CRM Case Study
This is a case study of a 10 year old private B2B dental company that has catapulted itself to become the market share leader in professional tooth whitening systems. Through superior product development, cutting-edge marketing, and excellent customer service, Discus (pronounced: Dis-Kiss) has positioned itself as the premier direct selling dental product manufacturer in the world. Discus accomplished this feat in a short time period by differentiating itself from its competitors by being an image company in an industry that's not image conscious.
While it helps that one of the principles of Discus is a Hollywood dentist, that in no way should undercut the fact that Discus has become the industry leader by executing a smart CRM strategy. To begin a relationship with dentists, Discus wisely tapped into the dental requirement that dentists complete a required number of credits (50 credits in California) in continuing education every 2 years for relicensure.
To position themselves as industry leaders, Discus developed American Dental Association certified Super Seminars and Continuing Education programs with the University of the Pacific in San Francisco that centers on "new diagnostic methods and treatment techniques." While there are over 300 approved providers of ADA continuing education, this is unique as the "continuing education" features Discus dental products (whitening, impressions, restoratives, software and oral hygiene) and training in a University setting in a travel destination. Having the seminars on a University campus was critical as dentists cannot work on patients outside of their home state unless on a University campus - this therefore allows dentists to perform "hands-on" (with 2:1 student to instructor ratios) as opposed to simply watching cases being treated - further enhancing the appeal of the courses. While Dentists and their staff pay to attend these courses, Discus is in the enviable position of having a captured audience for 4-9 days - to continue building their relationship with the key purchasers of their product (in many practices, dentists make the purchase decision rather than clinicians).
In addition to the clinical continuing education courses, Discus developed annual Extravaganzas at key resort cities (e.g. Las Vegas). These dental seminars, while also eligible for ADA continuing education credit, can be considered more junket than education - and tax deductible. Including a well-known keynote speaker and a well known entertainer, these dental extravaganzas are the hottest ticket in town. With every initiative, Discus strives for, what Discus Dental President Robert Hayman describes as, "the bitchin' factor." This is no exception. Dentists who have had loyal attendance in the past, or who are considered Tier A customers, are given preferential treatment at these seminars (enhanced breakfast service, special break rooms, preferential seating at events, special meet and greet sessions with keynote speakers e.g. General Norman Schwarzkopf and Bill Cosby). With this level of attention, Discus' best customers are definitely at the center of their marketing strategy.
Discus approaches their marketplace as a 3 part building block:. 1) Continuing Education 2) In-office training 3) Marketing Materials. It is on the marketing front that Discus really stands out as an innovator. Discus has launched very innovated advertising focussed on image in consumer magazines for demand and awareness creation. The very fact that this company celebrates their advertising on their website gives the reader an indication of the innovativeness of their marketing approach in an industry not known for their innovation.
To help build their customer's teeth whitening practice and to further enhance the relationship Discus has with its dentists, Discus developed a Media Services Group. This group does everything for a doctor's office from advertising, PR to direct mail.
To round out the offering, Discuss offers its Dentists office art. What better way to promote tooth whitening than to have real life patients showing off their perfect teeth in the doctor's office (photos are shot of real patients by a top fashion photographer). This offering also allows Discus sales reps to talk to dentists in a non threatening way. Once the art is up in the dentist's office and the sales rep has a non threatening relationship with the dentist, why not now buy their product?
To enhance the professionalism of the the dentist's practice, Discus offers dentists a slew of direct mail templates, posters and statement stuffers dentists can use to communicate with their patients. As a dentist, it is difficult to say "no" to a company that has its act together like Discus. There is no question that Discus intends to dominate whatever market they choose to play in. A clear case study in B2B CRM.
eCRM Case Study
This case study illustrates how The Walt Disney Company used newsletters to communicate a Walt Disney web property's (GO.com) new brand positioning, look and feel and tone and manner.
Background: Walt Disney's GO.com found that they could not compete in the general-purpose portal space. It was ranked #4 behind Yahoo!, AOL, and MSN. After a rebranding exercise, GO.com decided to change its position in the marketplace and compete on the strengths of The Walt Disney Company and focus on entertainment, recreation and leisure - away from general-purpose portal/search. At the sametime, in a move toward scalability, GO.com moved away from editorialized content to focus on search and directory listings for their new core web strengths (entertainment, recreation and leisure).
Challenge: Approximately 60-70% of GO's traffic was search driven (visitors coming to the site to undertake web searches vs reading editorialized content). Syndicated research at the time reported that when a company changed a website's user interface (look, feel, navigation) appreciably, up to 44% of their visitors would look elsewhere for an alternative. Considering GO.com's business model was based on advertising (the more visitors, the more banner impressions, the more the site got paid), GO could not afford to lose that much traffic. Walt Disney's Director of Marketing, Garret Ippolito, at the time summed up the challenge: "How do you create a rational and emotional relationship with a search engine?"
Solution: In addition to activities on site, GO needed to communicate to GO's users that 1) GO was changing and 2) how the new GO was better than before. Part of GO's solution was to develop a monthly newsletter. The purpose of the newsletter was to: 1) Drive traffic back to GO 2) Brand development - tell the GO.com story.
In developing his e-mail strategy, Ippolito wanted to give GO's users the feeling that the e-mails were written by an individual for an individual. Further, he decided to break from industry norms and have the e-mails written in a story telling manner. The rationale behind the story telling was the belief that it kept the e-mails interesting and unique. Telling stories evoke an emotional reaction. Compelling stories engage users for a longer period, which translates into higher clickthroughs.
Results: The final product was a newsletter called "From the Word GO" by Buzz Daley ('Buzz' to convey energy and excitement. 'Daley' was a play on Carson Daley - MTV personality). Buzz wrote in a friendly, fun, playful, tongue-and-cheek/witty manner - the brand personality of the new GO.com website. Each Newsletter started with a quote to capture the reader's attention and the layout was designed to pull the reader into the e-mail. Each e-mail was about discovery - leveraging a theme developed for GO's television campaign.
Throughout the e-mail, Buzz Daley solicited feedback from readers - 'Tell me what you think.' Readers could either write Buzz directly or post messages on a special message board created for Buzz Daley and the newsletter.
I love it! Thank you. You actually made me laugh out loud. - Julie
Hi! Just thought I would take a minute to write and let you know how much I enjoyed the sites..........keep up the good work! :) - Jastes
This was one of the cleverest and humorous letters I've read in a long time. Tickled my funny bone. GIVE THE AUTHOR A PAY RAISE! WAY TO GO!!! - Mrs. choir
Buzz, your newsletter is wonderful. Very funny! Wry and amusing.. I enjoyed it very much and went to as many sites as I had time for which were great. Copied a few cookie recipes and got some gift ideas. Thanks so much!! - Barbara
Very erudite writing, (did I say erudite?) Seriously, cool writing style that kept me engaged - and scrolling all the way to the end. I'll go back and click later. Nicely done...keep up the good work... Joyce
Mission accomplished. An imaginative one at that.
Land's End was founded in 1963 as a manufacturer of sailboat equipment and the basic duffel bags and rain slickers that sailors require. Now, the company is known for its denims, khakis, crew necks and turtlenecks.
Find/have other great case studies? Let us know
In keeping with our site's mission to represent CRM best practices, we reiterate our call that should you come across content and links that, in your opinion, represent the best of the Internet, we strongly encourage you to pass them along so we can continue to keep our community abreast of the latest and best.