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This is Stacey Jaffe–one of the finest data-driven marketers out there–and one of our recognized Marketers To Watch. Stacey is the Senior Vice President of Data & Digital Strategy for Scholastic (the world’s largest and most iconic children’s book publisher and distributor). She oversees Data & Analytics and Digital Marketing, as well as eCommerce, Product, and UX/UI. 

Stacey’s love for books goes all the way back to discovering “The Baby-Sitters Club: Kristy’s Great Idea” by Ann M. Martin, setting her on the path of lifelong advocacy for children’s literacy. Many recognize her as a “purpose-driven, intelligent leader” focused on evolving the power of reading by maintaining nostalgia and innovating net-new digital strategies to meet customers’ evolving needs. Her marketing superpower? Utilizing business intelligence and analytics to understand the changing landscape of today while preparing for tomorrow.  Here’s her story.

What gives me energy outside of work

“Consuming creativity: I’m an avid reader, a passionate theater-goer, and an up-and-coming oil painter.” 

Books or podcasts every marketer should read or listen to

“It’s the talent on my team that allows us to evolve and better our practices. We owe it to our teams to coach and develop their career trajectories. I recommend all managers read:  Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity’ by Kim Scott. 

Future of Marketing

Q: What is one thing coming down the pike for marketing you are most excited about?

I’ve been gobsmacked by how we’ve utilized machine learning in general–and large language models in particular–to solve business problems and design better customer experiences.  We’ve barely scratched the surface; it will require significant creativity and innovation, but there is endless potential when you think about the opportunity to use machine learning to evolve your products in the market, unlock customer acquisition and retention, and ultimately drive revenue growth. 

Q: What’s your prediction or something you see evolving in the digital space over the next few years? 

The desire for personalized content is going to soar. We will soon encounter an intense cycle of hyper-personalization where customers expect to feel deeply known for their personal preferences, which will become a touchstone of successful marketing. 

Q: What widely accepted “marketing truth” or concept do you wish the industry would do away with or evolve?  

The idea that some marketing practices add value even when that value cannot be measured. If you have a hypothesis about the system of influence, you should be able to design experiments to measure it.   

Marketing at Scholastic

Q: What’s something exciting you’re currently working on?  

We are focused on unlocking the power of our data to drive growth as part of a multi-year project to recognize patterns and trends at the intersection of our transaction data, customer data, and product metadata. The emerging trends we are spotting allow us to quickly spot growth opportunities and areas of risk in the products we are selling to customers (with an emphasis on customer cohorts). We are utilizing this knowledge to drive growth across our lines of business. 

Q: What’s the most pressing business challenge you’ve faced within the last year, and how have you tried to solve it?  

At Scholastic, we’re seizing the opportunity to address the lack of ubiquity in our customer base, which has markedly different identities in an era where people wear their identities as a badge of honor. We serve markets that geographically traverse the various regions of this country and need to understand how to best communicate with them. To that end, we have analyzed the language customers use in describing a variety of topics (for instance, looking at data for differences in communication about the same subject), and we have discovered distinct patterns that will help us best connect with our varying audiences. This has challenged our team to think differently about our marketing and communication strategies, altering them to respond to specific customer segments. 

Career and Leadership Advice

Q: What leadership muscle is most important for marketers to exercise?

The leaders I most admire display an overabundance of emotional intelligence.  They can take the perspectives of their business partners in negotiations to reach a compromise that all parties are happy with, and they can put themselves in their customers’ shoes, synthesizing with specificity why their product creates meaning and value.  Perhaps most importantly, they can appreciate and champion the work being produced by their team members in a manner that generates growth both in the individual and their career (and ultimately for the company). 

Q: What’s the most game-changing career advice youve received?

My mentor often repeats, “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.” 

Marketers to Watch is a recognition series to spotlight highly innovative and forward-thinking marketing leaders in the community. If you have someone you’d like to nominate for the series, apply here.