Season 03 / Episode 021

Marketing As An Act of Love and Other Concepts with Nick Charrow and Emma Wolff of Princess Cruises

With Nick Charrow, Emma Wolff - Director of Marketing, Digital Marketing Manager, Princess Cruises

Note: if you get only a 30 second preview, please log into your Spotify account, or find us on one of several other podcast services.


In this episode, Jamie Birch, Founder of JEBCommerce, welcomes special guests Nick Charrow, Director of Marketing, and Emma Wolff, Digital Marketing Manager at Princess Cruises. Together, they explore their unique origin stories and a myriad of marketing topics. From delving into the enigmatic “dark matter” of marketing to discussing its role as an expression of love and compassion, they navigate through the challenges and opportunities in the travel industry amidst and post-pandemic. The conversation also highlights the significance of testing and learning in marketing strategies, always centering around the consumer. Stay tuned for a follow-up episode with this dynamic team!

Stay in touch with Nick (LinkedIn) and Emma (LinkedIn)

About Our Guest


Nick Charrow, Emma Wolff


In his over 8 years with Princess, Nick Charrow, Director of Media Strategy and Activation has provided thought leadership in many areas of digital marketing, worked together with ecommerce teams to deliver many SEO wins, led personalization guest-centric marketing efforts across paid media, web and email and supports 360-degree marketing across multiple channels, including affiliate marketing. His background is a unique blend of creative & marketing analytics. He earned his BA and MBA from CSUN, where he’s also a guest lecturer, recognized as a SCV “40 Under 40”, and prior to joining Princess, managed in-house digital marketing teams in ecommerce for 5 years, was a graphic designer and operated a successful photography business.



Want to be notified when we release a new episode?


[00:00:48] Jamie: Hello, everyone. I am your host of the Profitable Performance Marketing podcast, Jamie Birch. Welcome to the show. Thank you for joining. Today, we have one of our clients, Nick Charrow, Director of Marketing at Princess Cruises and Emma Wolff, Digital Marketing Manager at Princess Cruises, a client we’ve worked with for some years. Very excited to have them both on the podcast today. We cover a ton of stuff.

[00:01:16] Before we get to the episode, we have a bunch of new packages available at JEBCommerce, the main sponsor of the podcast.

[00:01:25] It’s a company that I founded 19 years ago, this past October. We’re sliding into year 20 here in 2024 and worked with a ton of different advertisers. We have done something different this year, and have put all our services into four different packages. If you’re wondering what you’re going to receive and how much that is going to cost from your agency, then head on over to, and you’ll see the four different packages that we have.

[00:01:54] One thing that’s been missing from the agency side is real transparency on what every advertiser is getting and what they’re paying for that service. So we have a bunch of different packages that range from top shelf you get everything you need and as much time of our team, as many of our team that you need to receive or achieve your goals all the way down to a package where you just need to make sure things keep moving and nothing gets missed, approvals get approved, those sorts of things. So check out that page.

[00:02:25] Now, I’ve worked with Emma and Nick for several years now. We started working together during the pandemic and they are amazing individuals. I was reminded today of just why me and my team enjoy working with them so much. It’s been one heck of a journey for them going through the pandemic and the rebound of travel and now settling in where things are quite a bit back to normal.

[00:02:50] And we talk about quite a bit today. They both have very interesting origin stories, and I know this is a podcast I’m going to share with my kids who we are going around and visiting colleges over the next 12 months and their stories of what they went to school for what they ended up doing and some of the changes they made during that time are going to be real helpful.

[00:03:13] So I think you’ll enjoy listening to them just as much as I enjoy talking to them every chance that I get. I’m going to step out of the way so you can listen to my conversation with Nick and Emma. Now you may see at one point we had a bit of a technical problem on my end. I don’t know what happened, but I could no longer see them or hear them.

[00:03:32] They could hear me. So you may see about 35 minutes into this interview where there’s a hard stop and a, a restart. So that’s what happened, but I don’t think it takes away from this conversation. The conversation was so great. I only got to about half of my questions for them. So we’re gonna set up a second episode where we get to go over everything else. So stay tuned for that.

[00:03:54] But again, I’m gonna get outta the way. Without further ado, here’s my conversation with Nick and Emma from Princess Cruises.

[00:04:01] All right. Well, Nick and Emma, thank you for joining me on our podcast today. I’m super excited to get you on here. For our listeners, we have Nick Charrow the Director of Marketing at Princess Cruises and Emma Wolff the Digital Marketing Manager at Princess Cruises, a client of JEBCommerce. I’m super excited to have you guys.

[00:04:22] Did I get the names correct?

[00:04:25] Nick: Yeah, yeah, you did. You got

[00:04:27] Emma: You did. Yes.

[00:04:31] Nick: on a journey here at Princess and I, the titles may be changing slightly, so if you’re listening to this podcast in a after we’ve recorded it you might know, well, see, I already screwed it up.

[00:04:44] Jamie: At all. I know where you’re going. I think everyone does.

[00:04:47] Nick: Yeah, our titles are changing around here as our media and marketing strategies are evolving.

[00:04:53] And so, our titles might be different here in the next month, but we’re still the same people.

