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January 2010
ADM logoTime Flies Fast...
Depending on how you count it, we've either completed the first decade of the 21st century, or we are in its final year. Hard to believe.
A lot has happened in the last ten years, not the least of which (for me, anyway) has been the establishment of ADM Marketing & Research Consulting, just 8 years ago. We've done some interesting work, met some terrific people, and plan to do more of the same as we enter the "2010s."
Happy new year, and I hope it brings you success (however you define that) and satisfaction.
Managing Technologies
Understanding Their Uses and Limitations
Just because you CAN do something, SHOULD you do it? This is not a new question, and it does not require a "Yes/No" answer. In marketing research, as in many other disciplines, it's really a matter of HOW new techniques and technologies are used, not WHETHER you use them.
A little history.  The modern field of marketing research started in the 1930s with George Gallup, who collected data in the only feasible way at that time: door-to-door. This allowed him to construct scientific random probability samples, which yielded projectable results. When telephones became ubiquitous, the industry developed random digit dialing to produce equally reliable samples at a fraction of the cost. Now we have online surveys,which some believe continues the path toward ever decreasing research costs while maintaining quality.
The good news is that sometimes it works well. When you want to survey a niche population (employees or customers; subscribers to a certain publication; online buyers or students), there is less variation than in the general population, so you can be pretty confident that a sample of a few hundred (or thousand) is reliable. The bad news is knowing whether the results are truly representative. Difficult to know for sure, but probably not. The point is: the more homogeneous the population, the less you need a strictly designed sample.
But for general population surveys, online is more "mushy." Think: snail mail surveys done electronically. You have the same problem, especially because of response rates. If you send out several thousand (or tens of thousands of) questionnaires and get 10% (or fewer) back, it is difficult to know WHICH 10%. Are they spread out representatively throughout the outgoing sample? You can run demographics and compare them with census data to see how well (or poorly) your sample matches up. If it's close, you are lucky. More likely, you will need to weight the data to make it LOOK representative. Either way, I always have a queasy feeling about it.
Bottom line: Online surveys are here to stay, especially because do-it-yourself products make it so easy for non-researchers to conduct surveys. Let's be honest about the meaning and use of these data.
Social Media ROI
What Are You Really Getting Out Of It? 
You have only to turn around
to bump into a presentation on social media: what it is, how to do it, and why to do it? How many have you been to? For me it's about 4, plus a teleconference.
When the Internet was just bursting onto the scene, less than 20 years ago, I conducted a study of Fortune 500 companies who had established web sites to find out their web strategies. They didn't have any. They just knew they had to be there. This reminds me of social media, today.
The what and how are pretty easy; it's the why that requires more thinking. It seems to me that most people participate in LinkedIn, FaceBook, Twitter, and several others because they know they have to be there, but they haven't quite figured out what they want out of it, much less whether it is worth the time they are putting into it. How much time are you spending on social media, and is there sufficient Return On Investment?  Here are a few ideas to facilitate the assessment:
  • Are you really looking to reconnect with friends from elementary school, high school or college? Is it a collateral effect? Is it worth the time you are spending on it?
  • In a busy world (perhaps busier since they "resized" your department?), is this the best way to keep up with your family and friends? How's that going?
  • Is it intended to replace face-to-face networking? Is it working?
  • Are you trying to gain new clients/sell more products? Are you?
  • Have you figured out how to "monetize it?" (That's another way to frame the previous bullet.)
  • Do you want to keep up on what is going on in your business, in business-in-general, or with your competitors? Could the Wall Street Journal work as well?
  • Is it a time-filler while business is slow? That's an easy goal to meet.
Raising the "friend" count or the "linked" count or the number of "followers" you have is an ego booster, but is the time you've invested in these activities reaping appropriate rewards? Need more time to decide? Go ahead, but set a time to conduct this evaluation before you wind up losing more than you've gained.
Upcoming Events
The new year is starting off with some really interesting programs.
January 13, 11:30am-1:30pm
The International Association of Business Communicators is featuring Deborah Thomas, of Silly Monkey, who will lead an innovative program on "How to Improve Communication through Interactive Games." The luncheon meeting is at Blackstones Steakhouse, 10 Pinelawn Rd, Melville (LI). For more information, you can go to
January 15, 1:00pm-4:30pm   

The New York American Marketing Association, in conjunction with Fordham University, is hosting a "Pricing Strategy For The Marketing Professional," featuring Professor Sarah Maxwell of Fordham. It is being held at the W. 60th St. campus. You can register at:
January 20, 8am-10am
SMPS-LI begins 2010 with a forecast of business opportunities for the architecture, engineering, and contracting industries. If you are in those businesses or wish to connect with them, this is the place to be! The meeting will be held at Milleridge Inn in Jericho. Go to for more information and to register.
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