Best Practice Ideas: Everybody Isn’t a Marketing Expert After All

By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer

Lightbulb with "Best Practice" text underneathWhy is it that when it comes to marketing, everyone seems to have an opinion? Colleagues, friends, staff, the plant lady, the guy cleaning up…everyone gets a vote. Worse, the people writing the checks often listen to whoever the last person was who offered them advice.

 A brief backstory about best practice marketing…

For example, an intelligent individual came to me recently with an idea he heard about marketing. This person had attended our marketing seminar and understood the business fundamentals. But this idea was strange and unsupported at best.

I had to ask, “Where did you come up with that one?” It turns out that this left-field advice originated with someone they had just met on an airplane. (A stranger on a plane!)

Man wearing sunglasses, sitting on airplane giving a thumbs upSuffice to say, it was a bad idea…more like a hearsay guess presented as fact. But there was no evidence, no authority, and no proof. Yet a stranger was willing to risk someone else’s money on this unsupported notion.

This would be the same as a medical doctor trying every newfangled, heard-in-the-halls idea without the benefit of tests, reports, or any evidence at all. With steam about to leak from my ears, I would ask: “Show me the evidence.” “What journal published this?” “Where was this tested and tracked?” Anyone can offer an opinion, but don’t take advice without validation or proof.

Marketing expert: Is genuine expertise dead or dying?

Tom Nichols, author of the business book, The Death of Expertise, asks: “How is it that people not only doubt expert advice, but believe themselves to be as smart, or even smarter, than experienced professionals?

“The smartphones and tablets that we carry around all day that we think can answer anything are only part of the problem,” he writes. “And even if we manage to avoid the intellectual saboteurs of the Internet, we’re still all too likely to get our news and views from social media, where a silly meme from your aunt Rose in Schenectady competes for your attention with actual information.”

There’s a reason they’re called Best Practices…

So the lesson here is that a marketing idea or opinion needs validation and experience. Be suspect of ideas that originate—without evidence—from well-meaning people with zero expertise. Instead, look for new ideas that:

  • Are grounded in real world experience
  • Can be backed by fact not casual opinion
  • Comes from a credentialed (or at least credible) authority
  • Can demonstrate a measurable Return-on-Investment
  • Include proof and solid evidence

It turns out that anyone next to you on the plane isn’t a marketing expert after all. Just wish them a safe journey. Only rock solid marketing concepts—the ideas that pass substantial reality checks and come to you from an experienced authority—deserve your hard earned marketing budget.

Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer at Healthcare Success
Stewart Gandolf, MBA, is Chief Executive Officer of Healthcare Success, one of the nation's leading healthcare and digital marketing agencies. Over the past 20 years, Stewart has marketed and consulted for over 1,000 healthcare clients, ranging from practices and hospitals to multi-billion dollar corporations. A frequent speaker, Stewart has shared his expertise at over 200 venues nationwide. As an author and expert resource, Stewart has also written for many leading industry publications, including the 21,000 subscriber Healthcare Success Insight blog. Stewart also co-authored, "Cash-Pay Healthcare: Start, Grow & Perfect Your Cash-Pay Healthcare Business." Stewart began his career with leading advertising agencies, including J. Walter Thompson, where he marketed Fortune 500 clients such as Wells Fargo and Bally's Total Fitness.

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