[00:04:58] Jamie: Yes, you are. Great, and for our listeners, if you’re wondering, how can they be clients, and I just got their names, right? No, we were confirming the name pronunciation as I always do. And Nick, I learned that it wasn’t too long ago where you realized the way you were pronouncing your last name had been incorrect for quite a while.

[00:05:18] Nick: Yeah, just to rehash that for a second, I thought my last name was Charo until I was getting married, and then I realized after my relatives were attending some of the wedding functions ahead of the wedding that it was actually pronounced Charrow, so it took me some adjustment, but I think after 24 years of rocking the wrong pronunciation of my last name, I finally got it right.

[00:05:49] Jamie: That’s fantastic. Well, thank you guys for joining. Love the backgrounds. As you can see, I am joining you today from my tack room. We have a little bit of work going on in the house and it’s kind of demolition time, and so it is very, very loud.

[00:06:05] It’s very cold. So if you hear my teeth chattering. It’s because the very tiny heater that we have in here to make sure the hoses don’t freeze isn’t quite enough to keep it a room temperature 72.

[00:06:18] Nick: I’m picking up not just your background, but as you’re raising your arm, do you have, you have some tattoos that you’re, rock … well, no…

[00:06:29] Jamie: Yeah, I actually,

[00:06:32] Nick: I have more… I have probably more questions for you now than you have for me

[00:06:37] Jamie: Well, shoot, go for it.

[00:06:38] Nick: Now, well, no, I’m just like, as we’ve gotten to know each other, you’re very buttoned up. You’ve got a great sense of affiliate marketing. And usually, like everybody’s got a little bit of flair, but I didn’t expect the sleeve.

[00:06:52] So…

[00:06:53] Jamie: know, I have to say it comes from my mom. She was the first in the Birch household to get a tattoo well before any of us did and…

[00:07:01] Emma: oh, that’s that’s good. I feel like that opens the floodgates.

[00:07:05] Jamie: It did. It did. She got a little heart on her chest and then it just went from there, and actually I think every adult in my family is inked.

[00:07:17] So yeah, some people get surprised, because I do have sleeves and a collar, but yeah, once you get one, you just keep going. So…

[00:07:24] Nick: Yeah.

[00:07:26] Jamie: They are addictive for sure. Well, I appreciate you guys joining. We got a bunch of topics that we discussed on our prep call.

[00:07:34] But start out with where you guys started. How did you get into digital marketing? What was that journey like? And maybe Nick, you can start and then Emma you can, you tell us your story.

[00:07:47] Nick: Yeah. I mean there’s you know, I’m trying to reflect back on my journey and it has been a circuitous path to be where I am, and I don’t think, I would say even when I was like in junior high and high school, I thought I was going to be like a cinematographer.

[00:08:06] I, thought I was going to go into film and I was interested in photography, I was like making skate videos for my friends. I was like a nerd in that I was like reading books on cinematography, subscribe to like an American cinematographer magazine. And I go into college and I took some film classes, I took some photography classes and I actually was working as a production assistant on America’s Funniest Home Videos for a little while. And…

[00:08:39] Jamie: Precursor to a good 50 percent of my TikTok and YouTube feeds.

[00:08:45] Nick: Yeah, that show still hits. Through all of kind of the peaks and valleys of my college education, I came out majoring in photography, started a wedding photography business all while I was working as a graphic designer right out of college and I quickly realized like I was a good photographer.

[00:09:06] I liked running a business. I was an okay graphic designer, but I didn’t see my passions really in the graphic design space, but I’d always liked kind of the aspect of photography that was like building a business and seeing the effort that I put into marketing myself returning in the form of new clients.

[00:09:29] And I thought “okay, yeah, I came out of the college with an undergrad in art and as an undergrad in art during a recession.” And I was doing pretty well with photography. Okay with design. But I think at that point I was like, “I need to go back to school and get a secondary degree.” So that’s when I got my MBA.

[00:09:51] So at the time I was the only MBA student with an art undergrad, which was a fun position to be in. I was like I think a asset to a lot of my cohort that they needed that kind of creative perspective. And then I got my foot in the door with like my first gig in 2012 in I would say true marketing and digital marketing and cut my teeth in those first couple of positions you’re doing a whole mix of things.

[00:10:17] So that’s where I leaned into affiliate marketing pretty heavily, working for a small e commerce site. That’s where I also got a handle on managing Amazon and eBay storefronts listing products and getting a really good understanding of what works and what doesn’t work in the area of digital marketing. So, I just had a few of these like stepping stone positions that got me to where I currently am at princess where I started out as a manager, digital marketing, and now yeah, moved up the ladder, if you will, as a Director of Marketing slash Media. That’s the gist of my origin story.

[00:10:57] Jamie: Now, when you went and Emma, I want to hear your story too.

[00:11:01] Emma: Yeah, no, but please.

[00:11:03] Jamie: Nick, when you saw like what you had gone to school for, that wasn’t going to be your career, was that a difficult moment or were you just moving “Oh, I got to go do this,” or was it difficult to go, “man, I just went to school for this. This is what I thought I was going to do.”

[00:11:18] Nick: Yeah, I think there were some moments where I had to like, get real with myself of what is it that I want out of life? And, I think there are a couple things that kind of happened. One, during my undergrad, while I was going into film, and I thought that was what I was interested in, I realized that I did not have the level of passion, even though I was a nerd in some cases when it came to reading books on cinematography, that attention to detail that is almost obsessive for my friends in the film program, like they had, they would just be able to focus on something, and shoot and reshoot and reshoot and that was just not… I think after I had done it for a while was something that I couldn’t bring to the table.

