Friday, October 12, 2007

Direct Marketers' Resume: The Master of Many Domains

Recently, we've seen a trend occurring within our client companies. It seems that Direct Marketing staffs are very lean and mean -- and that the few are taking on the jobs of many. Sound familiar?

Well, in a recent study by Bernhart Associates, the reason for this becomes a bit clearer. Since the beginning of 2006, Jerry Bernhart, President of Berhhart Associates Executive Search firm, reports that there has definitely been a slowing trend in jobs for Direct Marketers. Bernhart states, “The numbers are showing little change compared with summer. At the same time, the new hire percentage continues to show a slow and steady decline, which began about a year and a half ago.”

Here are some more stats from the survey, which was recently taken (sent out the week of October 1st), in which 116 companies responded:

  • 60 percent of companies responding said they plan to add to staff by the end of the year, down slightly from 61 percent during the summer quarter:
    • In April 2006, when the new hire percentage reached its recent peak, the new hire percentage stood at 72 percent.
    • The record high for the index occurred in the fall of 2005, when it reached 80 percent.
  • 9 percent plan to reduce staff in the coming three months, up from 7 percent during the summer.
  • 29 percent expect no change in hiring plans during the coming three months.
  • 85 percent of those surveyed said they are having either a “very difficult” time or a “somewhat difficult” time finding qualified applicants for open positions.
  • Only 15 percent said they are having little or no difficulty.
Bernhart goes on to state that, "While hiring is not at the heated pace it was a couple of years ago, the supply of qualified applicants remains tight.”

For those of us in the consulting business, this situation presents both challenges and opportunities. On the one hand, our clients are totally overwhelmed with the amount of work that they are now responsible for, so it's tougher to get on their already-overbooked schedules. They simply don't have the bandwidth to sit down for a meeting. As a result, things like campaign analysis and reporting are not getting the focus they need and deserve (Hel-loooo -- we need to measure how effective our data is performing, people!). This is really unfortunate because this is the time of year where more focus tends to be spent on analyzing marketing budgets and staffs. So, for us -- while we struggle to steal the time for this, we are adamant about it! (Call us pests . . . we don't care).

At the opportunities-end, we are certainly needed more. As the staff-size decreases and our clients are balancing multiple roles, they need someone to come in who can be flexible, open-minded, and supportive with marketing planning and strategy. The other need is to simply off-load certain responsibilities -- or at least help them manage to their new responsibilities. Of course, we do all of this happily!

From our perspective, this is both the good news and the bad news of these types of economic times. The best news is that top-performing direct marketing professionals are very sought after in this slowing economy. This is good for all of us!

Therefore, this is an excellent time to sit down and focus on measuring and reporting out on your effectiveness. The reason is two-fold: 1) Your Leadership Team is consistently aware of your performance and how you are responsible for increasing corporate profitability, and (2) As planning for the new year is well under way, as a result of your success you may have the opportunity to win a bigger marketing budget and, hopefully, more money in your paycheck!

TGIF!! And we hope to see lots of our Blog-Reading Friends at DMA in Chicago. If you're going to be there, please let us know so that we can meet you there in person!


Ted Grigg said...

I don't have the statistics, but I can tell you that I am getting a record number of calls from recruiters asking for referrals for top jobs. Many of them are paying well over $200,000/year.

But experienced professional direct marketers know that these jobs are often transient and unstable. So they are resistant to movie because they may find themselves on the street in six months.

The talented DM people I know are available for real jobs with excellent bosses who know how to lead rather than micromanage.

Great jobs that allow top talent to stretch their skills in an unfettered environment are rarer today than four leaf clovers.

So it is not the quantity that concerns me, but the quality of the available opportunities.

As Peter Drucker said so well, the companies need us more than we need them. Unfortunately, these companies are living in the past and don't know how to manage talent.

Poor management of today's knowledge worker is the real crisis --- not the lack of talent.

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Nancy Arter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nancy Arter said...

I absolutely agree! Over the past 2 years, I have seen great direct marketing minds move -- or be moved -- from high paying jobs. In a couple of cases, it was pretty apparent that it was going to happen because of the industry (i.e., lots of folks at high levels displaced within the mortgage industry).

But, to your point, Ted, many of the folks that took -- then lost -- those high paying jobs were either micromanaged (and extremely unhappy as a result), or it WAS too good to be true. In other words, the pay couldn't be sustained over time and the company clipped the highest salary when they figured this out.

Managers do need to figure out how to effectively bring on talent, then get out of the way and let that talent lead with their strengths to make a difference in the business.

Thanks for your comment!