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October 2008
ADM logoCan't Believe We're In The Third Quarter! 
Yes, the leaves are turning, professional organizations are meeting again, and we're in the Election cycle home stretch (can't wait until all those awful election commercials are off the air).
September started out with a visit to one of our most beautiful states: Vermont. We spent a week canoeing, hiking, and watching pig races at the state fair. Yes, I said pig races. While the state fair was a terrific experience, it is also an eye opener for this city-girl. It is always illuminating to interact with a very different segment of Americans who have different lifestyles and slightly different concerns. 
We wrapped up some interesting pieces of business, and we are ready to tackle new challenges.
 Cell Phones And Election Polls
Cell phoneSampling Young Voters
As I look at presidential election poll results and scratch my head at how close this race is, I've been wondering what happened to all those young people who were campaigning during the primaries. One distinct possibility is that young people are energetic for a while, but they become bored quickly, and do not tend to come out on Election Day.
However, there is another possibility. As I wrote a few months ago, it is very difficult to reach consumers between the ages of 18 and 25 by telephone because most of them are completely wireless. No land lines in their households--unless they live with their parents. And even then.... Therefore, if these election polls are using traditional telephone surveys, they are very likely missing a significant population of young voters. That would certainly skew the results--very likely, in McCain's favor.
If the political pollsters are using online surveys, they are very likely missing older voters. In spite of the fact that roughly two-thirds to three-quarters of consumers 65 and older are online, they are probably not online as much as younger users. Moreover, they may not be heavily represented in online panel samples (most consumer goods producers are uninterested in shoppers over the age of 55 or 60). That would suggest a skew in favor of Obama.
While I am hardly one to dismiss survey research findings of any kind, I have a real concern about election polls in this cycle, as does John Zogby (of the famous Zogby Poss). Until the research industry figures out a way to reach young consumers on their cell phones, I will question telephone survey findings for widespread categories such as politics.
Blogging For Dollars
Mouse on $$How Good Is It For Business? 
Some months ago I ran a survey through this newsletter on blogging. It revealed a good deal of skepticism, but a significant level of participation--both reading and contributing.
Lately, every business organization you've ever heard of--and some you haven't--has been presenting a program on social media and blogging. I attended one at SMPS-LI and left with a new perspective on this activity.
The panelists--serious bloggers and new media experts--admitted that there is a dark side to blogging, given the lack of any oversight and therefore the potential for false and misleading statements to be made and distributed in a few nano-seconds. However, they made some very good points about the real marketing benefits of this activity:
  • It is the ultimate democratic form of communication; unlike more traditional media, you don't have to "pitch" articles to reporters and editors and rely on their judgement.
  • You can create immediate attention for your company, your brand, new product introductions, or your position in the marketplace.
  • You can respond immediately to comments that you believe are false or misleading; you are not dependent on others to come to your defense.
  • On the readership side, you can access industry experts, thought leaders, and analysts to increase your information and improve your understanding of current events and trends in product categories and markets.

So blog away--with certain caveats (don't believe EVERYTHING you read). While technology famously changes every few hours, this is definitely the direction for information dissemination and gathering.

It's Not That Easy Being Green
Or Is It?walking boomers 
Traditional media seems to show a lot of images of young people who are concerned about the environment, organic food, and living "green."
A recent study revealed that Leading Edge Baby Boomers are far more likely to buy and use "green" products than their children (Gen X) are. People who are 55 or older are about twice as likely as the average consumer to use environmentally friendly home goods.  On the other hand, those who are 25 to 34 are the least likely to use such products.
A prime motivator for purchasing "green" products is the satisfaction people receive for using them; however higher prices for these purchases are very likely suppressing the "better angels of our nature" among younger shoppers.
Some of you may think these findings are counter-intuitive. I do not. Let's not forget who started the first Earth Day, around 30 years ago--Baby Boomers. Who started the first recycling centers? Baby Boomers. Which group came of age at a time when "ecology" first became a science worthy of serious study? Baby Boomers. Which cohort is focused on eating healthier to ward off serious illness or keep chronic conditions like diabetes in check? Baby Boomers. And who has more disposable income to indulge their desires to live healthier and clean up this planet? You guessed it.
This is why it makes me angry when consumer product marketers ignore buyers who are 55 or 60 or older. Frankly, those who ignore this population segment do so at their own risk; they are missing the wealthiest, best educated cohort the world has ever seen. And they still read things that are more substantial than text messages!
Upcoming Events
October 22
Now, more than ever before, people are leaving corporate positions (or are being downsized or layed off) and starting businesses or consulting practices. For some people, this works out; for some it doesn't.
The Long Island Chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC-LI) is presenting a panel titled "Making The Big Career Move: Is The Grass Always Greener On The Other Side?" on October 22nd. Featuring a panel of in-house and freelance communications professionals, including a not-for-profit perspective, and moderated by an attorney who works with small businesses, issues surrounding this important career choice will be explored. Check out for more information.
October 30
SMPS-LI, a professional group of marketers in the Architecture/Engineering/Contracting industry, is hosting the second annual Canstruction Competition. This is a truly innovative event which combines the talents of architects, engineers, and builders and the collection of canned food to be donated to Long Island Cares/Harry Chapin Food Bank. Companies design and build "sculptures" made exclusively from canned goods. Five-person teams will build their creations on October 29th, and they will be viewed and judged the next evening at a Gala presentation at Rexcorp Plaza. Those attending the Gala are asked to bring in a canned product, thereby increasing the amount of food that is ultimately collected. The structures will be on display for about a week after the Gala. For more information go to
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Ann Middleman