[00:12:12] I have attention to detail to a certain extent but I realized that maybe my impression of what I thought I would be into started to change I started to investigate and explore what were the things that were… that I also had an interest in and I was like, I realized I was like pretty decent with numbers, I realized I still have that creative element. That creative…

[00:12:36] Jamie: An itch you still get to scratch.

[00:12:38] Nick: Yeah, so those two things together… I also funny enough and Emma I’m sorry I told you guys like I don’t… you guys got to keep me on the on the tracks

[00:12:47] Jamie: This is fantastic.

[00:12:48] Nick: We’ll get Emma. This is all about me. I’m having my moment right now.

[00:12:53] We’ll get to it.

[00:12:54] Jamie: No one’s objecting with that. And the cool thing is it’s not on tape anymore. So it’s not even a hard drive. It’s online. You can talk all you want.

[00:13:02] Nick: Well the funny thing is actually I’m now reflecting back. So my dad was a lawyer for a long while and I love the guy he provided for our family, but he wasn’t like raking it in as a lawyer. He was like your everyday kind of lawyer, but he had his own business.

[00:13:21] I remember 18, 19 trying to help him with his business, and I’m like, “dad, you need a website. You need to think about SEO. Let’s do some headshots.” So I always had that kind of like business mindset. So that’s where some of those things started to coalesce and I think why marketing was a natural fit for me.

[00:13:41] Jamie: Great. Great. And definitely, I do know quite a few creatives when they made a switch, they made it into marketing because you could still get that creative element to it. But it was something they were a little bit more passionate about. So, Emma, how did you how did you get to be here?

[00:14:01] Emma: Yeah, well, spoiler alert, Nick plays a big role in me getting to here and where I am now at Princess but to walk it back a few steps, I grew up thinking I was going to be a doctor because I loved school. I always did really well in school. Science, math… really, not to toot my own horn, but every subject and I loved them all.

[00:14:23] And because I had always done really well in them, it was like an expectation that like, “Oh, you’ll be a doctor one day.” And I remember I wanted to be a pediatrician. I shadowed a pediatrician my junior year of high school, and I thought, ” this is great.”

[00:14:38] Like I would get to see babies and take care of kids, and I love babies and children, and so I thought that this will be perfect. And I remember getting to college and taking my first chemistry course and being like, “oh, maybe not.”

[00:15:00] And then I remember going home for Christmas break my freshman year of college, and I already was feeling like a fish out of water because I did really well in high school. I went to the university of Notre Dame where I was around brilliant people, people who, I was no longer, again at the risk of sounding conceited, I wasn’t the smartest kid in my class anymore.

[00:15:24] I was around incredibly smart people and people who were so smart and didn’t have to study and I’m sitting there in this chemistry course being like, “Oh, my goodness.” And so I remember going home and I ran into, oddly enough one of my brother’s ex girlfriends, I have three older brothers, this is my oldest brother’s ex girlfriend who was in her residency in med school.

[00:15:46] I had a long conversation with her. We ran into each other at a salon and I realized through the course of my conversation with her, medicine is not the path that I want to pursue. What I had signed up for my freshman year of college was I was going to be pre med and I was going to have psychology as my my major.

[00:16:05] And ’cause I always loved psychology and just the way that people think, and so I remember having a conversation with my dad and being like, “Oh my gosh, why didn’t I think of this?” My dad was in sales and he had his bachelor’s in advertising, and he and I my whole childhood would watch commercials and look at marketing things out in the world and comment on them and be like, “Oh, that was a terrible commercial.” Or ” Oh, what a great commercial.” That really hit on the emotion or had humor or whatever it was. And I remember sitting back and thinking, what has psychology, what works with people but is more on the business side of things? What would that be?

[00:16:46] And it was just like this light bulb went off that marketing was the way to go. So, made a quick pivot for the second semester of my freshman year and then all through the rest of college with marketing as my major. And I actually got Spanish as a second major. And that was a whole interesting endeavor on its own, but so then I graduated and moved to California.

[00:17:09] Nick: Can I… can I interrupt? The one thing that I wanted to kind of like talk about, because you mentioned psychology.

[00:17:17] Emma: Mm hmm.

[00:17:18] Nick: And I don’t know if this is something we can get into later, or if it’s just something we can just riff on right now, but I do think that one thing that I have taken for granted to some extent, is that I think as marketers, and maybe this is a common thing, but we’re probably pretty curious people and in a way that is like curious about how people think and how they make decisions and where they’re coming from and what are their motivations, because those are the kinds of questions, and I’m sure Emma you would probably confirm this, but I certainly ask a lot of questions when we’re being briefed on a new partner. I’m like, okay. Yeah. Asking them like all the questions, probably to the point of, being an annoyance, but I would imagine trying to understand how people tick is a driver to why you gravitate towards marketing.

[00:18:14] Emma: Yeah, absolutely. I think that I… every quiz that you can take that tells you about yourself, the Myers Briggs test, the motivational value system, all of those things point me in the direction of being a people person that has like that I think to anyone that meets me they know that like pretty much within the first few minutes and that is a hundred percent why I think I gravitate to marketing so much is that it’s such a people driven field.

