ORLANDO – For Pearle Vision vp and CMO Doug Zarkin, a successful marketing strategy has to involve sacrifice.
“Marketing can’t be everything to everybody,” Zarkin told Beet.TV in an interview at the CMO Growth Council. “It forces brands to be rigorous and disciplined in terms of what we stand for. We could talk about a lot of things, but what should we talk about. And more importantly what do we need to talk about.”
By creating a dialogue that targets the right customers with a specific message, Pearle Vision can build KPIs around what the marketing strategy’s purpose is for the brand. That allows the brand to be more effective in measuring results, according to Zarkin.
Those KPIs include topline sales, of course, but it’s also about reputation. “The most important marketing tool that a marketer has in their toolbox is word of mouth,” says Zarkin. “We’re very cognizant of the fact that marketing cannot control the brand narrative, but we can be involved in how we steward it.”
Customer relationships are core to the Pearle Vision model and marketing strategy, as the company may go 12 to 36 months between customer visits. “We take our loyalty program very seriously,” says Zarkin, which helps to create a cycle of exams, frame purchases and points of contact around content like tips and tools for eye health.
Winning the nine-mile war
Pearle Vision’s TV strategy ultimately comes down to striking a balance between national and local messaging. “We want to build a layer-cake approach where we’re using spot TV and national TV to create efficient brand awareness and consideration, but our business is at a local level,” says Zarkin. “We talk about winning the nine-mile war for patient acquisition,” which is where non-linear TV and OTT come in to help the brand build share of voice.
While national TV advertising raises brand awareness, and local TV advertising drives customers to local stores, attribution remains challenging. “Marketers have to be comfortable with a degree of ambiguity,” says Zarkin. “If someone can figure out how to take an ad on TV and prove that it drove sales, I think they’d be elected marketing genius of the year.”