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S4 #6: Medical Provider Personas: What They Need From You

06-Medical Provider Personas
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06-Medical Provider Personas

Let’s talk about medical provider personas, since we went over general buyer personas in a previous article. This is a crucial area to cover, so we want to make sure you have it down pat. These are our proven tactics for developing full, successful strategies for our clients; now you can implement them in your own healthcare organization.

Without further ado, let’s jump on in—there’s no time to waste, since the sooner you know how to adopt these factors into your plan, the sooner you can see your numbers soar—from patient acquisition and retention to your overall bottom line.

What Makes Marketing to Medical Provider Personas Different?

Each of your personas will have its differences, as well as advantages and disadvantages. The unique thing about marketing to physicians is how likely they are to scrutinize your product or service. They will weigh your product against their own extensive medical knowledge, making it vital to know your product or service inside and out. There are different types of providers—doctors, nurses, surgeons, etc.—so knowing that will help you speak to your audience better.

You should also consider specialties. For instance, a cardiologist will have different problems than a pediatrician. Consider the different types of tech users, too. Some people are more than comfortable with digital technology. They can work through their electronic medical records in their sleep.

But there are also technology “adapters.” They may struggle with the demands of their electronic workload—they might have slower typing speeds and have a tougher time with the user interface. Knowing how different people react to digital technology will help you speak to each type more effectively.

Some people are deeply motivated by productivity demands, and others want more of a work-life balance—but care about the clinical objectives at the same time. By utilizing data from these specific medical provider personas, you’ll be able to engage with them more effectively.

One thing to remember: medical providers are often heavily involved, or at least consulted with in the buying process—even if they’re not the main point of contact at the buying table. When you sell to independent practices, medical provider personas are also very important.

Before we talk about different things you can do to build out your medical provider buyer personas, we’d like to walk through some ways they’re different from other types of personas.

1. Digital Savvy Sam

These team members generally find technology easy to use. The physicians could virtually work on EMRs (electronic medical records) blindfolded. They can incorporate tech into their workloads without breaking a sweat and have mastered the art of balancing writing enough information in the EMR notes to meet all clinical objectives and writing so much that it bogs them down. These clinicians are also very comfortable holding virtual consultations and having other interactions with patients through phone or email.

2. Digitally Adapting Alice

These are physicians who tend to struggle a bit when it comes to managing the demands of their workload via electronics. They may type more slowly or have a harder time with their EMR user interface. They also might struggle with the balance of dealing with electronic demands and the demands of patients who are sitting in front of them.

3. Champion Producer Paul

These individuals are highly motivated by productivity demands. They prefer more tiered RVU (work relative value units) type compensation and they’re even willing to work evenings or weekends in order to boost opportunity for clinical visits. There are medical groups that may take this personality into account when allocating primary care roles. Super-producers, for example, could be prime candidates for roles in traditional primary care practices that have more progressive RVU compensation.

4. Threshold Worker Wanda

These are physicians who are motivated by both clinical objectives and striking a fair work-life balance. They favor threshold-based RVU compensation and are typically against nontraditional work hours. Like those super-producers, so to speak, threshold worker types might be more cut out for one kind of care setting over another that other personas may prefer. Some medical groups offer these staff members roles in urgent care centers, as they would be receiving shift-based salaries there.

5. Team Coach Chris

Coach-like physicians view themselves as care team leaders. These medical professionals own patient relationship management and supervise other clinicians on the team. Medical groups might choose to structure compensation in order to incentivise coach-esque behavior from their primary care physicians. The PCPs (primary care providers) may get a set, annual amount to supervise those more advanced practitioners, or they might receive a fee for every RVU that gets generated by an AP.

6. Quarterback Clinician Claire

Quarterback-like doctors, on the other hand—also known as team players—simply see themselves as members of an overall care team. Unlike those who act as coach personas, quarterback types see the care team as one that’s made up of relatively equal peers who are responsible for patient relationships, collectively.

Quarterbacks might call the “play” but then hand off responsibility for a patient to another member of the care team—look at it like a tag-team scenario. Some medical groups will structure their compensation to bring out quarterback-like behavior. This compensation model could ask APs to cover a piece of the practice costs incurred by the PCPs, or perhaps even involve APs and PCPs in profit sharing.

