How Can I Compete?
As a small to medium-sized wellness practice, it can be difficult or overwhelming to keep up with the marketing efforts of larger health organizations. They have seemingly limitless budgets and resources. Among such giants, how is it possible to get your message out there?
Luckily, not only is this possible, it is a competitive advantage for you and your practice. As a smaller practice, you have the power to personalize your patient experience. You understand them. You care for them. You know how to help them.
When they go to larger establishments, they feel like a number in line and a name on a chart. Large health organizations treat everyone, and they market to everyone. That is not your game. Your practice is lean, agile, and able to listen to your patient’s unique story. The trap many practices fall into is they try to market their services to everyone, just like the medical giants. Your marketing needs to be different. Your marketing needs to be targeted and personal.
The Problem with “Generic” Marketing
“If you market to everyone, you’ll reach no one.”
When you try to market to everyone, you:
● Waste time
● Spend more money
● Create a message that doesn’t resonate with your audience
With countless things pulling at your patient’s attention, you need a message they identify with and feel is made just for them. When you target a broad audience, you spend more time and money trying to reach everyone, your message does not resonate, and your potential patient is lost. In the hyper-competitive marketing world, you need a tool that will allow you to have marketing material that makes your patient feel like they are in your office talking to you.
The secret to super-charging your marketing and increasing new patients is to become laser-focused on your ideal patient. We call this your ideal patient avatar.
What is an ideal patient avatar?
In short, an ideal patient avatar is your dream patient. It is someone who is:
- Committed to their health
- Keeps appointments
- Pays on time
- Refers friends and family
- Provides testimonials for marketing content
- Happy to spend money at your office because they know your services are worth it
This type of patient keeps coming back, benefits from your expertise and does not cause unnecessary stress. A well-developed ideal patient avatar provides a tangible representation of who you are marketing to and valuable information to tailor your message and attract that patient.
How Do I Create an Ideal Patient Avatar?
To create your ideal patient avatar, you need to start with your target audience.
Your target audience should involve attributes such as:
- Geography – How far do you want to reach? Area within a city? City? County? State?
- Demographics – Age, gender, family size/composition, occupation, education and household income
- Psychographics – Personality, behavior, lifestyle
- Behavior – Wants, needs, pain points
Given these categories, you can create a target audience that looks something like this:
Female adults in the greater Denver area, ages 40-65, dual income, no kids living at home, own a condo or home, earn $75,000+ annually or are comfortably retired, education above a high school level, tend to have a busy and active lifestyle. Suffering from inflammatory or hormonal challenges, may have difficulty losing excess weight, have a willingness to make dietary changes, do not rely on insurance to cover preventative efforts, openminded to learning and adopting new strategies.
You may have several patient avatars, but it is typically best to focus on 3 or less.
Here are some resources to get an idea of your surrounding market composition:
Once you have your target audience, it is time to dig even deeper to create your ideal patient avatar. Some categories to consider are:
- Goals & Health Portfolio
○ Dietary habits
○ Exercise routine
○ Hobbies or interests
- Challenges & Pain Points
○ Negative experiences with medical professionals
○ Price sensitivity
○ Time constraints
○ Common frustrations
- Information Sources
○ News outlets/TV shows
○ Social media/blogs/websites
- Product & Service
○ What product/service could they most benefit from?
○ In-office visits/appointment problems
○ Prescription/treatment compliance
○ Insurance/purchasing issues
A more in-depth patient avatar example of this would be:
Jeff is 29 years old. He has been married for 5 years and has children ages 2 and 4. He has a job in software sales that is challenging but is something he enjoys and provides a good income for his family. He is focused on optimizing his health so he can live a long and happy life with his wife and kids. He is also focused on his children’s well-being so they can grow up and understand what it takes to be healthy. For the most part, he gets his information from books and trusted bloggers in the health field. Jeff works out 3 times a week, eats a mostly whole foods, plant-based diet. Jeff gets frustrated when medical professionals jump to prescribe him or his children something that might be treated with a more holistic or natural approach. His job pays well, so price is a non-factor. He is busy but usually makes appointments on time, he benefits from sending reminders the day before.
As you can see, you can get as detailed as you would like. It is important to be as specific as possible, but not to the point of exhaustion. You need to understand what the most important factors are for you and your client, then give those points the most attention.
To help get you started, here is a free worksheet to help you create your ideal patient avatar.
Using Your Ideal Patient Avatar
Now that you have done your research and created your avatar, it is time to let it start working for you. When you have an avatar, your marketing plan will feel fluent and personalized, rather than clunky and aimless. It is important to recognize that you cannot market to everyone with the same marketing materials. Each patient avatar will likely respond to very different things. Consider the two examples above. They are very different patients even though both might be ideal patients for your practice. As you develop your marketing, use your patient avatars in the following ways:
- Marketing Material – The most obvious but most important category. Now that you have a patient avatar, you understand your targets strengths, weaknesses, pain points and tendencies. Armed with this vital information, it is your job to reach out, connect with, and solve your patient’s problems. Blog posts, newsletters, and website content should all have the focus of showing your customer how your services can help them.
- Advertisements – Paid advertisements are another area that benefits greatly from having a patient avatar. When you put advertisements out into the world that are strategically focused on your ideal patient, you will see improved ROI (return on investment) and response rate.
- Patient Experience – Now that you know who you are serving, it is much easier to understand how to best serve them once they are in your office. Use your ideal patient avatar to create a unique experience for real patients. When they walk into your office, they should feel comfortable and feel like they are in the perfect place.
- New Products – Another part of improving patient experience is finding new ways to serve them. Continue to listen to your patients to come up with new products and services that will solve even more of their problems.
Where to Go from Here
Now that you have your ideal patient avatar, your marketing is going to be relevant, relatable and timely for the patients that will become the lifeblood of your practice. Use this avatar to guide your decisions and fuel your content.
You no longer have to play the same game as the large hospitals. You now have a different playbook that will connect and engage your patients like never before. Continue to talk with your patients to refine and improve your ideal patient avatar. The more you do this, the easier it will be to understand what they need and how you can best provide for them.