Episode 117 – Continue to ask questions and continue to test and learn.

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Episode 117 – Continue to ask questions and continue to test and learn.


Adam: [00:08] Hi, welcome to the Good People, Good Marketing podcast, a podcast about digital marketing and how to make it better so the good people and good organizations can have good marketing as well. I’m your host, Adam Walker, co-founder of Sideways8, a digital marketing agency and 48in48, a nonprofit dedicated to hosting events that build forty-eight websites for forty-eight nonprofits in forty-eight hours.

[00:30] My guest on the show today is Stephanie Moritz. Stephanie is the Chief Communications and Marketing Officer for the American Dental Association. She has a prolific past of working in Fortune 500 companies at some of the world’s leading brands, including ConAgra Foods, The Hershey Company, Jim Beam Brands, Porter Novelli Convergence Group, Illinois House of Representatives and Walt Disney Attractions. Stephanie, welcome to the show.

Stephanie: [00:55] Well, thank you so much, Adam. I’m excited to be here.

Adam: [00:58] Yeah, I’m excited to chat with you. I love it when I get to talk to marketers that have had sort of that prolific background in these larger companies and now they’re doing really great work at nonprofits and they tend to have very insightful and kind of interesting perspectives on marketing. And so I can’t wait to chat about that a bit. So let’s go ahead and dive right in. Related to digital marketing, can you tell me something that has worked well for you?

Stephanie: [01:23] Yeah. So what’s been exciting about my work at the ADA— The ADA is one hundred and sixty years old this year. So with it, it’s been exciting to do a lot of transformation, specifically in digital. So we’re kind of in the middle of a movie, I’d say, where we’re in the process of updating the digital member experience and have really been in more of a “test and learn” mentality. So we’ve been trying a variety of things that are really relatively new for the association world. So for example, search for us continues to be very strong. That’s an area that really has enabled us to go in and micro-target to specific members as well as future prospective members.

[02:09] Another element that we’ve just been testing has been geo-fencing. So recently we had the Chicago Midwinter meeting and wanted to reach out to the folks that were attending that and serve them up some of our messages. So geo-fencing really has been a good way for us to engage them. So we’re trying to do a variety of new things and we’re certainly learning a lot.

Adam: [02:36] I’m curious, where are you setting up the geo-fencing? What platform are you using?

Stephanie: [02:43] We’re testing out a few different platforms for that one in particular. We found really good luck specifically utilizing Facebook as well. We’ve been using that as a concierge to help allow us, as people within the certain target area, to be able to have live conversations. So a few different platforms, but the one I certainly talk about is really how we’re utilizing Facebook because for us, we have quite a few, not only dentists, but members of their dental team.

Adam: [03:17] Right. Well, the interesting thing about geo-fencing on Facebook is that you can target a specific location and say, “Okay, we want to target ads to everybody within a one-mile radius of this location.” But then you can add in additional sections where you’re excluding certain parts of that one-mile radius. And so if you’re crafty about it, you can get it down to basically the area of one building footprint and just market to people in that one building, which is pretty fascinating really.

Stephanie: [03:45] It is. It’s really pretty amazing. It’s exciting to see the progression of digital. Literally, you said it perfectly. That’s exactly what we did. And it was just a really good way to engage people at their point of receptivity.

Adam: [03:59] Right. Well, and the other interesting thing about that too is you can also use it to build an audience based on who interacts with that ad as well. So not only are you now geo-fenced and you’re representing that ad or showing that ad to people within a very specific targeted area, but if they interact with the ad at all, it then adds them to a new audience in Facebook and then you can target back to them or market back to them later. So that’s fantastic. I love that. That’s a lot of fun stuff. So next question then: related to digital marketing, can you tell us something that has not worked well that we can learn from?

Stephanie: [04:32] Yeah. So what’s interesting with the American Dental Association that differs from some of the other companies I’ve worked for, we’ve tried a variety of different tactics and some that have worked well more in the consumer world just really haven’t been as much of a fit specifically for the dental world. So an example is BuzzFeed. In the past, I’ve worked with BuzzFeed quite a bit and as we were reaching consumers for different products, it could work out well and have a good ROI.

[05:06] However, at the ADA, we’re certainly trying to reach dentists, but we’re also trying to reach patients to encourage them to go see their dentist. So we tested out doing this partnership. And for us, where in theory we thought it was great, it had a good hypothesis, but it really didn’t have as strong of an ROI as we would like to see. So for us, it helped to reinforce really that targeting and it is just absolutely critical. And doing more of kind of the traditional digital marketing aspects actually performed better for us.

Adam: [05:44] Yeah, it makes perfect sense. And I think the lesson there is pretty broad, which is what works for one business or for one industry may or may not work for another one. I think it’s really tempting as nonprofit marketers to look at something that someone else is doing and say, “Oh, we should do exactly that.” And the reality is that their audience may very well be very, very, different. So we need to be careful about that. I think we can learn and glean from other areas, but ultimately our tactics, our philosophies of marketing, are going to have to be unique and really fit our own niche and our own consumer audience, right?

