You’re in demand: shortage of direct marketers

I’ve been saying it for years, and this years the numbers back it up:

If you know direct marketing, you’re in demand.

I realize that few people who read this blog are looking for a job, but one of the indications of how relatively rare direct marketing know-how is these days is the difficulty agencies and clients are having filling direct marketing positions. 25% say finding good candidates is “very difficult.” 60% call it “difficult.”

What’s the problem?

Institutions like Sears, Columbia House, Time-Life Books and others which used to train newcomers and create direct marketing experts just don’t exist any more. It’s true that there are more academic direct marketing programs than ever, but as we all know, the gap between school learning and the real world is huge.

So who is taking up the slack? And where are all the good direct marketers going?

To answer the second questions first, they’re starting their own businesses. After all, what staff direct marketing job is going to pay $250,000; $500,000; or more a year to anyone at less than a CEO level? I can answer that question for you right now: the number is zero.

And yet, with the right training, the right marketing and the right effort, such annual incomes are by no means unusual among System Seminar grads. In fact, sometimes I get a little envious of today’s direct marketing savvy Internet entrepreneur. They can achieve in a matter of a few years, and relatively bloodlessly, what use to take us paper and ink marketers many years of brutal trial-and-error.

How powerful is direct marketing? A fresh study by the DMA in the UK says that in that country direct marketing contributes to $90 billion a year in sales. (The UK’s consumer market is about 1/10 the size of the US market.)

For years, I’ve told everyone who’d listen: “Get yourself an education in street smart direct marketing. There is simply no better preparation for succeeding in your own business.”

Direct marketing is not the only thing you need to learn to start and run your own business, but I think the argument can be made that it is the single most important skill.

Direct marketing know-how shows you how to: generate leads, close sales, develop campaigns, deal with customer service, budget your advertising, get the most from your advertising, test ideas, make sure your business is on track, develop new revenue streams, pick promising markets. The list goes on and on.

That’s why at the System Seminar, we’ve always put traditional direct marketing front and center at all of our trainings.

For example, the System is the only Internet marketing seminar that had Dan Kennedy, Gary Halbert and John Carlton as speakers. When Gary Bencivenga, the most successful direct mail copywriter of the last twenty years, celebrated his retirement, and chose to give only one interview: it was for members of the prestigious System Club, the alumni group of System Seminar grads.

I’m often amazed at how little today’s typical Internet “gurus,” even some of the biggest names, know about direct marketing. This is a big problem because teaching Internet marketing without knowing direct marketing inside and out is like teaching basketball without showing people how to dribble, pass and shoot.

This may be why so many people find themselves on what I call the “guru merry-go-round,” going from one hyper-expensive program to another, but never getting any traction.

Personally, I can’t stand to watch it which is why I decline 19 of 20 invitations I get to speak at guru events or promote the latest “me to” program which is usually just another get-rich-quick scheme. People are asking for bread but too often they’re sold stones.

And it’s entirely unnecessary. Direct marketing is not rocket science. It’s common sense writ large. But to teach direct marketing, you have to know direct marketing and that’s where today’s new generation of gurus falls down.

It’s such an irony. The market is practically screaming for the skill, folks are laying out tons of money to learn it, and yet…

I run into people every day who’ve been to all the seminars and yet don’t have even the A-B-Cs of direct marketing under their belt.

That’s why I make sure that every System training makes direct marketing principles its central focus. We keep up with new developments in the industry and our annual conference is the #1 place to catch up with what’s new in the field, but I make sure that no one involved with our events, not the faculty and not the students, ever loses sight of the fact that we are direct marketers first and foremost.

And I believe that’s the single most important factor contributing to why our students have such a high success rate.

If you haven’t experienced a System training, here’s a new way you can do that that’s more convenient and affordable than anything we’ve done before:

Click the link for details:

– Ken McCarthy

P.S. For over 25 years I’ve been sharing the simple but powerful things that matter in business with my clients.

If you’d like direction for your business that will work today, tomorrow and twenty years from now, visit us at the System Club.

Air travel hell and the Internet gurus
China Shakes the World: The Rise of a Hungry Nation

5 Responses to You’re in demand: shortage of direct marketers

  1. Rezbi August 8, 2007 at 10:19 am #

    I’ve been waiting for something like this. It’s a lot more affordable, both because of the price of the workshop, and because it’s in the UK.

    Which means no air fares and no hotel bills. It all adds up, making the average seminar/workshop out of the reach of most people in the UK who are not already mega-rich.

    I’m looking forward to it.


  2. Patsi Krakoff, The Blog Squad August 8, 2007 at 12:22 pm #

    Hi, Ken. I agree entirely with you and I have been trying to learn these copywriting skills. The problem is I break out in a rash when I read all the marketing hype in emails these days. Internet copywriters selling copywriting courses are experts at marketing themselves and they all sound the same after a while. I can hardly wait until you come to Los Angeles. Any idea on a date yet so I can plan ahead and reserve the time?

  3. Mike Chudej August 8, 2007 at 2:27 pm #

    Will studying “Smart Beginners” course be good enough to earn a living online?

    Just wanted to know, because I live in Thailand and it will cost me a lot of money (that I don’t yet have)to attend the system intensive course.

  4. Ken McCarthy August 8, 2007 at 9:30 pm #

    Answers to questions:

    1. If a date for a particular location has been set, we know the date and are posting it.

    If a date for a particular location has not been set, then on the order form sign up to receive info about that location and as soon as we have it, we’ll let you know.

    2. Can you earn a living online simply as the result of the “System Smart Beginners” Home Study program?

    To answer this question, I’d have to know a lot about you, how you are situated and your level of initiative.

    Certainly people can and have created good livings for themselves with a lot less than what’s in this course.

    The purpose of Smart Beginners and the Intensive is to turn beginners into pros and to fill in the inevitable gaps in even experienced people’s know-how that hold them back.

    I have no idea what you will do with your education. For example, some Harvard University grads just sit around and smoke dope all day. Is that a reflection on Harvard?

    For people who are still in the thinking it all through stage and aren’t sure what they want to do, I recommend these books:

    I hope this helps.


  5. Nigel J Britton August 9, 2007 at 11:24 am #

    Hi Ken,

    I’m in the process of starting to offer small businesses online video marketing services, really due to your call with Jay Douglas!

    To tip the scales once again, your article on lack of direct marketers has made my decision seem a no-brainer.

    However, Im not sure what to charge.

    Any suggestions?


    Nigel J Britton.

    (P.S. Website will be live at the weekend!)

Leave a Reply