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.

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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 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.

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?”

    What Multichannel, Direct and Ecommerce Marketers Can Learn From the Way Old-School Retailers Do Business


    This week I want to tell you a story, and pay tribute to a local businessperson who recently passed away.

    I don’t live in a particularly small town (about 200,000 residents), but for the last 16 years — since I moved to Florida — I’ve been a regular patron at Howards, a local gourmet market named after its founder.

    After a brief illness, Howard passed away on July 5. I found out the next day when I walked into the market and saw the looks on the employees’ faces. One look and I knew something was very wrong. In a short period of time, I saw quite a few people weeping — both employees and patrons.

    On the TV monitor over the register a tribute was playing to the owner in a loop. I offered my condolences to some of the long-time employees, paid and left. As I walked to my car, I started to tear up, too. Now I’m not a particularly weepy person, so I found it odd that I started to cry.

    But this man, and the business he’d built, had been a part of my daily life for a long time. The store would hold classic car shows, July 4th fireworks and more in its parking lot. When there was a hurricane, Howards stayed open to keep the community going.

    I can’t tell you how many parties, BBQs, dinners, etc. my wife and I have enjoyed courtesy of the foods Howards provided.

    And almost every day for 16 years, there was Howard by the front register talking to customers and building relationships with all who entered. He knew my family by name. Even gave my son, who was seven-years-old at the time, a job application to fill out (we had fun with that!)

    So Why Am I Telling You This?
    Think about your company: Do you know your customers by name, or are you just a nameless, faceless entity that people buy product from? How about your staff. Are they, especially your customer service reps (CSRs), connected to your customers? Via how many touchpoints?

    There’s a lot to be learned from your old-school retailer. I wonder on a daily basis how to translate that to my business and clients. From trial and error, I’ve learned and hopefully taught the companies I’ve worked for how to build relationships with their clients. It used to be that people only bought “stuff” from retailers. I tell companies, “People don’t buy from companies, they buy from people.”

    How Does That Translate in the E-Commerce Age?
    Simple! Make sure all of your customer touchpoints “keep it real.” Have your CSRs build relationships with your customers. Send them a surprise email special. Connect via your blog, Facebook page or Twitter account. (Still don’t have these up and running? What are you waiting for?) Push your employees to the forefront. Do stories, biographies and contests revolving around them. Learn to use your website and social media efforts to project a real and personal voice. Respond immediately to complaints, issues, etc.

    I could go on here, but you get the picture. Feel free to use the comments section below to tell us how you connect and engage with your customers. Go for it!

    And Howard … RIP! You’ll be missed!

    Your Call Center is Bleeding! – Connecting the Dots of Your Customer Touchpoints, Part 2


    In part one of this series on customer touchpoints, I defined touchpoints as all the points of contact between your company and its prospects and customers. In part two, I look at one of the two main touchpoints: your call center.

    Before I start any discussion on call center and web results, I always tell clients, “Look out — what you’re about to hear may bruise your egos.” I offer that same warning to you.

    Here goes …

    No matter what company I visit, I always come away with the same thing: They’re not as efficient at converting sales as they could be. I get that knowledge the old-fashioned way: I listen to calls in the call center, and I make a number of test calls externally. I also go to a client company’s website and order a product (or attempt to, in some cases).

    First Off, the Call Center
    There are just too many missed opportunities in the call centers I evaluate. Missed buying signals, missed cues, reps not listening effectively, etc. I also see environments that are too tightly controlled and scripted, and others that are totally unscripted.

    Of course when I tell clients this, often times I get a blank stare, like, “What do you mean my call center sucks? Do you know how much effort I put into technology, people and training there?”

    And sometimes, right there, the messenger gets shot! But in truth, this does happen, and if you’re willing to spend time listening, you’ll hear it too. We reconvene here in two weeks. When we do, I’ll offer some simple call-center training techniques I’ve used to increase sales conversion rates by as much as 20 percent.

    In the mean time, please listen to your calls, make test calls to your call center and soak in as much as you can. You may be in for an eye-opening experience. This is especially true if you’re in another department or are an executive in your company.

    After the call-center training in my next post, I’ll move into web orders and how you’re missing the boat there.

    Oh, and a last point: If you don’t have a call center, you ARE missing sales. We’ll discuss that next week, too.

    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

    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.

