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February 2011
ADM logoShort But Sweet 

With only 28 days, February has more than its share of holidays. Ground Hog Day, Valentines Day, and President's Day. And my personal favorite: Susan B. Anthony's birthday! I hope you enjoy them all!
We have gotten pretty busy here with proposals and projects, and I am hoping this is a harbinger of an improved economy. I will also be attending IABC's Leadership Institute in Nashville, which I expect will be both interesting and helpful.
Targeted Research
It Aligns with Target MarketingTarget cropped 

Sometimes, the objective for conducting marketing research is to determine optimal targets, and the survey sample must be broad. In other cases, a company may want to hear from a specific group of customers or prospects. In either case, screening prospective respondents is very important, whether for qualitative (focus groups or depth interviews) or quantitative research. Inattention to this pre-questionnaire phase can lead to inconclusive results, as best; misleading results, at worst. Here are some things to consider when you are setting up your study.
  • If it is a consumer study, of course you want to consider demographics: age, gender, income.
  • In a business-to-business study, you may want to look at size of business; public vs. non-public; and of course, industrial or business groups.
  • Usage groups can be important--do prospective respondents buy/use your product/category, and how often?
  • Brand usage can be important, as well. You probably want respondents who have heard of your brand, and you may or may not want users of your competitors. In some cases, you may NOT want your most loyal customers, as they are necessarily biased.
  • Think about whether you are looking for likely customers who are "in the market" for your product or service. Those who are not may be of little help, and may waste your research budget, not to mention skew your findings.
  • It is tempting to test your image among customers but it can be helpful to see what prospects think as well.

Consider these issues carefully and discuss them with your research team. It may be helpful to run a pre-test of your screening to see if you are yielding the kinds of respondents from whom you really want to hear, and who will be of help in achieving your objectives.


An old saying--about computers, originally, but applicable to research as well--is "garbage in, garbage out." Don't let that happen to your research.

Listening to Social Media

Leveraging the Major Benefit


Last year, the keynote speaker at the IABC-Long Island Awards luncheon spoke about listening to customers and prospects who contribute their opinions and thoughts through social media. This advice has certainly been born out during the recent events in Egypt, Tunisia, and elsewhere.


Most writing about business uses of social media talk about the distribution of messages and communications from companies to their constituencies. But the wise marketer listens to and learns from those commenting on products, brands, trends, or events. While I would argue that social media is not a replacement for well-designed and conducted research, it is certainly a viable method for finding out what people are talking about. What is working for people, and what is not? What gaps are there in product/service offerings, and how can companies capitalize on those gaps?


Last month I wrote about the biggest business gaffs of 2010, and most of them can be traced to business executives' failure to listen to their constituencies; or the hubris of denying Newton's law of gravity (what goes up must come down). Active listening to one's audiences can be a hedge against making these mistakes.


Active listening is all important and means keeping an open mind. It means listening for key phrases and common threads, whether they are anticipated or not. The flood of input from social media and other sources makes analysis a real challenge. That is why, as important as these candid comments are, they cannot be the only input to decision-making. 

Upcoming Events
February 15, 11:30am-1:30pm

The International Association of Business Communicators, Long Island continues its examination of digital marketing with "Getting Engaged: Integrating Digital Strategies into Your Marketing Program," sponsored by PRS Newswire. Frank DiNolfo and Rob O'Regan of Harrison Leifer DiMarco will be presenting at the Viana Hotel and Spa on Brush Hollow Road in Westbury. Snow date is February 16th.  Register at
February 9, 8-10am
SMPS-LI is presenting "Read Our Minds: What Does Procurement Really Think about Your Latest and Greatest Submittal" at  Westbury Manor, Jericho Turnpike, just East of Glen Cove Road. Panelists represent LIPA, SUNY Stony Brook, Nassau County DPW, and Grosser Consulting. Go to for more information, and to register.  

February 16, 8:30-10am


New York Women In Communications, Inc. (WICI) is presenting "Digital Salon: How to Leverage Location Based Services for Business" at Microsoft Technology Center, 1290 Avenue of the Americas (bet 51st and 52nd St) in New York City. Go to 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