Direct Marketing Association’s Peter Johnson on the Year Ahead in Direct Marketing
Direct marketers, like everyone else in the business world, fret about and second guess the decisions they made yesterday, and lie awake at night worried about the decisions to be made tomorrow. While such is the nature of the game, marketers can take heart that there’s someone else burning the midnight oil: Peter Johnson, a Ph.D. economist and the Direct Marketing Association’s vice president of research and market intelligence.
Johnson keeps late hours analyzing data, crunching numbers and checking his crystal ball, all in an effort to give direct marketers an accurate picture of what happened last quarter, or last year, and of what’s coming around the corner. Target Marketing caught up with Johnson at the DMA06 conference and exhibition in San Francisco last week, just after his press conference where he unveiled the DMA’s Quarterly Business Review for the first two quarters of 2006.
Target Marketing: How are you able to see into the future with any degree of accuracy?
Peter Johnson: There are lots of factors, of course, and you’ll always hear different numbers from different economists on how the next quarter or the next year will play out. We drill down and just look at those factors triggered by, and resulting from, direct marketing campaigns and expenditures. We’re not really looking at the whole pie, we’re looking at one piece.
TM: How much does direct marketing figure into the overall economy?
PJ: The numbers are surprising. Last year, direct marketing sales accounted for 10.3 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product. That’s a huge percentage. Direct marketing-driven employment accounted for 7.5 percent of the country’s entire workforce. You count print workers, customer service personnel, delivery truck drivers and everyone else who is involved in direct marketing, and it’s 7.5 percent of all workers. It’s just a lot of boring numbers to a lot of people, I know, but think about how many industries—from health care to professional sports to the local supermarket—depend on direct marketing to get their message out. In fact, the health care industry will spend 7 percent more for direct marketing in 2007 than [it] did in 2006.