In an era jam packed with new technology and brilliant people on a mission to save lives, it’s no wonder health tech, digital health, mobile health, and telehealth companies are on the rise.

Now more than ever, physicians and medical teams have access to powerful tools that improve how they care for patients. And patients have access to technology they can use at home that can give them more treatment options and, in many cases, can even save their lives. This technology is leveling the playing field and helping people get access to healthcare when and where they need it.

There’s just one big problem: many of these companies will disappear from the marketplace because they won’t be able to get their message out to the people who need them most. Their missions will get lost in the noise, buried under ads for energy drinks and miracle pills.

Often these companies have been sold a lie. They’ve been told that content is important and the more content you pump out the better. To do that, they hire someone to post on social media, to write blog content, or to create video content. They aim to push out 4 or 8 or 12 blog posts a month, because those are the magic numbers, or so the marketing experts say. When they do that, however, they run out of relevant content to write, so they write about how much funding they just raised, the new CMO they just hired, or the industry event they just attended.

And that doesn’t work for them. They invest huge amounts of money in content that dies on their blog or their social media page, and they never see any return on their investment. They give up on content, think it’s a waste, and swear it just doesn’t work.

The thing is, content DOES work. They’re just doing it wrong.

If you’re in this situation, you aren’t alone, and the really fantastic news is that there’s a simple solution: it all goes back to knowing your customer.

You probably know a lot of facts about your customer. But that doesn’t mean you KNOW them

I know, I know, you’re thinking, but I DO know my customer. We did extensive marketing research, you say. We know exactly how old they are, what occupation they hold, where they work, if they have a life partner, what their gender is, how much education they’ve received.

Sure, that information is valuable. It gives you basic stereotypes that you can use to understand more about them.

However, that information doesn’t mean you know them. It’s the difference between knowing everything there is to know about Michael Jordan – every statistic, how many games he won, or how many he lost – and actually KNOWING him, as in you hang out at his house on weekends.

To know your customer, you have to understand how they think, how they feel, what motivates them, what challenges them, what frustrates them, or what scares them. And while demographic information is a good way to start the journey to knowing your customer, it’s only the beginning.

Because, the truth is, statistics are dehumanizing. They’re numbers, a data set. But your customer isn’t a number. They’re a living, breathing human with emotions, someone who thinks and reasons and actively searches for ways to make their life better.

What happens if you don’t know them?

When you treat your customer like a piece of data, you’ll never truly be able to create content that engages them and motivates them to adopt your technology. Sure, you can create content that would appeal to their demographic set, but does it appeal to a human? Does it engage with them? Does it show them just what your product can do for them, how it can improve their life or their job?

If they aren’t engaging with your brand, with your content, your message isn’t getting out to the people who need it most. And your mission to change the face of medicine? Well, either it won’t reach its full potential or, worse, your technology may disappear from the marketplace because you just couldn’t seem to get customers.

In other industries, this may not matter so much. No one dies if the next up-and-coming social platform never makes it to mass adoption. No lives are lost if that one wearable company trying to overturn the market fails.

If your health technology fails, however, it could truly be a life or death scenario for patients around the globe – lives could literally be lost. Doctors won’t have the powerful new tools they need to change the face of medicine. Patients won’t have access to technology that improves their health. And we will be no better off than we were before you created your technology.

It’s your job to get in front of them

You can call me dramatic – but here’s what I do know: I’m here today because someone somewhere along the line invented diagnostic tools to detect congenital heart disease. And someone somewhere along the line invented the technology surgeons needed to perform open heart surgery on a tiny 3-day-old heart. What would have been a death sentence not so long ago is now a treatable condition that I can live a full life with.

There are millions of patients who aren’t that lucky. In cases where the cure hasn’t been discovered or we’re still working on getting the tech to where it needs to be for safe treatment, then let’s keep innovating until we find the solution.

But wouldn’t it be a tragedy if the technology did exist, but no one knew about it? If you have a piece of technology that can improve patient outcomes or save a person’s life, It’s your job to get your message out. You owe it to the physicians, to the hospitals, to the patients. They need to hear your message and you need to get it in front of them.

How to get to know your customer

When I sit down with a health tech company, I often find that they can give me tons of data on their ideal customer. They’ve done their research and they think they know them. And while that data is a great place to start, we have to move past it to the humans behind the data.

Often, when you dig deep enough, there’s a real life person who inspired the founder to create the technology, and in some cases, there may even have been a loss of life that set the founder on his journey to build something that would stop that from happening ever again.

When there’s a real life person somewhere in the founding story – or even if there’s no human catalyst, there is likely a person you know that you think absolutely needs your technology – that’s who you want to center your content around – you evaluate everything through their eyes. What are they like as a person? What motivates them, what drives them, what challenges them?

When you actually KNOW your customer

When you know your customer, you can use that knowledge to connect venture capitalists to your inspiration to raise more funding; you can speak to that customer specifically as you prepare for keynotes about your technology or your company. You can introduce your customer – the human, not the data set – to your team so them know them as well as you do.

The most important thing about knowing your customer, however, is so you can create content they’ll engage with to drive your message beyond the noise to ensure they hear it.

You’ll be able to develop a map of evergreen content – content as relevant today as it will be 10 years from now – that you can turn into a content engine that drives customers to your virtual door for years to come, motivating them to buy and telling them why they should.

You’ll be able to unleash the power of your existing content so it doesn’t waste away on your blog, buried in a content cemetary that never gets results, and implement it your content engine so that it works right alongside the rest of your content to inspire your customers to adopt your technology.

And when you really know your customer, you’ll know where they hang out, how they consume their content, what types of content they consume, as well as who influences them – who their friends and role models are. This knowledge helps you discover the exact right places to put your content so you’ll be sure they won’t miss it, that it won’t get hidden beneath piles of ads about energy drinks and miracle pills and car insurance.

The reality is, even if you have the best content imaginable, your customer isn’t looking for you. Unless you proactively put your content in front of them, you’ll never rise above the noise and get them to adopt your technology.

Do you see just how powerful your customer is?

Everything rises and falls on them and how well you know them. When you leverage your knowledge of your customer to create and distribute content that they want and need to read, you’ll drive your message beyond the noise to mass user adoption.

So, how well do you know your customer?

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Whitney is a consultant, speaker, and writer on a mission to help lifesaving, life-changing technology break through the noise and achieve mass user adoption.

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