[00:18:46] Not only the interpersonal relationships that you build within developing marketing plans that, for whomever your audience is, but then it’s understanding your audience so that you can talk to them in the right way, and knowing how they tick. I feel like I probably become a broken record, but a lot of times in meetings when someone has perhaps a totally different way of thinking about something, I’m like, “okay, well, what’s the psychology behind that? Or psychologically speaking, do people think this, or this, or…?”

[00:19:15] And yeah, I feel like that is something that absolutely drives me, is just understanding people, loving people, and wanting marketing that speaks to them in the right way. And that’s why I’m like, that’s why I thought it was so funny that it was such a light bulb at the time. ” Oh my gosh, duh, marketing.”

[00:19:35] Jamie: If someone had been watching your life play out, they’re like, “Oh, she’s going to go into this. She just doesn’t know it yet.”

[00:19:41] Emma: Yeah, exactly. And yeah, it’s just funny. I was like an ambassador for my high school where we would give tours to prospective students and all this stuff and…

[00:19:51] Jamie: Ding, marketing.

[00:19:52] Emma: A hundred percent marketing. Like all of the boxes were there. I just wasn’t seeing them. And probably, I’m sure a lot of people get into a rut like that with school or, their family or society.

[00:20:06] And that’s not to say that my family… absolutely supports what I do. They didn’t care that I switched from being pre med to marketing. That wasn’t a concern at all, but it is funny. Every job in the book, my parents would be like, “You’d be good at that. You’d be good at that.” And then it was just trying to find what I …

[00:20:22] Jamie: Like you have very supportive parents.

[00:20:24] Emma: Very.

[00:20:24] Nick: She does have great parents. She loves her parents.

[00:20:28] Emma: I do.

[00:20:28] Jamie: Shout out to Emma’s parents.

[00:20:31] Emma: Kim and Jeff…

[00:20:32] Jamie: Maybe we’ll get them on the podcast next.

[00:20:35] You know, I had a similar experience. I was going to go for stream biology. A very narrow niche in college, and then I realized you really couldn’t make money doing that. And the money was high on my, what I wanted to do.

[00:20:49] And then I went into exercise science. For me, it wasn’t the chemistry. I did one semester of that, and then they showed me my classes for next semester and it involved a cadaver lab, and I went, “wait, wait, wait… we have dead people on campus?” They’re like, “Oh yeah, it’s at this building.” I’m like, “I walked by that building every day.”

[00:21:08] They’re like, “yeah, that’s where the cadavers are. Like people’s parents and brothers and sisters are in there dead.” They’re like, “yes.” And I’m like, “where’s the business school? I need to get out of here. I cannot do that.” And then I switched into economics and finance.

[00:21:24] This is a great episode, I want my kids to listen to. We’re about to travel and start exploring colleges. My two youngest are 15 and 17, and we’re starting to look at those schools, and it’s really cool to hear how Nick went and got your degree in the thing you thought you were going to be passionate about later that changed and Emma, how you changed so quickly once you got there.

[00:21:45] Emma: Yeah, yeah, and I feel like my college experience was so great and I was just so bored of advice to your kids or for any kids that are going to school, trust your gut like more than anything because when I stepped on campus, and I wasn’t even sure I was admitted to Notre Dame at the time, but when I stepped on campus, I was like, “oh, this place this, this is it.”

[00:22:11] And I, but then I just tried to convince myself, I was like, “I’m not getting into this school. It’s just not gonna happen.” So then I talked myself out of it, and then when I found out I did get in, it was celebrations all around, but…

[00:22:22] Jamie: Such a great school.

[00:22:24] Emma: Yeah, it was really fortunate enough to go there. I’m still shocked they let me in and I’m glad I graduated.

[00:22:31] Nick: Emma, Emma knowing Emma has got like a academic intelligence in addition to her marketing prowess, I usually tap her whenever I’m like drafting up some kind of like email where I got to convince somebody of something, or I’ve got to just make a strong first impression, I’m always running it by Emma first because I know she’s got a solid sense of ” does this make grammatical sense? Does this drive home the point? Is there like a solid topic sentence?” Yeah, so…

[00:23:02] Emma: I appreciate that.

[00:23:04] Jamie: One, Emma, you said something that I don’t think in three seasons has ever been said about marketing, and that’s: I love people. I don’t think that has been said, and I have four kids and they’re so different. And one of them would never look at marketing as a way to love people. “It’s a capitalistic thing and yeah, it’s, it provides a lot, but really what good are you doing kind of deal.”

[00:23:26] But I’ve always looked at it as, we are, like you said, trying to understand the consumer and what are their wants and needs and how can we facilitate that. If we’re successful, we’re doing that. And as a way of loving people that has never been mentioned on this podcast, but it’s at the core.

[00:23:45] What can you explain a little more about that?

[00:23:48] Emma: Well, I’m glad to be the first to mention it. Sure, you can look at anything pessimistically or from the lens that like marketing is, driven by capitalism or what have you, but ultimately, it also comes down to being a really good brand too, right? But ultimately we have the pleasure of marketing memories and vacations to people, but I think at the heart of what any company should be is not only the people that work there, but the people that they’re catering to, so why not understand what they want and what they want to hear and speak to them in that way? Because if you’re not, then no duh you’re not getting customers.

