Target Audience: Jennifer Schaff, Director of Marketing and Sales at AMTA
Welcome to another edition of Target Audience, Perfect Search Media’s marketing interview series!
This month, Jennifer Schaff, Director of Marketing and Sales at the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), spoke with us about her industry insights, annoyance at “taking things offline,” and love of classical music.
Jennifer Schaff’s Marketing Insights
How did you become the Director of Marketing and Sales at the American Massage Therapy Association?
I’ve actually been with the American Massage Therapy Association for almost nine years, it’ll be nine years in February. I started off as a Program Manager in [the marketing department], and I worked exclusively with our student-in-school membership – we’re a membership association – and then, over the years, I went on the become the Marketing Manager and then the Associate Director and Director.
What’s a recent marketing industry update we should be aware of and why?
The thing that we have noticed that is really affecting our marketing and email marketing and digital marketing is really all of the privacy issues that are happening right now. So, you know, the Apple privacy – it’s affecting our email marketing, our open rates, all of our data. It’s affecting current data, past data trends.
So, that’s probably the biggest industry update we’re seeing across the board, and I have a feeling that it’s not going to stop with Apple; we’re going to see it grow and expand, and it’s going to be changing and evolving constantly. So just staying on top of that and adapting to it.
What’s one of the coolest pieces of marketing you’ve seen recently?
One really cool one that we came across, and was actually forwarded to me from a colleague, was, do you remember the day when Facebook went down? When the world paused because Facebook went down?
One of my colleagues received a text message, a very clever text message about, “Hey, Facebook’s down, but we’re still doing sales and we’re still doing this.” It was this link and they sent it out in a really timely fashion. I think it just highlighted, if you have the ability to be flexible and adaptable and change quickly, it can be very powerful because it really got [my colleague’s] attention, enough so that he sent it on to me.
I thought that was really fun because they took advantage of it – it was a very clever and fun text message, and I would be really interested to see what kind of click-through they got from that.
Advice, Creepy Search Engines, and Work-From-Home Jargon
What is some of the best advice you’ve ever received?
I think it’s cliché, but it applies directly to marketing in general – being willing to take measured risks and to always test; never be satisfied with the status quo. I think that that’s something that, for marketers, especially in this day and age, it’s really important, so much so that, to always be testing is one of the biggest things I have learned and that I pass down to my team members.
Just because you tested it years ago, or even a year or two ago, doesn’t mean that it’s applicable now. Keep retesting some of those trends, that creative, that content, always be testing it regularly. Even if you did it two years ago, maybe you need to retest it; audiences change, the environment changes.
So that is something I have taken with me and try to constantly stay on top of and never just be satisfied with what is because it’s working and it’s good enough.
How would you describe your job to your grandparents?
That’s always been a challenge, actually trying to explain to people in general, because people don’t realize it’s marketing anymore. I feel like Facebook and Instagram, that’s easy to explain – the pictures you see that are saying “Click here,” that’s what we do.
But I feel like all the search engines, that’s probably the more difficult one to explain because not everybody realizes it’s an ad and not everybody realizes that every piece of that ad has been put together purposefully to directly talk to you as an individual. So, I try to explain to them it’s like a billboard, but it’s a billboard that is made specifically for you based on your habits and what the digital world knows about you.
And then we start going down the scary path, and I think that’s the part that terrifies the grandparents is when you start going down the path of, we kinda know a lot about you. Then we use that information and we try and create these billboards that speak directly to you because we kind of know what you’re doing online. That’s kind of the creepy part of it and when you start to go down that path they’re like, “I don’t want to know.”
What’s your least favorite work jargon? Are there any massage-specific ones? Like, “Let’s knead out this knot” or “Let’s rub it down!”
We fortunately do not have lingo like that that we use because that would feel like we’re going down a um…that would be funny, but no, we do not.
But I will say my least favorite lingo is “taking something offline.” Especially when you’re in a group meeting in-person and you’re looking at somebody and they’re saying, “Well, let’s take this offline” and you’re sitting there like, we are offline right now – this is offline, we’re talking. But obviously it means, you know, with not a full group around, but it’s something that drives me nuts all the time when people say that.
But I’m guilty of it too! I catch myself doing it and I’m like, “Oh no, don’t, don’t start doing that.”
I can tell you one that I use a lot is “circle back.” When COVID hit and everyone started working from home, and so you start working from home with your spouse or your partner, I didn’t realize how much jargon I used until my husband started repeating the jargon back to me and sort of saying it out loud in the background. I was like, “Oh man, I really do sound like that, don’t I?”
National Parks, Classical Music, and Airing Grievances The Office Style
Social media can sometimes inspire, sometimes distract. What do you follow for inspiration, what do you follow for distraction?
I am an outdoors person, so I love the national parks and I’ve been trying to visit all of the national parks. I actually follow a lot of things like the National Park Foundation, National Geographic, and BBC Earth.
Sometimes, especially when you’ve been indoors and you’re in the thick of it and you just feel so engrossed in what you’re doing in marketing and you just need a breath of fresh air but maybe you can’t get the breath of fresh air, actually following some of these Instagram or Facebook profiles that really highlight the outdoors and the beauty of what’s around you, you can take a step back and it’s actually really nice and refreshing. That kind of gives me the inspiration and it gives me a pause before moving on to something else.
Would you rather handwrite all your emails or text them using T9?
Oh man. I feel like it makes me sound old, but I’d rather handwrite them.
But I’m also a firm believer in very short and concise emails. If you have an email that’s like a novel, sometimes I put that aside and I’m like, “Okay, I need to prep myself to read that one.” I want bullet points.
Plus, if you’re handwriting it, you’re going to be more concise. You’re going to be more thoughtful about what you’re saying because you don’t want to write too much or go into too much detail that probably isn’t needed – you’re going to be a lot more concise about it, so I’m sticking with my answer.
Which fictional workplace would you love to work in? For example, Dunder Mifflin from The Office.
That’s exactly what I was going to say! We were actually having a conversation about this last week, and we were all like, well, yeah, The Office. That would be really entertaining, would never get boring, especially when you can take, like, an aside and talk to the camera and just air all your grievances. That would kind of be entertaining! Like, “I’m gonna go talk about this. I have some feelings about this, so we’re going to take an aside and I’m going to express this.”
You probably don’t want to see it later on and you’re going to regret it, but…
What’s your pump-up song?
It’s not what you think it is! I’m a classical music person and it’s hard for me to listen to music with lyrics when I’m working because I get way too distracted and I’m going to be off, ya know, singing to myself and I’m not actually going to be working.
So, I actually listen to a lot of classical music or, actually, movie soundtracks – I love movie soundtracks. If you’ve ever listened to some of The Avengers or if you listen to any of the Man of Steel soundtracks, it’s some pump-up music! I mean, they’re saving the world! So, if you get into that, it actually can get you going, and then you’re not distracted by lyrics.