Patient personas are an awesome tool for deeper customer insight and enhanced targeting. However, some organizations have struggled to use this tool successfully. Even when there are positive results, 85% of B2B businesses are still using persona tools ineffectively.

We want to help you achieve the most benefits possible from your patient personas. We’ve gathered 5 common mistakes made when developing and implementing patient personas, and how to avoid them.


1. Personas are based more on assumptions than research

When building a patient persona, it may feel natural to fill in some of the blanks. After all, you likely work closely with the customer and some characteristics might feel obvious.

However, this is never a good practice. All information used to develop a patient persona should be factual and based on extensive research and data. If not, you run the risk of creating a persona that is not actually representative of an ideal customer. This results in lost time and effort with little payoff.


Solution: Consider working with a third-party company to help in your patient persona development. Not only will this significantly decrease biased assumptions about customers, but they will also have access to sophisticated research tools. Further, allowing another party to do the heavy lifting in developing the personas creates opportunities to start implementing the tools faster.


2. Relying too heavily on demographics

Demographics are typically the first thing marketers turn to. This is likely because they are relatively easy to identify and understand.

This information is undoubtedly important to building patient personas. However, focusing too much on demographics may mean you’re overlooking some of the deeper insights. Information about the persona’s motivations, modus operandi, and position in the patient journey can have a much bigger impact on your targeting strategy.


Solution: Look at demographics as a starting point while in the development process. Limit demographic insights to only a few points in your patient persona and use them as a launching pad to delve deeper into the motivations, attitudes, behavior, etc. of your ideal customer.


3. Not creating negative personas

While knowing who to target is important, it can also be effective to identify who you don’t want to target.

Chasing lousy leads is a huge waste of your organization’s time and money. Yet, it can be difficult to determine if the lead is a dead end given that not all quality leads are ideal leads. Meaning, they may not fit a patient persona, but are still a viable prospect. Enter, the negative patient persona.

This is a patient persona created to represent the opposite of an ideal customer and can help determine whether chasing a lead is worth it.


Solution: Create negative patient personas in tandem with patient personas. Use both tools to inform decisions. For example, if you are considering a lead – compare it to both the ideal patient persona and the negative one to see where it fits.

Additionally, you can make decisions about what channels and messaging may need to be adjusted based on the preferences of the negative patient persona. I.e., your current methods may be targeting the wrong audience.


4. They aren’t being updated

The world is constantly evolving, and your patient persona should be too. It may feel like a huge undertaking to update your personas after all of the work that went into creating them.

However, fluctuating factors like your company’s budget, the economy, supply and demand, etc. make it critical to have updated personas to remain relevant and effective.


Solution: Look at your patient personas as a living document rather than a finished product. Consider scheduling quarterly check-ins to see if they need to be updated. Further, consider working with a partner to help navigate and manage the upkeep of your patient persona strategy.


5. They aren’t being used or used effectively

It may surprise you that after all the work it takes to create patient personas, many organizations fail to implement and use them. This results in wasted time and money in addition to missed opportunities for improved targeting.

Patient personas fall to the wayside for many reasons but most often it is because they either weren’t implemented properly, or the team can’t support the initiative.


Solution: Plan ahead. Make sure you have the right people and resources to support your project. Outline a process and determine how you will use the patient personas before their creation.


As you can see, clearly defined patient personas can empower you to reach the right person with the right message to drive conversion and help your organization thrive.

At Grayduck Health, our services are designed to get to the heart of your target patient audiences and bring them to life as individuals. Ready to add personas to your marketing strategy? Contact us to get started.

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