Healthcare Marketers: How Well do you Really Know Your Audience?

I recently read a blog post on MediaPost which really hit home for me. Eric Trow, a marketing professional, related healthcare marketing to his own life in “I could be your customer, but I’m not necessarily your audience.”

He’s been a constant target for marketing and advertising for snoring remedies, with warnings that snoring can be a sign of more serious medical issues. But in his mind, snoring is no big deal – no matter how many times he hears or sees that message. He’s not suffering. His wife, however, is a whole other story. She’s not able to sleep because of Eric’s snoring and is in dire need of a remedy – literally anything. She's the one calling the doctor and doing web searches to find one. Not Eric.

As a marketer myself, this article made me think long and hard about the importance of audience insights. When completing branding projects, we typically do a host of research around the audience – what are their pain points, what’s they’re day like, how are they involved in the buying process, who else is involved and what their role is, etc. Almost always, we uncover an insight that we hadn’t realized before or contradicts what we originally thought. Marketing to your audience without completing thorough research can result in utter failure, as in Eric’s case. Those snoring remedy companies aren’t going to make a sale anytime soon if they focus their target to only the snorer. 

In the case of marketing healthcare products – this probably rings true quite often. Most people don’t make decisions about their health without consulting something or someone else. Research done by the Pew Research Center has revealed some simple, yet important audience insights. For example, caregivers search the web for health information more often than the person actually living with a chronic condition. In addition, 65 percent of women are online looking for health information, but only 53 percent of men. When it comes to mobile health, 9 percent of cell phone owners have accessed health apps – but 15 percent of African Americans use them. These small tidbits, accompanied by in-depth audience interviews, can help guide who you target and also which tactics to use.

In the age of consumer-driven healthcare, we must look much more carefully at our audience and get a greater understanding of influencers. Who is directly affected by the health issue? Who is indirectly affected? Who is the caretaker? Who is researching treatment options? Who is making treatment decisions? 

If you’re going to market with the latest and greatest health offering, I promise it’ll do you some good to take a second look at your audience. Get in touch with who you think is the audience. Ask questions and dig deeper. You may learn something you didn’t expect, but as a result, your efforts will be more successful.