How to Grow a Brand Evangelism Marketing Movement

By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer

Animated 2D stick figures holding up a giant green arrow with heavy "Ambassadors" text on it[Part of a Series] Many medical practices are unaware of their own potential in evangelism marketing. Virtually every day, doctors and hospitals deliver a form of happiness and satisfaction to their patients. These are people who appreciate the health care solution that has resolved their medical concern.

Unfortunately, this sense of patient gratitude is largely neglected and remains untapped as a source of brand evangelists who would—if asked or encouraged—willingly promote a practice, product or service.

Our previous article on this topic, What is a Chief Evangelist and Why You Should Be One, described brand evangelism as sort of a high-powered Word-of-Mouth advertising that draws on the passion and satisfaction of a core group of “satisfied customers.” These are the patients and others who actively “preach” about, and recommend, the services they have benefited from and experienced. Their level of satisfaction is contagious and persuasive.

Creating a brand evangelism marketing environment…

In healthcare, the doctor or medical service provider is the head cheerleader—the Chief Evangelist—who delivers first-class service in a high-quality environment. He or she is the primary advocate of the practice brand who identifies, inspires and informs fans, influencers and other advocates/evangelists.

Your prospective evangelists are a small, but enthusiastic, sub-set of your internal public audiences who are connected to the provider or practice, often by way of social media and online content. They tend to demonstrate their influence as thought leaders and engaged followers who proactively tell others about their experience and make recommendations.

You’ll discover candidates among the vocal participants in social conversations and referral sources. They tend to participate in online discussion groups, make suggestions and recommendations, and generally share ideas based on their experience.

To foster and focus this potential among many individuals—and activate select fans as brand advocates—the Chief Evangelist needs to do a number of helpful things, including:

  • What: Educate with current and correct information. Use sharable storytelling and facts.
  • Why: Provide reasons for involvement; show how they can benefit others.
  • How: Indicate channels for participation; forums, Twitter, Facebook.
  • Where: Point to new and related forums that connect your champions with others.
  • When: A chief evangelist uses every reasonable means to spread the brand message and encourage fans, including social platforms, webinars, online text and video content, public and professional presentations, and one-to-one conversations.

In addition, it’s important to be an active listener. Evangelists are an informed and aware “voice of the customer.” While their comments and ideas are generally positive, they also provide insight and awareness to the concerns of the audience and areas of possible improvement.

And finally, remember the emotional connection of your champions. Individuals are passionate about a provider, product or service because they feel emotionally involved in some way, and they want to share the positive feelings (and sense of benefit) with others.

“Evangelism marketing” may not be a familiar label, but the concept of encouraging existing customers to connect with and influence prospective customers—and promote your brand in the process—is a method of applied social proof.

Although it is primarily patient-to-patient, its core strength is a sense of a bonded relationship between the advocate and the provider, practice and/or brand. Brand evangelism—influence, recommendations and referrals—is a powerful and effective marketing tactic.

RELATED READING: A previous article in this series, What is a Chief Evangelist and Why You Should Be One, is available here. Also see, A Word About Word-of-Mouth: Dispel Old School Misconceptions and The Incredibly Simple Reason Most Patients Don’t Make Referrals.

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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