    Guest Post: Digital and Direct Marketing Hiring Plans Show Strong Rebound


    Note from Jim.  Good news about direct and digital marketing hiring from Jerry Bernhart below…

    What recession?

    Digital and direct marketers are planning a major ramp-up in hiring this winter, according to Bernhart Associates’ latest Quarterly Digital and Direct Marketing Employment Report.

    “All of our major indicators are showing significant improvement,” said Jerry Bernhart, Principal of Bernhart Associates Executive Search, LLC. “As far as hiring goes, digital and direct marketers are back on a growth trajectory.”

    Bernhart stated that the record number of responses received for quarter one (Q1)-544 in total-now rivals other private employment surveys conducted for major occupational segments of the US economy.

    Here are the key findings from the Q1 survey:

    ·46% of the respondents said they will add to staff during the first quarter of 2010, rebounding from 30% last quarter. The biggest hiring surge will be among suppliers, while marketers plan the least amount of new hiring.

    ·Companies reporting Q1 hiring freezes plunged to 26%, compared with 45% in Q4.

    ·The percentage of companies planning layoffs in Q1 dropped slightly to 7%. Not one agency or supplier who responded to the survey said it expected further layoffs.

    ·Among employers who imposed pay cuts last year, 37% said they plan to either partially or fully reinstate those reductions in 2010. Only 20% said pay cuts will remain in effect for this year, and 43% said they are unsure when salaries will be restored to previous levels.

    Bernhart said that, while Q1 survey results clearly indicate that digital and direct marketing is outpacing the overall US economy in terms of recovering lost jobs, marketers continue to feel the economic strain.

    “About half of the client-side marketers who participated in our first-quarter survey said they still have a hiring freeze. Hiring on the supplier side, by contrast, is on a fast track with more than 60% telling us they plan to add to head count this quarter. We haven’t seen numbers in that range for more than two years.”

    On the agency side, Bernhart said 37% of survey respondents plan to add to headcount this quarter.

    Bernhart said results showed that business-to-consumer (B-to-C) marketers are stepping up hiring plans slightly more than their business-to-business (B-to-B) counterparts as B-to-C recovers from deeper job cuts last year.

    “Among B-to-C marketers, 50% said they’ll have positions to fill compared with 46% for B-to-B, and more B-to-B’ers still have hiring freezes compared with B-to-C,” Bernhart added. “B-to-B jobs were less impacted by the recession, so B-to-C hiring is now staging a sharper rebound.”

    As to what specific positions will be in greatest demand during the current quarter, Bernhart said analytics dominated the list, both online and offline. Second on the list was Internet marketing, which was followed by sales, creative, technology, and campaign management.

    “We’re seeing some newer job categories emerge,” Bernhart added. “A couple of companies will be looking for senior-level social media strategists and online video experts.”

    Participants also weighed in on the challenges they face finding, compensating, and keeping their best digital and direct marketing talent. Comments and observations were received from more than 200 hiring managers at all levels across the digital and direct marketing employment spectrum, including marketers, agencies, and service providers.

    Here is a summary of comments received:

    On Hiring:

    ·Quality of applicants: Many are unemployed. The quality and skill level tends to be low with digital, healthcare, and mobile. The good ones are hunkering down where they are. Some employers said they’re challenged trying to match candidate skills with organizational needs.

    ·Uncertainty: Many employers are waiting for a consistent flow of new business before pulling the trigger on new hires.

    ·Creativity and execution: This remains a difficult combination to find.

    ·Temporary hires: Mixed results-some found high- quality temps, others did not.

    ·Rising cost of benefits: This is posing challenges for smaller digital and direct marketing employers to add to headcount.

    ·Multichannel skills: Demand is strong, and growing, for digital and direct marketing talent who understand DM in a cross-channel environment, knowing how consumers interact with content, and building relevant, meaningful relationships with them.

    ·Younger hires: Respondents reported seeing a lack of strategic insight, a lack of solid direct response testing and analysis, and seeing a sense of entitlement.

    ·Financial savvy: Respondents want marketers who understand how decisions impact the overall business.

    ·Training: Companies expect employees to work smarter and advance their knowledge, but there seemingly is a lack of industry training by competent, experienced subject matter experts to help them do that.

