How to Use Patient Personas to Craft Compelling Messages

In your social media efforts, you want to listen to understand, have a conversation, inform and educate, simplify, be generous, be real, and trust your community. These are the Hive Core Values.

But none of this will do you much good if you are engaging with the wrong person.

Photo Credit: Alarzy

For example, if you’re using blogs, Facebook pages, or tweets to increase patients in your birthing center, you don’t want to be holding conversations with 50-year-old women – unless you’re trying to influence the mothers of expecting moms.

To add clarity and focus to your messages, develop patient personas.

David Meerman Scott, in his book New Rules for Marketing and PR, refers to these also as buyer personas. “Many (marketers) build formal ‘buyer personas’ for their target demographics…” Scott writes. “[I]f we break the buyers into distinct groups and then catalog everything we know about each one, we make it easier to create content targeted to each important demographic.”

When marketing a birthing center you might develop a few different personas. One might be the 25-year-old college-educated married woman having her first child. Another patient persona might focus on the 22-year-old, high-school educated dad. Another could focus on the 32-year-old career mom having her second child. And a fourth could describe a young, single mom.

Make these descriptions as specific as possible, including both demographic and psychographic information. Helpful information could include: Age, gender, education, marital status, physical description, family information, likes, and dislikes. You could identify where she buys her groceries, her favorite bands, and what kind of car he drives.

I like to name the personas so that it’s easy to ask, “What would Ashley want to know?” Or “What information would be helpful to Carlos today.” And it’s a good idea to keep a tally of who you’ve been talking to lately. It can help avoid the trap of speaking to the same person over and over.

What is the right number of personas? Are two enough? Are four too many? That depends on the service. In most cases, two or three should be sufficient. A cancer center, however, might need four or five personas to sufficiently identify patients, their families, friends, and supporters who may be joining your conversations.

So next time you sit down to write a blog post, send a tweet, or update your Facebook page, ask yourself, “Who am I talking to?” Kylee is listening.

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