James: All right, welcome back my friends to yet another edition of the Big ValueBig Business Podcast. I
am your host, James Lynch. I am really big, big, big time super excitedabout my very special guest today.
His name is Jeff Rohrs. Jeff is the VP of Marketing Insights at ExactTarget.com. Heisalso a global
keynote speaker and authorin his latest groundbreaking marketing book, it’s called Audience:
Marketing in the Ageof Subscribers, Fans and Followers. Also, a little bit more about Jeff, he is a
recovering attorney, a bacon lover and a diet coke addict. It’sa great pleasure to have Jeff withus today.
Hello Jeff Rohrs. How are you today, sir?
Jeff: I’mdoing well and yourself?
James: I’mdoing fantastic. I’mso gladyou could come on theshow.
Jeff: Thanks for having me.
James: You are very welcome. I love that little tagline, thediet coke I’mthere, bacon lover I’mthere, I
just I never passed the bar. So, two out of threemy friend.
Jeff: Well, passing the bar, it was probably one of the more expensive times I went into a bar ever so.
James: I was going to say that I haven’t found many bars that I have been able to pass.
Jeff: Exactly. It’stheold joke.
James: Awesome. Hey, I’mreally excitedto get down to business and for you to help us to learn how to
identify, createand develop our true audience and also to kind of find out where wecan find them,
what channels the best way to find them and to reach out to them. So, does that sound like a plan?
Jeff: It sounds like a plan to me.
James: Cool. Can we get just a little history about your sir and maybe find out whereyou camefrom,
where you got your start and tell us just a littlebit about the journey that brought you here to where
Jeff: Sure. So, my journey is rather circuitous. I did graduatefrom Boston University School of Lawand
did a Masters in Mass Communication out thereas well back in ’94when they were installing this state-
of-the-art power McIntosh Labwith connection to this thing called the internet. That was my first
exposure to theinternet. I thought it was interesting. I just saw that Match.comcelebratedits 20th
anniversary and it reminded methat I have been using the internet for 20 plus years.
Jeff: And beganto see its commercialpromise then. But when I practicedlaw to tryand pay off the
school that’swhen I realized, that itwasgoing to drive me a bit insane as being a litigatoris we’reliving
the worst moments of other people’s lives and so, I turn to thecourse back towards technology, worked
as an national applications consultant at LexisNexis for a few years before joining an agency and then
leaving with a group of folks to join another agencycalled Optium that I eventually became President of
for a few years. And that’swhat helped forged our partnership with Exact Target whichat that time, this
would have been now 12 years ago was a startup ESP – Email Service Provider and we collaborated on a
number of new business relationships. I helped managetheaccounts for Sharon Williams and National
City Bank back at the time and after a while of working with themand kind of – our team won Partner of
the Yearfrom Exact Target that one year, I was approached by the CEO and asked if I’dever consider
joining and after about a yearof conversation I joined Exact Target inMay of 2007.
So I’mrunning agencyprograms and also having a foot in the marketing world and then, after about a
year, I just jumped over to marketing full time and I’vebeen heading up our marketing insights and
really kind of speaking and writing about marketing trends that I was seeing and at various points of my
career, I’verun our digitalinteractiveteam, had a hand in events, especially programming around our
connections, user conference and built our content marketing team. And now, with the book just having
come out, thelast five months of my life have been in service to that, speaking around the globe on
things of audience development.
James: That is awesome. What a story. Yeah, quite thejourney I would say.
Jeff: Long and winding.
James: Yeah. No, it’sawesome. What made you – how did you tip towards marketing?How did that
happen in your head like what went on?
Jeff: I’malwayson it. I had a communications undergraduatedegree. I’vebeen a disc jockey on a
commercialradio station during collegeand produced two music video shows. So, I’vedone a lot of stuff
around media. Interestinglyenough I had never taken a marketing class, never even taken a business
class in college and so, as my careerprogressed I realizedthat really the biggest challenges I was seeing
in business were often a matter of poor communication and when you look at what kind of
communication sits with the consumer that sits in marketing and customer service. And so, I wanted
very much tokind of turn the course that way, that’sa lot of what I did at LexisNexis, it was an
interesting sales and education service kind of role and I found myself called upon to unveil and kind of
do thepresentation around themigration of their Sheppard site checking product to the web. So, we
would call it moving to the cloud today. But when Sheppards.com was released I would just have to go
out and speak to VIPaudiences about that and as soon as light bulbs begin to click for me and sure
enough while I was at Lexis, I also begin working on some competitive materialsbecause our marketing
teamat a time is really slow to get some of them out in themarketplace. So, I createdmy own and low
and behold it was getting picked up by marketing, shined up a bit and then used internationally.