[00:24:31] So I think just looking at it from like an empathetic lens I think compassion is a big thing that gets left behind a lot in business, but is so vital. And marketing is like the vehicle for compassion for other people too. I know that sounds funny, but that’s the way I look at it. And like I said, luckily we work for a really cool brand that gets to deliver really awesome product to people.

[00:24:57] So no, we’re not marketing like financial services, but and I say, I’m sure the people that want to market financial services to people are there to help people as well.

[00:25:07] Nick: I think there’s a sense of, at the end of the day, you’re trying to get somebody to feel something. Whether it’s humor, or if it’s like tugging at heartstrings, there’s some emotion tied to it, and sometimes I think that can get overlooked as a metric. You and I were somewhere the other day, or no, someone presented something…

[00:25:26] Emma: It was…

[00:25:27] Nick: …conference and it was like, goosebumps is a metric. I wish we knew who said that so we…

[00:25:32] Emma: …it was… I could…

[00:25:34] Nick: It was somebody notable. It was someone very notable.

[00:25:37] Emma: He was the CMO of Coca Cola. I’ll…

[00:25:40] Nick: Okay, so there you go. Top tier.

[00:25:42] And I just thought because we get so buried in click through rates and performance metrics that it, you sometimes get further away from the thing that maybe actually matters a little bit more. Like the things that people are feeling and sometimes it’s hard for depending on the size of your business. If you are a mom and pop shop trying to worry about how someone feels is maybe a little bit abstract. You just need to get them into your store to make a purchase of some kind or sell something online. But I think even you scratch that surface a little bit, you’re trying to spark some kind of reaction and that marketing kind of helps do that, I think.

[00:26:29] So, whether you’re selling cruises or you’re selling what I was thinking about Boba because there’s like a Boba shop, yeah, Boba tea shop that just opened well, not just opened, opened up a couple months ago and I’ve not seen anyone in there and I’m like, I’m walking by, I’m like, man ” I want to go talk to them, maybe help them out.”

[00:26:48] Jamie: You want to help him out? I did that at a coffee shop and they like, don’t want me back in there again.

[00:26:53] Nick: No!

[00:26:54] Emma: Oh! Oh oh.

[00:26:55] Nick: The kebab place right next door to the Boba place, I did ask at one time, I’m like, you realize you could advertise a little on social media. You guys have some really great food and you guys could probably… ’cause the guy works so hard. I’m like, let’s get this guy a little extra business.

[00:27:12] So making people happy, Emma.

[00:27:14] Emma: Yeah!

[00:27:16] Jamie: I love it. And it never turns off, never turns off. I’m the same way. And you guys, especially coming out of the pandemic, talk about empathy and compassion. A world needed to get out and you guys are offering a product that does just that. I remember as we were working together, there was a lot of ” Whoa, what is going on? What do we need to do? And what a consumer wants.” And there was a lot of pressure, but was there a lot of satisfaction of seeing, “Hey, the world’s getting back out again. And we’re a big part of that.”

[00:27:45] Nick: Yeah, that was a really challenging time. We’re on the other side of it now that we’re in a pretty good place with things it’s almost hard to really imagine what we all went through. But it was really reassuring to see when we first started getting people back on our ships, like the love the crew had for our guests, the love that our guests had for the crew, it was like, one of the things that our guests, I think, love most about our brand is the service and is that kind of relationships that they had with the people on the ship.

[00:28:26] And so it was like, it was really heartwarming to see the guests and the staff on our ships kind of reunite. That was one phase, and now we’re seeing great demand. People are cruising as much as they ever were.

[00:28:42] And so now we’re finally at this point where things are feeling really good. So, those are just a couple of thoughts, I don’t know if Emma, you want to add on.

[00:28:52] Emma: Yeah, seeing the world come back to travel, especially for us was like a hallelujah kind of moment because Nick and I being in the paid media space was really tough. It was like, how do we pivot and support the business as best as we can when we’re not sailing and when there’s a lot of uncertainty to now, it’s like we, it’s a privilege to, I’ll say like our team and Nick can probably back me up on this is like the most highly visible team of the marketing department in the sense, because we are trying to do as much as we can in the paid media space to support the demand that we’ve seen.

[00:29:35] Nick: Well, Emma, do you remember we went through these kind of phases as well, like where we were trying to, during the heart of the pandemic I don’t know if it was 2020 or 21, it all blends together, but it was like, reminding people why we travel.

[00:29:51] Actually we had these like chapters, like chapter one was like dream with us. Like it was all about keeping people thinking about it. And then it was about reminding people like why we want to see the world and experience what it has to offer.

[00:30:11] And we had some really great vignettes that a great coworker, scott Martin, he had filmed all these… he had interviewed all these wonderful real life or, how do I say, basically, he went around the world, like prior to the pandemic, asking people why we travel. And it was such wonderful moment to actually surface those stories.

[00:30:35] And in time when people really needed to hear that the most. And this was like chapter two of, of this journey we’re on. And then finally, this like kind of trifecta, oh,

[00:30:48] Emma: Oh, we lost Jamie.

[00:30:51] Jamie: There we go.

[00:30:53] Nick: there,

[00:30:54] Emma: hear us?

[00:30:54] Jamie: We’re back and it’s recording. Yes. I see you. I hear you.