Here are some key characteristics of the health tech companies we mentioned and what they need to be aware of when they’re creating those buyer personas for medical providers.

Key Characteristics Health Tech Companies Need to Be Aware Of

When creating medical provider buyer personas, another key consideration is the type of practice you’re selling to. Is this a large network, or an independent practice? A large network will have different types of buyer personas—depending on what you’re selling to the network, a medical provider like a doctor will be considered in the process.

But if it’s an independent practice that you’re selling to, you’ll probably be selling to the doctor as a business owner—that’s a completely different conversation than getting providers to adopt your technology or product within a larger network.

They also have different types of problems. If they’re in a large network, their problems will look vastly different than those of a small, independent practice. Running a business of a few people is one thing; running a business with thousands of people working for you in a large network is a totally different ball game.

The size of the organization you’re selling to plays a critical role in how you’ll craft your message to position yourself and provide value.

Consider how the buyer views their role as well. If they see themselves as more of a business person than a doctor, they’ll have different values than someone in a clinician-only role. This is especially important to consider when you’re selling to a small practice. Which hat is your buyer wearing?

The location and setting of your buyers is also important. Are they in a rural setting? Healthcare looks vastly different in rural areas than it does in urban areas. Are they in a hospital, or is it a small clinic? Is it a government organization, or is it a university?

Your strategy will have to be different if you’re selling to someone in a government role. The points of contact will be different. The barriers to entry will be different. Therefore, consider where they are—even where they work—in terms of size, but also the type of organization it is.

Something that can be easy to forget, especially if you’re selling B2B, is that this medical provider is still a human being and they have lives outside of work. It’s important to speak to them as a human.

How can you factor that into your marketing? Will your product or service give them more time for the things they love? Will it streamline their day so they can focus more on their patients? Or will it give them time back in their schedule so they can leave their office at five and go home to their family, their kids’ soccer games, or ballet recitals?

What value are you providing that extends outside of their practice? You must take a holistic view of that person. Consider their values, pain points, and goals.

Interviewing medical providers is a great way to build your understanding of those things. If you have a sales team talking to providers already, ask your team about this. They’ll be familiar with your buyer’s wants and needs, so they’re a great asset to utilize.

How Can Knowing the Competition Make Your Marketing More Effective?

Understanding the competitive landscape is critical in marketing. Let’s go over some ways you can build that understanding.

Start by researching your competitors. They’ll have an offer and a manner of speaking to their target market. Since you’ll likely be targeting similar markets, it’s important to define what sets you apart.

This type of competitive analysis reduces the need for trial and error and helps you choose an effective, specific niche. Learn your competitor’s customers, and you’ll be able to find places where your competitor falls short.

Make a point of knowing about their customers’ habits, preferences, problems, lifestyles—it’ll help you clarify your competitive advantage. If you want to bring people to your side of the fence, you have to understand why they chose your competitors, how they found them, and why they continue doing businesses with them. It’ll shore up your advantage in the long run as well—it’s a lot harder for competitors to take customers when you understand them inside and out.

Speaking of keeping customers: building your knowledge of competitors will help you improve customer loyalty. Learning what your competitors do to build loyalty and trust will help you strategize for your own base.

One way to do that is through webinars. This format allows you to compare and contrast your offering with your competitor’s. You can show clinicians why your offering is the best for their patients. At the end of the day, all responsible clinicians hold high-quality care as their top priority; this can be an effective way to explain where your offer fits into that priority.

The Modern Equivalent to In-Person Sales for Medical Provider Personas

Even between our podcast releases here at Uhuru, the world is changing rapidly. Right now we’re in the middle of a global pandemic. Medical providers are finding a need to offer virtual care to their patients. Without that virtual care (“telehealth”), many patients are too nervous to come into their facilities.

It’s the same for companies that are selling to medical providers. Now you can’t do in-person sales, which used to be what many healthcare organizations—from pharma, to medical devices, to digital health—used as a cornerstone of the sales process and customer acquisition.

Unfortunately, because of the pandemic, it’s been difficult to do that in 2020. We therefore have to think of different ways to reach these personas and show medical providers how your company can help them.

Like we touched on, a webinar is a fantastic way to do that. It’s one way to start building a relationship with your customers when you can’t be out in the field selling to them. Content marketing is a great solution, too. People are spending more time indoors on their computers. Getting yourself to the top of their search results is critical for customer acquisition.

