We’re on a mission to create the best direct marketing education forum on Linkedin

3 weeks, 540 members strong. Join us: http://www.linkedin.com/e/vgh/2080726/ We have members from all area’s of direct marketing ready to share their expertise with you.  We also have international members.

Want to know more about search, blogs, direct mail, telemarketing, lists, social media, and all direct marketing disciplines, then join us.

If you are an expert in direct marketing, please join us too.  And our members are using this group as a great networking tool!

Thanks, we look forward to seeing you there. http://www.linkedin.com/e/vgh/2080726/

Jim Gilbert

Press release helping direct marketing job seekers – Bernhart Associates Launches New Twitter Group for Direct Marketing Job Seekers

PRESS RELEASE, For Immediate Release July 27, 2009

Contact: Jerry Bernhart 507-451-4270 Bernhart Associates Executive Search, LLC

Bernhart Associates Launches New Twitter Group for Direct Marketing Job Seekers

Owatonna, MN, July 27, 2009- Direct marketing job seekers will soon have a new on-line tool to help with their job search.

Veteran direct marketing recruiter Jerry Bernhart will be moderating a new first-of-its-kind chat session on Twitter focusing specifically on all aspects of jobs and hiring in direct marketing.

“There are online communities for just about every subject you can imagine,” said Jerry Bernhart, owner of Bernhart Associates Executive Search, LLC, who is also well known in direct marketing for his quarterly employment reports. “This is a natural extension of the use of social media to help those who are looking for their next career opportunity in direct marketing, including ecommerce and emarketing.”

Bernhart said the new forum will use Tweetchat, allowing messages to be posted and read by participants in a matter of seconds. “It’s kind of like texting but a whole lot faster and easier,” said Bernhart. “It also allows quick and easy sharing of links.”

“It will be an opportunity to ask questions, share ideas and get advice on
lots of topics, including job leads, resume preparation, interviewing tips, salaries, finding candidates, job offers, counteroffers, job descriptions, sources of hire, anything topic at all related to hiring and jobs at all levels in online or offline direct marketing,” said Bernhart.

Participants can choose their level of participation, jumping in and out of the discussion whenever there’s something of interest being discussed or to share their own expertise and experiences.

Employers are also invited to put up tweets on positions they are looking to fill.

The first direct marketing careers Tweetchat event will take place Sunday, August 2nd, at 8 pm Eastern time. Subsequent Tweetchats will be announced on the website of Bernhart Associates and through announcements on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

To participate, go to Tweetchat.com, sign-in with your Twitter account, and enter #DMCareers in the “Hashtag to follow” box. Bernhart explains that once you’re in the group there is no need to use the hashtag again because Tweetchat automatically applies it to each message, saving you the bother of typing it in each time you want to post. Bernhart adds that if you want to monitor the discussion but you won’t be home at the time, no worries. Tweetchat works on your mobile phone, too.

You lost me there part 5 – Your call center is bleeding!

I recently had the opportunity to do some work with a company that had a pretty decent DRTV campaign running. I say decent because it had a good product and the DRTV campaign’s production values were excellent. But the product was complicated and lent itself to a complex offer that a two-minute spot couldn’t fully explain. The spot generated much interest and strong call volume, which would suggest that the campaign was a winner, right?

Until those calls hit the call center.

What do you get when you mix a complicated product offer with call-center staff that doesn’t have the training (or sales acumen) to convert? A company that’s bleeding potential customers in the call center. In essence, a lower than what should be call-to-order ratio, with a giant chasm between the prospect’s understanding of the offer and the customer service rep’s (CSR) ability to close the sale.

(For part 1 of this series, click here; part 2, here; part 3, here; and part 4, here.)

The Great Call-Center Disconnect:
Companies need to 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! Ask yourself the following questions when evaluating your call center’s effectiveness:

  • How’s your call-to-order ratio?
  • Is there blood in your call center?
  • Can you convert more inquiries to sales?
  • Are your CSRs properly trained?