[00:30:58] Emma: Okay, good.

[00:30:59] Jamie: Last I heard was he had gone around the country before the pandemic and you guys were…

[00:31:05] Nick: yeah

[00:31:05] Jamie: …this is why we travel.

[00:31:08] Nick: Yeah, and it was just kind of like served up at the perfect moment. I don’t know if there’s any of that story that I need to retell, but…

[00:31:15] Jamie: No, I think we got it, and talk about an emotional connection and what a great product to really feel that. And then what a case study of what to do when you can’t sell your product, you literally cannot.

[00:31:30] Nick: Yeah, and the final kind of like chapter during that time before things really started rocking and rolling was this kind of oh my gosh, Emma, what was it? It was the… the… oh my gosh, I should know this help me out here. I’m on vacation. I’m thinking vacation.

[00:31:47] Emma: Not Real Vacation.

[00:31:48] Nick: Yeah. Well, yeah, that was, yeah, it was Real Vacation. No Real Vacation. It was like that. Oh my gosh apologies listeners for having to sit through that but unless Jamie does some fancy editing and cuts that …

[00:32:03] part out,

[00:32:04] Jamie: It’s real. I love it.

[00:32:05] Nick: The Real Vacation was the last chapter in this period in which we’re trying to reflect on kind of the state of where people were at and how people had been vacationing in unconventional ways during the heart or meat of the pandemic and so we wanted to play on that.

[00:32:22] We all did those road trips. We all were doing those Airbnbs, cooking our own dinner, making our own beds, and we were finally at this point where let’s take a real vacation, one where you can truly relax and it did give people some chills. It was a nice button on this journey that we were on during the pandemic.

[00:32:45] Jamie: I love it. And going back to that goosebumps is a metric, one of the things that we talked about… and, I have goosebumps. I don’t know if it’s cause it’s cold or just hearing that marketing message. It still resonates even now.

[00:32:57] And, I think the next generation who didn’t have to go through that won’t really know what that was like when we were able to get out of the house.

[00:33:05] But Nick, you talked on our prep call and you talked a little bit about it so far today, we get so hyper focused on data, clicks, conversion rates, average orders, regions these are coming from, return rates, all those things. But there’s a lot that we can’t see and there’s metrics, maybe metrics that we really can’t measure. You had a really good name for it. Can I say that? I know that may become a book someday and I don’t want to…

[00:33:30] Nick: I think so. When things maybe slow down a little bit in life, I may be writing that book if it’s still relevant, which I think it will, but go …

[00:33:37] Emma: And I’ll edit it. I…

[00:33:38] Nick: Yeah, thank you.

[00:33:40] Jamie: But and I would love to share it with the world. But you called it the dark matter of marketing. So talk to me about that. That’s one of the things that I think is the strength of digital marketing is also our weakness. We can measure so much, and we can distill it down to a metric and there’s still, there’s another person on the side of that metric.

[00:34:04] And as we try to determine intent and emotion behind a click, that can be lost. But what do you mean by dark matter of marketing and how do you use that? What do you do with it? Hmm.

[00:34:19] Nick: All the things that you’re saying play into it, right? And it’s the same thing around goosebumps is a metric where we can get hung up on these very black and white type of metrics, and whenever I’ve done analysis, or even when I’ve just looked at like user journeys, that’s a great descriptor. They are journeys. There are so many things involved in making purchases that as much as we want to understand about how someone decided to make the purchase or pull the trigger, we’re never going to understand it at all.

[00:34:55] And I think being into science when I read somewhere that like 99 percent of reality is unobservable. I’m like, “Oh, that’s like marketing, right?” There are so many things that you don’t see that you just have to come to terms with that reality is that you’re that 1 percent or that 2 percent and actually I do occasionally present to my Alma Mater, Cal State Northridge, go Matadors.

[00:35:26] One of the things that I talk about is like marketing is a nudge. And I think sometimes it could be a big nudge. But I also think it’s just a slightest nudge. And I think that nudge is that 1 percent that we can actually impact because the other 99 percent of things is really hard to control.

[00:35:47] There’s like a skepticism that I have even in my own ability as a marketer to change someone’s direction. I think it’s just a healthy amount of questioning. Is what I’m doing, is what we’re doing, actually moving the needle, and then it provokes you and compels you to think creatively about a solution and not approach something from like, “Oh I need to deliver this, so I’m going to do this, this, this, and this, and I’m going to. Solve all my problems.”

[00:36:22] I think people can get carried away with thinking that this one thing is going to result in an expected output. So I think that really defines the kind of dark matter of marketing concept.

[00:36:38] I think the other way that we were joking a couple of weeks ago is we like to zig more than we zag or zag more than we zig. And by the way, that is a book because I did look it up. I’m like, okay, that does sound like a title of a book. So, that one’s already taken.

[00:36:56] Jamie: Heh So for you it’s not so much trying to learn the unknowable it’s more of just setting the marketing in it’s rightful place of there are all these things but we can … do you think is that like a humility into our marketing?

[00:37:04] Nick: Yeah.


[00:37:04] Nick:

[00:37:17] Yeah.

