A Goal Without a Plan is Just a Wish

By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer

Person in a suit writing marketing words with a markerAre you marketing or just wishing something will happen?

Simply having a goal in mind does not achieve success. A goal without a plan is just a wish…and daydreams alone seldom produce results. To move beyond wishful thinking-and produce tangible results-requires specific goals and a well-crafted marketing action plan.

Hardly a week goes by that we don’t hear from someone looking for a marketing compass. It’s across the board—healthcare organizations, group practices, hospitals. They know they want to go somewhere, but the destination is vague and the roadmap is non-existent.

A little quote with a large dose of reality comes to mind: “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” 1

Actually, calling us is a good first step away from wishful thinking. Otherwise, a goal, for example, “to double the practice,” is simply a form of daydreaming. Something about the idea feels good, but the wish is not a goal, and it’s not connected to a plan of action.

A wish alone is not productive. The reality of this fantasy is that it takes time away from formulating specific goals and following concrete action steps to achieve their goal(s).

If this sounds familiar, begin with the end in mind.

Start with SMART goals

Most practices fail to thrive because they’ve never really established goals. These need to be clear, specific, SMART goals. It’s an acronym often used in goal setting and mean:


Specific: What exactly you want to accomplish? Clearly define what is important to you and quantify this in numbers. Specific goals are more likely to be achieved than general goals.

Measurable: What are your criteria to measure progress and success? Attach specific dates or a timeline for completion. Marketing goals are mainly short-term, typically within one year.

Achievable: Do the goals fit realistically within the time frame? Even with goals that stretch a bit outside your comfort level (recommended), are they truly “do-able?”

Relevant: Are you able to do something that achieves the goals? If they are truly outside of your control, rethink the goal. Are they important to you?

Trackable: How will you keep score? Fortunately, marketing efforts can be tracked in highly specific, Return-on-Investment measures.

Next: create a marketing action plan

Goals are no longer vague or wishful thinking. But you still need the roadmap to get there. This is no place for trial-and-error or a disconnected series of random efforts.

If you don’t have a current or effective marketing plan, we can help you align budget, goals, strategies and tactics. There’s a comprehensive article here about How We Develop Medical Marketing Plans for Our Clients.

By now, the reasons to have an up-to-date and effective Marketing Plan are probably obvious. Your well-considered goals remain wishes without the specifics of a plan. But more than that, a good marketing plan:

  • Dramatically reduces risk and substantially increases the likelihood of being successful;
  • Saves time and money. A carefully-crafted plan puts precious resources where they are needed most and where they produce the greatest return;
  • Focuses a consistent message and branding for greatest effectiveness and response over time; and
  • Allows you to anticipate, assess, prepare, cover-your-bases, construct necessary support systems, protect yourself and dramatically improve your chances for marketing success.

Realistic goals and a comprehensive, custom marketing plan are part of the deliverables at our 2-day healthcare marketing meeting. It’s a roll-up-your-sleeves session where goals and plans are crafted, and wishful daydreams are not invited. Give us a call today at (800) 656-0907 to check on availability. Space is limited.

1 French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery (1900 – 1944)

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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