My Biggest Pet Peeve (and One for You to Ponder)
Ask yourself this question: With the millions of dollars companies spend on inventory, marketing, and general and administrative expenses, why are the people on the phones the least educated and, most importantly, lowest paid employees in the company? These are the people on the front lines of your business every day. Every penny of spend filters through either the call center or your website.

Forget sales conversion for a moment. What about contact capture?

What are you doing to ensure that every call that comes into your call center becomes an opportunity? Are your CSRs doing all they can to entice callers who aren’t ready to buy into giving out their information and blessing to continue the sales dialogue? Some examples include the following:

  1. Are you offering callers who don’t buy some sort of company literature — brochures, catalogs via regular mail, PDFs via email?
  2. How about an email newsletter opt-in? If they don’t buy, this is a perfect opt-in point.

Handling Missed Opportunities
There are many ways to capture consumers’ contact info in your call center. But be sure to also look at missed opportunities to convert more sales.

  1. Are you downselling a less expensive product or a different, yet related, product?
  2. How much time do you spend listening to your reps on the phone? I’m often shocked by how little time call-center management spends on listening. I’m less shocked that marketing and merchandising people don’t listen to calls. And when was the last time someone from the C-suite listened?
  3. How much time do you spend training your reps?

I’ll continue this series next week with some simple, yet effective, call-center training techniques that’ll help you convert more sales.

Jim Gilbert is president of Gilbert Direct Marketing Inc., a full-service catalog, direct marketing and social media agency. His LinkedIn profile can be viewed at www.linkedin.com/in/jimwgilbert. You can email him atjimdirect@aol.com, follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/gilbertdirect or read his blog atgilbertdirectmarketing.wordpress.com/.

Guest Blogger, Kevin Hillstrom: Build and Reap the Benefits of Social Media Databases

Jim’s note: Kevin Hillstrom and I write weekly columns for All About ROI (formerly Catalog Success) Magazine.  I really enjoyed his article (and perspective) this week about building social media databases.  Definitely something to implement!  Enjoy…

It’s really hard these days to find a marketing discussion that doesn’t include the phrase “social media.” But it’s also really hard to find a case study of someone who created a social media database and then measured return on investment based on the data in that database.

A social media database houses information about social media customer behavior. Take Twitter, for example: Every time a new user decides to follow your Twitter presence, you enter that user in your database. You enter the user name, date the user began to follow you and any biographical information about the user.

Every time a Twitter user has something to say about your brand — positive or negative — you enter the information into your social media database. Did the user retweet one of your articles? If so, capture the user name, date it happened and action (retweet). Did the user link to one of your web pages? Capture that information with the link.

Some people will criticize your brand. Record the user name, and categorize the nature of the criticism. Did the user say something positive? Record the user name, and categorize the compliment, recording the date this activity happened.

Record every outbound communication, too. If you speak with a Twitter user, record the fact that you had a conversation.

Eventually, you’ll have a robust database of every interaction you can identify. Actively search for instances where someone says something about your brand name, identifying hashtags that are related to your brand.

Now you’re in business! Mine your social media database, identifying users who start conversations. Where possible, link these users to your customer database so you can begin to correlate purchase activity and website visitation habits with positive or negative social media sentiments.

Some people would say that this is hard work, that they don’t have the resources to do this kind of work. I’d pick five individuals in my call center and have them enter this information into the social media database — each individual spends an hour or two each week entering data based on the parameters listed above.

Once the data is captured, it becomes much easier to measure ROI. For some, ROI is a function of sales and profit generated. For others, the acquisition of new customers becomes important. Or maybe success is measured by the amount of positive buzz or the mitigation of negative sentiment. A social media database allows you to measure all of these aspects of your social media activities.

Eventually, you’re going to have to prove that social media has a positive ROI, that it isn’t simply a way to connect with active and potential customers. Why not begin capturing the data today, so you can demonstrate a positive ROI in the future?