[00:37:17] Jamie: I don’t know where my question…

[00:37:19] Nick: Yeah, I think it’s like accepting the fact that there are things that you’re just never gonna be able to know but you know what you can do is know all of the things that you can know to the fullest. I think we do a really good job of the things that we can control we are building dashboards. We’re running attribution analysis. We are doing incrementality studies. We’re doing A/B testing. We’re doing all these things to at least be able to really understand what we can to be comfortable with the things that we don’t understand.

[00:37:55] Jamie: Yeah, now, how do you bring that sort of the unknowable and knowing that, “Okay, we only really know 1 percent and if we can get as close as we can to knowing 100 percent of that 1%”, how do you bring that into things like practically like budgeting, where to spend money, what channels to focus on?

[00:38:15] Nick: Yeah, I think that’s where, you have a balance of okay… what do you have 100 percent confidence about and what do you have less than 100 percent confidence about? And I think the reality is we work in an environment where thinking about a small sliver of that 1 percent and taking that to build a marketing budget off of, like you, you’re going to have to use your best… kind of going back to what Emma was saying is like, there’s a gut feeling about what you’re doing and that as much as I love data and analytics and analysis, that there is still a level of that intuition that you just get through practice. And I think, one of the other things I learned at these small companies, when you did do something, when you did have a specific marketing tactic, you really did not have to do any advanced analysis because you knew whether it delivered. If you were a mom and pop shop and you put a billboard out or you send an email newsletter out, chances are you’re going to start to see those, the benefits of that work.

[00:39:34] But when you’re at a larger company where there are so many additional inputs, it’s harder to really understand what’s working. But it’s through our experiences that we do do proper forecasts, and we do think about audiences, and we do think about how do we get in front of the right number of people.

[00:39:55] I think that’s the other thing… I if I’m being a little long winded I think I’m gonna land the plane on this thought: is that in an… yeah, in an absence of things that you can really a hundred percent guarantee you still have a couple of things that are important. One is What are your business goals? And two, what kind of audience sizing do you need to think about in order to achieve those goals?

[00:40:22] I imagine like in your own business, you’re thinking about, “okay, well, there’s only so many advertisers. There’s only so much time in the day to reach these advertisers, to bring them into your wonderful affiliate agency.”

[00:40:36] Like those two data points allow for the kind of framework of your media and marketing strategies.

[00:40:47] Jamie: Yeah. It’s a grounding, a foundation always, or a North star. I just recorded a podcast this morning, a solo, just me talking about alignment and it really… get back to what your goal is. As you’re creating your plan, what’s the goal? You may have your own goal in your department, what’s the company’s goal and are you aligned with that?

[00:41:08] We’re going to have to do a session two of this podcast. We are bumping up against time and I want to be respectful of that. So hopefully this has been outside of our little technical glitch that you could hear me, you could talk to each other, and I hear nothing. This has been phenomenal.

[00:41:26] The last question I have in the last few minutes it may be too big of a subject to handle in just three minutes, but one thing we talked about was the importance of testing and learning. How do you guys look at testing and learning? And how has that, from a practical sense, how has that executed?

[00:41:45] Nick: Emma, do you…

[00:41:46] Emma: Yeah, so I can let Nick take the approach of how we go about testing and learning, but something that I probably heard in a talk or something is that don’t just test to test. Often other teams outside of marketing will ask us to test something and you really need to go about testing hoping for an actionable answer, or an action, or a directional answer at the very least. Because if you’re testing just to test and you’re not going to have an actual learning to take away from it, then it’s a waste of time and a waste of effort. But if you can actually test something that, will drive a result, will drive something that you can take away as a business decision moving forward, or at least as directional and as proxy for, other additional learnings, then that’s how you should approach testing.

[00:42:40] Another thing I’m sure I heard somewhere but you can test yourself out of creativity if you just test something to death. So those are the things that we try to avoid, and we may get a request for a test, but then it’s going back to that person that requested it and asking them why, or getting to the deeper root of why they want some kind of question answered and how we can approach that in a different way that, again, isn’t testing ourselves out of creativity.

[00:43:10] Emma: Because at the end of the day, and it comes back to what I mentioned earlier, it’s trusting the marketing gut and yeah, have it backed up by data, trusting ourselves as marketers and how we are communicating to people. Again, bringing it back to that is the way to go about it.

[00:43:26] And I’ll kick it to Nick for how we We do a lot of testing, that’s for sure, so…

[00:43:31] Nick: I think the only thing that I’ll add is that we think about is like learning, like testing is learning and creating a learning agenda, and a roadmap for what are the things that we’re trying to get a better sense of.

[00:43:45] And so that could mean creative testing. That can mean partner testing. That could mean tactics and placements and… but then again, having that healthy level of skepticism about what you’re testing, knowing that there’s so many additional things that could change the outcome or the perception of that test.

[00:44:05] But that being said, it is always fun to be able to have a hypothesis, test the hypothesis, and then see the outcome. And that exercise alone is valuable.

[00:44:17] Emma: Yeah, it comes back to the curiosity that we have so much as marketers like learning is always going to be at the root of why we test something.

[00:44:26] Nick: You’re like 25 percent scientist, 25 percent creative, 25 percent psychologist, and

[00:44:35] 24 percent marketer, and then that 1 percent is a mystery.

[00:44:40] Emma: It’s dark matter.

[00:44:41] Jamie: Yeah it, and it changes all the time. Emma, when you mentioned, make sure you know what you’re trying to test and test with purpose, I remember when our first A/B testing came out and there was just a line at the door, “let’s test this, let’s test this.”

