How Marketers Can Use Curiosity to Gain an Advantage with Stephanie Moritz

« More Insights

Hello everybody, and welcome to another episode of Three Minute Marketing, where we interview some of the world’s leading growth marketing minds and condense it into three-minute value bombs.

Today, I’m super excited because we have Stephanie Moritz, currently the Chief Marketing Officer at the American Dental Association. She has had a long career in PR and marketing, transforming brands including Disney, Jim Beam, Hershey, Conagra, and now, the ADA.

My question for her is, “You openly say that curiosity is one of your secrets to success. Talk to us a little bit about curiosity. What does it mean to you, and how can others tap into the power of it?”

Show Notes:

  • Curiosity can be a tool to disrupt and change the culture and thinking of an old, established business or brand.
  • She flipped the script by using curiosity with internal employees (instead of externally) to get people thinking in new ways.
  • The ADA is ripe for innovation since it’s been around for 160+ years.


– Hello, everybody. Welcome to another episode of Three Minute Marketing where we interview some of the most impressive leaders in growth marketing. Today, I’m super duper excited. We have Stephanie Moritz, currently with the ADA but Stephanie you have a long and storied career in PR and marketing, transforming iconic brands. I mean from like looking at your LinkedIn, it’s like seems like you were very systematic in your career growth. You were like, I think at first at Hershey’s, and then to Conagra, and then now you’re at ADA transforming things. Welcome to the show.

– Thank you so much, Chris. It’s great to be here. And I am a fan of iconic brands. Everything from Disney, to Jim Beam, Hershey, Conagra, and now, The American Dental Association. So like to keep it exciting.

– And I knew you knew from a very early on that you wanted to be in marketing, and you want it to be at Disney. And now that’s a cool story in and of itself. But what I would love to talk with you about today, is curiosity. So you openly say that it’s one of your secrets to success. Talk to us a little bit and I’ll start the timer in just a sec, but talk to us a little bit about curiosity. What does it mean to you, and how can others tap into the power of it?

– Curiosity, it’s not only a mindset, but it’s also, I think a competitive advantage. It’s that secret sauce that organizations who are thriving are really built upon. Instead of it being just an answer only, just get things done. Instead, if you build your culture with curiosity at the center, you’re constantly asking why and what if, and how can we shift things up? So again, I think it’s a secret for some of the organizations who are really continue to thrive, as well as the organizations who reinvent themselves.

– 100%, 100%. Yeah, and you can think about what you might consider an old stodgy organization that, you know, may be used to a certain way and lack curiosity, and I don’t know the ADA very well personally, but how would you suggest somebody go about taking kind of a legacy organization and transforming themselves into a curious and emerging growth brand?

– Chris, now you’re speaking my language. The American Dental Association is 161 years old.

– Wow.

– And it’s the leading healthcare organization for the profession of dentistry. So I can tell you that for my time at the ADA, it’s been exciting to really interject and I’ll say disrupt and flip the culture.

– Yeah.

– From we’ve always done it this way, to asking more curious questions. So there are a few different things. Number one, design thinking or human centered insights. As marketers, we so often use this to understand our customers, or external customers. But how often are we really using it to better understand our employees, our internal customers? So the first is, being able to flip the switch and looking internally. The second, is getting everybody involved, from being curious, from questions being part of the meetings that you’re in, and really the day-to-day exercise.

– Yeah.

– Another part is understanding your team. I’m a big fan of Disc, as well as StrenghtFinders. So that we can really put together inspired teams that can help drive that forward. And then it’s never stopping. It’s ongoing co-creation, and really understanding what’s most important in those pain points. So, the final thing I’ll say, it’s asking more beautiful questions. So really thinking about, how can we disrupt? How can you ask more questions in the meetings you’re in, or for a situation? There are just so many ways that you can bring curiosity. by doing, by bringing curiosity, you can show up very differently and it can change the outcome.

– I love that, Stephanie, thank you very much. Well, that is our show for today. Stephanie and I may continue speaking. So there’ll be some links in the show notes to the rest of our conversation. If you’d like to watch it. Stephanie, where can folks find out more about you or the ADA?

– Absolutely. Well, you can certainly find me at Twitter, I’m smoritz, or you can find me on LinkedIn. I’m Stephanie Crase Moritz or please follow the American Dental Association. And remember, be curious. And where will your curiosity take you today?

