Insights from LA’s Top Marketers: Drink & Learn Event Recap

As you may know, we at Retention Science have taken our RetailPlus Series cross-country in the last few months. We’ve hit Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York City, and while we have more planned soon, we were overjoyed to bring it back full circle for a special Drink & Learn Happy Hour in our own sunny Santa Monica backyard this past Wednesday.

This special event is a new twist on our RetailPlus dinners, as a networking event and learnings session we extended to the best and brightest in marketing talent Los Angeles has to offer. We hosted eats and drinks at the swanky Westside Tavern, and brought in an expert panel with our CEO Jerry Jao to share some of their formidable marketing knowledge and experiences.

Emile Pacheco, Director of Marketing from luxe fitness retailer Carbon38, and Marissa Wu, Head of Business Development and Strategy from dog boarding service DogVacay joined Jerry to talk about their biggest lessons and best tips for up and coming marketers. Marketers from brands like the Honest Company, Fandango, Club W, and CBS Interactive came to join the conversation.

Here are the highlights from their talk, which are insights all marketers can learn from no matter the vertical:

1. For best holiday marketing results, focus on the present (while prepping for the future).

Marketers already know that the holidays are the biggest event of the season, and smart marketers start planning early for the highest return on their investment. That said, both Emilie and Marissa emphasized the importance of staying in the present:

For a fashion retailer like Carbon38, trends are the biggest make-or-break aspect of the transaction. Even though holiday promotions are for the holidays, people shop for what they want now, not later. Recommending and featuring products that are wearable now, and not a few months down the line, is crucial.

For service-related companies like DogVacay, focusing on the “now” is also just as important, but in a different way. The key to securing engagement over the holidays is to capture customer attention early — and then sustain it. Reminders, interactive features, and a steady stream of relevant content help keep the brand top-of-mind, and top-of-list when it comes to the fruitful/eventful holiday season.

2. Customer retention is about shaping the customer’s journey and providing value.

No matter the vertical, one thing is clear: consumers now have no shortage of choices when it comes to selecting a retailer or vendor. Retention efforts for marketers often revolve around offers or increased email touchpoints, but truly successful retention is driven by the company’s willingness to commit to providing value to their customers.

For fashion retailers, branding is everything. Understanding your core customers and what kind of image and branding they want are key in selecting the right products that will keep them coming back for more. Product recommendations are a key tool in prolonging interest, by taking into consideration the style and features of previous transactions. Catering to each customer’s personal brand in relation to your brand is the best way to win their loyalty.

When it comes to service verticals, customer satisfaction and care are top priority. Invest in providing a seamless experience for your customers, from fielding questions to providing assistance to resolving complaints. Internal and external resources, from website recommendations to downloadable content to the ability to consult experts, help build confidence and trust, and in turn, customer loyalty.

3. Final takeaways: the importance of perception, focus, and being open to feedback.

As the final question of the night, we asked our panelists to share their biggest learning of the year as marketers. Here’s what they had to say:

Perception is reality. How your customers perceive your brand or your products determines the value of your brand or products. As marketers, it’s not your job to insist they’re wrong; it’s your job to change their minds.

Don’t lose focus. Keep your marketing objectives top of mind with every strategy you implement, and don’t get distracted by trying to execute too much at once. For example: it’s not about the quantity of partnerships, but the overall quality and impact.

Listen to your customers. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day and forget to check in on your customers. Do pulse checks regularly, and be open and ready for feedback. What you do with that feedback separates the great companies from the good ones.

The event was a runaway success: thanks to our panelists and partners at Bronto, who co-hosted the event, attendees left with some major marketing knowledge as well as awesome prizes, including $50 gift cards to DogVacay and $200 gift cards to Carbon38. It was so awesome that it won’t be our last event — hopefully we’ll see you there next time!