Looking Back at the Stirista 2020 End of Year Summit

As the first quarter of 2021 comes to a close, it’s easy to see how fast and furiously marketing has changed in the last year. I am inspired to look back at Stirista’s 2020 Holiday Summit for ideas.  

The Summit delivered a lively mix of business and pleasure to wrap up a difficult year in a big red bow and send it on its way into history.  I enjoyed every minute of the event—including the tennis references that seem to characterize just about every Stirista company function. Company culture always shines through. 

Here are some of the highlights of the Summit for me. 

Amanda Kenyon, organizational psychologist, provided us with a bunch of tips for productivity and happiness in life and work. She asked us to use 3 words to describe ourselves when we are “at our best.” (Mine were “energized,” “creative,” “focused.”) At her recommendation, I now have those words on a sticky note on my wall, as a daily reminder. It works!

Ken Thewes, CMO of Regal Cinemas, shared some interesting marketing initiatives his company was pursuing pre-Covid. For one, some experimenting with augmented reality to enhance the customer experience, using the IOS Regal app. Example: Godzilla tramping around inside the theater during Toy Story 4. That should get movie goers’ heart pumping.  

I was also fascinated to learn that Regal is testing an unlimited-visits subscription program that is tripling attendance, in early experiments.  Interestingly, the $20 monthly subscription fee must be shared 50/50 with the movie producers, which means a break-even proposition for Regal. But the good news is the theater more than makes up its profits with increased concession sales. Just think of the likely margins on popcorn!   

Doug Zarkin, VP and CMO for Pearle Vision, and an accomplished branding expert, told us that successful positioning requires the “art of sacrifice,” meaning being very clear about a brand’s target focus and not trying to be all things to all people. Amen. 

How is Pearle competing with the new DTC brands? (The name Warby Parker never came up, but we all know…) Doug confidently said Pearle is competing on quality. His message to consumers? “Don’t settle for mediocre,” he says. “The right fit and the right lens can mean the difference between great vision and a splitting headache.”

The Summit hit a positive high note when celebrating Stirista’s $5,000 donation to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. A generous way to end the year on a hopeful footing.  

The event wrapped up with CEO Ajay Gupta’s remarking, “Without data, no business is possible.” His mission is to keep Stirista’s data clean, up to date, and far more accurate than that of his competitors. In a “sea of garbage data,” Ajay envisions the future of his company as the place to get higher quality data built on actual behavior. When faced with a choice between quantity and quality, he’s firmly on the side of accuracy and completeness, versus mere scale. 

Ajay also announced that Stirista will soon be introducing the next generation of onboarding services, based on data captured in real time and assembled in a matter of minutes, and offered in a democratic way that allows even small companies to afford Stirista solutions for connected TV and other communications media, and breaks the oligarchic stranglehold in the hands of a few very large companies today.  

A half day very well spent. I look forward to the next Summit in this series.

About the author

Ruth P. Stevens consults on customer acquisition and retention, teaches marketing at business schools in the U.S. and abroad, and is a guest blogger at Biznology and Target Marketing Magazine, and a contributing writer at AdAge.  Crain’s BtoB magazine named Ruth one of the 100 Most Influential People in Business Marketing.  Her newest book is B2B Data-Driven Marketing: Sources, Uses, Results.  Ruth has held senior marketing positions at Time Warner, Ziff-Davis, and IBM and holds an MBA from Columbia University.  Learn more...


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