– Love that. Okay, I do love that concept of curiosity and in my world, you know, we are often, you know, much closer to the ground level. Like we’re in platform, hands on keyboard, like running search, and running social. But I think that I’m a natural curiousness ’cause when I hear of a new platform, like when TikTok comes out, I’m automatically drawn to it. Whereas some people like there’s some folks that like their Facebook, they think of themselves as Facebook people. And when TikTok comes out, even though it’s fundamentally the same like you have targeting, you have landing pages, you have tracking, that’s all the same. They shy away from it. So I’m curious, like how can you when you talk about more junior level roles, or you know, up and coming leaders. How can you really program that curiosity into them if it doesn’t come very naturally?

– Yeah well, a couple of things. One, I look at people as kind of three behavioral styles. You and I are the lean in. it’s like, something new or challenge. We just go for it. There’s also the individuals who kind of stay put. And it’s kind of like they look to see what are they won’t move first. And then there are the lean back, kind of business as usual. It doesn’t bother me, I’m going to ignore it. So, some of the ways to get the junior employees available, we use standup meetings a lot. So with standup meetings, I always start with a question and then we’ll use the chat. I ask folks to regularly ask different questions. Everything from what keeps you awake at night, to if we took one thing off your plate, what would it be? I’m constantly asking them questions. So then they’re getting in the spirit of asking them back.

– Yeah

– So that’s one example.

– So every startup, you sort of started with a question that you post to the group.

– Yep.

– I really like those two examples, I mean, I would like to know what my team, what’s keeping my team up at night.

– Well it is, it’s that’s the thing, by asking them and I’ll tell you, the kind of cool thing about Zoom right now, which I’m loving. Because Disc, I don’t know if you’re familiar with Disc.

– Very familiar, we used it.

– Okay, awesome.

– I’m high D, I’m high I, high D.

– I could totally guess it. Well, and so am I. so it’s D’s and I’s, we think out loud, we answer right away, C’s don’t. Often they won’t speak in a meeting, or maybe there’ll be the last to speak. So what you can do is have them use the chat on Zoom. So they don’t even have to say anything. They can enter it in there. So it’s finding a few different ways or it’s sharing the question in advance, for your C’s and S’s. Who want to think about it and process it, before they come to your meeting. So it’s, that’s how I use both.

– Yeah.

– But you’ll be surprised at just what people share.

– I would love to share with the audience like some of the, like the two questions that you share as an example were brilliant. Do you tend, do you have like 10 questions and you rotate through or do you come up with new questions all the time?

– I new questions all the time, but I do have a whole bunch of questions just based on the situation. Like one of my other favorite ones is, what are you thinking that you’re not saying?

– I love that one. That’s the best.

– Uh-huh. And it’s just, it blows your, it takes people out of whatever thing that they’re doing.

– Yeah.

– And it’s fun to see what they come back with. So by asking those disruptive questions, you’re going to get so much more than, “Oh yeah, here’s my status update.” “Yup, you know, I did this or that.” Or in the world of search, if we’re dealing with a project, I bring up different personas or audiences.

– Yeah.

– So, all right, so let’s say, it’s a different customer, different persona, what are they searching for? Or what are they asking? So by trying to get, shake it up, it gets people out of their complacency.

– 100%. Tell me about some of your other routines and rituals. So you have this daily standup, which you start off with this, very insightful question. And I guess, some high D’s or high I’s will just blurt it out and others will write in the chat, which is interesting. What are some other rituals that you do either as a group, or individually that you find, help with emerging lead, like help to develop emerging leaders?

– Yeah, it’s a combination. So I also am a big fan of sharing and posting different articles but post them with a question. So if you share something, it’s not just, “Hey we saw this run on competitor XYZ.” You ask something, because by doing that modeling it, it starts to get people to think about it.

– Yup.

– Or any time they go to a conference, I’m always asking for all right what are you going to apply when you come back? And I asked them to teach us, you know. What are the big questions that this raised for you, and what will you do differently? I also do regular polls and surveys and better understand where’s their head at. And they’re not long. Cause that’s bad. It’s just, it’s kind of like net promoter, I ask three questions. So here you kind of take that. You ask a few questions. Another one is I get people out of the office. Now it would be virtual. So for example, I believe that customer insights, it’s everybody in the organization’s responsibility.

– Uh-huh.

– So from the C-suite all the way down. So it’s again encouraging them, and we set up time where we take them out, and have them ask different questions. So that they’re constantly on their toes.

– Yup.

– And then I also have, I’ll be honest. I have my junior staff, they run meetings. I have them take the standups, or they’ll take the division meeting. And then they’re in charge of the different questions, or the case studies.

– Brilliant.

