Teaching Moments in Healthcare Marketing From Our Editor’s Wastebasket

By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer

"Go Away" unwelcome mat rugOur Managing Editor at Healthcare Success is normally an easy-going person who doesn’t get upset easily. After all, he easily handles the daily high-strung environment of publishing deadlines and life in the medical advertising agency fast lane.

But now and then some things cross his desk that make him cringe, “This is dumb.” Moments like this annoy our editor, but they also allow us to make a teaching moment from bad ideas otherwise destined for the editor’s round file.

Here are two real-world examples of painfully poor stabs at healthcare marketing, and what to do instead:

#1. Posting a patient experience question on a generic Internet Question/Answer board.

These questions were a sincere (maybe desperate) plea for help. Someone in need went to the wrong place for assistance. The message read:

Q: “What are creative ways to improve patient satisfaction scores? Creative ways to communicate wait times to patients? Make them feel like they aren’t just a number?”

Within an hour of posting, someone (with tongue firmly in cheek) responded:

A: “What, like you want to sing it to them? Maybe hold a raffle for prizes? Personally, I wouldn’t mind a foot massage or a facial while I waited…I wouldn’t mind getting my nails done…or maybe you could pass out cupcakes and coffee.

[Or] you could also just make it so that we didn’t have to wait in the first place.

Aggravation and alternative: Luckily, a right answer, but from not the best source to ask in the first place. (It was a generic Q/A board…a good place to learn “How do I boil water?” but not a reliable marketing resource.)

And, more importantly, the better solution is: don’t try to sugarcoat a wait time problem with a distraction. Instead, deal with the problem. Got a question? Go to the source. It’s better to ask an experienced healthcare marketing authority about these kinds of concerns. Keeping your problems and our suggestions in the ‘family’ is what specific Internet healthcare marketing is all about. Right?

We really want your contributions, but…

#2. Frame this. It’s the all-time worst pitch letter to an editor (ever).

We’ll omit the sender’s name, but it was not, as you might initially think, a joke or a message from a second grader. Here’s exactly what someone sent to our editor:


I’m writing to see, whether or not you’d be interested in a guest post. If you’re accepting contributions, don’t hesitate to contact me and I’d be happy to send over some sample paragraphs and headlines.


Aggravation and alternative: Would you believe it…our editor’s name is not “Hey!” (There’s not even a polite, “Dear Editor” in the salutation). This was an empty template email with freeform punctuation. Ordinarily a pitch letter includes a story idea, a topic and at least a hint of awareness about the blog’s content? Our previous post, How to Irritate an Editor, includes the essential key to a winning formula.

But, on a positive note…we do welcome good healthcare marketing ideas, and you’re welcome to submit your success story or medical advertising idea. We’ll publish the really good stuff here on the Healthcare Marketing Exchange.

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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