CMO Impact
Achieving Personal & Career Success

CMO Club Spotlight: Doug Zarkin of Pearle Vision

August 17, 2017

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Doug Zarkin, VP, CMO, Pearle Vision

Doug Zarkin, VP, CMO, Pearle Vision

This week, we’re turning our CMO Spotlight onto Doug Zarkin, VP and CMO of Pearle Vision.

1. What was your first (or favorite) job?

My first job was as a lifeguard.

2. What are 3 things that have been the most important in your career when it comes to managing your personal brand?

1. Actively surrounding myself with talented people who wanted to make a difference in the world.
2. A desire to want the ball when it’s 4th and goal and the team really needs a touchdown.
3. Never forgetting the two most powerful words in the English language: “Thank you.”

3. What is the best piece of career advice you received that you’d pass on to your team members or an aspiring CMO?

Embrace the 80% rule: In an era of Big Data, there has become a hesitation to trust your instincts, your experience and essentially your gut. Rather than seeking data that makes the decision for you, look to data as a breadcrumb trail that can take you 80% of the way. The rest is up to you to simply act.

Few decisions (and there are some that do) require 100% confidence, especially in a discipline like marketing that is both a science and an art.

4. Name an “inflection point” experience that prepared you for your current position.

In 1997 (when I was in my late 20’s), I was tapped – alongside my boss at the time – to start GWHIZ!. It was to be the youth and entertainment division of what was then Grey Advertising. Co-authoring the business plan, standing in front of the board of directors and passionately selling our vision for building out this tiny, but mighty, new agency was a career-defining project for me.

5. What is the best thing about your role as a marketing leader at Pearle Vision?

The opportunity to make a difference – not just as the Head of Marketing but as a person…as Doug.

Pearle Vision is a brand comprised of local doctors and opticians who own +70% of our locations. Thus, the things that my team and I do every day really impacts these people’s families. When we drive comp sales and fill their exam book we are actually contributing to the success of family businesses. As marketers, you get to know the people behind the brand and the families who look at their neighborhood Pearle Vision as their family business. It makes me want to go the extra mile each and every day.

6. You recently wrote an article about using data to find new target audiences to reach out to – what is your brand doing in the realm of personalization and customization in order to resonate with new customers?

There are two main things I’ll call out:

  • It started with ensuring that our brand was uniformly aligned – from operations to marketing, to product and sales – on the point that trust is earned through a series of small moments. We stayed focused on the notion that the sum of marginal gains leads to generating enormous positive sentiment and, with it, essential word of mouth marketing.
  • Our North Star is becoming the neighborhood destination people trust with their eyes. Being guided by that has meant the brand stepping into the community through initiatives like our C.O.R.N.E.A program. C.O.R.N.E.A supports our neighborhood locations getting into the community, visiting senior centers, youth groups, schools, health fairs, etc, by offering free screenings, glasses cleaning and adjustments.

These tactics are the delivery mechanism for what C.O.R.N.E.A does at the strategic level, which is to personalize our brand by way of allowing people in the community to meet our local eyecare experts. This has dramatically driven exam volume and – most critically – helped entrench Pearle Vision as a neighborhood brand.

7. I noticed that there are some roles that are open on your team in New York. What are you looking for when you hire new talent? 

Passion.

Yes, there are unique skill sets for each role but what drives someone to the top of the consideration set is a desire to make a difference. Someone who wants to earn the 3 A’s:

Authority to make decisions.
Autonomy in which to operate and not be micro managed.
Accountability that comes with #1 and #2.

8. Name one technology you are excited to implement in the next 6 months and how you see it evolving in the future.

Crimson Hexagon – our social platform is robust and our dialogue is improving day by day. This will allow us to measure and monitor the conversations we are having and recognize deficiencies while capitalizing on opportunities to continue the brand dialogue in a strategic and calculated way.

9. Do you have a personal mantra, words of wisdom or favorite inspirational quote?

“Oh the thinks you can think if only you try” – Dr. Seuss

10. Which book would you recommend to your fellow CMO Club members right now?

Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig.

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