The Top Six Mistakes to Avoid When Developing Patient Personas

patient persona

All healthcare marketing blogs will tell you to start a new marketing campaign by deciding what your goal(s) and buyer personas are – we call them Patient Personas in healthcare marketing. 

This is because patient personas are at the centre of all content produced. Developing your patient personas directs what you write about, the format in which it is presented (blog article, guide, infographic, video etc.) the frequency of the content produced, and where it is distributed. Patient personas help you to target and attract the right people to your website.

For your personas to be effective, you need to do it right. We are going to share the top six mistakes you need to avoid when developing personas:

The Top Six Mistakes to Avoid When Developing Patient Personas

  1. Developing Personas Based Purely On Assumptions
  2. Confusing Your Preferences with Your Actual Personas
  3. Forgoing Interviews
  4. Developing too Many or Too Few Personas
  5. Setting It and Forgetting It
  6. Creating Personas and Then Not Using Them At All 

1. Developing Personas Based Purely On Assumptions

The first three mistakes we have listed go hand-in-hand. When you create patient personas for the first time, it can be quite easy to just making assumptions. For example, “Our audience is 25 – 35 year-olds in built-up areas, female and mostly mothers” This may be based on anecdotal information or your gut instincts, or even a survey that you ran a few years ago.

To ensure that this is accurate, you need to confirm your assumptions before putting pen to paper, otherwise you can end up targeting the wrong individual and as a result, you could waste a lot of time, resource and money on developing a campaign based on this.

2. Confusing Your Preferences with Your Actual Personas

The second mistake to avoid is confusing your preferences with your actual personas. Just because you prefer to create infographics instead of eBooks doesn’t mean that that is how your target audience prefers to consumes content. Your content needs to target the right person with their chosen method of consumption, regardless of your internal preferences. You must have a deep understanding of how your personas want you to deliver content to them and develop content in this format to help them through their customer’s journey. 

3. Forgoing Interviews

We find that a lot of healthcare providers that have created patient personas, usually created them without conducting interviews, which is a critical mistake. This is because you can only ever ensure accuracy by speaking to your ideal customer directly. Your existing patient base is a great way to start gathering accurate information on your patients, because you already know that this group are exactly who you want to market your campaigns to.

4. Developing Too Many or Too Few Personas 

Different medical companies will need a different number of personas, depending on the number of products or services they offer, and any other factors. If you’re developing personas for the first time, we recommend starting with your biggest revenue generator (perhaps two or three). Any more than that, especially at the start, will divide your efforts too early in the development stage, which will result in too many pieces which will make it even harder for you to focus on campaigns.  

5. Setting It and Forgetting It

While creating patient personas is an important task when developing your healthcare marketing campaign, this activity should not be a “set it and forget it” type of initiative. 

Here’s why:

  • Your patient personas might be wrong. You may have conducted interviews and concluded that the information provided is accurate, however, you may find after producing content for some time that you need to do more research, or that you may have missed the mark slightly. 
  • You may have realised that you need to create more personas or that you have created far too many.
  • People’s behaviours have changed over time. Patient personas should evolve over time as you learn more about your target audience and as their preferences change. For example, social media shifts may mean that your persona is now spending more time on on channel instead of the previous channel of choice.

We recommend that you review your personas every six months to make sure they are accurate and fresh.

6. Creating Personas and Then Not Using Them At All

Personas are at the core of healthcare marketing for a reason. They must form the basis of every piece of content you produce (e-books and guides to blogs) because they allow you as a to segment your audience and target content to each person’s pain points. 

So creating them and then not using them can be detrimental your entire campaign as you are more likely to create content that isn’t targeted, developing ads that target the wrong keywords, ultimately driving the wrong audience group to your website.

Effective messaging emerges at the intersection of what your patients want to hear and what you want to say. Patient personas is what will get you the results, therefore you must develop yours accurately to guarantee success for your healthcare marketing campaign. 

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