CBS 60 Minutes and Data Brokers Selling Your Data: What Data Marketing Is Really About


This is a few weeks old, but it still makes me angry.

The goal of marketers, and direct marketers in general is to use data to provide relevant offers to the right people at the right time. Data and databases are the tools us marketers use to ensure relevance!

Marketers have taken a big hit as the media picks up on big data and list/data brokers as the culprits in selling our information. Totally inflammatory in my opinion. And totally deflecting the subject from governmental use of data.  Check out this piece from CBS 60 Minutes on “Data Brokers selling your personal information”.

Discuss…

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-data-brokers-selling-your-personal-information/

BERNHART ASSOCIATES’ EMPLOYMENT Q1 SURVEY RELEASED: 2011 STARTS OFF STRONG; DIRECT MARKETING HIRING TO REBOUND


Layoffs, Hiring Freezes Hit Multi-Year Lows
Owatonna, MN, January 18, 2011—Digital and direct marketers are planning a surge in hiring this winter with agencies leading the way, according to Bernhart Associates’ Quarterly Digital and Direct Marketing Employment Report for the first quarter of 2011.

“I expected a bounce, but nothing like this, which is very encouraging,” said Jerry Bernhart, leading direct marketing recruiter and Principal of Bernhart Associates Executive Search, LLC, which conducts the quarterly employment survey.  “This is the most positive quarterly improvement we’ve ever seen in the 11-year history of our quarterly survey.”

The following are key findings from Bernhart Associates’ Quarter 1 (Q1) survey:

• Fifty-two percent (52%) of companies responding to the survey said they plan to add to staff in Q1, up from 41% last quarter (Q4).

• Sixteen percent (16%) of respondents currently have a hiring freeze, down sharply from 35% in Q4.

• The percentage of companies planning layoffs in Q1 dropped to 4%, compared with 8% in Q4.

• Sixty-three percent (63%) of agencies responding to the survey plan to add staff, with none planning cutbacks and only one agency reporting a hiring freeze.

Survey results show that marketing hiring budgets are still being pinched on the client side, which are lagging the agencies and service providers in planned hiring.  But Bernhart notes that nearly one out of every two marketers still will have positions to fill in the current quarter.

“Business-to-business hiring plans outpaced business-to-consumer, and also reported fewer expected layoffs and hiring freezes,” added Bernhart.

Bernhart said that while direct marketing staffing this year may not reach the boom levels seen prior to 2008, he expects hiring to continue building momentum in 2011, noting the following key trends:

• Digital and direct marketers are revising upward their projections for 2011 as margins improve and demand picks up, creating the need for more staffing.

• The number of online digital and direct marketing-related job listings has been up sharply in the past couple months.

• Bernhart said he has seen a “dramatic” decline in the number of resumes from recently laid-off digital and direct marketers.

• Bernhart further noted that he is fielding more calls from companies asking about executive searches, adding, “you don’t see that happen unless job recovery is taking hold.”

Among those companies planning to add staff, Bernhart said digital and direct marketing openings will be across the board and at all levels.  “Usually we see a couple of job categories stand out, but this time it’s very broad-based with marketing, analytics, and sales topping the list, along with a strong showing among IT-related positions.”

Bernhart Associates’ Q1 hiring survey was emailed on January 5 and 12 to more than 11,000 senior executives, hiring managers, human resource officials, and other key participants in online and offline direct marketing.  A total of 399 organizations responded to the widely followed employment-trends survey.

According to the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), in 2009, marketers—commercial and nonprofit—spent $149.3 billion on direct marketing, which accounted for 54.3% of all ad expenditures in the United States.  Measured against total U.S. sales, these advertising expenditures generated approximately $1.783 trillion in incremental sales.  DMA further reported that, in 2009, there were 1.4 million direct marketing employees in the U.S.  Their collective sales efforts directly supported 8.4 million other jobs, accounting for a total of 9.9 million American jobs.

Results of past surveys can be found in the DMA’s annual Statistical Fact Book and on Bernhart Associates Executive Search, LLC’s website.

Companies interested in participating in the Bernhart Associates’ Quarterly Digital and Direct Marketing Employment Report should send an email to survey@bernhart.com with “Opt-In” in the subject line, or they can sign up directly on the front page of the Bernhart Associates’ website.

####

Download this Press Release as a PDF.

Please direct executive search inquires to jerry@bernhart.com or call 507-451-4270.

