How to Use Patient Personas to Grow Your Practice

Mary Hall


Marketing probably isn’t what you had in mind when you decided to open your practice, but it is one of the necessary evils that comes with owning your own business. You would rather be treating current patients than trying to find new ones, so it’s important that your marketing efforts are effective and reach the right people. That’s where patient personas come in.

What Is a Patient Persona?

According to Hubspot, inbound marketing “is a business methodology that attracts customers by creating valuable content and experiences tailored to them. While outbound marketing interrupts your audience with content they don’t want, inbound marketing forms connections they’re looking for and solves problems they already have.”

In order to effectively market this way, you must know what customers—or in your case, your patients—consider relevant and what problems they are trying to solve.

A patient persona is a representation of your ideal patient. While this person is fictitious, his or her demographics, habits, and preferences are based on fact. Using these personas will enable you to attract the types of people you want to be your patients.

As dentists and orthodontists, you know the people who will become your patients are looking for dental care or orthodontic treatment. But personas go way beyond this obvious trait to give you a complete picture of who you should be marketing to. They account for everything from income, job title, age, and marital status to TV preferences, fitness habits, and pain points when it comes to getting treatment.

How to Gather Patient Persona Data

Everyone has a few less than ideal patients. When considered as a whole, though, your current and previous patient list is the best place to gather information for your personas. These people have entrusted you and your staff with their oral health, which means others with similar traits should do the same.

The first step is to create a list of questions that will provide the answers needed to create three or four personas. Questions about what type of book someone likes to read or what type of house he or she lives in may seem irrelevant, but they will create a complete picture of the people you are trying to attract with your marketing.

Making the majority of your questions multiple choice rather than open ended will enable you to sort and use the data more effectively. Including an open-ended question at the end to allow patients to express their opinions overall about your practice can be informative, but the rest should provide set answers to choose from.

Next, distribute the questions to your patient list in a way that is easy for them to receive and respond to. Services like Survey Monkey and Google Forms allow you to create and send surveys for free. Both are user-friendly when it comes to designing the survey and inserting questions and answers.

What you say when you send the survey can affect the number of responses you receive. Thanking your patients for choosing you and asking for their assistance in providing the best service you can to the right people will go much further than asking them to fill out the survey so you can get more patients. Ensuring their responses will be anonymous can encourage them to participate as well.

Depending on the personalities of your patients, you may want to incentivize them by offering a gift card or another prize to a randomly selected respondent. They will need to provide their contact information to be entered in the drawing, but some may think it’s worth it for a chance to win, and you can make entering optional if they want to remain anonymous.

Using the Data Collected

Once you have received a reasonable amount of responses, it’s time to put them to work. Using analytical tools available in the survey platform or another method, compile the data and start creating fictional patients based on the results.

If your focus is orthodontics, you may end up with a mom persona whose teen is the actual patient or a single young adult who needs treatment himself or herself. If you provide general and restorative dentistry, one of your personas may be a male or female over 65 who is retired. Be sure to make them as detailed as possible, including what they might do in their free time, what their educational background is, and where they live.

Apply these patient personas to every aspect of your marketing, starting with your brand. Would your logo, website, and content appeal to these fictitious patients, or do they need to be adjusted? If your patient persona has at most an associate’s degree, would he or she be impressed with the technical explanations on your website? Or would he or she be confused at best or think you’re pretentious at worst?

Also, are you using the right social media networks to reach your target audience based on what your current and past patients have told you? Tik Tok may seem like the future, but your patient persona who is looking for dentures probably isn’t there. Are you offering solutions for the pain points of your past and current patients so they won’t affect future patients? An affluent patient persona may not care about price or discounts nearly as much as he or she cares about extended office hours or convenient locations.

Regardless of how diligent you are about updating your website, blogging, posting on social media, sending emails, attending community events, and advertising online or in print, if your brand and messaging don’t appeal to the people most likely to become patients, your efforts will be for naught. So take a step back and determine who you really need to be reaching. Only then will you make the most of your marketing.

Ms. Hall is the senior content strategist for Ortho Sales Engine. Her experience includes content writing and strategy, social media management, blogging, editing, proofreading, project management, digital and traditional marketing, and client support. She graduated magna cum laude from Kent State University, earning a bachelor’s degree in English with a concentration in writing and a minor in business. She can be reached at

Ortho Sales Engine specializes in marketing solutions for orthodontists. It combines more than 20 in-house services to create customized, repeatable marketing systems and serves as a trusted partner to doctors and their teams. To learn more or schedule a free consultation, go to

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