ADM logoADM Marketing & Research Consulting
              News From The Top Floor
In This Issue
Choosing A Research Method
Election Branding
Upcoming Events
Quick Links
Join Our List
Join Our Mailing List
November-December 2012

Cropped 2011 head shotA Season To Be Thankful 


Here in the Northeast, many have suffered the ravages of storm surges, downed trees, and power outages lasting up to two weeks. We hope this finds you well and warm, sheltered and safe. If not, we hope you have found safe haven and a good insurance adjuster. In spite of everything, we hope you can find some things for which to be thankful.


Speaking of being thankful, we came through the storms relatively unscathed. In fact, because we had electricity we became the haven for several friends, and were happy to do so. And now we can turn our attention to what passes for a "normal life."

Services Marketing

Marketing the Invisible    


At last month's local IABC meeting, we heard an interesting presentation on services marketing, and how it is different from--and the same as--product marketing. One of the more interesting differences is that a service is intangible, or, invisible. You can't see it, feel it, or touch it. You can't "kick the tires." And yet, a service can still be branded; it can have a brand personality, and people can develop expectations of quality and efficacy. But how do you talk to new clients/customers? How do you make the case for your service? How do you break through the clutter?


Not all service categories are "sexy," nor do they all have the kinds of customer bases that consumer product categories do. 

  • Architectural, engineering, and contracting firms appeal to a relatively few kinds of clients--people who want to build (or renovate) things. This can include large corporate clients, municipalities and states, and the federal government. Many firms serve a regional clientele, but some have national and international reach. While differentiation can be problematic, there are opportunities to specialize in different kinds of projects.
  • Accounting and law firms may also seem to be homogeneous in their service offerings, but in fact, there are broad areas of specialization, so they may be appealing to niches in consumer and business audiences. These firms should take advantage of their uniqueness in communicating with their audiences.
  • Health services providers would seem to be able to appeal to a very broad consumer audience, just like a lot of product categories. In fact, there are opportunities to target specific consumer groups (e.g., cardiac patients, women, families with young children, etc.) or businesses (for group health services). Some providers prefer to communicate with insured individuals, and an increasing number are eschewing Medicare and Medicaid recipients.

Marketing services depends more on word-of-mouth and referrals than products do for the very reasons cited above. Social media, then, is the perfect vehicle for these kinds of categories because the very nature of social media depends on personal accounts and referrals. So services marketers should take advantage of that through blogs, Twitter, and Facebook. These can be effective vehicles to disseminating information on successful cases, special offers, and new specialties being offered. All of these can enhance differentiation and experience, which are valued in the selection of a service provider.


To a great extent, services marketing is just like product marketing--you must adhere to the four "P"s (product, place, promotion, and price). The differences are in how the products are described, and how they can be accessed. Pricing can vary widely from firm to firm, and each one must decide whether it wants to be an "elite" firm, or whether it wants to appeal to customers on the basis of price. So it all winds up in promotion: advertising, public relations, sponsorships, and social media.
Post-Election Mind-Bending

It's The Demographics, Stupid!


I thought election night would be long and tedious, so I watched a movie until about 10:45, and then turned on the election coverage. By 11:20 they had called the election for Barack Obama. What a surprise, for an election margin that was supposed to be razor-thin!


Since that night, I've listened to a number of pundits analyze and re-analyze ad nauseum. Some even tried to deny the obvious, much to the delight of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. But it devolved to a subject that is near and dear to my heart--demographics.


Whether you are marketing consumer electronics, health food, financial services, or a candidate, knowing WHO your market is, is the first step to success. Some politicians found out the hard way that ignoring this initial step is done at one's peril. In order to define your market, you first have to know a little about it.

  • For product marketing, it's pretty simple: who uses your product? Who uses it the most (frequent users, who may account for the lion's share of sales)? Who does it benefit, and how?
  • You may want to ask similar questions for marketing services like legal, accounting, and financial services. Even health services have target audiences. (See article above.)
  • Beyond "who uses it," you should know why they use it, and what need or problem it solves.
  • You may also want to know a bit about accessibility--why market your product in an area in which it is hard to get? Of course, with so many things being available online, accessibility is less of an issue than it used to be, but even so...
  • What is your product's/service's image among the people who access the category the most? Is your brand favored or is it unknown? This makes a huge difference in how you approach this audience and what you need to say to it.

In this regard, it is clear that the Democratic Party looked at the diversity of the voting public and delivered messages that appealed to their needs, and to their image of the Republican candidate. Thinking about the Young & Rubicam Brand Evaluator, we can break it down like this:

  • Knowledge--brand awareness for President Obama was a no-brainer, so they didn't have to spend much time or money on getting his name out. But what they did was to get out early and define Mitt Romney, so that knowledge of his brand would be painted with an unflattering brush.
  • Differentiation--some people say there's not much difference between the two major political parties and their candidates. In this cycle, both parties spent considerable efforts to create differentiation between the two major brands in order to drive a clear choice. In spite of it, a few people were undecided until the very end. Some say that is better for the challenger, but it didn't seem to go that way this time.
  • Esteem--this is a perennial problem for any candidate, and especially one who has run for and served in office. Politicians, as a class, are not held in high esteem these days. However, they still need to prove to people that they are trustworthy. That is where the early attempts by Democrats to brand Mr. Romney came into play. Mr. Obama had his own challenges with that, but apparently, voters decided that he was the lesser of two evils.
  • Relevance--it seems that this is where Mr. Romney's advisers missed the boat. They appealed to a relatively narrow slice of the electorate and over-estimated (by a lot) its size and influence. The issues they propounded were not relevant to many young people, women, and people of color. The failure to connect with these important demographic groups on many social issues they care about overshadowed Mr. Romney's potential appeal on fiscal issues.
The pundits continue to opine. But, at the end of the day, it all comes down to marketing. Failure to make a candidate (brand) known, esteemed, different or relevant will spell failure at the polls.
Upcoming Events
December 5, 11:30am-1:30pm


IABC/LI is holding a regular informational meeting in December because people have so many holiday parties. Instead, we will have a "Winter Warm-Up" in January. Check out the website for more info. In an appropriate follow-up to this year's election campaign, Tracey Segarra, Director of Marketing at Margolin Winer and Evans, LLP a prominent CPA firm on Long Island, will tell us "How to Navigate Your Firm's Politics for Marketing Success." We are asking attendees to bring a food or apparel item, or a blanket for those who are still struggling from the effects of Hurricane Sandy. The meeting will be at FOUR Food Studios; click here for more information and registration. You can also sign up at and pay at the door.
December 4, 5:30-8:30pm
SMPS/LI is holding their holiday party at Deco 1600, Round Swamp Road in Plainview. As usual, there will be good food, good people, and good raffle prizes, so make the time to go. Click here for more details and registration! 
December 6-7 
IABC is holding a "Strategic Communications Leadership Summit" in Scottsdale, AZ at the Scottsdale Hilton Resort and Villas.  Click here to get 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