[00:44:57] And I remember we got test happy and just, “Yeah. we can test that. Okay. Let’s test that.” What did we learn? No idea. No idea, but one test one, that’s what we learned A one over B what’s that mean? I don’t know.

[00:45:11] Nick: It’s great though.

[00:45:13] Jamie: Yeah. Well, thank you guys so much. I really would love to do an episode two, and if you guys are up for it, I’ll reach out to schedule that. This has been fantastic. I’m reminded why our team and I enjoy working with you both so much.

[00:45:26] But really some great learnings here for our listeners. Learned a little bit more about each of you and your backgrounds are intriguing and you have so many good things to teach the marketing world. I really appreciate your time today.

[00:45:39] Emma: Yeah. Thanks for having us. I know it works out that nick and I have worked together for so many years, we tend to finish each other’s sentences too. So it works.

[00:45:49] Jamie: Oh, that’s awesome. Well, thank you both, and if anyone wanted to get ahold of you or follow what you guys are doing, what’s the best way that they can do that?

[00:45:58] Nick: Hit me up on instagram or on LinkedIn, either one works. And yeah.

[00:46:04] Jamie: Well, thank you both. I appreciate it. We will get episode two of the Nick and Emma podcast. And thank you so much for your time today.

[00:46:13] Emma: Thanks, Jamie.

[00:46:14] Nick: Thank you.

[00:46:16] Jamie: Wow. What a great episode. Thank you, Nick and Emma. Loved chatting with you and learned so much. We didn’t quite get a chance to talk about all the subjects, but so many things behind that, and gosh, where do I start?

[00:46:31] The first thing, where Emma mentioned, this is an act of love. Like we are loving our consumers by doing what we’re doing. And that’s really not been said. And I know I reacted that way on this episode, but that’s true. I used to always say jokingly we’re changing the world, one small retail transaction at a time. And so much of what we do as marketers really does that. It can change a person’s day and our job is really to understand them and to position ourselves to serve them.

[00:47:00] But I love the discussion on the psychology behind it. The goosebumps as a metric from the Coca Cola CMO. What a great concept. The concept of the dark matter of marketing and the idea we can only know 1 percent and our job is to know as much of that 1 percent as we possibly can.

[00:47:20] Love the discussion on testing and I think this is something we run into as marketers and digital marketers. We have so many tools at our disposal and sometimes we use them for no real intentional reason. And just like testing test with an intent to understand an actionable answer or directional answer and always test and always try to learn from that but don’t test yourself out of the creativity.

[00:47:48] There’s still, as Nick put it, there’s still a lot of gut feeling. And that gut is really tied to that 99% we don’t know. I remember working forecast and just like Nick and Emma, very seasoned forecast, a very intentional, well thought out forecast. And we get into a meeting and then my manager would say, “ah, you need to raise that 30%.”

[00:48:10] And as I’m going through all the data, I’m like, “I have nothing to back that up.” And she’s like, “no, it’s just going to be 30 percent higher than what you have.” She was right almost every time, and that was something, as Nick said, is hard to learn. You need time. And so for those younger affiliate managers and marketers out there know that it takes time. You can’t replace time on board.

[00:48:33] I actually remember one of my very good friends Steve Griffith is an exceptional downhill skier. Sorry, his whole family is. A shout out to my family there, but he used to always tell me when I was learning to ski, like it’s just time on board. You have to spend the time. Nothing can replace that time.

[00:48:51] So as you’re trying to develop your gut on your marketing, just know it’s just going to take time. You’re going to have to make mistakes. You’re going to have to learn. You’re going to have to test. Do it intentionally, learn everything that you can about that 1%, about the 1 percent that’s not dark matter.

[00:49:09] And I love the concept of marketing as a nudge. We’re not going to be able to make people do anything, but we can nudge them in the right direction. So much to pull from that. I’m really looking forward to our next episode. We get to ask the rest of my questions here. Very excited about that.

[00:49:26] Nick and Emma, thank you so much. It’s a joy to work with you. My team loves to work with you, and this conversation was nothing short of that. Really enjoyed it. Thank you for sticking around through some technical issues and you, the listener, thank you for sticking around too.

[00:49:41] You can follow Nick and Emma on Instagram and LinkedIn. We will include that in the show notes as well. If you wanted to reach out and ask them about some of the things they talked about today, you can definitely do that.

[00:49:54] If you found this valuable please share it on Facebook, LinkedIn, X, and any social media platform that you use and what would really help us get the word out about this is to leave us a five star review, whether that’s Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Leave us that five star review.

[00:50:11] And if there is a topic or there is a guest you think we should have on the show, just email us at We would love to talk about that issue or have that person on the show. We are looking for season four guests, and if you’d like to be on there, then come on let us know, Almost all of our guests are first time podcast guests. So if you’ve never done it and you’re thinking about doing it don’t worry, you’ll be in really, really good company.

[00:50:40] Anyway, thank you so much, Nick and Emma. Thank you so much is great to work with you. Great to do this podcast with you. And I hope you all learned something today.

[00:50:49] Let us know what’s the one thing you learned. You can go to our Facebook page, let us know what you learned from today’s podcast. You guys have a great day.

Transcript Toggle