About Kevin Hillstrom:

Kevin Hillstrom is president of MineThatData, a database marketing consultancy. He can be reached atkevinh@minethatdata.com.

Some good news about direct marketing employment. From the Bernhart Associates quarterly employment report.

Note from Jim: I’m encouraged by these direct marketing employment numbers.  I thought you might like to see them, so I asked Bernhart Associates for permission to post for you.


Bernhart Survey: Recession Easing Its Grip on Direct Marketing Employment

Owatonna, MN, July 13, 2009- Hundreds of direct marketers, agencies and service providers are offering some new glimmers of hope for direct marketing job seekers, according to the latest Bernhart Associates employment update.

“It appears the direct marketing job market is scraping the bottom,” said Jerry Bernhart, Principal of Bernhart Associates Executive Search, LLC, a leading direct marketing recruiter who has been issuing quarterly direct marketing employment reports since 2001. “This is the first quarter in two years in which the hiring index is showing improvement, and planned layoffs are continuing their trend lower,” said Bernhart.

According to the survey, 20% of the respondents said they will be adding to staff during the current summer quarter, up from 16% in the spring.   Layoffs declined for the third quarter in a row, with 8% planning to reduce staff compared with 13% last quarter and 20% at the start of 2009.   The number of companies reporting hiring freezes held steady at 30%.

The hiring freeze figure was even higher for agencies, with 44% reporting that they’re holding the line on hiring.

Bernhart said responses to the hiring freeze question underscores the prevailing mood of uncertainty.  “We always ask when they plan to lift their hiring freezes, and the vast majority said they expected those freezes to remain in place through the rest of 2009,” said Bernhart.

Bernhart noted that business-to-business direct marketers are faring better overall in the key employment indicators compared with their business-to-consumer counterparts.

For example, when asked if they plan to reduce staff 13% of business-to-consumer direct marketers said they expect further layoffs this summer compared with 9% amongbusiness-to-business respondents.

Despite the uptick in the survey’s overall results, Bernhart foresees no significant comeback in direct marketing hiring until at least 2010.

“You can’t stage a recovery with only one in five direct marketers planning to hire, and one-third of the others holding on to hiring freezes with no plans to lift them until at least the end of the year.  In my conversations with senior level executives, there is no consistent level of optimism in the current economic environment for them to jump into the employment market.   I’m also seeing that same caution in executive search.  Companies are telling us they’re thinking about making staffing changes, but they are slow to pull the trigger.”

Despite the abundance of job seekers, the survey also shows that filling open direct marketing positions is not always an easy task.  When asked if they were experiencing difficulty hiring new talent, 42% said it was either “very difficult” or “somewhat difficult” to fill certain positions.

When asked what specific positions will be in greatest demand this summer, Bernhart said the list of job categories named was across the board including analytics, sales, creative, technical and marketing.  “There was lots of mention of analytics from agencies, service providers and marketers,” said Bernhart.

A record 402 companies responded to the random survey which was emailed the week of June 22.

According to the Direct Marketing Association, marketers – commercial and nonprofit – spent $176.9 billion on direct marketing in 2008, which accounted for 52.1 percent of all ad expenditures in the United States.  Measured against total US sales, these advertising expenditures generated approximately $2.057 trillion in incremental sales. Last year, direct marketing accounted for approximately 10 percent of total US gross domestic product.  Also, there are today 1.6 million direct marketing employees in the US.   Their collective sales efforts directly support 9.3 million other jobs, accounting for a total of 10.9 million US jobs.

Results of past surveys can be found in the DMA’s Statistical Fact Book and on the website of Bernhart Associates Executive Search, LLC.

Companies interested in participating in the Bernhart Associates Quarterly 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.

