How To Use Patient Avatars To Help Define Your Target Audience

james Maskell headshot

Would you believe us if we told you that taking the time to just imagine your ideal patient is the key to growing a successful medical practice you’ve always dreamed of? You should! Dreams really do make medical marketing goals come true!

In healthcare marketing, focusing on defining a target audience and a patient avatar is essential for medical practice growth — yet it’s often a fundamental step in branding that healthcare providers miss.

practitioner holding a patients shoulder

Looking for easy healthcare marketing strategies? Learn how to grow your practice by using a patient avatar.

The three most common marketing errors healthcare practitioners make in marketing

Although many practitioners wish they could, it’s essential to accept that you can’t help everyone. There are only so many hours in a day- and doctors are already tight on time! That’s why identifying your target market as a practitioner is an essential step in the development of a successful marketing plan. Not knowing who your target audience is can end up costing you a lot of money and time. Three of the most frequent marketing errors made in digital marketing are the result of broad targeting. Not having a clearly defined audience often results in one of the following problems:

  • Marketing plans that try to speak everyone’s language and then connect with nobody.
  • Medical practices and doctors who try to appeal to everyone and end up appealing to nobody.
  • Practitioners spending way over their budgets in an attempt to reach everyone rarely reach their ideal customer.

What is a target market or audience in healthcare?

A target market or target audience refers to a group of potential consumers you want to provide products and services to. In the healthcare industry, doctors and healthcare providers’ aim is to bring in more patients and grow their medical practices.

Like we said before, a clear and well-defined target audience is key to a successful healthcare marketing strategy. Medical marketing efforts that simply attempt to reach anyone, anywhere are pretty unlikely to produce any success. Carefully and precisely identifying your target audience is essential for brand strategy development.

Did you know?
Consumers who make up a target audience share similar characteristics, including geography, purchasing power, demographics, incomes, and interests.

How do you define your target audience? There are so many different ways to describe and hone-in on target markets. When it comes to defining a target audience specifically for health and wellness marketing, there are four primary categories healthcare providers should focus on:

  • Geography
  • Demographics
  • Psychographics
  • Behavior

But to be successful and stand out in an extremely competitive field, it’s essential that you take your marketing a step further than just defining your target audience from the areas mentioned above. You need to define your patient avatar! (1)

practitioner sitting and talking to their patient

Think about the type of patients you have and enjoy working with, and you will likely capture more like-minded patients.

Definition of a patient avatar AKA your ideal patient

Now that you have considered the general categories and questions when it comes to a target audience for doctors, it’s time to come up with a customer/patient avatar. In other words, it’s time to imagine your imaginary dream patient.

A customer avatar — which is the more widely used term in the marketing industry over patient avatar — is a detailed profile of your dream customer/consumer. A customer avatar doesn’t make assumptions or categorize people into groups. Instead, an avatar focuses on one person and outlines everything about them. It goes into much greater detail and depth than a regular marketing persona.

Think of your avatar as your dream patient – not just your average patient. For example, your avatar is someone you want to be involved in their healing journey with, they’re high-spending, loyal, and are often great at referring their friends.

Hopefully, you already have some patients like this. If this is the case, use this person to build the foundations of your avatar. If not, it’s a sign you’ve probably been targeting the wrong potential patients in your marketing efforts and are not enjoying practicing medicine to the fullest. Luckily, even without a specific patient in mind, there is a simple and proven approach to putting together a patient avatar.

Developing a patient avatar is a smart way to improve your healthcare marketing and attract more potential patients on a lean budget.

How do you create a patient avatar?

Now that you realize how valuable a patient avatar is, it’s time to create one! You’ll need to begin this process by coming up with a long list of questions and trying to get inside your ideal patient’s head before answering them as accurately as possible.

What questions should you ask and write down? Everything and anything!

Not sure where to start? Start off by giving your patient avatar a name. After this, don’t worry about getting overwhelmed by the details.

We’re created an excellent and easy cheat sheet for you to use in your practice — a patient avatar template!

Patient avatar template

The more detail you can create around your patient avatar the better you can understand the people you are trying to help.

Did you know?
Small and medium-sized medical practices will benefit the most from defining and having patient avatars.

The benefits of a more personalized approach to your healthcare marketing

A detailed patient avatar will truly streamline your practice at all levels. When you have an avatar, the whole spectrum of your marketing approach feels less robotic and much more personalized.

  • Content marketing: When you define your patient avatar, you know their strengths and their weaknesses. This allows your content creators to produce content that solves and appeals to their needs. If you can write blog posts with SEO in mind that aims to resolve your patient’s pain, your brand will be much more appealing!
  • Paid traffic: If you are running any paid ads, it’s essential to have your patient avatar in mind. Understanding everything about your dream patient gives your ads every opportunity to perform optimally. Without it, you are probably wasting time and money.
  • User experience: When you know who is going to be coming to your practice or utilizing your website and reading your blog posts, you can create the ideal user experience. A perfect experience guarantees repeat customers and referrals.
  • Product development: Looking to offer more to patients beyond office visits? Having a customer avatar in mind will make your recommendations more personalized, targeted, and relevant.
patients sitting in medical waiting room

What are the unique ways you like to connect with some of your favorite patients and communities you are currently working with?

Find ways to connect with your patient avatar in a unique way

Pathways leading directly to obvious target audiences for given offerings are typically very competitive. And unless you have a large budget to spend, it’s a big waste of your time and money. That’s why it is helpful to explore alternatives. There are roads less traveled that lead to the same target audiences.

The bottom line

In today’s heavily competitive healthcare market, it’s easy to get intimidated as a new or private practitioner on a lean budget. But you shouldn’t be! Remember that the goal is not to connect and help everyone out there. Instead, find your people. You will be rewarded as a practitioner for taking a road less traveled in your marketing techniques and genuinely connected with a specific target audience.

Use our patient template to help define your dream patient today. Chances are, it’ll help you stand out from competitors and bring in more incredible patients to help grow your practice. Have any creative marketing tips you want to share as an integrative health practitioner? Comment and share below!

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