So, all of that experiences at Lexis led me to realizemy communications experienceand desire to kind of
clarify and help people better understand what are theopportunities and challenges are in front of
them, was really skin fit very well into the marketing realm. And it just so happens that somebody would
hire me in theirlaw firm, had become generalmanager of really one of the top digitalmarketing firms in
our area around 1998, ’99 and he gaveme my first chanceat managing projects and the rest is history.
James: Wow. And then at some point in time probably not too long ago, you decided to focus in on the
audience and the type of audiences.
James: That’sunique and I was reading just a little blurb and it’s kind of like you’re focusing on the
flipside of content marketing which is all thecrazenow, you’ve got to have content. We talked about
our friend, Joe Pulizzi and he is thegodfather of content marketing. So, you decided to takea dive into
the audience portion. Marketing in the ageof subscribers, fans and can wejust dive right into the book
because I’mreally interestedin these archetypes of audiences, the secrets, the amplifiers and the
joiners. Could you just run those down a little bit? And just for my audience for themto understand,
how you break them out?
Jeff: Sure. A maybe place to start is just what do I mean by audience because in a fundamental sense,
marketing doesn’t happen without anaudience. It’sjust a question of wherethe audience comes from.
And traditionally, we have been very used to vying for eyeballs or attention, right?And the audience
comes from third parties who aggregateit inthe form of the media.
Jeff: So, you have a television audience and you buy 30 seconds of theirattention in the form of
advertising and that money goes right to the network and the network basically is monetizing the
audience. They have turned theaudience into an asset that they cansell back to advertisers. That model
was never going to change. Infact, Facebook’s entire evaluation is based on it and Twitter’sevaluation is
based on it. They’rebased on trying to captureinterest and convert it into a monetizablea bit of salable
inventory and the advertiser wants to buy, and that model is fine and dandy.
However, what the internet and mobility and social have brought to us is the ability to drive and build
and grow and engagedirect audiences.
Email marketing was the first placethat businesses beganto understand and then acknowledgethat.
They began to build databasesand began to tell thepromise of one to one marketing. And then,
Facebook comes along and you can actuallybuild your fanbase in Facebook and then Twitter, you can
build your followers and in Instagram. Youcan build subscribers on YouTube etc. All these are direct
audiences. But what I had discovered in kind of my globaltravels and having the honor of speaking at
Joe’s, Content Marketing World over the yearsis that there is a fundamental disconnect and that is the
company’s are putting like 99% of their effort into content creationand only 1% of their effort into
audience development or creationand that seems out of whackfor me. Becauseany content marketer
or marketer worth theirsalt should want their next piece of content or their next big announcement in
front of more people and today if you’re going todo that, you can certainly pay for it.
Advertiser or media companies aremore than willing to takeyour money and if you have bottomless
pockets, you cango and you can buy every single spot tonight on primetime. You can buy all the wrap
around banners at once. You can do whatever you want in that regard. However, nobody has the
bottomless pocket. So, my whole thesis is around the idea that is now we’reresponsible with marketing
to build proprietary audiences, audiences that your brand and your brand alone can reach. They’re
permission based. They have given you permission to reachout to them through certainchannels and I
believe it’s going to become imperativethat this getsprofessionalize, that just as you have content
marketing professionals, we need audience development professionals in marketing organizations and
the reason we do that comes back to your initial question around the types of audiences, seekers,
amplifiers and joiners. Because theaudiences arenot monolithic, they arechanged. Becausethey
changearound in whatever they their needs areat that time.
So, a seeker is a momentarily audience and they are defined by the fact they’relooking for information
or entertainment and when they find that information or entertainment, they’regone. All right, they’re
either sitting there watching thetelevision show. They’renot going to changethe channel or they found
a littlebit of information on Google and it served their need, they’reoff writing a paper or doing
whatever else they want to do. So, for the brand that audience is tampered, whereyou reachthem is
through content so, content marketing, search engineoptimization, paid advertising. We’retrying to
captureinitial interest, fleeting interest and convert it into some sort of deeper relationship. That then
getsinto the next two types of audiences.
Amplifiers arepeople who will takeyour information and then amplify it out to their audience. They are
audiences with audiences. And this is one of the fundamental changesthat we’ve had in the last 20
years because it used to be you would send a messagethrough a channel to an audience. Period -End of
story. Now, when it reaches that audience, everybody in that audience is connected with people on
Facebook or Twitter or emailor even just word of mouth and they will make the decision if they take
that message or some portion of it and then amplify out. That’skind of the viral effect that we all aspire
to. It’skind of a holy grail.
