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August 2010
ADM logoFirst An Apology 
Recently, there was a lengthy discussion on LinkedIn about the impact of typos in various communications. Normally, I abhor things that go out with typos. Therefore, I owe you, dear readers, an apology for the SIX typos in last month's newsletter. Thanks to my good friend Tim Powell, of The Knowledge Agency, who pointed out two of those typos (either Tim got disgusted after the first two, or his eyes were too clouded by disappointment to see the other four), I re-read the entire newsletter and determined to do better in the future. This is, by no means, meant to challenge to you to look for mistakes; nevertheless, I am determined to be more vigilant.
I hope you are having a good summer--both personally and professionally!
The Critical Marketing Element That Is Often ForgottenMall shoppers cropped 
In the olden days, we were taught about the four "P"s of marketing: Product, Price, Promotion, and Place. Whether one is launching a new product, or building a brand for an existing product, the emphasis is often placed on features, benefits, pricing, and promotion. But distribution, or the "Place" where people can find the product to buy it, is more than just logistics. Distribution has a significant impact on the business model, profit margins, and the brand image.
Certainly, you can find designer brands at discount stores or online discount sites, but you might wonder if they are knock-offs or the real thing. The point is that the image of those brands are high-end, and you wouldn't expect to find them at a price-based retailer. At a discount or off-price store, you would perceive gaining great value for the price you are paying. 
It is therefore important for marketers to choose distribution channels carefully. Some years ago I conducted a "mystery shopper" study for a manufacturer of budget-priced area rugs. We went to the flooring areas in upscale department stores and asked the salespeople to show us area rugs in the $500 range. The principal finding was that the salespeople in these stores were merely order-takers. They weren't motivated to sell anything. Therefore, this budget brand in upscale stores was not selling well. The people who shopped in these stores for area rugs were not interested in a budget-priced (read: lower quality) product. So they just passed them by. This brand should have been in stores where shoppers are more price-conscious.
It would have saved the client boatloads of money to have researched (a) the population most interested in their product; (b) where those people were likely to shop for this kind of product; and (c) the perceived value of their product to those shoppers. They may have known the first element, but without the other two, the product was misplaced and therefore, languishing.
Personal Branding 
UnbrandedSocial Media's Bottom Line


LeBron James. Warren Buffet. Dr. Phil. These people have at least one thing in common: their public images are about more than just what they do for a living. Their personalities, charitable activities, and personal lives all add to the images their names evoke.

The advent of social media has allowed everyday folks like you and me to build public personae that we hope will inspire confidence in our professional work as well as admiration for volunteer or charitable activities. As we record our various activites, opinions, and connections, we build and reinforce our personal brands.
Now a word about "brand." This is a word that has been used, and perhaps overused in various settings. It's pretty easy to look up definitions in dictionaries and marketing texts, but what it boils down to is that a brand evokes an image and a promise. The image can be simple (as in a commodity) or multi-faceted (a multi-product company like Proctor & Gamble) but it should give a clear picture of the product, company, organization, or person. This is why companies need to be consistent in how they present their offerings: logos, packaging, communications, and distribution (see above).  Brand promise is a little more complex, but must be credible and included in all communications. Ideally, a brand promise gives a buyer (whether it is a consumer or a business) a reliable expectation of what the product or service will deliver--time after time.
So now transpose this description to yourself or your company. What is the image you are communicating to your public? What is your brand promise? How consistent are you in communicating the elements of your brand? Do you have a different persona on FaceBook from the one on LinkedIn? Do your Tweets support your brand? 
Some companies have a Brand Champion; a marketer whose job is to promote and protect the company's brands. You are your own brand champion. Go for it!
Upcoming Events
September 15, 11:30am-1:30pm
The International Association of Business Communicators, Long Island, begins its new season with a great program in a new venue: The Melville Marriott, 1350 Old Walt Whitman Rd, Melville. Jonathan Willard, Senior Consultant at The Involvement Practice, will present "Using Communications To Drive Profitable Employee Behaviors." This interesting concept, from an industry expert, will give you a new way to look at branding, whether you have employees or consult with companies that do. Contact me for more information. I look forward to seeing you there!  
September 28, 8:00-10:00am
SMPS-LI is opening its Marketing Tools Series with "High Visibility Made Easy: Drawing Crowds And New Clients To Your Next Exhibit." This interactive workshop will be led by Deborah Elms, CEO of Imprinted Originals, a Long Island-based company. It will be held at RXR Building, 58 South Service Road in Plainview. It is free for SMPS members and $25 for non-members. AIA Continuing Education Units are available.  
October 27, 5:30-7:30pm
IABC-LI is pleased to co-sponsor a sterling event with NY Women In CommunicationsLong Island Women's Agenda, Katz Institute For Women's Health, and several other groups. Mary Lou Quinlan, author of "Just Ask A Woman," and head of an eponymous strategic marketing firm, will speak about "Marketing To Women." This is a must-see presentation, so mark your calendars. It will be held at TWO, a new restaurant in New Hyde Park. More information, including registration, will be distributed in the next few weeks, so look for it.  
October 28, 6:00-9:00pm
SMPS-LI is holding its fourth annual Canstruction Gala at RXR Plaza in Uniondale. This extraordinary event has teams of architects, engineers, and even student groups competing for the best "sculpture" made solely of cans of food products. Afterwards, the cans of food are donated to Long Island Cares/Harry Chapin Food Bank. For more information on the event--including entering a team--go to
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