About Bernhart Associates

Bernhart Associates Executive Search, LLC, is owned by Jerry Bernhart, a
leading and nationally recognized digital and direct marketing recruiter, writer, and
speasker.  Founded in 1991, Bernhart Associates recruits for positions at all levels in
Multichannel Direct Marketing, CRM, E-Commerce, Database Marketing, Business
Development, and Marketing Analytics.  Respected as a leading authority on issues
related to digital and direct marketing recruiting, Jerry is a frequent speaker at
national marketing conferences and is often quoted by the industry news media.  Jerry
has written dozens of articles for the leading online and offline multichannel marketing
publications.

The Bernhart Associates’ Quarterly Digital and Direct Marketing Employment Survey,
now in its eleventh year, has become the most widely followed employment report in
digital and direct marketing and measures employers’ hiring plans for the coming
quarter.  It is the only forward-looking employment survey of its kind in digital and direct marketing and unparalleled in size and scope.

Bernard Silverman and Affiliates, Naperville, IL, contributes research and
analysis for the Bernhart Associates’ Quarterly Digital and Direct Marketing
Employment Report.  Bernie can be reached at bernie@bsilverman.com.

FAIL: As an online marketer I applaud the US Postal Service for it’s Exigent Rate Case. Read my letter to them


Dear Mr. Postmaster General and the honorable members of the Postal Regulatory Commission,

As an online marketer, I want to thank you. I cannot wait until you raise postage rates come January. Now some people may not agree with me, but I applaud your efforts to consistently raise postage rates.

As I was starting my business a few years ago, you announced an incredible postal rate increase — if I remember correctly, around 20 percent — that really helped my business take off. So many direct marketers, who could no longer afford to profitably mail catalogs and other direct mail, came calling. As a result, my business flourished (as did many of my comrades in the online space).

Now I hear you’re on the verge of passing something called an “exigent” rate increase, pushing postal costs up another 5 percent.

Very cool, thanks!

I also love how you got around the specific language that was designed to keep you from arbitrarily raising rates. :-)

Right now I bet many direct marketers are pretty angry with you. They’re probably feverishly calculating their profit-and-loss statements to determine how many previously profitable mailing lists aren’t going to be profitable anymore. How fortunate for me. I wonder how many new customers I can pick up come the first quarter?

And one other thing I want to mention as long as you’re reading this: You know those summer postal “sales” you’ve had the last two years? Yeah, those ones where the criteria for qualification to receive the discount are ridiculously hard for mailers to meet? Well, I really appreciate your help in disillusioning the direct marketing community. Remember, the more jaded and disillusioned it becomes, the better for my business.

That’s it for now. I hope this letter finds you all well. Keep up the good work — my business needs it!

Sincerely,
Steven M. Search

EDITORS NOTE: Some people, mostly internet marketers, are commenting on linkedin that they applaud this article – like it’s real!!!  Folks, this post is meant as pure acidic sarcasm and irony.  Its intent is to skewer the USPS, The Postmaster General and The Postal Rate Commission for their stupidity in biting the hand that feeds them, and single-handedly destroying their future earnings potential as they drive marketers out of a highly targetable and profitable channel.  I find it both humorous and horrifying that people would take this post literally.

Jim

7 ways to make the Inc. Magazine 500 Fastest Growing Companies list in a down economy like my client did


I’m not really big on self-promotion or self-congratulations — especially here in my column. However, I’m quite pleased to “admit” that one of the companies I work for has made Inc. magazine’s fastest growing companies in America listOpens in a new window.

So, what does it take to make the list? While it’s not Inc.’s criteria, I’ll tell you from my perspective what you and your company need to do to get there.

But before I do, let me tell you a bit about the company in question. The Fresh Diet Opens in a new windowwas founded in 2005 in classic entrepreneurial style — in the kitchen of CEO Zalmi Duchman with Executive Chef Yosef Schwartz . The company creates gourmet meals that are healthy, portion controlled and delicious (Chef Yos is a Cordon BleuOpens in a new window-trained chef). The meals are prepared fresh and hand-delivered to clients’ homes every day.

For this luxury (or is it?), customers dish out about $35 a day (most order a month’s worth of Fresh Diet meals at a time — about $1,100).

