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February 2012
Cropped 2011 head shotWhat's with the weather! 

If you are located in the Northeastern US, you know how balmy the weather has been. That could mean mild or crazy. Six of one...

At ADM, we are still very busy, and sending out more proposals! With the flurry of activity we are seeing, it's looking like the light at the end of the economic tunnel.  Companies don't tend to do research if they are not planning to grow, introduce new products or a new communications campaign. Keep 'em coming!
Data Analysis

How Much Do You Need? 


There are three basic parts to a market research study:

  • Design--choice of methodology, audiences, sample size
  • Data collection--online, telephone, in-person
  • Analysis

Intuitively, the first two feed the third. Sometimes it works the other way. I often begin consultations by asking two questions:

  • What do you really want/need to know?
  • How will you be using the results?

The answers to these two questions suggest the kind of analysis, and that drives the other decisions. A lot of times, clients want a "statistically reliable/significant" sample, and they want to know how many interviews it will take to get there. But it's not always about sample size. Sometimes it's the size of the "universe," or pool of potential respondents. It is always about sampling. Sometimes the client doesn't have the budget to get that kind of sample, especially in business-to-business studies. There's a lot of confusion about how to get reliable results--and after all, why bother in the first place if you can't feel confident about the findings? But that's why you hire a professional, isn't it?


Most of the time, a simple analysis for a quantitative effort (survey) will suffice. This requires tabulating the answers to the questions in total, and by various relevant segments (men vs. women, age groupings, users vs. non-users, etc.). This can give you very good insights as to where your strengths are, and perhaps where to allocate more advertising/promotional resources. Depending on the objectives of the study (see the two questions, above), it may drive decisions about messaging and media, or strategic marketing decisions. 


Occasionally, the results drive a go/no go decision--will the client launch the product or change the brand name, or not? Is there a major strategic positioning decision to be made? These are the most critical cases of all and should have the very best-designed sample and questionnaire possible. It is not the time to scrimp. These situations may call for "the big guns," analytically speaking: multivariate analyses like a Key Driver Analysis, Cluster Analysis, Perceptual Map, or a Conjoint Analysis. Such processes can add $8,000-$10,000 (or more) to the budget, but can be very revealing. For an analysis nerd like me, they are fun because the findings can be surprising.  


So how much do you need? How much is at stake? Are you about to embark on a new product rollout, or a major expansion of an existing product line? Are you about to launch a new communications campaign where the media alone will cost seven figures? Are you in a competitive marketplace and you want to gain an edge by being extremely strategic and insightful? Or, do you want to know "how am I doing" or "how will my market react?"


One of my favorite marketing axioms is: It's never the price, it's always the value. I have found that to be true in every category of business--including not-for-profits and fund raising--except for commodities. And even then, think about Chiquita bananas or Dole pineapple. So think about the VALUE of the objectives you set out for your research, and that should tell you how much research and analysis you really need.

Professional Organizations

An Investment Or An Expense?


Regardless of the industry or profession in which you work, you have doubtless been approached by several different business or professional organizations with alphabet-soup designations that could make your head spin. Nowadays, budgets are tight and whether you run your own business or work for someone else, you are probably mindful of justifying membership in and/or attend-ance at these professional organizations and meetings as more than an expense.


First, you should think about your objectives in belonging to one of these groups and going to meetings.

  • Is it for business development or networking? Not the same thing.
  • Is it for professional development--learning what's new in your field?
  • Are you looking to get out of the office once a month or so and meet people--even just to socialize with colleagues and peers?
  • Is it a credential to show your committment to your profession?
  • Is it to look for your next job?

These are all good reasons to be part of a professional organization. In order to decide the value of these memberships (and you may decide to join more than one group--I did), here are some things to consider.

  • Business development is a short-term goal, and can be short-sighted. How much business can I bring in this year to offset the cost of membership and meetings--which can run into hundreds of dollars?
  • Networking often has a longer pay-back or return. This pay-back can be new business, referrals to new business, or a new job. Sometimes the returns are received right away--you meet someone, follow up, and it turns into business. YAY! Sometimes it takes years. The main difference between networking and business development is that the former nearly always involves relationship-building. And that takes work.
  • When my son was playing youth soccer, he used to say, "I don't have to practice. I know how to play this game." Luckily, he changed his tune a few years later when he was running track, and wound up with a full scholarship to a Division I school, and subsequently, a berth on the US Olympic Team. The lesson here may be obvious, but what the heck: you may think you have nothing new to learn about your profession, but the truth is that there is ALWAYS something to learn. There is always someone new from whom you can learn something. When we stop learning, we begin to decline. That's not good even if you are retired; it's worse if you are still working.
  • Being in the office day after day after day can be stifling. It is easy to develop tunnel vision. It can be refreshing (on a number of levels) to get out, meet new people or renew older acquaintances, exchange ideas, and then come back to work, feeling more motivated to dig into whatever you left on your desk. This has a salutary effect that is hard to measure as a benefit to the business, but it is a benefit, nonetheless.
  • We all belong to different communities: where we live, where we work, a professional community, a religious community, a sports community. Well, you get the idea. Communities support us on a number of levels; human beings are by nature social and communal. When we eschew that for budgetary reasons, or because we fear leaving the office for a couple of hours, we don't do ourselves any favors.
  • About 18 months ago I had the great opportunity to meet two communications professionals in Poland who are at-large members of a professional organization. No chapter, no meetings. I was intensely curious about why they would spend the money to be members. The answer surprised me: in their environment, their profession does not enjoy high esteem. Membership in a professional organization announces that, in fact, it is a profession. It has standards, accreditation, and a large membership. Even here in the US, professional affiliations on a resume or on LinkedIn speak volumes about people's commitment to their profession, and how they see themselves. That has real value, not only individually, but corporately.

It's usually a good idea to examine your own reasons for these kinds of activities, and then if and when you have to justify it, you'll be ready.


 Upcoming Events
February 8, 9:00-10:00am


SMPS-LI is sponsoring workshop to help people "Strategize Your Messages And Sharpen Your Writing," featuring Natalie Canavor, author of "Business Writing In The Digital Age." The workshop will be held at the offices of VHB, 2150 Joshua's Path, Suite 300, Hauppauge.


February 13, 6:00-8:00pm 


WICI/NY is exploring how different generations receive news and information in "Cocktails and Conversations: Bridging the Generation Gap: Reaching Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millennials," featuring WABC reporter Stacey Sager moderating a panel of experts. It will be held at the SONY Technology Lab, 550 Madison Avenue at 56th St, 3rd floor. Register by clicking here


February 17, 8:30-10:00am 


IABC/LI will be presenting a workshop on "Creating Your Own Digital Marketing Blueprint In Only One Hour," featuring Jerry Allocca, Founder and CEO of CORE Interactive. Jerry is the author of "Connected Culture," a Google-recognized Internet Marketing Authority, and he was recently honored by Long Island Business News as one of the "40 Under 40" here. This program will be held at the offices of Moritt Hock & Hamroff, 400 Garden City Plaza (off the West Ring Road around Roosevelt Field), in Garden City. You can register at IABC's site to pre-pay, or by email to pay at the door.
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