Jeff Rohrs ('91) Profile

Jeff Rohrs '91
Jeff Rohrs '91

Jeffrey (Jeff) K. Rohrs, 1991 Miami University and Honors alumnus, knows more than a little about audiences.

As VP of Marketing Insights for ExactTarget (a company) and a permission-based marketing thought leader, Jeff has spoken to audiences around the world and, recently, published a book on the topic: AUDIENCE: Marketing in the Age of Subscribers, Fans & Followers.

Not surprisingly, talking with Jeff is easy. He describes himself, only somewhat jokingly, as a MacGuyver of marketing—an instigator and innovator who focuses on smart thinking about the ways businesses and their audiences interact, but also someone who tries and does a lot of interesting work. He weaves stories from his life into conversation, creating a rich tapestry of his experiences, roles, and learning over time.

Jeff notes that his education and background contribute to the way he thinks and works. As a Miami Honors student, he studied Mass Communications, spent two years living in Bishop Hall, was active in theater and glee club performances, and participated in a slew of multimedia projects. During his four years in Oxford, he worked as a part-time DJ for the dearly departed 97X, WOXY, a legendary commercial alternative rock radio station.  That led him to create a weekly music videos program that ran for two years on cable access stations in Oxford and Cincinnati.  But it was coursework in interactive media—and the opportunity for him to engage in self-directed studies through the Honors Program—that first got Jeff involved in technology and the world of interactive audience engagement.

After graduating from Miami with honors, Jeff went to Boston University, where he earned his J.D. and a Master’s in Mass Communication. He practiced law for a while, before deciding he wanted to indulge in more creative pursuits.  A stint as a National Account Executive at LexisNexis allowed him to get hands-on with the mid-90s migration of software to on-demand, Internet applications.  It also found him increasingly interested in how the Internet was impacting marketing and communications. 

Jeff’s next big leap was to Optiem, a digital marketing agency based in Cleveland, Ohio, where he helped build the firm’s website, email, SEM, and social media marketing offering.  In 2004, Jeff was named president of Optiem, and for the next three years, he led digital initiatives for clients that included Calphalon, Sherwin-Williams, and Things Remembered.  During his tenure, Optiem built a reputation as one of the top permission-based email agencies in the country, and in 2006, it was named ExactTarget’s Agency Partner of the Year.

In 2007, ExactTarget hired Jeff on as their VP of Marketing, and over the next 6 years, he led thought-leadership, research, and content marketing initiatives while speaking at marketing events around the globe. Jeff also co-created and produces the award-winning SUBSCRIBERS, FANS & FOLLOWERS Research Series—the industry’s longest-running examination of the changing nature of relationships between consumers and brands across email, mobile, and social channels.  With his new book, AUDIENCE, Jeff shares his belief that proprietary audience development is a core marketing responsibility.  Jeff believes we’re in an “exciting time where the promise of one-to-one marketing is finally become a reality through the application of customer-centric technologies.”

For a man who has written a book, produced award-winning marketing strategies, led product teams and companies, and accomplished all of this without taking an undergraduate business course, Jeff roots much of his success in his education. He notes, “my liberal arts education has served me quite well. There are very few situations in which I feel uncomfortable… a lot of problems boil down to human problems… the ability to get up to speed on a given topic and the confidence to do things on my own come from my Miami days.”

Jeff adds, “Today’s students have to be prepared for a nonlinear career.” He cites flexibility, his ability to learn, and the various twists and turns in his career as critical to his successes. He hopes to share some of these life lessons in the spring, when he will be speaking to Miami students at the “Cradle of Marketing” event in Oxford. He does not plan to talk specifically about his book, but rather on the importance of change as a career constant.  Jeff said his message will in some ways be pretty simple and tied to his experience: “Be a do-er. Do something. Don’t just read books and take tests. And above all else, don’t wait to get started.  Pursue your passion now.”