So, how can your company follow in The Fresh Diet’s footsteps and makeInc.’s 500 list? Here are seven ways how:

  • Identify products that create fanatics and advocates. It’s easy to go into the meal delivery business and not deliver food daily, or by hand, or buy top-quality meats and produce. But why do that? The Fresh Diet constantly strives to exceed its customers’ expectations.
  • Build a persona around your business and your people. It’s not enough to just be a business these days. With social media and peer recommendations fully in play, companies must put a face to the nameless, faceless corporate entity. Use social media as a way to connect with your customers. But don’t do it as a strategy. Connect in an honest and personal way, in a real voice. For a good example of how The Fresh Diet accomplishes this, check out its Facebook pageOpens in a new window.
  • Take risks, but calculated ones. Develop a mentality of testing — everything from marketing channels to individual campaigns. But also calculate the risks. Test small and do your math up front; big results can potentially be found in tests of all sizes. Even companies that are struggling should test. By making testing part of your culture, the rewards will outweigh the risks.
  • Empower your employees to think and act independently. The days of micromanaging employees are over. Empowered employees are more productive employees. Find great talent, then let them do their thing. OK, so sometimes they won’t do what you thought they should do, but that will be offset by things you never would have thought of.
  • Use all of your channels. I’ve seen too many companies get stuck these days by a specific kind of thinking: online retailers who only market online; direct marketers who fear advertising online; etc. Don’t fall into that trap. The Fresh Diet survives quite nicely in the online and traditional worlds, where it’s tested and rolled out many successful programs.
  • Understand that messaging needs time to develop. Rome wasn’t built in a day; neither should your messaging. Going back to developing a culture of testing, your marketing message falls into a category that should be constantly tested. And even if you hit it big and have “control” messaging that works, always strive to make it better.
  • Handle customer service issues promptly, and look to resolve each issue in the customer’s favor. Know that an upset customer is a brand ambassador waiting to happen once their issue is resolved (which says much for the lack of customer centricity with other brands).
  • How These Call Center Training Techniques Can Increase Your Call-Center Conversions


    As direct marketers, we spend a great deal of time and money developing programs to make the phone ring. But it’s the call-center agents that truly make the cash register sing.

    Therefore, I spend a great deal of time training customer service reps (CSRs) to be powerful brand advocates with the ability to make a difference with all customers. Personally, I hate calling a company and hearing some disinterested rep deal with my order in a lackluster way. It tells me the company I’m dealing with doesn’t get that the people manning the phones are the voice of the company.

    A simple CSR training program can solve the lackluster attitude and increase conversion.

    CSR’s should be trained to think on their feet rather than interacting with customers and prospects by reading a script. Of course, good call-center software with a scripted environment can be beneficial, but even the best scripting can’t beat a well-trained CSR’s instincts. It’s important to hire reps that can work this way, and then mentor and monitor them on an ongoing basis. A word of caution: Analyze call times to ensure your reps aren’t burning up phone time with the personal touch.

    CSR training programs are quite simple. You don’t need elaborate monitoring equipment. Simply use a cassette recorder and some basic monitoring equipment you can buy at Radio Shack to record CSRs’ calls for a day, then listen to the tapes. Break the reps into teams of three or four and sit in a room together and listen to the day’s calls. Teach the reps to listen actively and objectively to the calls.

    Let them coach each other on the cues and buying signals that sometimes get missed in real time. If you spot a missed buying signal, stop the tape — I encourage all of the reps in the group to stop the tape if they hear something — and role-play how the rep could’ve made a difference in converting the call.

    Set up contests during the training process for the individual CSR and training team that generates the highest conversion rates. Drill the reps on making sure to be gentle and not pushy, as it’s human nature to get more aggressive to win a contest. Stress the quality of the relationship with the customer as well as the quantity of the order.

    Using this simple technique at one company I worked with, we increased conversion rates by as much as 20 percent. Also, by fostering an atmosphere of teamwork and healthy competition, we increased the enthusiasm and morale in its call center as well.

    Train CSRs to seek out opportunities to cross-sell effectively. Let your reps know which items complement each other, and coach them on the art of cross-selling. Truth is, sometimes all it takes is a suggestion, something like, “Do you know, Ms. Jones, that we have a beautiful top that complements the shorts you’re purchasing today?”

    Use these tips to connect the dots of your customer touchpoints, Part 1


    Direct and multichannel marketers encounter moments of truth that make or break their sales and marketing effectiveness multiple times each day. How they interact with customers, prospects — essentially all consumers — is critical to their success.

    Direct marketers touch consumers in both traditional (call center, website) and nontraditional ways (mobile, social media). Reputation management is everywhere.

    Marketing in the 21st century, with the internet and social media in play, has become even more of a challenge as direct and multichannel aren’t fully in control of all of the messaging that’s communicated to (and between) consumers regarding their brands. This is why today’s brands need to make sure that all client-facing activities are buttoned up, in sync and consistent across all channels.

