Ann Middleman

Ann Middleman

Interview with Ann Middleman of ADM Marketing & Research Consulting, which helps companies become knowledge-driven rather than assumption-driven through primary and secondary research

What types of marketing research do you do? Do you specialize in a particular industry or population group?

Mainly, I conduct surveys, focus groups, and one-on-one interviews, and I’ve worked in just about every industry and population group you can think of. Consumer and B-to-B. It’s more interesting that way!

What is it about marketing research that you like best?

I am always learning about new industries, products, services, and ways to market them. Certainly, technology has changed everything, but I’ve always embraced technology because it usually (not always) makes things easier and better. Take online surveys: they are really electronic “snail mail” surveys, but better. First, it is a whole lot cheaper to distribute thousands of surveys electronically. Second, improvements in survey software have minimized errors; that is, ranking questions that are answered as if they were rating questions, skipped questions, etc.

When does technology NOT make research easier and better?

There are several internet-based survey products that make it so easy that people are tempted to “do-it-yourself.” That’s alright if it’s a really quick, simple “toe in the water” survey. But many times, a simplistic survey raises more questions than it answers. You may find out how many people like a certain brand, but you won’t learn who likes it best. You might get answers to what they like about the brand, but you won’t know which attribute is the key driver of purchase. It takes a more sophisticated survey technique and analysis to get at these strategic marketing elements. Also, questionnaire writing is a skill that is under appreciated. Trying to do it yourself can yield questions that are unclear or confusing.

Conducting a full-blown survey or a series of focus groups can be costly, and many companies are cutting back on these kinds of expenses. What are they missing?

Marketing research is an investment, just like any marketing expense. The return on this investment can be the discovery of a new market for the client’s product, or the avoidance of a multi-million dollar mistake. When you consider the expense of even a large study (approximately $40,000-$60,000 or more), it is a worthwhile investment if it can earn you a couple of percentage points of market share, or save you the cost of making, marketing, and distributing a product that will likely fail.  Likewise, avoiding a multi-million dollar ad campaign that does not resonate with its intended target, or communicates the wrong message, can cause executives to say, “Whew!”

The most valuable asset a company has is its customers. A study that reveals a problem between the company and that asset can save both money and reputation—and a damaged reputation can prevent the acquisition of new customers, which would compound the problem.

Do you have a standard or turnkey research method?

No, every study is custom designed and implemented. At the outset, I meet with the client to determine a few key points:

  • What do you want to find out?
  • How do you intend to use the results?
  • Do we need to show respondents a product, concept description, or proposed ads?
  • What is at stake? How big a decision is riding on the insights and learnings you obtain?
  • What is your budget—both money and time?
  • What have you done up to now?

The answers to these questions will determine whether we recommend a survey, focus groups, one-on-ones, secondary research, competitive intelligence, or nothing! The answers will also drive the decision to use an online technique or something more traditional such as a telephone survey or mall intercept.  They will also determine the recommendation for analysis; do they need an advanced (multi-variate) analysis, or will something simpler suffice? Will we do a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats)? Budget will also determine how extensive the study will be. Timing will determine methodology—though there are times when I have to say, “I can’t do what you need in the limited time you are giving me,” and pass it up.

What differentiates you from other researchers?

  • ADM offers a cadre of senior research professionals—no interns, no entry level people to whom work is delegated.
  • We offer personal attention and excellent value to each client. Even proposals are individually written and budgeted.
  • Using a very efficient business model allows us to keep billing rates modest and value high. This is a particular benefit for mid-size companies that may not have huge marketing budgets.
  • Being generalists allows us to work with clients from all industries, and other countries as well.
    • We’ve done studies for Fortune 100 companies, multi-nationals, and local franchisers; advertising and PR agencies
    • Products we’ve researched have been as varied as replacement insoles (for shoes), commercial air purifying systems, pharmaceuticals and herbal supplements, financial services, industrial markets, artificial nails, and the usual consumer packaged goods.
    • We’ve interviewed men, women, and children of all ages; professionals and executives, retailers, wholesalers, entrepreneurs, educators, and public officials.
    • Research objectives have covered the spectrum from brand image to customer satisfaction to mystery shopper studies—and lots in between.

Ann Middleman can be found on LinkedIn and Facebook. The web site for ADM Marketing & Research Consulting ( contains dozens of case studies, testimonials, links to articles and presentations, and Frequently Asked Questions about research.

Curated by Deepak Gupta.

Ping me if you are interested in being featured on my blog.

Enhanced by Zemanta



Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.


Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

CommentLuv badge

© 2009-2018 Marketing by Deepak Gupta All Rights Reserved -- Copyright notice by Blog Copyright