– As well as, yeah. We have like on Fridays, once a month we have these innovation sessions. Where literally, we crowd source and we get a problem to solve, and then we invite, whoever can show up, we’ll answer it. Or last thing, we do ideas storms a lot. Where we’ll put it in the chat. We’ll put out a problem and we’ll say, go.

– Yeah.

– And then throughout the day, people can ask and answer different questions.

– 100%. I have so many questions for you, but I am curious how do you guys use Disc? Do you use it like pre-hiring, or post-hiring or both?

– Yeah, I’ve used it throughout. It’s one of my things that I just, I love. I think it’s so magical. So, combination. Now the ADA, usually it depends. Depending on the hire, we’ll do it sometimes before I prefer that, but we definitely do it after. And then we not only do it individually, but then we also have it set up. We have a database by the team because then I’m able to help assemble different teams. Or for example, there was one woman when I got to the ADA, who lead, we’ll say part of her job is digital. When I got to know her, I got to know her style or StrengthFinders. It was clear to me she should be leading our research.

– Mm.

– It’s like completely changed her job spec. She’s thriving.

– Wow.

– Because it fits with her natural C was, let me think about it, let me poke holes in it, kind of harvesting the digital person, who’s trying to get people to advance. If you’re always bringing what won’t work, but with her, she just showed up differently, and she’s a whole new career now.

– That’s awesome. That’s super cool. What is, so you have been into customer experience and experience management long before it was like cool. But now it’s cool. Right now everybody’s all cuddle up with the customer and it’s them is like a thing that’s coming. What are some things maybe, for folks that aren’t necessarily so customer focused, what are some day one things that you do at ADA or at a new role, like to attempt to get to know the customer?

– Well combo, like I’m a big fan of, I’ll bring in panels of our customers. So we’ve created both a panel of members and non-members. We can ask them questions but I also have to bring people in. It’s a good reminder because people change. So I like to bring folks in, or another one is we have some personas that are various customers and testimonials. So if you’re a new employee, I have you sit down, listen, watch that. I then also would have you join, even if it’s just a fly on the wall or if someone’s doing I’ll say a field wide or there’s a research project, just because if you don’t know who the customer is, you’re going to be irrelevant in whatever role you’re in.

– Yup. Yup. 100%. There’s some cool tools that we use to gather customer insights. So are you familiar with like Hotjar or Qualaroo? Where like you can spin up basically like little surveys and polls. So like one thing that we’ll do, like say that we have a key landing page and a user moves their mouse up to the top quickly as if they’re going to exit. It will trigger, you know, a message that says like, “Hey help, us help you.” Like give us some feedback. Some small percentage of users will click on that and then you can ask them whatever you want. We typically ask, like, what was the goal of your visit? Were you able to achieve that? Yes or no? If yes, we’ll send them on their way. Thank you. Have a good one. But if no, will trigger a third question. Like why not? What happened? And that can be really insightful from like an online user experience perspective. Like, you’ll get like, Hey, this doesn’t work on my Android. Or like, you know, I tried this three times and it didn’t work, but it’s maybe not as detailed but do you guys use any online collection tools like that?

– We do, but I’m just wrote down Hot jarks. First of all, it’s a great name. And second off the check that out. Yeah, like right now we’re in the midst of our website needs help. So we’re in the midst of a digital transformation. We did kind of the fundamental work. And now we’re putting, I’ll say, the new we’ll launch with our MVP later this year.

– Yeah.

– So that’ll be a good thing. So we are using some of the tracking, I think of it as like the tracking software and some of the questions but what we need to continue to do more of that especially since in our world content’s more decentralized you have different subject matter experts. Some are scientists, some are dentists and that’s not their strength, isn’t marketing. So we help them. So I like that. That’s good.

– Thank you very much.

– Thank you, Chris.

Stephanie Moritz

Stephanie MoritzChief Marketing Officer at the American Dental Association

Chris Mechanic

Chris MechanicCEO & Co-Founder

Podcasts Info:
Creative + UX
News + Business

Most newsletters suck...

So while we technically have to call this a daily newsletter so people know what it is, it's anything but.

You won't find any 'industry standards' or 'guru best practices' here - only the real stuff that actually moves the needle.

You may be interested in:

TOOL: HubSpot Multi Step Form Generator (dynamic/progressive forms)

TOOL: HubSpot Multi Step Form Generator (dynamic/progressive forms)

We’re looking for feedback on a tool we’ve built to generate & build multi-step HubSpot forms. Here’s a video explaining the tool with a demo of how to use it. Read below for more details and please give us feedback. Background We have dozens of clients using HubSpot. We’ve found we can increase conversion rates...
Read this