3 healthcare marketing execs share best lessons they've learned from campaign duds

Healthcare's top marketing executives ascended to their positions by continually reflecting on their own experience in their field — examining what patients respond well to, what they don't and why.

Here, three healthcare marketing leaders share the most valuable lesson they've ever gained from an unsuccessful campaign.

Editor's note: Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Don Stanziano, chief marketing and communications officer at Geisinger Health (Danville, Pa.): The most important lesson I've learned from an unsuccessful campaign is to take the time to include the voice of the customer and test creative. Creative can be very subjective, and while creative teams and agencies like to push the envelope in an attempt to be different and provocative, in the end the best campaigns connect with their desired audience on an emotional level. It's easy in the rush to hit deadlines to shortcut consumer testing, but that is risky. We recently pulled a campaign because it didn't test well. The risk of doing harm to the brand and setting us back was greater than going into market later than planned.  

William Koleszar, chief marketing officer of National Spine and Pain Centers (Rockville, Md.): Human nature is a formidable force. Don't bet against it, or you will almost always come up short. Indeed, it's an important lesson that goes far beyond marketing!

Suzanne Hendery, chief marketing and customer officer at Renown Health (Reno, Nev.): I've learned two important lessons. The first is to never release a campaign you haven't tested first with the intended audience to be sure it resonates with them, moves them to action and leaves them with a positive impression. 

The second is to always check with internal stakeholders — finance, managed care, the call center and the area that is being promoted — to be sure that operationally, they are all supportive and ready to deliver on the promise or expectation you are now setting with consumers. Call the number and log in to the website to be sure all works smoothly prior to launch, and be sure you know who is tracking the results so you can monitor effectiveness. 

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