Marketing professionals, who only a few years ago were lining up for fewer and fewer positions, are seeing an increase in the number of help wanted ads. As a result, marketing salaries are on an upswing--albeit a slow one--according to research from Crandall Associates, a national recruitment firm specializing in direct marketing.
The results of Crandall Associates' 2006 Direct and Interactive Marketing National Salary Guide paint a positive picture of the marketing landscape. "In the early part of the decade, [companies] with open jobs were deluged with quality people happy to be considered, people not in a position to make outrageous demands," explains Wendy Weber, president of Crandall. "Slowly but surely things are starting to come around again. A lot of people are interviewing with multiple firms and in many cases, that's resulting in offers from multiple firms. We're seeing an increase in salary levels, though typically in the single digits."
Joe DeBelle, senior director of marketing for medical marketing firm Lathian Systems, says his experience mirrors the national trend. DeBelle, previously with General Electric, interviewed with 10 to 15 companies and received several offers before making the move to Lathian in January 2005. His compensation package, which was a "high-single to low double-digit jump" from his GE salary in terms of percentage, combines a base salary and yearly cash bonuses. The bonuses, which are tied to personal and team success, are worth 20 to 25 percent of his salary. He also receives stock options, which boosts his total nonsalary compensation considerably.
Overall, the marketing industry is in a growth phase, but some positions are fetching much higher salaries than others. Database professionals and Internet-specific marketers are receiving some of the highest offers. Database analysts with more than seven years of experience are seeing average salaries of $79,100 to $98,200, with a high of $120,000. Database director salaries range from $85,200 to $143,600, the highest reported salary reaching $210,000. Internet marketing managers are receiving an average of $79,900 to $121,500, with a top reported salary of $180,000. "Because Internet direct marketing is so measurable, companies are realizing how lucrative the Internet channel is," Weber says. "I've spoken to search engine marketing managers who have seen a five-fold increase in results through their efforts, for example."
Still, even those marketers who garner larger paychecks aren't seeing the incentive- and perk-heavy salaries common in the mid- to late 1990s, Weber says. It's extremely rare for marketers to receive a signing bonus, for example. More traditional bonuses are available, but are likely tied to department and company performance as well as personal success.
This is not a new trend, says Gigi Gao, a compensation consultant with HR management software and data provider Salary.com. "Since marketers are directly generating revenue, the bonus-based [percentage] of their compensation will be greater," Gao says. "You might have a nonmarketing salary at $100,000 with a bonus of 35 percent target. Marketing people might have a smaller salary--maybe $95,000--but receive a 45 or even 50 percent bonus."
This is significant, because there are very few outside perks being offered, Weber says. "We're definitely not coming across any unusual or exciting perks. You don't see a lot of company cars or gym memberships."
So do these bonus-heavy salaries work? DeBelle says he is pleased with his salary, but just as important to him is the quality and depth of responsibility he was given. Autonomy and ownership, he says, were just as important as salary when he was job shopping. "I was definitely looking for a job that let me be more involved in the group strategy," he says--"a position that would let me be an owner and have an impact on the company versus just being one person part of a large corporation."