How to Apply the 80-20 Rule to Your Medical Marketing

By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer

vilfredo paretoOne of the most powerful concepts we know and teach is the Pareto Principle (aka The 80-20 Rule).

In1906, Italian economist and avid gardener Vilfredo Pareto established that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population. While gardening he later observed that 20% of the peapods in his garden yielded 80% of the peas that were harvested. And thus was born a theory that has stood the test of time and scrutiny.

Management thinker Joseph Juran adopted the idea and in 1937 introduced “The Pareto Principle,” expanded the observations to the assumption that most of the results in any situation are determined by a small number of causes. In other words, 80% of consequences stem from 20% of the causes.

The 80-20 Rule in Action

  • 80% of the wealth in America is controlled by 20% of the population
  • 80% of decisions come from 20% of meeting time
  • 80% of your measurable results will come from 20% of the items on your daily “to-do” list
  • 80% of a manager’s interruptions come from the same 20% of the employees
  • 80% of sales will come from 20% of the sales force
  • 80% of customer complaints are about the same 20% of employees, products, services or processes
  • 80% of results from an advertising campaign will come from 20% of the ads
  • 80% of beer is consumed by 20% of beer drinkers
  • 80% of the business in any industry or segment is controlled by 20% of the businesses in that industry or segment

Here’s something else that is really interesting.

The top 20% of the top 20% is responsible for 80% of the 80% of results. In other words, the top 4% is responsible for about 64% (two-thirds) of the outcomes. Taken a step further, about 1% of the cause creates about half the effect.

Going back to one of our previous examples, about 1% of Americans own half the wealth, while everyone else shares the second half of the pie.

How to Leverage the 80-20 Rule in Your Hospital or Practice

You can apply the 80-20 rule to almost anything, but here are some of the most relevant for healthcare marketing.

  • Focus on the 20% of marketing efforts that yield 80% of your results – and consider eliminating much of the rest.
  • Vigorously protect the 20% of your referring doctors who send you 80% of your patients.
  • Ethically utilize marketing to attract the 20% cases that can deliver 80% of the revenue.
  • Spend 80% of your time working on the 20% of your business that matters most to your success!


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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