Here’s the thing. Many companies do well in branded searches. For example, if your company name is “ABC Medical,” you’ll be at the top of the list for that specific search. People who already know your company name will find you easily. But there’s a whole section of the “buyer’s journey” that they’re missing. Let us explain.

Let’s say a medical provider is searching for a new record-keeping software. They don’t know what they want yet, so they type something like, “best EHR software for clinicians.” They don’t know ABC Medical provides this service, because ABC Medical hasn’t created content for those keywords. Because of this, the medical provider sees and buys XYZ Medical’s offering instead.

The issue here is that these medical providers are searching for a solution to their problem, and if they’re not finding you, they’re finding your competitors. Or, they’re finding other content that points them in a completely different direction, maybe one that gives them a DIY solution for their practice.

That’s bad. They need to see you. Creating and publishing content that’s optimized for search helps you target the right audience, in the right way, at the right time. It’s a powerful tool for customer acquisition.

We also highly recommend social media marketing. We’ve seen good success with Facebook for B2B, and LinkedIn also works. You have to consider the difference in ads and budget for those ads, because LinkedIn is more expensive—but if it’s a better place for your target audience, then by all means, pursue LinkedIn. If that’s where your people are, go after them there.

Make sure you leverage the full power of social media marketing by creating a funnel on the platform. The platform doesn’t matter; offer top of the funnel content, then retarget those users with middle of the funnel content, and retarget those users with bottom of the funnel content to get them to a sales conversation.

Let’s look at the alternative. If you only put out, “Hey, schedule a demo,” or “Hey, sign up for a call with our sales rep,” you haven’t provided any value—you haven’t built trust or fostered a relationship with your prospect.

When we audit other companies’ Facebook and LinkedIn ads, we see a common tactic: paying for likes. The ad is optimized to get people to like their page.

That can work for you. But there’s another crucial step most people miss, and that’s getting prospects to opt into your CRM. This is another topic for another day, and we can go into more detail on it, but suffice to say that effective social media marketing is powerful—ineffective social media marketing is throwing money away. Sub-optimized marketing is like a hamster wheel, and if you don’t spend your marketing dollars efficiently, you’ll trap yourself in a vicious cycle.

We’re going to walk you through what a compelling offer looks like so you can avoid this.

What’s a Compelling Offer for Medical Provider Personas?

The reason why we really love webinars—and why they are so effective—is the way they deliver value upfront and position you as an expert in your field.

You can sell without leaning on people too hard. You can communicate with hundreds of people, anywhere around the world, right from your office. Webinars also help keep your audience more engaged than written content. They’re handy for generating new leads—leads you can later qualify and build relationships with.

Inviting guest presenters is a great way to build your credibility while leveraging their audience—a benefit unique to webinars. Since there’s direct communication, webinars speed up the sales process, delivering faster ROI.

Offers that solve common problems are also fantastic. For example, if you are a software company that provides patient management solutions, you can create content about helping patients manage chronic diseases. This type of content will help you establish yourself as a trusted resource and a thought leader—so when that person has another question, you are their go-to for answers and guidance.

It’s critical to remember that this content should not just be about selling. Statistically, only 3% of your audience will be ready to buy at this point. Creating content valuable enough to bring them down the funnel will help you convert in the end.

It’s easy to get on the sell, sell, sell bandwagon—especially for digital health startups, since it’s the easiest measurement of success—but you won’t get people to the buying stage if that’s all you focus on. You have to work on building that relationship with medical providers.

One thing that really needs to come over from in-person sales into marketing is the concept of the “relationship.” Now that we have to transition out of most in-person sales, digital and virtual relationship-building with these medical provider personas is imperative.

In field sales, whether you’re a pharma company or a medical device manufacturer, you’re out there building relationships with your doctors, your surgeons, etc. You know them and they know you, and you build trust over time—and that’s what we have to do virtually.

Get Started Implementing Smart Personas into Your Plan

We went over a lot today, but there’s always more if you’re up for it! And if you need help with anything at all—especially buyer personas—you can get in touch with us. We’ll go through it with you in a detailed, customized session and break it down into simple steps.

We encourage you to read The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Healthcare Marketing Strategy for more information so you can get your healthcare organization fully up to speed. You have to fight for your place in the spotlight in this heavily saturated digital field. We can get you there.

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