to the above information, both through direct market research and, to a far lesser extent, through anecdotal information, will enable you to be far more affective at creating the hooks that reel in your ideal patients.
In addition, if you seamlessly use patient personas as a part of your overall 5-step medical practice marketing plan, you will create strategic advantages over your industry peers that are extremely hard to copy and will lead to enhanced revenues and improved overall bottom line.
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