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April 2013

Cropped 2011 head shotSpring at  last 


It looks like Spring has finally sprung! I hope you all had a pleasant and meaningful holiday, regardless of the particular holiday you observe.


Here at ADM Marketing, we are getting busy with a new project and keeping up with IABC and other personal projects. Hope you, too, are busy with good things!

How Safe Is Your Brand?

Getting spammed and jammed        

A few weeks ago, I began receiving calls and emails from all over the country asking if I had sent letters offering to hire people to be "mystery shoppers." These letters, sent under the name "ADM Marketing Assurance Company," at my actual address, were accompanied by checks, and here's how it was supposed to work:

  • The checks were for a little under $2,000.
  • The recipient was supposed to deposit the check to his or her account.
  • Then he or she was to visit a Western Union office and transfer part of the money to a specified account; the balance of the check was their pay.
The letters look quite legitimate, and carry the logos of several major corporations to support its credibility. This type of study is fairly common, and is usually conducted to check a company's systems and processes. Unfortunately, in this case, the checks are bogus, and lots of people lost a considerable amount of money. What is worse, these evil geniuses targeted those who are least able to afford the loss: the unemployed and public assistance recipients.
I am lucky that I haven't lost any money (though I received, just today, a claim from the Virginia Employment Commission regarding a guy who filed for unemployment because of "lack of work," naming the bogus company as his last employer), but a scheme like this can hurt my reputation, and it has certainly taken up quite a bit of my time. Fortunately, my clients know I wouldn't do anything that would be harmful--and certainly not to people of limited means. I have filed complaints with the US Postal Service.
This story illustrates a few things:
  • It is too easy for someone clever to "hack" your company or brand.
  • It can be very difficult to erase the damage done to a brand or company by criminals.
  • If you ever receive an offer in the mail that appears to be too good to be true, or "out of the blue," you should question it and, if necessary, report it to the authorities.
This is a cautionary tale, but you may want to check with your webmaster and/or your attorney to find out what, if anything, you can do to protect yourself. In my case, I doubt there's really anything, especially since I didn't really lose any money--just time.

Is it the last great hope?  


More than a half million new businesses are started each month in this country, according to the Kauffman Index on Entrepreneurial Activity. One reason for this flood of new ventures is the downsizing of large corporations and public agencies. People who may have worked for a large company for a while and were then downsized (i.e., laid off) sometimes decide that this is a golden opportunity to be their own bosses. This is especially true for Baby Boomers--who may find that they are too old, or earned too much, to be of much interest to other corporate employers--and women, who are sick of working in hostile or discouraging environments.


These two cohort groups are particularly interesting because, over the past decade or so, they have been re-defining "work" and "retirement." Boomers, in particular, are less likely than previous retiring generations to put their focus on the golf course or card table. In some cases, they can't afford it, since pension plans have pretty much faded from the corporate landscape. In other cases, they don't feel ready to retire because they have NOT spent their primary working years in physically demanding occupations, and because they are generally healthier than their parents were, to begin with. Women who want a personal life as well as a professional one often find the corporate grind unaccommodating.


Running one's own company--whether it is a solo consultancy or a small business with up to 100 employees--is not for everyone. There are lots of things to take into account before you make that commitment. Here are a few:

  • First and foremost, is there a market for the goods or service you wish to provide? Scout that out before you begin.
  • Do you know HOW to run a business? It's wonderful if you are talented at providing the product or service in question, but what about the administrative and legal issues? 
  • Do you have legal and accounting expertise lined up? Very important, or you could find yourself out of business before long.
  • Do you need a partner? Very often a partnership consists of an "inside" person (operations) and an "outside" person (sales). Both are essential. Be honest with yourself about trying to do both and be very careful if you do seek a partner.
  • If you do not have a partner, how comfortable are you working alone? Think about how to generate professional interaction and incorporate it into your plans.
  • Speaking of plans, do you have one? You probably should.
  • What about technology? How conversant are you with issues involving a web site, social media and digital marketing? Find experts on these things, too.

Owning your own business may seem like a dream, but it can turn into a nightmare if you don't take all these things into account. In fact, about half of all start-ups fail before they are 5 years old; nearly two-thirds before they are 7 years old. Think twice--or more--about betting the ranch on it.


This is not meant to be discouraging; for me, starting a small consulting practice was the best thing I ever did. However, I was aware of the administrative, accounting, (most) legal, and technological issues, and in fact, I did seek advice from trusted advisers and friends. Recently, I have had the privilege of "paying it forward" for a decades-long friend who is starting up a new business. Good luck, Andrea! 

Upcoming Events
April 17th, 11:30am-1:30pm


When it comes to being an entrepreneur, there are few issues more aggravating than getting paid. On the other hand, most clients want valued vendors to continue to do work for them. Hence, IABC/LI's program, "Maintaining Good Relations When Money Is On the Table." The presenter is Lisa Pomerantz, Attorney at Law, whose practice focuses on small businesses and start-ups. The venue, for this month is Blackstone Steakhouse in MelvilleFor more information and to register, go to the web siteor you can sign up at and pay at the door.
April 23, 6-8pm
New York American Marketing Association is presenting "Marketing Your Corporate Reputation: New Rules For Engaging Customers" at KRC Research, 919 Third Avenue, New York. This program is all the more important, given the ease of disrupting or even destroying a corporate brand through digital or traditional means. For more information and registration, click here.
June 23-26, 2013 
IABC is holding its World Conference in New York City! This amazing opportunity to meet business communicators from all over the world will be held at the New York Hilton. Click here to learn more about it, 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