Win at Social: Wrap Yourself Around An Issue and become a Social Media Marketing Thought Leader


Wrap yourself around an issue and become a social media marketing guru.

You don’t have to be a great writer to get social media attention. Just “own” another issue and you can make some hay for yourself. Its simple to do:

Step 1: Find an issue or topic you believe in, or are well versed in, and have an opinion you would like to share about the topic.

Step 2: Seek out articles about that topic.  Find them on Facebook, Linkedin, Google+, etc.  Twitter is the perfect channel for this!

Step 3: Share the article, with your comments.  Simple right?

More: There are two ways to share on your topic, “for” or “against”.  Sometimes disagreeing with the article can get you even more notoriety.  I don’t shy away from being controversial.  For example, when the U.S. Post Office starts in with their annual postage rates increases, my rants railing against the stupidity of the USPS get lots of attention.  As a marketing consultant who goes against the grain and uses direct mail often for clients (Note: Direct mail is NOT dead!  Its still as viable as ever if practiced correctly), being known as champion of direct mail marketers against the post office, shows people a lot about how I could help them if hired for a direct mail campaign.

Give it a try and let me know how you did.  Post a comment below.

Want a free marketing evaluation?  Gilbert Direct Marketing’s chief expertise is finding you new marketing revenue streams you can take to the bank.  Don’t leave revenue unrealized.  Let GDM help you take that revenue off the table!

Yours Truly quoted in the USPS’s Deliver Magazine on direct mail testing for The Fresh Diet


Despite my love/hate relationship with the US Post Office I still get quoted from time to time.  Check out this quote about how I built The Fresh Diet’s direct mail program.

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.

The Postal Direct Mail Nightmare Continues: BREAKING NEWS: USPS Appeals Exigency Rate Case


Note: this just in from our good friends at ACMA
October 22, 2010 

Special Bulletin: USPS Appeals Exigency Rate Case
 

 

Dear Catalogers, Suppliers & Others With Catalog Interests: 

While mailers were still rejoicing over the victory on the exigency rate case, the USPS filed a lawsuit today in the U.S. Court of Appeals to reverse the widely heralded Postal Regulatory Commission decision. The Postal Regulatory Commission on Sept. 30 denied the USPS’s extraordinary request for a well-above-inflation-rate postage price increase that would have effectively nullified the Congressionally-imposed rate cap.

 

In its latest filing, the USPS requests a review of the PRC’s interpretation of the law that governs how prices are set and asks the Court to confirm it has the right to file an exigent price increase. It also seeks clarity regarding the rules governing how an exigency increase will be applied should it find itself in a similar situation in the future. According to a USPS statement on the matter, it is also reviewing other options open to it in light of the PRC ruling.
What does this mean to you? Right now, it is a little hard to say definitively. Courts have historically sided with regulators provided it can be demonstrated the regulator followed its own rules and practices in arriving at a decision. We know of no basis to conclude otherwise at this point, indicating the PRC decision should stand. However, clearly USPS execs have an approach they believe has merit, or they would not have gone to the cost and trouble of an appeal.

ACMA’s Approach
As it has all along this process, ACMA will monitor developments closely and may decide to intervene alone or with others supporting the PRC decision. Unfortunately, this development puts into question how much you should budget for the coming year. Until further information is available that suggests otherwise, we recommend sticking by earlier forecasts we gave to members, but you can be sure we will stay close to this matter and let you know when a clearer picture is available. 

Happily, ACMA has some money available from its Special Fund and general coiffeurs that give us options as to how to proceed. This is a great reason why it is in your best interests to make sure you have a properly resourced group to address unexpected developments quickly to protect your interests.

More to come…

Sincerely,

Hamilton Davison
President & Executive Director
American Catalog Mailers Association
Direct: 401-529-8183

The Direct Mail Myth Busting Continues.“preferential attitudes on trustworthiness of mail strengthened for consumer respondents in all age groups from 2008 to 2010”. Take that you naysayers!


My good friend and fellow direct marketer Evelyn Milardo posted this on Linkedin.  Some great and surprising stats about direct mail vs online here:

Young adults strongly prefer Offline to Online sources for marketing offers reveals Epsilon’s ICOM 2010 North American Research. Depending on the product category, the survey results Show 2-1 and 3-1 offline preference margin.

Six years after the launch of Facebook, North American consumers in the valued 18-34 year-old demographic prefer by a wide margin to learn about marketing offers via postal mail and newspapers rather than online sources such as social media platforms, according to national survey research from ICOM, a division of Epsilon Targeting.

Additionally, the ICOM research shows that preferential attitudes about the trustworthiness of mail strengthened for consumer respondents in all age groups from 2008 to 2010.The 2010 study of 2569 U.S. households and 2209 Canadian households focused on consumer preferences in regard to the ever-expanding array of communications channels for the delivery of marketing information, offers and promotions. Responses came from consumers ranging in age from 18 to 55 and above.