James: It’sthe influencer, right? Theinfluencer or the amplifier
Jeff: Theinfluencer is a type of amplifier.
James: Okay. All right.
Jeff: Theinfluencer usually is somebody who has built a certainamount of credibility, recognition,
prestigein their careerand so they have more influence over their audience than just say somebody
that has friends and family on Facebook.
Jeff: So, therearealso different types of amplifiers out there. Journalists areamplifiers, analysts in the
space, Forester or Gardener, etc. So, you look at the amplifier, they too area momentaryaudience. I
don’t have the ability to push a button and make somebody amplify. I have the ability to push a button
to send a content that you hope is going to get amplified or createanexperience that you hope is going
to get amplified, but I can’t force that audience to do this. And they do this amplification out of the
sense of wanting access, wanting some information that the brand doesn’t share with just everybody,
but more importantly, there’s a little bit of egothere, right? They want some prestigefrom it. They want
to curate the information to their audience so that their audience grows.
And you’replaying into – your best amplification plays a little into that ego. So, you got the secrecy, you
got these amplifiers, temporary audiences. Then, you got joiners and this is really kind of the holy grail
because joiners give you thedirect ability to communicate with them. The ultimatejoiner is going to be
a consumer, a customer, somebody who actuallyjoins with theirwallet and through all my remarks, the
one thing that I always like to make clearis I understand the primary objective of marketing is to make
the sale. All right, wehave to feed mouths - if we’regoing to stayin business.
However sure to that, I sure as heck would love the sale and an email subscriber or the sale and a
Facebook fan, and I find a lot of brands aren’t alwaysconnecting that up and making it easy for
consumers to opt-in and to make communication in a relevant timely fashion about the things that are
of intereststo them. So, the joiners arethose ones we should aspire to, subscribers, fans, followers. The
reason is it is a direct audience. It’spermission-base so theaudience members control whether it’s on or
off that relationship, but it is a lower cost toreach them and we canpersonalize our messages in a lot of
these channels and ways that arehighly beneficial. We can control the cadenceand the timing in ways
that we can’t necessarily in paid media. So, a lot of my message is really about diversification of a
portfolio and marketersbeginning to think more like asset managers, and one of those key assets is
audience. What are you building in terms of your direct audiences that give you a greater soapbox if you
will than what your competitors have.
James: Yeah. And so, is it safe to say now – while you’re talking, I’mtrying to relateeverything back. I
almost saw like the purchase fund or thefunnel being those particularyou grabattention, you get
interest, you get the prospect, you get the lead, you get the sale, almost taking the samegraduation
towards the holy grailif you would. And how – if you would to my audience of entrepreneurs or
wantrepreneurs’ coaches, consultants, wanting to do business with folks online boiling it down to how
they could best put their best foot forward in capturing or actuallyrecognizing first and knowing who
their audience is and then capturing them, what would be your first guess toor your advice I should say
to for these guys to start?
Jeff: Well, first and foremost is think like your target consumer. I see this mistake all the timewhere
people market to people like themselves because they think that the audience they’retrying to reachis
just like them. And that inevitably leads to all sorts of, kind of mistaken identity and some bad
investments because most – especially as the brand gets larger, most consumers are just simply not
exactlylike you. They might use different devices. They might use different channels. So, you want to
know whereare your consumers, what is your target market live online, on what devices, in what
channels. Then, you can begin to find what audiences aremost important for you.
Nine times out of 10, if not even more than that, one of themost important audiences you can build is
going to be an email audience and as you know kind of a weatheredand old school as theemail channel
is, it is still the work horse and kind of the top performer for marketersacross the full spectrum of the
industries. It is the revenue driver for retail. It is the thing that getsbutts in seats in theaters. It is this
connective tissue that everybody including thesocial networks themselves rely on. Becausethe email
inbox has become a place that everybody checks and that has been reinforced in the mobile era by the
smartphone. The email, it used to be theemail icon was one of just five or 10 that was a default installed
app on all smartphones.
