Direct marketers then might be spending more upfront with multichannel marketing, he explains, but they're getting to a higher quality relationship.
Talent Needs to Be Nurtured
The hiring of direct marketing practitioners is on the upswing, according to reports from the heads of two executive search firms that specialize in the direct marketing industry.
Jerry Bernhart, president of Bernhart Associates, an Owatonna, Minn.-based executive search firm that specializes in database marketing candidates, conducts quarterly polls to keep an eye on hiring trends. Survey results on companies' hiring plans for Q2 '05 lean toward a need for creative professionals (copywriters, creative directors, etc.), general practitioners (direct marketing managers, directors, coordinators) and database marketing experts (analysts, database managers), says Bernhart. And the latter group, he adds, has been a top hiring category for direct marketers for some time now.
The strategy behind marketers' hiring decisions, Bernhart theorizes, is due to response rates that are stale, flat lists, and the need to move the dial. The way to do that, he says, is with better creative and data analysis.
While the fact that one-third of survey respondents were agencies might account for the demand for creative help, the other two-thirds were scattered among catalogers, nonprofits, financial services, etc.
Also encouraging for the state of the industry is that the ratio of new posts to replacements for this planned hiring growth was 6-to-1.
Wendy Weber, president of national executive search firm Crandall Associates Inc., in New York, is seeing trends similar to those on Bernhart's survey. She finds companies are putting more emphasis on customer retention and loyalty programs than on acquisition, and so are looking for staff who understand how to manipulate databases to produce more creative marketing efforts.
Weber also has noticed that companies are putting more thought into channel integration. "The professionals they seek may have come up through the ranks of direct mail, but e-commerce proficiency is a valuable asset," she states.