GameStop’s Darin Smith Answers 4 Questions For Marketing Innovators

Darin Smith is senior director of the PowerUp Rewards loyalty program at GameStop, a video game and consumer electronics retailer with more than 7,000 stores across 14 countries. Smith has focused on evolving the customer experience for GameStop’s 46-million-member worldwide program, which launched in 2010. These days, one in five households in the U.S. is a PowerUp Rewards member. 

Smith previously led GameStop’s preowned merchandise business and has an extensive field sales and operations background. He recently participated in our “4 Questions for Marketing Innovators” series.

1. What is one marketing topic that is most important to you as an innovator?
The advancement of the ability to digitally tailor messages in real time across all devices to make the message more personalized and less about offer. Deep understanding of what the customer wants, why they want it, and how we can make their lives better through touch points with our organization is something that excites me and drives me each day.

2. Why is this so important?
The average consumer is inundated with numerous offers each day, many of them irrelevant to them or have zero impact, which causes the consumer to lose belief in the company. By ensuring we are listening to them and showing them what they want, when they want, it is more than marketing. It’s developing a deep relationship that keeps them longer in our ecosystem. There are many times companies with large or small CRM and loyalty programs throw up potential roadblocks and say they can’t do this due to IT or financial reasons. In the end, without paying attention to customers and what they want, they will left in the dust of other companies that will find a way to make this happen.

There are a couple of retailers and online merchants that do this very well and are succeeding while others are still in the dark ages. JR Cigars does a wonderful job of letting the consumer opt down with their smoked cigar format rather than just opt out. It allows them to know what personal emails they want without jamming their inbox with offers at the wrong time or for the wrong brand.

3. How will the customer experience be improved by this?
They will get offers or messages around key events in their lives or of items that mean something to them. Sending out marketing messages for the sake of the send is not influencing the customer; it is having, in many cases, the opposite effect; we can disenfranchise customers if we don’t see what they want and show them things pertinent to them.

This, in the long term, will keep them engaged with our brand and allow a richer experience for them when they shop in store or online. A great example of this is Etsy. A while ago I purchased something related to Star Wars, and they retargeted me for items that were coming out for a new movie related to the specific items I had purchased. It was relevant information that made a quick emotional connection with me to want to buy something I had not intended or was aware of for my son.

4. How will this improve the effectiveness of marketing?
Long term it will mean fewer frivolous messages and more rich, targeted messages getting to the consumer. In today’s day and age, the average consumer gets more emails than they want. So many loyalty programs exist in customers’ phones, either on an app or some other means, and this will limit the amount of drop out or drop down from loyalty programs due to the right message at the right time.

Bonus question: What is your favorite activity outside of work?
I am an avid gamer and movie/music fanatic. Spending time gaming with my friends all over the United States playing “Call of Duty-Zombies” is how I stay connected, even though I may not see them in person but once a year. It keeps my brain and reflexes sharp and keeps me emotionally involved with them and their families’ lives.

Read previous “4 Questions For Marketing Innovators” with Raul Ortiz, marketing director for the Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza.

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