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November 2008
ADM logoIt's Finally Over
By the time you receive this, the election should be over, and all I can say is, "Thank God!"
Regardless of who wins, I, for one, will not miss political ads AT ALL.  I also hope the pundits, talking heads, and news commentators will finally move on to some other topic. I fear, though, that this is just the beginning; that every sneeze, blink, and gesture of the new president will be analyzed and re-analyzed in order to justify the news peoples' jobs.
We are certainly in the midst of some unstable economic times. The market is, quite literally, on a roller coaster ride, and the ripples from this down-turn will be felt for months--maybe years.
I hope you will take a couple of minutes to answer the survey I'm including in this e-mail. I haven't done it for a while because the response rates were pretty low, but I'm really curious to know how you are being affected by the economic situation. Read further for details.
Distance Learning
Has It Finally Arrived?walking boomers 
For decades, distance learning has been touted as the "educational methodology de jour." It has been used on every level of education--including corporate training. But it never really took hold. Initially, the communications vehicle was television, but for the past decade or so it has been the Internet--and company Intranets.
One of the big problems with distance learning is the absence of interaction between teacher and student. The importance of this element has often been underappreciated, but research we conducted nearly eight years ago highlighted this factor as the tipping point between those who were willing to take courses online toward a degree and those who insisted on attending classes in person. 
We are now commencing a study among high school and middle school students--who are far more comfortable with online communications than students were a few short years ago--concerning an Internet-based resource for science learning. It will be interesting to see if they embrace this new iteration of distance learning and how they perceive its being useful to them.
Health Services Marketing
Target croppedLess Angst, Please!
I never understood what a horror it could be to have to navigate the labrynthine health care system until very recently. I honestly believe that the stress they put you through can make you sicker. Aside from that, as you probably can guess, I tend to look at things from a marketing standpoint. Moreover, with the presidential candidates touting their "solutions" for the disaster we call a health care system, I think they are missing the boat.
The problem is not the doctors--there is little doubt that we have the best in the world. It's not even the equipment, which is very expensive, but can enhance the quality of care we receive. The problem is access and administration. And both impact costs.
Some 25 years ago, HMOs were touted as the answer to out-of-control costs. A gatekeeper physician would make sure there were no unnecessary procedures, specialists, or tests. That sounds great, but when a clerical employee takes on that role, getting in the way of communications between patient and doctor, that's not only bad medical care, it's bad marketing. Can the organization really afford to alienate the very customers it claims to want to help? Maybe they don't care if the customers who use the most services go elsewhere; but when you think about it, that is exactly the opposite of what a market-oriented organization should be doing.
So the solution may be (and it's been raised before) to simplify administrative procedures, making it easier for patients to gain access to services; reduce the amount of time and personnel needed for referrals and claims, which would also reduce the amount of time it now takes to gain access to services. It is not an either/or choice between no controls on services and uber-control. A happy medium would suffice.
Quick Survey
Abstract man & dataHow Are You Doing? 
If we look at historical cases, it seems likely that the seismic effects of this economic period have yet to be fully realized. I am curious to know what you have observed and experienced, not only in your own business, but in your communities, as well.
Please take a moment to take this survey--it's only 8 questions! I will report on the results next month. Just click on this link to begin.
Upcoming Events
November 12
IABC is starting the Holiday Season early with a wine-tasting and networking event November 12th. As usual, it is being held at Blackstone's Restaurant, Pinelawn Road, Melville from 11:30 to 2:00. For more information, please visit I hope to see you there!
November 19
Speaking of education, there's a lot going on in expansion of higher education facilities here on Long Island. SMPS-LI is sponsoring a panel discussion of "Universities Building To Keep Students on Long Island." The panel features representatives of five colleges and universities in this area, and will be moderated by Paul Tonna, Executive Director of Energeia Partnership and former Presiding Officer of the Suffolk County Legislature. For more information go to
This practice is dedicated to helping companies become knowledge-driven, rather than assumption driven about strategic and tactical decisions concerning lines of business, branding, communications, and various marketing activities. For more information about how we do this, case studies, frequently asked questions about marketing research, and testimonials, please visit our web site:

Ann Middleman