    Well, at least that’s the goal to shoot for!

    Over the coming weeks, I’ll be writing a multipart series on how to maximize results in all selling channels and at all consumer touchpoints — from your call center to your website to your Facebook page.

    But before I get started, I want to offer you a challenge. I have some questions for you to ask yourself. I want you to become a detective in your own organization. And I don’t care if you’re the CEO or a customer service representative in a call center. Try the following:

    1. List all of the points of contact your customers and prospects interact with you in. The more specific, the better. For example, if you use landing pages for marketing campaigns, list them.
    2. Get out of your office. Go to your call center and listen to multiple customer service and sales-oriented calls. Do searches on your company name and/or products to see what your reputation is in the social mediasphere.
    3. Do a complete audit of all of the places your brand touches consumers. Note the good and the bad.
    4. Get others in your organization involved. My best suggestion to you is to get your CEO to put together a customer experience team to investigate the above. It should meet weekly to discuss its findings. Then build a plan to ensure your touchpoints are doing exactly what you want them to do — i.e., driving sales and engagement.

    Stay tuned for part two of this series in a few days. But in the meantime, go ahead and post your comments, suggestions and even fact findings below

    Are you automating your emails with trigger and drip campaigns? (an overview and 3 good tips)


    Lately I’ve been working with clients on automating their marketing tasks, specifically their emails. The more I work in this channel, the more I realize how wide-open a frontier — with a huge upside — it is for cross-channel merchants.

    Most medium- to high-end email service providers (ESPs) offer some sort of automated functionality. This gives marketers the opportunity to create “set-it-and-forget-it type” campaigns.

    When you acquire a new prospect, for example, you can create a triggered drip campaign. A drip campaign involves a series of emails that are sent to prospects at pre-specified intervals, say once a week over a four-week period.  Each email is designed to either highlight a key company benefit (part of the unique selling proposition), or have a series of progressively stronger offers.

    Most ESPs have application programming interfaces available to their clients. By having your IT folks set this up, your ESP can automatically communicate with your database. In simple terms, once a prospect becomes a customer, no more drip emails are sent to them as they move to a different bucket (customer) in your email database. And once prospects become customers, they’re promoted into a different automated email series.

    You can set up campaigns for all of your customer statuses — prospects, single, multibuyers, past customers, gift purchasers, cancels and so on. The sky is the limit based on your creativity.

    Furthermore, some ESPs have pretty good list management tools available for automated and/or one-off campaigns. For example, a client of mine chose Bronto’s solution, which allows it to store 100 different customer attributes. It can then create campaigns based on whatever criteria meets its needs from Bronto’s list selection module. Want to send an email to someone whose birthday is coming up? It’s simple: Whatever data you collect from customers and prospects can all be sliced and diced within a good ESP’s system.

    Try the following three ideas for triggered email campaigns:

    • customer satisfaction surveys X number of days after a purchase;
    • tell-a-friend offers when customers becomes multibuyers; and
    • customer reactivation emails. Instead of doing a query each time you want to send a reactivation message from your internal database and uploading a new list, just create it for X number of days/months/years and the message automatically goes out.

    Of course, no new form of direct marketing should be done without testing. Test offers, creative and especially the timing of your messaging.

    You’ve worked hard, now let email marketing automation help you drive revenue! Are you automating your marketing efforts? Tell us how it’s working by posting a comment below.

    How to Spread Exponential Customer Goodwill


    Last week I sent out an email for a client to its recent past customers. The email’s goal was to reactivate those customers, and the copy was written as a message from the company’s CEO.

    At the bottom of the email in a P.S., I added the opportunity for these customers to let the brand know why they weren’t ordering from it anymore.

    So the email was sent, and the responses came back to me. There were some complaints that were easy fixes and others where people were upset with the company.

    My philosophy on this situation is simple: Customer complaints are customer advocates waiting to happen. That’s right. Once you resolve a customer’s complaint — in a way that he feels like you care — you have a good shot at retaining that customer for life.

    And here’s another interesting outcome from this email campaign: Many of the customers who received the email responded with thank-yous to the CEO for taking the time to ask why they left.

    It’s amazing how a little customer care from a typical nameless, faceless corporate entity changes peoples’ attitudes and perceptions of a company. And when the CEO gets involved, the goodwill level goes up exponentially.

    I missed the TV show “Undercover Boss” after last week’s Super Bowl (it’s on my DVR; I’ll review it after I watch), but I think its message applies here. The general premise of the show is just how much a CEO can learn about his/her company, customers and employees just by getting involved.

