When it comes to digital marketing experience, Ajay Gupta’s background is decidedly varied. As a teenager, he ran a wrestling website. Later, after graduate school, he briefly joined Hillary Clinton’s 2008 run for President of the United States. When he co-founded Stirista, he wanted to create a marketing company that would put that wide-ranging digital marketing experience to work for his clients.

A key selling point for using data analytics in marketing is that it is more efficient than relying on mere hunches about what prospective customers want, Gupta notes. “It helps save a lot of money that gets wasted because companies are spending money targeting people who would have no potential interest in their product,” he says. “It used to be about data, but it’s increasingly about identity marketing.”

FINDING THE RIGHT MARKETS

Knowing its own market has fueled the San Antonio, Texas-based company’s success. “Our goal is to solve complex data and media challenges for mid-tier brands that can’t afford a large, New York-type agency,” Gupta says. These are the types of companies, he explains, that have enough digital marketing savvy to handle their own Facebook buys. But they need help using their customers’ data to place a tailored ad on a show that customers will be watching on Hulu two weeks after their purchase. Stirista’s market segmentation, email marketing, and display advertising services let clients tap the benefits of data-driven marketing without the cost of hiring an agency.

“What separates us is that we have the technology that a lot of traditional agencies lack,” Gupta says. “Our software-as-a-service platform combined with our client services team can help a brand manage, activate, and execute campaigns across everything from email to display to CCTV.”

Even as Stirista remains laser-focused on its market and mission, the company also prides itself on being able to adapt to circumstances. When Covid-19 hit, Stirista redirected its own marketing focus from mainly brick and-mortar retailers to more e-commerce and telecommunications companies. The adjustment helped the company reach its revenue goals despite the economic disruption of the pandemic.

ALL IDEAS CONSIDERED

“It’s important to be nimble, and that’s one of the things that’s been in our DNA, going from a two-person company to where we are today,” says Gupta, who started Stirista in 2009 with his wife, Candice, the company’s vice president. With 72 employees in 2020, Stirista’s leadership encourages open communication and idea sharing. Department heads review and respond to every proposal employees submit and award them bonuses for reaching “stretch

goals” above and beyond their regular duties.

To their customers, the Guptas have brought an empathy for the challenge of marketing on a modest budget. In their startup days, with no funding for air travel or direct mail and other traditional marketing methods, they would drive from San Antonio to trade shows as far away as Boston and New York. Unable to afford a dazzling booth design, they grabbed attention by wearing polo shirts in the bright orange they chose as the company color.

“Our main goal was just to have people remember us,” Gupta says.