11:32 AM

Not All Successful Brands are Household Names

The following article was originally published on Forbes.com on Jan. 31, 2018.

A lot of brands who are very successful don't have the same cache as other brands. However, there are quite a few out there  from service organizations like WeGoLook to cool business apps like Calendar. However, they are relatively unknown when you compare them to brands like Apple, Uber, and Coca-Cola. Yet, these brands that are flying under the radar are still getting it right and provide lessons for others.

For example, there is DentaQuest. This purpose-driven, $2 billion company is transforming the way people understand oral health – from the way it's provided and paid for to how it's discussed and prioritized around the country. Serving 25 million people nationwide, DentaQuest is a non-profit at the top and split into four parts — Benefits, Care Group, Foundation, and Institute. And, the goal is to advance person-centered oral health solutions and strengthen powerful networks of advocates.

Marketing A Relatively Unknown Brand

CMO Alison Corcoran (who had previous stops at Staples and Sears) loves the opportunities. I met her last October at the GRMA (Global Retail Marketing Association) Executive Leadership Forum for Financial and Insurance Services in Florida. She told me that the organization historically did very little brand marketing as the brand enjoyed significant success through a sales environment. "Request for proposal (RFP) processes drove marketing," she said. "However, broad-reaching brand campaigns weren’t business critical."

Corcoran, who was recently named President of the DentaQuest Foundation and DentaQuest Institute, looked to the focus on its strong social justice mission to frame her marketing efforts going forward. As such, she knew the company's desire to improve the oral health of all would be an excellent way to reinforce the company's desire for social good while parlaying it into the primary theme for marketing campaigns.

"One standout for us in a nontraditional marketing arena is the success of the Oral Health 2020 Network. Spearheaded by the DentaQuest Foundation, this network includes an exceptionally diverse group of oral health stakeholders nationwide. It represents a shared vision and commitment to a core set of Oral Health 2020 goals."

Yet, she saw the brand potential of building on these strengths to create a cohesive brand to deliver equally on both business and social impact bottom lines. They turned to a leading brand agency for assistance. Now, they are building a roadmap to be the leading voice in oral health.

Diagnosing The State Of The Audience

Even if your audience doesn't necessarily know your brand, you must know them. And, the brand you build must be relevant to all the customers you define. For DentaQuest, their audience is divided into two groups: Medicaid members and managed care plans.

As Corcoran explained, "For Medicaid members, we focus on outreach and increasing access to care. These campaigns help members understand their oral health benefits, how to access care, and why oral health is part of their overall health. The populations we serve are very mobile-dependent. Text campaigns and online portals are the channels of choice. Campaigns targeting managed care plans are more traditional B2B efforts. We leverage a mix of digital and face-to-face interactions to deliver meaningful content about our business capabilities."

Getting Noticed By Making A Real Impact

Of the customers served, the majority are enrolled in a public healthcare program like Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). In this highly regulated public program space, Corcoran noted that there is a lack of customer-centric tools and resources available that are meaningful to and designed for the people served by these programs.

As such, this has created a significant opportunity to truly stand out. Corcoran stated, "In 2018, we are embarking on a customer experience initiative aimed at transforming the way we interact with our customers  members and patients but also dental and vision providers, health plan clients, state agencies and oral health advocates. To jumpstart that initiative, we will be unveiling new online portals in several key markets that will empower our members and clients with tailored information that is easy to access and understand  be they business objectives or personal health goals.

Also, technology is another way the brand is disrupting their industry. This includes using the available data to determine the best interventions. Plus, going digital has increased its cost leadership, differentiation, and focus. Corcoran explained, "Today, we’re creating the groundwork for a digital future. We are investing in the accuracy and stability of our data. Hence, machines and humans can improve the customer experience. By deploying machines to augment our employees, we can better advance our mission and business strategy. In the process, we can lower processing costs, enhance customer engagement, and create stronger predictive capabilities."

Adding A Healthy Pulse To The Customer Experience

Lastly, the brand has looked to standout with the way it prioritizes the customer experience  something that is missing from so many health-services industry niches. Now, Corcoran leads the effort to shift the organization from a business-to-business focus to a more consumer-centric organization. In doing so, they plan on putting the patient and caregiver at the center of all decision-making and leveraging technology to build strong relationships.

Today, elevating the organization’s CX literacy has been her first order of business. Corcoran stated, "The organization, at all levels, has been exceptional in the way they’ve embraced the concept of CX and in their willingness to look at the way we currently do business with a fresh CX perspective. Now that we’ve started a meaningful dialogue internally, in 2018 we will build out our capacity to deliver on CX in support of both business and social outcomes."

@steveolenski is a marketer who also happens to be among the most influential writers in the space. He's been called The CMO Whisperer & Distiller of Truth. He's looking for his next challenge.