What is a Chief Evangelist and Why You Should Be One

By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer

Person's hand touching a "Brand" holographic image[First in a series.] American business author, entrepreneur and keynote speaker Guy Kawasaki has a fascinating, marketing-centered biography. In 1984 he was an Apple employee responsible for marketing Macintosh computers…becoming the Chief Evangelist of Apple. (History suggests it worked.)

A Chief Evangelist (or Brand Evangelist) is, among other things, an ambassador for your product, service or business. They actively—almost fervently—promote a positive message that advocates others to buy or use the product. If Guy Kawasaki didn’t invent the term, he most certainly pioneered the concept.

The term evangelism, according to all-knowing Wikipedia, “comes from the three words of ‘bringing good news’, [where] consumers are driven by their beliefs in a product or service, which they preach in an attempt to convert others.”

You might think of “evangelism marketing” as word-of-mouth in action. Healthcare consumers, patients and family who become emotionally connected to the medical practice or hospital, voluntarily and proactively recommend a doctor or service that they have used to others.

In our view, healthcare is one of the most logical and appropriate places for brand evangelism. Providers and institutions may use a different term or label, but doctors and medical practices rely on the strength of their reputation. The shortfall, however, is when they mistakenly rely on The Myth of the Good Doctor, believing that patients will automatically flock to the doorstep of a good doctor.

In reality, however, every doctor needs to be his or her own chief evangelist, with these main considerations in mind:

  • Nobody is more qualified, or better suited, than the doctor to be the primary advocate
  • Nobody else is going to be an ambassador if you are not leading the way
  • A Chief Evangelist inspires other advocates, ambassadors and evangelists

Having an active brand ambassador—or multiple evangelists—is one of the most effective marketing tools to actively engage your patient base, build rapport and relationships, and to grow your reputation.

Generally speaking, the cost is low and the return is high. But the first consideration in effective brand evangelism is that it does not occur spontaneously.

Although a handful of patients may refer others, evangelism marketing requires the fuel to gain real traction and effectiveness. Evangelists constantly work at spreading the brand message using marketing and advertising tools to actively engage influential members of their audience.

  • Community and professional events
  • Consumer comments and ratings
  • Online content and discussions
  • Public speaking and presentations
  • Social media platforms
  • Testimonials, endorsements and recognitions

Watch for additional articles in this series. And for useful background reference, read:

The Medical Practice Marketing Link Between Word of Mouth and Your Front Door

Using Social Proof to Win Friends and Influence People

Relationships: Success Formula for Marketing to Patients

Stewart Gandolf, MBA

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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