Now, it’s a littlebit broader than that but email continues to be kind of that bell ringing that is
conditioned as like a Pavlovian dog to go and check it on a regularbasis. So, when you canget the email
address, now you’re starting to form the foundation of the very strong CRMopportunity. And one of the
things, as I was writing the book I was thinking a lot about because in themidst of writing thebook, the
company I work for, ExactTarget,wasacquiredby Sales Force and it really got me thinking about CRM
and CRM used to think about it just a B2B kind of fashion. Now, what I’mseeing is in all companies and
B2C is probably where it’s thehardest are thinking about truly what that means customer relationship
management. Andwhy do we have to build that around? Why do wehave to build it around some sort
of channel that we cancommunicate to those folks through and email becomes their foundational
channel and then you layer in additional social channels or text messaging or YouTube subscriptions or
other things overtime to deepen the relationship, and the more touches you get, thedeeper the
relationship, the greater shareof wallet in theory.
And so, thinking about your audience, the folks who arelistening right now identify whereyour
consumers live and don’t feel like you have to boil the oceanand that you have to use every single
channel out there. Focus on the ones that have thehighest return for you, allow you to speak directly,
honoring permission, honoring the cadence that theconsumer wants and giving them relevant
information. That can be email, that canbe text for you like if you’re anevent-driven type of entity, text
messaging often can be great becauseit’s something that people arewilling to opt into in kind of short
termsituations. So, thinking like a two-day festival, right? Text messaging is the best way to
communicate with everybody quite possibly.
Jeff: Becauseyou’re still going to have half the attendeesnot to be on smartphones. So, text is the thing
that cuts across smartphone and the old dumb phone if you will. So, you begin to think like your
audience now, you canbegin to understand okay, thechannels and the devices and whereI need to
James: Yeah, that’sgreat. So, I just – I took it note because I got to go back to the old school marketing
and the money is still in the list. Is that safe to say?
Jeff: Well, I always avoid using the word list. I make a...
Jeff: Yeah. And that’sa good conversation point because it was interesting coming of ageduring the
first wave of the internet because thedirect mail folks and I just wrote a piece for Forbes on this. In fact
today, we’rerecording this on May 6, this is the 20th
anniversary of the release or I’msorry, the 15th
anniversary of therelease of Seth Godin’s permission market. And I was writing about thefact that
when that book came out, the DMAjust hated it because thedirect marketing folks could not get their
heads around the fact they didn’t own the list and that these people who subscribe to email could opt
out. No, they can’t. They’reon my list. It was thesense of ownership that old school direct marketing
and custom publishing had. Now, 15 years own, it’s really fascinating.
The concepts in permission marketing arethe things that drive not just email but also Twitter and
Facebook and I mean, does anybody think they own their fans on Facebook or they own their followers?
Those areindividual decisions whether to opt in, opt out, unsubscribe, unfan, unfollow all thetime.
So, I think putting it in terms of relationships and understanding the intent of the subscriber versus the
fan versus the follow, why do they subscribe or like you or follow you through those specific channels? It
indicates different levels of permission, different levels of intent that you need to honor and not treat all
those channels like the same thing. And it may sound like a bad thing, it maysound like it complicates
mattersbut it actuallyfrees you up to use the channels for some of their highest value.
Like Facebook, it’s still a wonderful face to reallyengagebrands to stir the pot around product
development, product feedback, global or geographicexpansion and Twitter remains a great
amplification source and a great source for kind of breaking news to spread. So, it’s interesting, I
forgottenbecause I’d writtenthe articleabout a week and a half ago that today was fortuitous days that
we’retaping this on, their15th
James: Yeah, that’sawesome. I love Seth Godin. I think you do too. So, you makereference to him
HarveyKeitel and Jack Black.
Jeff: You got it. That’smy DNAmixer.
James: I love it. Yeah. And you touched on something as well; well it struck with me about email being
like thecore or the hub. Obviously, we canreach our folks and folks that hang out in other places. But I
think it behooves us too because wedon’t own the other channels or the other – theFacebooks or the
Twitters. That’snot our proprietary or our property.
Jeff: You build up their sand.
James: Right, exactly. Exactly.
Jeff: And Facebook, Facebook brands are active on Facebook if we’rein that quite a bit recently because
of thechanges in the newsfeed algorithmand what getsdistributed and shared. That didn’t come as any
surprise to myself or a lot of other folks who’ve been following social media for a while because
Facebooks got to monetize. They got shareholders they have to answer to. But that also points to kind
of thewhole diversification strategythat I talked about in the book, is that you don’t want to put all your
eggsin one basket. You want to diversify. This wasa lesson that thesearch engine marketerslearned
years agowhen Googlestartedtweaking theiralgorithm and wiped out entire industries. So, my book
Audiences is really a message of diversifying the available audiences for your brand.
