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May 2011
Cropped 2011 head shotAre We There Yet?

This is what a lot of people may be asking about our battle against terrorism, with the demise of Osama Bin Laden. The answer is "probably not," but I must say, I enjoyed seeing how quickly people were to make celebratory signs,
both handwritten and electronic, and how eager they were to come out and share the moment.
Speaking of celebrations, happy Mother's Day to all who qualify; and a happy day to all who celebrate with them!   
Speaking of Mother's Day
A Triumph of Marketing 

The origins of Mother's Day are linked to anti-war and temperance sentiments following the Civil War. It may seem stereotypical (in a good way!) but leave it to moms to want an end to war and alcoholism. Wikipedia reports that "in it's present form, Mother's Day was established by Ann Marie Jarvis following the death of her 1905 with the help of Philadelphia merchant John Wanamaker." [My italics] Of course it was! When sales are lagging, make up a holiday for which people will feel obligated to buy gifts! In fact, Jarvis was so disgusted by the commercialization of this memorial to her mother and her mother's anti-war work, that she campaigned for the rest of her life to put an end to the holiday.


Please don't think I'm a Mother's Day Scrooge. However, the creation of one day per year to honor one's mother is really antithetical to the Biblical injunction to "honor your mother and father," which is intended as a commandment for every day. In fact, it is mentioned several times in the Bible, just in case people forget.


Nevertheless, I always love a marketing success story, and this surely is one.

  • It took less than a decade from the official designation of Mother's Day in 1914 (by President Woodrow Wilson, to honor mothers of men who had died in war) for it to become so highly commercialized as to prompt Jarvis' counter-campaign.
  • Carnations are the "Mother's Day flower" because they were the favorite of Jarvis' mother.
  • The National Restaurant Association claims that Mother's Day is the most popular day for dining out.
  • According to IBISWorld, Americans will spend $2.6 Billion on flowers, $68 Million on greeting cards, and $1.5 Billion on spa treatments and other gifts that allow a mom to pamper herself.
  • The jewelry business benefits to the tune of about 8% of its annual sales.

Mother's Day (or some equivalent) is celebrated in more than 30 countries, but I wonder if sales of cards, flowers, jewelry, or days at the spa reach the fever pitch they do here.

Business-to-Business Marketing

How Different Is It  From B-to-C?Assembly line


The immediate reaction, especially from Business-to-Business marketers, is that the goal of marketing to businesses is vastly different from marketing to consumers. But is it?

  • Generally speaking, target audiences are smaller--several hundred or thousand companies, rather than several million people or more.
  • B-to-B marketers tend to use more text in ads and collateral pieces, and the tone is usually more serious. 
  • Print ads, especially in vertical publications tend to be more expensive.

Aside from these pragmatic considerations, marketing is marketing is marketing (just like Gertrude Stein's roses). In some places "marketing" is just another name for "sales," but actually those two functions are quite different, yet mutually supportive. Here are some thoughts about how they can work together.


All B-to-B efforts eventually lead to consumers, though for some, it's a long and winding road (my apologies to Paul). This should be taken into consideration when appealing to companies that make things for consumers or retailers. Tell them how your product or service will make it easier, better, or more profitable when THEY are marketing the end-product to consumers. In order to do this, YOU have to know about THEIR consumer customers. The marketing department can issue "white papers" to keep the sales force informed; this allows them to be more efficient.


Knowing about how to market to other ethnic groups and cultures is important for the B-to-B marketer, too. The Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity found that immigrants account for nearly 30% of all new entrepreneurs in the country. The B-to-B marketer needs to know how to "speak" to these businesspeople every bit as much as the consumer brand marketer needs to know how to speak to the shoppers in those cultural communities. The sales force will thank the marketing department that supplies appropriate materials for diverse ethnic groups--not just translated copy, but copy that takes cultural mores, concepts, and images into account.


Social media can be important to the B-to-B marketer, as well. Keep in mind that buyers (purchasing agents, product designers, operations execs) may be on Twitter or LinkedIn. While you don't want to be intrusive, social media can help you keep in touch with your audience, and let them know about product introductions and innovations, special promotions, or information that can solidify the relationship. The sales team might also be able to find out when a customer or target is growing or introducing a new product, themselves. Social media can enhance a two-way street between supplier and customer or between marketing and sales.


The bottom line is to increase and improve communications, which strengthens the relationship between supplier and buyer. This goal is--or should be--universal, regardless of whether you are reaching out to companies that make things for other businesses or things made for consumers. Keep talking!

Upcoming Events
May 11, 5:30-7:00pm

"Unleashing the Power of LinkedIn" is a first for IABC/LI. It is a workshop designed for a small group--around 20-25--and is being offered FREE to IABC members!! Yes, that's right, free! There is a modest fee for non-members. So sign up and attend this workshop, led by Jerry Allocca, being held at the offices of Meyer Suozzi English and Klein, 990 Stewart Avenue, Suite 300, Garden City.
May 18, 11:30am-1:30pm  
IABC/LI's regular program, held at Viana Hotel and Spa, combines digital marketing techniques and healthcare marketing in "Healthcare Check-up: New Treatments for Classic Communications Challenges." Even if you don't currently operate in this industry space, you will still be able to learn something new about digital marketing--and who couldn't do with more about that?  Get more information and register at the IABC/LI web site.

May 17, 8am-1pm 

SMPS-LI is featuring Marketing Mayhem, a half-day conference on business development techniques and how marketers can support these efforts (see above). 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