marketing sniff test We see this all the time and it drives us nuts.

Hospital executives and doctors—people who are experts in their own profession—don’t have a good test for qualifying outside marketing help. And without a guide, would-be “marketers,” with limited real world experience and knowledge, are hired for the wrong reasons.

This is the first in a series of articles to help you avoid costly mistakes in hiring or wasting money on needless/useless projects.

Frequently the hiring decision-maker buys into the prospective marketing person’s alluring sales pitch. (They are really good at selling, but come up short on performance and real qualifications.)

A poor selection results in wasted time and precious resources, lost business opportunity, and the executive decision-maker is has a sour attitude about marketing in general. Once burned, twice shy.

Sometimes I wish marketing people were required to have a license like doctors and other professions. Accounting and finance people can earn a CPA, electrical contractors are certified and licensed, as are professional engineers, air traffic controllers, teachers, pilots, financial advisors and many others.

Some professional credentials in marketing can be one useful reference point about the relatively few individuals who have earned them. The larger field, however, is relatively wide open, and doctors and hospital executives need to sniff-out the BS and recognize the difference between qualified marketing resources and razzle-dazzle salesmanship.

7 red flags that should set-off your Marketing BS Detector…

Here are a few of common signals for concern to help create your own “sniff test” to identify the potential bad apple.

When solutions precede problem understanding. Effective strategies, tactics, creative and implementation follow a thorough evaluation of the market situation. Be alert for presentations that gloss over the vital discovery stages, and, for example, showcase creative handiwork.

“If all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.” Be alert for one-trick solutions that are presented as the universal answer for everything.

When experience is only “kinda sorta close.” It’s an unrealistic stretch to be told that a successful strategy for a landscape contractor client is germane to a hospital maternity service line. Be wary if examples, testimonials and references do not link solidly to direct (and verifiable) experience in your healthcare sector.

When “success” is defined in hazy, “feel-good” terms. Look for goals and deliverables that are clear, specific and quantifiable. The primary objective of healthcare marketing is to produce new business revenue that can be demonstrated by accurate tracking and Return-on-Investment.

When advertising awards sparkle too much. Don’t be overly impressed by ad industry awards and accolades. Some achievements are noteworthy, but your advertising budget is invested primarily to produce tangible results and win new patients, and not to win the praise among ad peer groups.

When client buy-in relies mainly on golf course friendship, internal politics and/or egos. Well-qualified marketing resources will win the day through a demonstrated ability to produce results. In short, it’s what they know, not who they know, that has the greatest weight.

When there’s a firm guarantee of results. It’s foolish to think that marketing and advertising have foolproof formulas. Well-qualified professionals will quickly tell you that there are no absolute guarantees, but that experience can reduce risk and raise return.

For more on this topic…

Across the spectrum, healthcare marketing and advertising resources are constantly challenged to do more, produce more results and serve more masters. There’s little room for error, or for hiring poorly qualified “marketers” for the wrong reasons.

Don’t allow slick sales/showmanship to overwhelm substance, experience and performance. For related reading see our previous posts on this topic: Getting the Best from Your Healthcare Advertising Agency and Common Mistakes Doctors Make When Searching For A Medical Ad Agency.

Stewart Gandolf, MBA


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Stewart Gandolf

Stewart Gandolf

Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder at Healthcare Success Strategies
Stewart Gandolf, MBA, is CEO of Healthcare Success, a medical marketing and health care advertising agency. He is also a frequent writer and speaker. Most importantly, he is happily married and a "rock-n-roll daddy" to two wonderful girls.
Stewart Gandolf
Stewart Gandolf


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