Direct Marketers Make Stronger Digital Marketers

Digital Marketers

Hiring managers do not understand the strengths offered by experienced direct marketers. I see this in the job descriptions that specify channel expertise. Which one do I see the most often? Digital marketing.

Think about the implications. Would you entitle your new marketing position as "TV marketer", "direct mail marketer" or "print advertising marketer"? Of course not. These roles are and always were too confining. You would instead create roles for "brand marketer", "positioning marketer", "general advertiser", "direct marketer" and so on.

Why limit your marketing scope to specific channels?

As a starting point, let’s first agree on the attributes of a talented direct marketer.

1.    Knows that the goal of marketing expenditures requires increasing incremental sales and profits.

2.    Understands that one-to-one selling drives content.

3.    Designs advertising that track sales to a specific channel mix.

4.    Believes that all customer and prospect contacts should reflect previous purchases and inquiries.

5.    Believes that the contact database drives new marketing initiatives, analytics and program ROI evaluations.

6.   Studies and comprehends the evolutionary nature of the buying process of the company’s customers.

7.    Knows the proper uses of the various channels and tools of the trade including CRM systems.

8.    Focuses on customer needs and response patterns.

9.   Builds close relationships with finance, IT and other top executives.

10.    Supports appropriate personal and staff training at every opportunity.

11.    Insists that top executives and team members support the marketing objectives and keys strategies.

12.    Understands the need to test all strategies rolling out successes and killing failed tests.

13.    Champions both bottom AND top line revenue projections so long as they are achievable.

14.   Uses every available channel to achieve the ROI objectives.

Unfortunately, top job descriptions reflect a channel preference emphasizing digital media. As a result, marketers have little training in database marketing and critical direct response.

What we have today are hiring managers who hire marketers based on narrow parameters. This assures shallow programs with little expansion opportunities.

True expertise in marketing does not rely on the flavor of the day but proven direct marketing methods. The more experience the candidate has with test failures and successes, the better.

Don’t sacrifice true depth of expertise for narrow specialization. Direct marketing experts will handle both the short and long term objectives.

I have always wondered why the term "direct marketers" says "direct mail" channel specialists to so many people.

Experienced direct marketers come with many multichannel experiences. They include traditional media, digital media, print, telemarketing, database marketing and direct mail. Companies need eCommerce expertise, relational database planning, and traditional media know-how more than ever before.

Here's my point. Direct marketers are not media specialists, they are direct marketing strategists. They understand the strengths and weaknesses of all channels.

Direct marketers balance media expenditures for highest possible response rates.

In my estimation, we tend to recommend what we know rather than what the goal demands. Concentrating too much budget on a single channel weakens long-term growth and profitability.

Even direct mail specialists do not know as much about lettershop processes as suppliers. Printers and direct mail package formatters provide the tactical knowledge for direct mail specialists. What about postal regulations? No direct mail expert knows everything there is to know about postal regulations. He also knows lists and creative development that go into beating direct mail controls. Then there is the testing strategy, the analytics, and interpretation of the response information.

In the same way, digital media technicians should not attempt to be all things in digital media. Digital media specialists rely on supplier expertise. What all high-level marketers need is a strategic perspective and not a channel focus.

The successful direct marketer leads the marketing strategy to include the appropriate channels. This achieves the company’s sales and profit goals.

Hiring managers with a single focus on channel overlooks the need for strategic thinking. Hiring managers should broaden their thinking about their marketing candidates. Think big picture rather than a specific channel. In the end, you will be glad you did.