    On Retention:

    ·What works: Keeping the company transparent, providing an atmosphere of collaboration, encouraging innovation, rewarding success, investing in current technology, and making the work place fun. Also, solidifying relationships with top performers, paying them top dollar, and challenging them.

    ·Turn-over concerns: Many companies said they are currently evaluating talent to identify and keep top performers. Employers are concerned that they will face much higher churn as the economy recovers and good talent bolts.

    Bernhart Associates’ first-quarter survey was emailed to more than 9,700 senior executives and hiring managers, human resource officials, and other key participants in online and offline direct marketing during the first two weeks of January 2010.

    According to the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), in 2009, direct marketing advertising expenditures as a portion of total US advertising expenditures grew to 54.3%, and generated 8.3% of US gross domestic product. Also in 2009, there were 1.4 million direct marketing employees in the US. Their collective sales efforts directly supported 8.4 million other jobs, accounting for a total of 9.9 million US jobs.

    Results of past surveys can be found in the DMA 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 Bernhart Associates’ website.

    New Year’s Recap Part 2: 19 Direct Marketing, Call-Center and Social Media Tips of 2009


    Presenting 12 more tips to help your business optimize profits this year. Direct mail marketing and analysis, call centers, e-commerce websites, and customer testimonials are all examined.

    (For part 1, and tips one through seven dealing with social media, lead generation and Twitter, click here.)

    Direct Mail Marketing and Analysis
    8. Concentrate 40 percent of your efforts on lists. Spend an additional 40 percent on your offer. Tie it all together by allocating 20 percent to creative execution.

    9. Calculating cost per acquisition (CPA) by incorporating catalog costs helps you understand the relationship between sales demand and the costs required to stimulate that demand. Many of the most successful catalog marketers use CPA as a regular way of doing business. CPA can do a better job of evaluating the true performance of customer results vs. prospecting results, which have different cost structures.

    You can even better evaluate the use of co-op databases, which have different results and costs. You’d expect customers to achieve positive CPAs — i.e., profit — and prospects to generate negative or true CPAs. The formula for calculating CPA is as follows: (net demand – cost of goods – mailing costs) / number of orders.

    10. I’m also nuts about other financial analyses, such as lifetime value, squinch (square inch for measuring catalog space usage), cash flow, balance sheets, etc. To this day, I’m amazed at how many people I work with, smart people, who still want to practice direct marketing by the seat of their pants.

    Marketing just doesn’t make much sense without financial understanding. Too many direct marketing companies think they’re brands. And too many direct marketers think they “know” what their customers want and, hence, perform no analysis.

    11. The chatter I hear every day is that direct mail is dead. Mostly, this is perpetuated by pure-play internet folks who believe marketing is all about “pull” rather than “push.”

    12. I particularly like this passage from the DMAchoice website: “Direct mail is a green way to shop. If Americans replaced two trips to the mall each year with shopping by catalog, we’d reduce our number of miles driven by 3.3 billion, a 3 billion-lb. reduction in carbon dioxide and a savings of $650 million on gas alone.”

    Call-Center Tips (From the C-Level Down)
    13. Want to know what’s going on in your organization? Run, don’t walk, to your call center and spend time listening to order calls, customer service calls and other inquiries. I guarantee you’ll be enlightened and find ways to improve your product(s) and service.

    14. Talk to your call-center staff — especially frontline reps. These people are the true unsung heroes in your companies, and they intimately know what’s right and wrong with your products and service.

    15. Want to see your average order values, conversion rates and lifetime values go up? Bring a call center into the mix. Think about it this way: If your website converts 4 percent of visitors, even the worst of call centers will convert at least 10 percent of callers. That’s a 2.5:1 ratio, on the low end.

    16. Function under the guise that great — even sometimes so-so — direct marketing will make the telephone ring, but expertise in the call center will make the cash register sing!

    Your Website
    17. Prominently display your phone number on your homepage and ALL pages of your site. Make it big. Make it stand out. And put it in multiple places on pages. Your prospects and customers don’t want to have to work to find you.

    18. Consumers don’t have the time to spend on your site figuring out how to contact you with their simple questions. They don’t want to search your FAQs or dig around for contact info. They want answers immediately; otherwise, they don’t care how good your products are, they won’t order. Don’t lose business over this.

    Getting Testimonials
    19. You’d be surprised how easy it is to get testimonials from your customers. In most cases, all you have to do is ask.

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