By the numbers, here are some of the key results from ICOM’s 2010 study of North American consumers’ marketing communication channel preferences –

For household and health products, the preference among 18-34 year-olds for receiving marketing information from offline sources led by mail and newspapers is 2 to 3 times greater than online sources such as social media. Examples of consumer preferences for offline versus online are:

Personal Care products – 62% offline, 22% online

Food products – 66% offline, 23% online

OTC medicines 53% offline, 22% online
Prescription medicines 45% offline, 22% online

Understandably,travel was the exception, where 18-34 year-olds preferred online to offline information by a 42% to 35% margin. However and this really BIG – Insurance and Financial Services followed the overall trend, with the 18-34 age group preferring offline sources 43% to 21% and 44% to 19%, respectively.

Stay tuned – more to come.

The Postal Rate Commission (PRC) Denies Exigent Postage Rate Increase … Big !@#$ Deal


Recently, The Postal Rate Commission denied the US Postal Service an exigent postage increase.

So, OK, now what?

So, Direct marketers aren’t getting slammed with another 5 percent-plus postage rate increase in January. Big whoop-de-doo. Postage is still the biggest expense in all my clients’ mail campaigns. And the cost of mailing vs. the risk of the unknown is still the biggest reason marketers shy away from the direct mail channel.

The second biggest reason? Well, everybody has heard the horror stories. All that money spent on killer creative, design, lists, printing, postage, and then the campaign bombs.  And then everybody talks about how the campaign bombed and direct mail sucks.

OK, so many of those direct mail campaign “bombs” forgot to follow the basic principles of the business — i.e., the 40/40/20 rule. They probably did the creative first and then figured out lists last like most companies I see do.

This kind of activity perpetuates the urban legend that direct mail doesn’t work. Well, except for a few companies. Those companies, you know, the junk mailers, the big companies with unlimited budgets who don’t care about results and just want to build their brand images… they are the ones who do well.

Now I won’t even get into the whole environmental argument of direct mail not being green. Believe what you want, but that’s a myth. The direct mail and paper industries are ultracautious to replenish the environment.

And let’s not forget about our internet marketing brethren, who have done such a wonderful job throwing direct mail under the bus, positioning it as passé or old school, while they prop themselves up as the future of direct marketing. I won’t even go there today.

Let’s face it, direct mail has a bad reputation. But that can change. Here’s how:

The smartest thing those wunderkinds at our beloved Postal Service can do is nurture the direct mail industry. Imagine what would happen if the USPS actually offered discounts for online marketers to give direct mail a chance? Now imagine the same thing happening with small and emerging businesses. How many companies would try direct mail if the risks were reduced? How many tests? How many rollouts?

And what about nurturing those retailers who still use direct mail as a major part of their marketing programs? Sure, the USPS has tested some “Summer SalesOpens in a new window,” which is a move in the right direction, but it’s time for the Postal Service to stop dipping a toe in the water and give volume mailers an opportunity to push their circulations up. Seasoned mailers know the results are there, they’ve just been beaten down by a constant barrage of postage increases.

More importantly, over time, how many direct mail pieces are needed in circulation to drive additional revenue for the post office? Some way the USPS is going to have to get itself out of the bureaucratic hole it’s dug for itself.

Hey, I’m not dreaming here. It’s a simple business model: high costs = less volume, lower costs = increased volume.

The USPS has traveled the higher-priced road before, and in the process did an amazing job of building up the internet and literally exploding the size of the online marketing community (to which it offers thanks, by the way).

Maybe now it’s time to think things through and encourage more mailers and subsequently more volume. And inevitably if they do it right, more (well, to be fair … SOME) profits.

BREAKING (GOOD) NEWS: postal-regulatory-commission-denies-exigent-rate-increases


The Postal Regulatory Commission Denied the Postal increase.  Read about it here

http://www.dmnews.com/postal-regulatory-commission-denies-exigent-rate-increases/article/180018/?DCMP=EMC-DMN_iMktingNewsDaily

We at Gilbert Direct Marketing, applaud the PRC for denying the exigent postal rate case.  As I have said before every penny direct marketers have to spend on direct mail, with it’s biggest expense already postage, we have to add 2 cents of revenue to cover the increased costs.

Despite its negative image lately, mostly fostered by environmentalists and internet marketers, direct mail remains a highly targetable and enormously profitable marketing channel.  Presently I have clients who are seeing ROI in the range of 6 to 1.

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

From Politico and SEN. SUSAN COLLINS: Rate hikes won’t help Postal Service!


if you are in the direct mail business, or you ship packages via the USPS (also known as The US Postal Service), read this article now from Senator Susan Collins and as published on Politico.  Click here for the story (and a definition of what Exigent Circumstances SHOULD mean to the band of thieves called Postal Rate Commission)

For a sarcastic look at what a field day our good friends at the US Postal Service are providing the internet marketing industry, click here

I find it totally inconceivable how stupid the USPS, The Postal Rate Commission and Postmaster General Potter are.  Every penny they increase postage for our direct mail campaigns means we have to get 2 cents more per piece mailed in order to be profitable.  That means profitable mailers (and lists) become marginal or worse.

Another article I wrote that addresses this issue is: How To Heal The USPS in 8 Easy Steps.

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).
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