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November 2009
ADM logoIt's Really Autumn
Just got back from a week in Sedona. Wow! When you realize that it took millions of years to create the gorgeous red rock formations--not to mention the Grand Canyon, which we also visited--it puts a certain perspective on everything else.
So we came back to Standard Time again and Fall temperatures--which aren't always that bad. One good thing about the beginning of November is that Election Day will put an end to the volume of political ads! The other good thing is that it's approaching Turkey Time! 
I hope you all have a pleasant and delicious Thanksgiving!
Foot Notes
walking boomersGetting That AAH Feeling 
Remember those trendy shoes you wore when you were young? They looked awesome, but they hurt like hell! Are you still choosing footwear with the same criteria? If so, you may be paying the price with plantar fasciitis, bunions and corns, or a number of other podiatric or orthopedic conditions. Even if you have been wiser in your choice of shoes, the aging process alone thins out the fat padding on your soles, making even sensible shoes less comfortable than they used to be.
Consequently, the market for "comfort shoes" is growing. In focus groups we recently conducted, retailers who sell this kind of footwear--the definition of which varies--are busier than ever. It seems that foot pain is similar to dental pain--people will do almost anything to eliminate it! One of the features of comfort shoes can be the addition of replacement insoles to give the wearer more arch support, more comfort on the soles of their feet, or  better foot positioning which can benefit knees, hips, and backs. To sweeten the deal, comfort shoes aren't necessarily unattractive these days--which only increases market acceptance.
Another group of people who tend to add insoles to their footwear is people who are active--runners, tennis players, etc. For this group, insoles can reduce the impact of their activity on feet and joints.  

One measure of the popularity of replacement insoles is the number of brands--more than 25 if you Google it. Some brands are allied with shoe brands; others have been around for a long time. Pricing can range from about $10 on the low side (Dr. Scholl's) upwards of $200 or $300; and that's not including custom-molded orthotics.

The bottom line was articulated nicely by one of the retailer respondents: "Once they put the insoles in their shoes they can't believe how comfortable they feel." Now that's an "aah moment" anyone can appreciate!
Customer Relations And Your Brand
It May Be More Vulnerable Than You ThinkEnterprise car 
In this economy, you just cannot pay too much attention to your customers. It generally costs a lot less to keep a customer than to acquire a new one. Therefore, when I become aware of a company that is "penny wise and pound foolish" with its customers, it just makes me say: "HUH??"
I recently came across such a situation with a company which I previously lauded for fulfilling its advertising promise: Enterprise Car Rental. This time, I wanted to rent a car in Sedona and return it at the Phoenix airport--where Enterprise has a location. The Sedona office said: "We don't do one-way rentals." Given the likelihood that someone could easily rent a car in Phoenix and drive it to Sedona, I thought that was fairly short-sighted. The local company from which we finally did rent a car (THEY were willing to drive down to Phoenix to pick it up, for only $99--that's a 4-hour round-trip drive) told us that the Enterprise office there was a franchise, not a company-owned office. That put Sedona Enterprise's inflexibility in a different light, but even so...
The whole episode brought to mind the whole issue of branding and some things that companies should keep in mind for managing and protecting their brands.
  • If you do franchise or lease your brand, be aware that you are taking a risk with your brand's image.
  • Even if all of your offices/locations are company-owned, the brand image could be vulnerable if some of your employees are not fully briefed on company policy and brand equity.
  • Make sure that every point of customer contact is aware of your brand strategy and the image you want to communicate--especially representatives who are not employees.

Brand management can be a full-time occupation, but it is worth it if you can protect its image and equity with both customers and prospects.

Upcoming Events
It seems we've gone beyond "How to" for social media. Here are a couple of presentations that take us beyond pages and clicks.
November 10, 6:00pm-8:00pm
The New York Chapter of the American Marketing Association is presenting "Using Social Media to Trigger Word of Mouth," presented by Dave Balter, Founder and CEO of BzzAgent, Inc. It will be held at the AMA offices, 116 E. 27th St., 6th Floor. Find out more about it at:
This organization is also holding a Speed Networking event for Young Professionals at Baruch College. For more information, you can go to the NY AMA site, as above.  
November 17, 11:30am-1:30pm   
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 Juliette Powell, author of the best-seller, "33 Million People In The Room." Juliette will tell us about how social media can help build your business. This luncheon meeting will be held at Morton's Restaurant, 777 Northern Blvd in Great Neck. You can get more information at, or register directly at .
November 19, 7:30pm-9:30pm
SMPS-LI is hosting a networking evening where you can meet and get to know A/E/C professionals in this region--please go to the web site for the location.
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