Stephanie: [06:16] Absolutely.

Adam: [06:17] Well that’s great. It’s really helpful. I agree, targeting is truly critical. So last question: related to digital marketing, can you tell us something you are excited about?

Stephanie: [06:29] Oh gosh. Where do I begin? So with digital, again, I feel like we’re in the middle of our journey. So what we’re really excited about is updating our experience. So have brought a lot of work on design thinking and segmentation to the ADA so that we can really understand who are the dentists, our current members, but also the future members? So we’re in the process of redesigning a digital member experience that will make it easier to join, but then also incorporate more of the personalization.

[07:03] So we always are hearing that everyone wants that Amazon approach, serving up more information that is like something that you’ve just purchased. So here, how can we really utilize that data just to present a better experience, present more information that speaks to your particular interests, wants and needs? So that’s going to be a big undertaking for us, but really excited about it.

Adam: [07:28] I love that. I love that. And I agree, digital experiences are becoming more and more unique, more and more custom. This idea that this one size fits, all this one funnel fits everybody, this sort of approach just really doesn’t work. We’ve got to really be very agile in our thinking and our approach so that we can give users a customized experience. I think a lot of the web platforms, especially websites, are going to start to move in that direction and become a lot more nimble in how they serve up data.

[07:56] So let me see, Stephanie, if I can just recount or recap a little bit of our conversation thus far. So related to digital marketing, what has worked well? You mentioned that the ADA is a hundred and sixty years old and yet moving forward in the digital space. And I think even it sounds like you’re doing some trailblazing there, which is fantastic. You’re updating the digital member experience. You have a “test and learn” mentality, which I think is really helpful from a digital marketing angle when you’re willing to test and explore new things and learn if they work or not. You said that search has been really strong and helps you to grow and that geo-fencing around meeting attendees has actually been great and utilizing Facebook to do that. Being able to geo-fence down even all the way to one specific location and target ads to those people has been really effective.

[08:42] For what has not worked well related to digital marketing, you mentioned that tactics from the consumer world don’t necessarily work here and that good targeting is critical. I think we talked about how one tactic that works for one non-profit or one for-profit company may or may not work and we need to be nimble and have the ability to sort of shift and understand who we are as non-profits and who it is that we serve at a deeper level.

[09:08] And for question number three, what are you excited about, you mentioned that you’re updating the user experience, you’re doing a lot of work in design thinking and that everybody wants to have that Amazon approach where, when they search for one thing, the site or the experience automatically understands what other things are now related to that from an information standpoint, and it serves that information up so that we can find it more quickly and we can be engaged at a deeper level with the organization and with the technology. Does that sound about like a good summary so far?

Stephanie: [09:38] It sounds like a phenomenal summary.

Adam: [09:41] Well, that’s great. Well, Stephanie, this has been really great. Do you have any final thoughts or final things you’d like to share with our audience?

Stephanie: [09:48] Yeah. I think what’s just going to be really important is to continue to ask questions and continue to test and learn. And being a perpetual student of the digital environment, it’s changing constantly. So be that student and then be that teacher and pay it forward because there are so many different elements out there. But with that said, don’t just go after the shiny new object. Don’t forget the basics and the important principles of marketing, of really knowing your audience, of doing the segmentation or design-thinking work upfront to have a clear insight that then that can really help you define your experience or your message. So that’s the wonderful thing I would tie up with a bow.

Adam: [10:35] I love that. I mean, continue to ask questions, test and learn, but balance that with don’t go after every shiny new object. And that’s a really difficult thing, I think, for marketers, especially marketers that have limited budgets, limited time, limited resources and limited teams. And yet I agree, that’s the only way we can grow and stay ahead of the curve, is if we’re willing to sort of dabble in these things and understand them and test them and see if they work. And then if they work, great, we ramp them up, we do more of that. And if they don’t work, so be it, we move on, but we continue to have our foundation of really getting the basics right. Is that about what you said? I want to make sure I got it right there.

Stephanie: [11:12] I think you said it brilliantly.

Adam: [11:14] That’s fantastic. Well, Stephanie, this was really great. I really appreciate you coming on the show. I would love to have you back sometime.

Stephanie: [11:21] Well, thank you. I’d love to come back. Thanks for having me, Adam.

Adam: [11:23] Thank you. Thanks for listening to the Good People, Good Marketing podcast. To get more resources about digital marketing, make sure to go to goodpeoplegoodmarketing.com where you can find more podcasts, blogs, and other fun resources. Also, if you want to find me, your host, you can find me on Twitter @ajwalker, and on my blog at adamjwalker.com where I blog about leadership, productivity, habit building, and the craziness of having five kids. Thanks, and tune in next time.

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