As an executive recruiter, there was a time not too many years ago when a CEO of a direct marketing firm would call my office, and the conversation would go something like this:
CEO: “Hello, I’d like to talk with you about a search.”
Recruiter: “You bet. How can I help you?”
CEO: “I am looking for a vice president of direct marketing.”
Recruiter: “OK. What key skills are you looking for?”
CEO: “I want someone who really knows direct mail.”
Recruiter: “Are you interested in candidates who have some exposure to this new channel they call e-commerce?”
CEO: “Not really. Our customers have always ordered our products through the mail. I need someone with direct mail experience.”
Recruiter: “I know you have some retail stores, too. Would retail experience be important?”
CEO: “Not really. We keep those marketing operations totally separate. I need a direct mail person.”
Recruiter: “Will this person be working with your call center?”
CEO: “I doubt it. Our customers either order by phone or by mail. I need a direct mail person.”
It’s hard to believe conversations like this actually took place only eight or nine years ago. Since then, there’ve been enormous shifts in the direct marketing landscape as new channels of commerce emerged. Direct marketers have responded to these challenges by gaining experience in multiple channels.
The Talent Pool
As an employer, what can you expect to find as you look to fill key positions in catalog marketing, operations and merchandising?
Marketing: Marketers are gaining influence in the C-suite as the demand for marketing accountability increases. Today’s chief marketing officers have broader backgrounds than they did a few years ago, offering experience in advertising, public relations, direct marketing and even brand management. This skill set is highly desirable, as catalog marketers with branding expertise can do more than just create a catalog. They can turn that catalog into a brand with certain expectations of benefits between the catalog and consumers, then integrate that with the Web.