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.
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!