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July 2010
ADM logoHappy 4th! 
Okay, so I'm a little late. Nevertheless, I hope you had a happy and safe Independence Day holiday. And I hope you are better informed than about one in four adult (technically, that is) Americans.
It seems that 26% of Americans (18 and over) did not know that the United States won its indepence from Great Britain. WHAT? Sad but true. According to a recent Marist poll, 6% didn't even know we fought a war for independence at all! The other 20% named countries as varied as Mexico, France, Japan and Spain as having been our oppressors. In spite of that, I'll bet most of those 26% of undereducated Americans enjoyed barbeques, fireworks, and other kinds of celebrations. Maybe that's what they think July 4th is all about!
Now don't go blaming it all on teachers--rather, it is school administrations who have determined that "history" is not important. Teaching children about world "cultures" is much more important. What I don't understand is why we can't teach children both. Then, perhaps Americans would have a better understanding of world events--we can't know where we are unless we know how we got here.
Corporate Management And Brand Image
It's More Than Just BPYoung man texting 
Here we are, in the third month of the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. BP finally realized that Tony Hayward was not the most effective spokesperson they could pick, so they've put up Doug Suttles and Randy Prescott, both Americans. Open mouth, change feet.
It's not just BP. There are lots of companies--small, medium, and large--that just do NOT get it. Abraham Lincoln said it best with his "fool all the people some of the time....fool some of the people all of the time" remark. At some point, lies and bad behavior will cause customers to say, "Why am I still doing business with this company?" And they will vote with their feet.
What they REALLY don't get is the damage that lying to customers and/or treating them in a less than friendly, "I really value your business" way does to their brand image. Take BP, for example. A few months ago, their image ads positioned the company as really caring about the environment (it wasn't true, but most people didn't know that). That is SO over. They'll never get that back. Ever. Millions of dollars in image advertising down the drain (no pun intended).
Even in cases that are not so egregious, companies that treat their customers badly or in a cavalier manner will create a corporate image that is not likely to produce many referrals. Companies that are more intelligently managed understand that their best salespeople are satisfied customers. They don't have to spend millions--or even a few hundred thousand--in advertising; their customers are spreading the word.
Their is a maxim in quality control and productivity: it's always cheaper to do something right the first time. A corollary can be drawn with respect to brand image. If a company respects its customers and prospect base and treats them fairly, a positive brand image will build and word will spread. The opposite is just as true; and no amount of advertising or public relations can cover up for short-sighted, high-handed behavior.
Qualitative Research 
Has Technology Left It In The Dust? 


Historically, technology has driven research methods since George Gallop developed a scientific method for sampling. One classic example is the telephone! Mr. Gallop started out with door-to-door interviewing in the 1930s because telephone ownership was still pretty low and people were not adverse to letting strangers into their homes to conduct interviews. In 1948, the use of telephone surveys in the Presidential election produced one of the most stunning mistakes in all of marketing research--the prediction that Thomas Dewey won the election over Harry Truman.

For several years, online surveys have come to prominence, especially with advancements in the online survey programs themselves, the growth of Internet access penetration, and easy-to-use online products. But what about qualitative research? Is it obsolete? Can technology make these techniques more accessible?
Qualitative research is generally employed when clients want to know "why" customers behave in a certain way, rather than "how many" do something. it remains an very important tool in the arsenal of product managers, marketers, and communications professionals. It can prevent the development of "ivory tower" thinking by allowing these marketers and managers to listen to real consumers and B-to-B users. But it can be expensive, especially if managers and agency account people have to fly all over the country (or the world, for that matter) to view groups or one-on-ones. There are some companies that conduct online groups or groups by conference call. These techniques are certainly convenient, but they do not allow the research (much less the clients) to observe consumers/customers talking about or handling their product or service. They also preclude the kind of personal interaction that can enhance ideation or other kinds of discussions.
What I think is better than online groups is video conferencing, where clients can sit in their offices and view the groups through (essentially) closed-circuit television, in real time. Even better, these sessions are generally recorded on DVD and online, and can be viewed by clients at any time. There are other services which allow the analyst to extract clips from these DVDs and embed them in a presentation; or create an abbreviated recording that shows highlights of the groups. These uses of technology greatly enhance the ability of managers and marketers to observe their "publics," which can bring them out of their towers--ivory or otherwise. This is really important to the creation of products, services, and communications that resonate with people.
And isn't that what it's all about?
Upcoming Events
July 13, 6:00-8:00
The International Association of Business Communicators, in conjunction with Hofstra University School of Communication and PRPLI, is holding a panel discussion, "The Future of Journalism And The Media." Featuring a panel of experts--practitioners as well as professors--this meeting is FREE and open to the public. It will be held at The Hofstra University Club, David S. Mack Hall, North Campus, Hofstra University, in Uniondale. I hope to see you there!  
July 29, 5:30-8:30pm   
SMPS-LI is holding its annual "Meet and Greet" at Westbury Manor, 1100 Jericho Turnpike, Westbury. If you want to meet a terrific group of marketers for architectural, engineering, and contracting firms, this is the place and time for it! Go to for more information and to register.
Check out Adrian's Network,, to find out the schedule for virtual networking calls over the summer. This is one group that does not take a break for the summer! Business goes on, and so does Adrian! 
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