On the Scene: Neely Schiefelbein brings marketing savvy to cinemas
This month’s Concession Spotlight swings back to the supply side of the industry with a profile of Neely Schiefelbein, VP of sales at Cinema Scene Marketing. Neely has enjoyed a long career in the cinema industry and it is a pleasure to give you a chance to know her a little better. Her relationships with her clients are well-respected and she is a very active member of her community. But let’s start at the beginning.
Neely earned her B.A. degree in Business with an emphasis on marketing from Baker University in Kansas in 2000 and went to work for the Dole Food Company right out of school. She traveled an eight-state region, building relationships between Dole and the retail companies who distributed their fruit products. She helped to build awareness of Dole, merchandise product, and increase sales with their retail clients.
Neely then moved to Promotional Management Group in Kansas City, which launched her into the cinema industry. She started as an account executive and was quickly promoted to national sales manager. She was involved in all aspects of the company but was primarily responsible for managing the company’s relationships with cinema exhibitors. She worked with over 55 key accounts in the U.S, and Canada and helped build the company’s sales and promotional programs.
In 2005, Neely played a key role in the startup of Cinema Scene Marketing. Founded that year by Joe Ross, Bruce Sims and Michael Homes, Cinema Scene Marketing set out to deliver promotional marketing and merchandising solutions to cinema clients via concessions packaging, digital signage and marketing services. Neely brought her vast customer experience to this venture and has been an important component in the company’s success. She soon became the VP of sales and currently handles both North American sales and Latin American sales. She manages promotional programs to meet and exceed client needs by maximizing income and controlling sales placement of concession, digital, and advertising/promotional products in theatres.
Cinema Scene moved into digital marketing and developed a partnership with Screenvision in 2009 to bring emerging digital media into the lobby. Cinema Scene Media was developed by the company to manage their digital growth and partnerships and is a series of media networks which now reach over 300 million cinemagoers annually.
Screenvision is merging with National Cinema Media, which the company believes will help raise the overall profile of the cinema as an advertising venue for national brand advertisers. Neely also believes their new relationship with AdSpace Mall Network will be a positive effort to broaden the reach to Millennials.
Asked to pinpoint the most rewarding part of her career, Neely answers, “Honestly, I always think the best is still yet to come. With the growing digital assets in theatres, it leaves so much more opportunity for growth with theatre circuits than ever before. It’s a really exciting time to be in the digital business.”
She continues, “I also think that you get to a point in your career where you have built really good relationships. Your client meetings are more about brainstorming sessions and it’s exciting to see how you can help grow each other’s business as partners. Early in your career, you are always trying to build the relationships. It feels good be in a place where I have turned those relationships into working friendships.” Her work within the National Association of Concessionaires is based on her strong belief in networking. “Ideas flow when you are surrounded by great people in a growing industry.”
Neely believes Cinema Scene will continue to be an innovator in the lobby environment as well as digital growth in the theatre. In recent years, she worked to pioneer a healthy snack option for theatres nationwide call GoPicnic. She sought out the brand because she felt it would be a great fit for theatres at a time when health issues are really coming to the forefront.
What other trends are game-changers? She responds, “Utilizing digital menu boards to promote and upsell concessions is a game-changer, integrating promotions across DMBs and lobby displays. Also, the creation of VIP experiences (like bar options), along with healthier, trendier food options at the concession stand, are also appealing to a new generation of moviegoers. They want more interaction with digital products, they are more health-conscious and demand more from the experience. They want it to be more than just seeing a film—they want a true all-around entertainment experience.”
Outside of work, Neely Schiefelbein is always on the move. She loves training and crossfit and travels as much as possible with her husband. She volunteers at her alma mater to help counsel college women on their careers. She also volunteers frequently with local fundraising events. She is a board member of the NAC and an active volunteer within the organization. She understands the community relationships and the networking that it takes to work and live successfully, and she exemplifies the reasons why the cinema industry thrives.