    To me it’s a no-brainer. My CEO philosophy was formed a long time ago, thanks to Tom Peters (he’s my mentor, even if he doesn’t know me) and his principle of management by wandering around. In other words, get out of the corner office — i.e., ivory tower — and get involved with your “X” (fill it in, folks).

    But enough about CEOs. The feedback the company received at the behest of the CEO’s email was handed out to the senior customer service team. Systematically, all complaints are being resolved.

    Now I want to ask you something: Do you think these customers, with their newly acquired “warm fuzzies” about the company, will tell their friends? Absolutely! And they’ll likely do it via social media channels, too. I call that spreading exponential good will.

    An Important Announcement to ALL Environmentalists & Direct Mail Haters (no political correctness here)…


    “No trees were killed in the sending of this email. However, a whole bunch of electrons were terribly inconvenienced.”

    The above is the email signature of a friend of mine. While meant to be tongue-in-cheek, it actually makes a strong, yet entirely off base point: Electronic mail is somehow less harmful to the environment than paper-based mail.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but the sending of email does kill trees (I’ll discuss this more below).

    Whenever I write about direct mail here, the environmentalists come out to visit. Well, visit may not be the right word; maybe I should say they come out to hate. They must be trolling the internet looking for anything positive about direct mail to take a shot at, like drive-by haters.

    So I’m going to set the record straight. And you environmentalists take note, please.

    Here’s my question: Which is worse for the environment, direct mail or email? I think email, and here’s why.

    1. Every email sent generates power consumption. Think of all the routers, servers, internet service providers and PCs involved. Consider all of the big-box companies that sell and service PCs. Maybe someone out there has done the math, but I’m sure there’s a hard cost in terms of power consumption per email.
    2. Same goes for time trolling the internet looking for direct mail folks to hate on. If a computer’s on, it’s using energy.
    3. Now here’s the tricky part: Where does the energy that email and computers use come from? It’s not very clean at all, is it? Our electricity is still very much powered the dirty old way, thus the energy consumed by email and the internet isn’t very clean — something environmentalist, direct mail haters don’t really talk about; truly their dirty little secret.
    4. Most people recycle their direct mail, catalogs and newspapers because it’s the right thing to do.
    5. The paper industry — the backbone of the direct mail business — is heavily involved in reforestation (i.e., the planting of new trees to replace ones used for paper). In fact, and I hope some paper merchants will respond to this, reforestation efforts are usually at a ratio of two to one or greater.

    Just to let you know, I recycle, and I believe in a future with clean energy, not because it it politically correct, or supports a particular political agenda, but because it just makes sense to do. But to say that direct mail is destroying the planet? That’s a weak and opportunistic argument. Direct mail is still one of the most powerful tools in a marketer’s tool bag if done according to principles.

    Got comments? Post them below.

    5 last minute catalog, direct mail, multichannel tactics to increase Holiday sales…


    Catalogers, direct and multi-channel marketers, direct mailers, and ecommerce marketers, want to add some revenue before we say goodbye to 2009?  Try the following:

    1. Add an extra mailing before the end of the year.After your (scheduled) last mailing is complete, mail one more catalog just to your hotline buyers — i.e., those who just responded to your last mailings of the year. If it’s too late to get your printer involved, grab some of your bounceback and office copy catalogs, and mail them. Even if you have to mail them First Class, you should still get great response. I’ve done this before, and it works.

    2. Speaking of bouncebacks, add a special offer to your outgoing packages beyond the traditional bounceback book. This gives your customers a compelling reason to make another purchase before the holidays. It’s especially persuasive if you can target your offer to people who are on the receiving end of gifts.

    3. Extend the life of an existing catalog by sending a special offer via postcard to your best buyers with a last-minute incentive. Try something like this: “Last-minute shoppers save (a percentage)” or “Last-minute offer! Get a specially priced (product here).” Postcards are quick, inexpensive, and can drive both catalog and web traffic.

    4. Then, of course, there’s email. Deliver offers right up to the last possible date you can ship product for Christmas.

    5. And by all means, get social. Use social media to engage your customers/prospects with contests, sales, testimonials and more. A client of mine supported Black Friday sales via Twitter, Facebook and its blog, beating last year’s numbers by a healthy margin.

    If you have any additional ideas for last-minute marketing tactics, please share them with us by clicking on the link below.

    I hope you had a safe, happy and healthy Thanksgiving. Speak to you next week.

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