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Dentistry: An Art Or A Science?
Top Ten Mistakes
Upcoming Events
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October 2009
ADM logoIn The Home Stretch 
As related last month, things have gotten very busy here at ADM--main reason this newsletter is a few days later than I'd like. Believe me, I'm not complaining. In fact, we've been doing some interesting things and foresee more of that to the end of the year. Of course, this means more travelling for yours truly (including a transcontinental flight on September 11th--scary wierd!) but I can't let that kind of thing keep me down.
In fact, it turned out so well that I had an unexpected surprise. I had breakfast with a woman I went to school with....well, it was a while ago. I discovered that her son's best friend is married to the daughter of one of my best friends. AND I went to school with his parents. (Talk about scary wierd!) It's beginning to look a lot like Halloween!
Make sure you look at "Upcoming Events," as there are some really good ones coming up both on Long Island and in NYC (worth the trip!).
Hope you have a lovely autumn!
Dentistry: An Art Or A Science?
Just Because You CAN Do Something...
Technological breakthroughs are usually haled as signs of progress, especially in medicine. They may save time, money, pain and anxiety--or all of the above! Then, why do some medical professionals resist these changes?
Aside from the widespread aversion among people (over the age of about 30) to change the way they do things, the way they buy things, and certainly, the way they think about things, there is an equally widespread scepticism about new technologies. "If it looks too good to be true it probably is." "Never buy anything in its premier model year." "Just because you CAN do something, doesn't mean you OUGHT to." In the focus groups we recently completed about a new dental technology, a very interesting insight emerged.
There are many dentists who perceive themselves as being more than just skilled with a drill and a dental probe; they are artists. No one and nothing can drill a tooth quite the way they can. Therefore, a new process that involves digital imagery, and that would cut at least an hour off the chair time for a certain procedure, was perceived as being insufficient. Most of the 30 doctors in these groups felt it was too standardized and did not account for individual situations.

Even if it would make the procedure easier and less unpleasant for patients, they prefer to do things the way they know. Even if it made their practices more productive and profitable, they would stick with the old ways.

To be sure, there is good reason to research any new technology to be certain it provides the same or better quality of care. But I believe there is a healthy dose of ego involved here as well. Don't worry--the young turks will latch onto new technology in dentistry as they have in just about every field and discipline. In about five years we'll know how this new technique has fared; we'll know whether it has been adopted by a significant number of doctors or not.

Top Ten Mistakes

A Solutions-Oriented ApproachFocus group 
I recently attended a presentation by Dr. Dan Schaefer of Peak Performance, Inc. He said he was in the business of selling mistakes (that's an attention-grabber!).  He went on to explain that he emphasizes solutions that he offers, rather than features or benefits of his services. I think that is a terrific perspective, especially in marketing research. Features and benefits can be found in a number of places, including do-it-yourself research (see my August newsletter). But the true consultant examines the specific situation and objectives to develop a solution for the client's questions and problems. Here are the Top 10 mistakes made by companies conducting marketing research, which could be avoided by using a solutions-oriented approach rather than an executional one:
  • Insufficient attention to focus group screening criteria--there is a big difference between being "familiar" with a retail store and having shopped there.
  • Inappropriate or unwise grouping/mixing of audience segments--customers and prospects; men and women; doctors and patients.   
  • Recruiting of respondents from one organization--even though focus groups are not representative samples, they should at least have some variety.
  • Choosing locations for groups or one-on-ones that are inconsistent with concentrations of the target audience.
  • Insufficient planning for exhibits or prototypes.
  • Giving more attention to budget than to the efficacy of the survey results--it's a waste.
  • Trying to address several issues and objectives in one survey, which makes it longer and response rates lower.
  • Insisting that the study must be completed in a specific amount of time, and then not being responsive regarding questionnaire design and approval.
  • Providing an internal list (or lists) that may be missing important data--like telephone numbers or e-mail addresses--and that may have lots of duplicate listings.
  • Using a sub-contractor for a task that is not his or her core competency.

Going beyond the mechanics, a marketing research study is a team effort: the company commissioning the study, the research consultant, the data collection firm, and the data processor. Depending on the study, there may also be a list broker, a fulfillment company, or a printer. Nowadays, lots of data collection firms provide data processing as well because of technology. Sometimes the research consultant provides data processing. Even fulfillment companies, which deal with very large data bases, may offer data processing services.

A solutions-oriented approach takes a bottom-up perspective rather than a top-down perspective. In other words, figure out what you want to wind up with and design backwards from there. It's kind of like solving a geometry problem: start with the "to prove," and work up from there, using the "given" wherever you need it.
Upcoming Events
There's a lot going on this month on Long Island and elsewhere.
October 28, 6:00pm-8:00pm
The New York Chapter of the American Marketing Association is presenting "When Growth Stalls: How It Happens, Why You're Stuck, and What To Do About It,"   presented by Steve McKee, author of When Growth Stalls. It will be held at the AMA offices, 116 E. 27th St., 6th Floor. Find out more about it at: .
October 15, 8:00pm-10:00am   
International Association of Business Communicators-Long Island Chapter
continues with its exciting new season of excellent programs in a variety of venues. This month's speaker is Michael Gates Gill, author of the best-seller and soon-to-be movie, "How Starbuck's Changed My Life." This breakfast meeting will be held at the Huntington Hilton on Broad Hollow Rd. You can get more information at, or register directly at .
October 18-20
IABC Heritage Region's 4th Annual Conference will be held in Cleveland, Ohio. Join your peers in Cleveland, network like crazy, and hear some of the communication industry's most influential and well-respected speakers. For more info, go to
October 29, 6:00pm-10:00pm
SMPS-LI presents the 3rd Annual Canstruction Gala. This incredible event unveils the artistic renderings of engineering and architectural firms, school groups, and others--made entirely of canned food!  These sculptures are built by teams from each firm or group (supervised by an architect or engineer if not a professional group) and displayed at Rexcorp Center in Uniondale. Afterwards, the canned goods are donated to the Harry Chapin Food Bank. For information about forming a team, contact Ellen Talley, President of SMPS-LI at  To be a sponsor, contact Jane Gertler, chair of Canstruction, at .
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