About Bernhart Associates:

Bernhart Associates Executive Search, LLC, is owned by Jerry Bernhart, a leading and nationally recognized direct marketing recruiter, writer and speaker focusing on senior level Multichannel Direct Marketing, CRM, ECommerce, Database Marketing, Business Development and Quantitative Analysis positions.  Jerry has been a leading direct marketing recruiter since 1990, and specializes in direct marketing positions, online and offline, at all levels.  The Bernhart Associates Employment Survey, now in its eighth year, has become the most widely followed employment report in direct marketing.  In February, Bernhart Associates partnered with the Direct Marketing Association in providing exclusive analysis for the DMA’s 2009 Employment Outlook Report, a comprehensive study of trends in hiring and employee retention in direct marketing and available for sale at the DMA Bookstore.  Viewed as a leading authority on issues related to direct marketing recruiting, Jerry is a frequent speaker at national direct marketing conferences and is often quoted by the direct marketing news media. Jerry has written dozens of articles for all leading online and offline direct marketing publications and conducts a widely followed employment survey for EM+C covering internet marketing and ecommerce.

Attention S. Florida Marketers, This months event in Ft. Lauderdale: Going Green and Getting Digital with Paper & Print

This Month… Thursday, July 16, 2009

Session 1 – The Truth Behind Cherries, Chocolate & Paper. The more paper you use, the better for the climate.

Speaker: Wayne Dennis, Corporate Director of Sustainability, Mac Papers

Learn why paper and print are the best environmentally responsible choices for marketers. Find the right shade of “Green” for your marketing efforts, how to measure your environmental impact and the best ways to communicate it to your audience.

Session 2 – Advancements in Web to Print technology: What it means to you and your customers.

Speaker: Gary Ritkes, Managing Director of Sales/Marketing, SproutLoud

Discover how web to print technology is transforming traditional printing processes and empowering marketers. Find out how you can deliver one-to-one marketing messages on demand via direct mail, e-mail and the web – all from your desktop!

Event Location: Westin Fort Lauderdale Cypress Creek

Time: 11:30 am – 1:30 pm

You Lost Me There, Part 4: “Badges? We don’t need no stinking badges!!!”

Jim’s note: Originally written for All About ROI Magazine (formerly Catalog Success)

“Badges? We don’t need no stinking badges!!!

Quick, somebody tell me what movie that line came from?

In internet speak, “badges” are small icons with social media logos that can be put on your website to drive traffic to those same social media sites. Sites like Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, YouTube, Vimeo, etc. Places where you can extend your brand.

In the fourth part of my “you lost me there” series, I’ll discuss the value of brand interaction, a largely intangible but very valuable asset. (For part 1, click here; for part 2, click here; and for part 3, click here.)

By extending your brand, I mean having your customers and prospects spend more time interacting with your company. In turn, they become more engaged in your company “culture” and more likely to buy and recommend your products to others.

We measure success today not only by cost per acquisition and lifetime value (LTV), but also by time spent interacting with your brand. While not necessarily tangible, or even easily measurable, time spent with your brand in a positive way will gain you new customers and prospects in the future. Although many people are admittedly having a difficult time quantifying social media, in today’s marketplace it’s 100 percent necessary.

Think of it this way: The more time someone spends in your “store,” the more likely that person is to buy. Now include your store, website, blog, Facebook page and Twitter feed, and you have someone who’s more committed to your brand than other prospect/customer segments are. This bodes well for customer LTV, too.

I worry less about measuring social media than I do making sure that my clients’ brands are represented in all forms of social media, and even more about getting customers and prospects alike engaged.

So My Question to You Is This …
Where are your stinking badges? On many multichannel and direct merchant websites, I don’t see them. This is a significant opportunity for you. At the very least you should have a blog, Facebook page and Twitter account. You also should consider using video (e.g., testimonials, product demonstrations), LinkedIn, message boards, Plaxo, Ning and more. Your key employees should be blogging and tweeting. You also should look to adopt other web technologies like online chat.

We’re going to take a deep dive into adoption of social media over the next few weeks. If your company has a “model” website with all the social media bits in the right places, please contact me offline. I’m looking to present some case studies in the near future as well.