You’realways going to be able to go out and buy attentionin theform of paid media and paid
advertising. But thepredicament you have thereis you’re dependent on the market state to define the
price. So, if your competitors, everybody wants to buy inventory at the same time. The price is going to
spike which means they’re going to get less return for that purchase. So, if you begin to think of your
direct audiences as assets just as you would pay for advertising, you begin to talk in a languageof your
C-Suite and they can begin to understand, “Oh, marketing isn’t always costs center. It’san asset
generator. It canhelp us drive direct audiences and reduceour dependency on paid media. Not so that
we get out of thementirely but so that our spend is much more pinpointed and productive.”
James: Yeah. You’reable to sell it upstairs.
Jeff: I mean, as you well know that’sa big part of the battle.
Jeff: I mean, it can make up a ton of sense to folks on the frontlines but if you can’t sell that internally,
you got a big problem on your hands.
James: Yeah. I work – my day job is an agencyso I felt they hear you. I totallyhear you.
James: Awesome. So, tell me of what’sgoing on with you now with thebook. Are you still touring
around? I’veseen you internationally or things kind of come down. What’sthe next step for you, Jeff?
Jeff: Well, I did about hundred thousand miles in a year through middle of April, of course, camehome
for what I felt would be a nice restful four-week period and immediatelygot sick which is I think what
you do when you travel that much. Now, I’mkind of on the recovery of that and I’mheading back out on
the road, going to be speaking at a client event, pardon me, next week and then speaking at the Atlanta
in AMA, Social Media Arizona. It’sgoing to be a fun one at theend of May and then we got our own
ExactTarget futuremarketing tours. So, I’mgoing to be keynoting some events in San Francisco, LA, New
York and Chicago. So, a lot of domestic stuff, a lot of kind of coast to coast, but it’sbeen fun because I
literally kind of circumnavigatedin the globe twice at the beginning of theyear. And so, to see what I
was talking about resonate with people in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Munich, London and the
States, was very satisfying. It also lets me know that marketers’ challenges arethe same the world
around. And one of the most common things I get after I speak is I get somebody coming up and say,
“You know, I’msorry. We’reso far behind in what we’redoing.” And I always stop and I’mgoing to say,
“Listen, you arenot farbehind. Everybody feels that about some part of theprogram even the biggest
brands in the world that I have had conversations with have huge achilles’ heels in the marketing
Jeff: Thereis one – a CBG company I spoke to a couple of years ago and they wereso hot and heavy on
social media that they had effectively let theiremail program atrophy to the point it wasbeing
outsourced through an agency. Who was kind of sending email maybe once a month. I mean, they
weren’t doing any acquisition programor anything else and after my presentation, theireyes lit up and
they’relike, “Oh, my God. We got to double down on that. Wegot to get back and engagewithit.” So, if
there’sone littlebit of advice I can give to your listeners is don’t beat yourself up. Focus on constant
improvement. Nobody can stayon top of all of this stuff. But if you focus on the things that are lasting,
then you’re going to get thehighest return on value and I believe certainlyour goalis to make thesale,
that’sjob number one. Job number two, build amazing, lasting brand because if you have a brand that
resonates, it makes job number one easier. Job three out of this is serve the customer passionately
because that is now form of marketing. A satisfied customer becomes an amplifier and then threeand
four or I should say four and five in my list aregreat content and great audiences. It goes with theassets
that you’re building. And if you have a great structurein that regard, it’san incredible platform for you
to work on. But if you have holes in that, go repairthose and build in an iterative fashion. Don’t feel like
you have to do it all at once.
James: Yeah. It will boil the ocean. I love that you said that. That’sabsolutely. It’sgood to know, it’s
refreshing to hear that even the biggest brands are having challenges and just keeping up with trend
technology. But I think you hit it on thehead with how you boil things down with building the brands,
serving the customer and a great content and great audienceand great audienceengagement.
That is perfect. You really put that, drove that home. All right, so, tell us where wecan find you, Jeff.
James: Give us your contact, your Twitter, your website.
Jeff: Folks who want to reachout to me on Twitter, I’m@JKRohrs, JKRORHS, madethat a very tough
dramaticspell for all of you and for the book, AudiencePro.com is the website for the book. It’savailable
on Amazon, Barnesand Noble and Finer Booksellers everywhere online.
James: Nice. Well, listen Jeff you’ve been a gentlemanand I appreciateall the information you brought
to us. It’sbeen a pleasure talking to you today.
Jeff: Likewise, thank you very much.
James: You’revery welcome, sir. We’ll talkagain realsoon.
Jeff: Okay, have a great one.
James: You too. Take carenow.