I just re-rejoined the Association of Proposal Management Professionals. So what?

Remember my Tuesday post about the controversy regarding the possible name change of the Association of Proposal Management Professionals to the Association of Winning Business Professionals? And how the upcoming Denver conference of the organization (whatever its name is by October) might be…interesting?

By Billy Hathorn – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11357434

Anyway, it turns out that I will have an inside view of all the brouhaha.

Why?

Because I have rejoined (actually RE-rejoined) the Association of Proposal Management Professionals. (Or at least that’s what the organization is called right now. The name may change, of course.)

Why does my renewed membership in the Association of Proposal Management Professionals matter to Bredemarket clients? And how can it benefit those who DON’T use Bredemarket for proposal services?

I’ll tell you why/how in this post.

So I re-rejoined the APMP

As I previously noted, this will be my third term as a member of the APMP (or, membership Version 3.0).

Covers from early APMP conference booklets, including the cover for the conference that I attended in San Diego in 1999. From https://www.apmp.org/page/ConferenceArchive
  • I initially joined the APMP while I was a proposal writer at Printrak, but I let my membership lapse when I became a product manager. I couldn’t justify having my employer pay for a proposal organization membership when I was a product manager who only occasionally contributed to proposals. (Although some of those proposals, such as West Virginia’s first state AFIS, were critical to the company.)
  • I subsequently rejoined the APMP when the initial MorphoTrak corporate reorganization resulted in my move from product management to proposal management. After joining in 2012, I (again) let my membership lapse in 2015 after I became a strategic marketing manager, because (again) I couldn’t justify having my employer pay for a proposal organization membership when I was a marketing manager who only occasionally contributed to proposals. (Although some of those proposals, such as Michigan’s first cloud AFIS, were critical to the company.)

Obviously, back in those days corporate reimbursement for professional memberships depended upon the policies of the corporation in question. Well, now I’m not an employee of a large corporation, so I don’t have to justify my memberships to a corporate supervisor or accountant. Instead, as a sole proprietor I have to justify my memberships to myself (and the Internal Revenue Service, and the California Franchise Tax Board).

And since much of Bredemarket’s consulting revolves around proposal services, it makes sense for me to re-rejoin the APMP.

But it turned out that I couldn’t just send money to the APMP and be done with it. As an ex-member, there was an additional step involved.

If you are a former member but cannot access your account, PLEASE: Do not register as a new member….If you cannot access your past email address, contact our Member Services team (or call +1 866/466-2767, then dial 0). Within one business day (or sooner), you will receive a link with which you can pay for a new membership using your existing account.

So I contacted APMP’s Member Services team, who associated my lapsed membership with my NEW email address.

And I paid my dues, time after time, I’ve done my sentence but committed no crime…whoops, I seem to have digressed from the discussion of my new APMP membership. But in my defense, I’m not the first to associate the old Queen song with the APMP.

Anyway, I’m now an APMP member…again.

Just call me 3143. (Want to fire up a copy of Microsoft Word 97 while you do that?)

The one big difference between APMP Membership Version 3.0 and Versions 1.0 and 2.0 is that these days I am not EXCLUSIVELY dedicated to proposals. After all, I am not only the (self-styled) biometric proposal writing expert, but also the biometric content marketing expert. (With similar expertise in marketing and writing for technology firms and general business firms.)

In fact, I guess you could say that I am a general expert in…winning business.

So what?

Since I spend so much of my time talking about benefits, I’m sure that some Bredemarket clients are asking about the benefits to THEM of my APMP/AWBP/whatever membership. Yes, this internal dialogue is taking place with some of you right now.

ME: “I am a member of the Association of Proposal Management Professionals again!”

YOU: “So what?”

Yours truly in a small group (I’m on the right) at the 2014 APMP Bid & Proposal Con in Chicago. Photo source: the gallery at https://www.apmp.org/events/event_photos.asp?eid=379324&id=130518 Fair use.

To answer this, I’ll state that my APMP membership will benefit my clients because I can provide them with superior services—superior proposal services, AND superior non-proposal services—that will help my clients to, um, win business. (As you’ve probably already noticed, I’ve found myself using those words a lot over the last few weeks.) My renewed affiliation with APMP will reintroduce me to beneficial outside education, general knowledge, and contacts.

  • For my Bredemarket clients who depend upon me for proposal support, the benefits are obvious. The things that I learn (and relearn) from APMP will help me provide better contributions to my clients’ proposals, hopefully helping the clients secure more proposal awards and business.
  • But there are benefits for my Bredemarket clients who DON’T depend upon me for proposal support, but instead depend upon me for content marketing or other marketing and writing services. The same strategies and tactics that contribute to a more effective proposal can be extrapolated to apply to other areas, thus contributing to better white papers, better case studies, better blog posts, better social media posts, better marketing plans, etc., etc., etc. Again, this can help my clients win business.

We’ll have to see exactly HOW my APMP membership directly benefits my Bredemarket clients.

Stay tuned.

How can small and smaller businesses market themselves?

While Bredemarket sends its solicitations to a (targeted) group of businesses, Bredemarket itself receives solicitations from other businesses. However, sometimes it seems that the solicitations that I receive aren’t targeted that well.

(Of course, perhaps some of the recipients of my solicitations would claim that my targeting attempts are also deficient, so I should watch out about casting stones.)

If you ignore the completely off-the-wall solicitations that I receive, some of the more serious solicitations just do not match Bredemarket’s needs.

For example, I’ve received at least one pitch from a company that offers to provide all of the human resources services that Bredemarket needs for a low monthly fee.

By Alan Cleaver from Whitehaven, United Kingdom – Interview, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=57309901

A fine service to be sure…but since Bredemarket is a sole proprietorship that doesn’t engage other people as either employees or subcontractors, a human resources service would be overkill.

The United States Small Business Administration (SBA) defines a “small business” as a company with fewer than 1,500 employees and an average of $38.5 million in average annual receipts. My one-person company certainly has fewer than 1,500 employees, and I’m probably not revealing any confidential information when I say that Bredemarket’s average annual receipts are less than $38.5 million.

So I guess Bredemarket is a “very” small business.

But there are even smaller businesses.

Nano-small businesses of the past

Just to put things into perspective, Bredemarket has a city business license, has filed a fictitious business name statement with San Bernardino County, has a published address at which it receives mail, has received an Employer Identification Number from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and files quarterly estimated taxes with both the IRS and California’s Franchise Tax Board.

Years ago, I operated a much smaller business that didn’t have any of those things.

Specifically, I was a paperboy.

Several decades before my time, but you get the drift. By Ruddy, Marjorie Georgina (1908-1980) – Whitby Public Library, Reference No. ruddymg_050_002, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4548723

Way back in the Dark Ages (before the Kardashian/Jenner women became famous independent of O.J. Simpson), newspapers were delivered by people under the age of 18. These days, the few physical newspaper deliveries that I see are performed by adults driving cars and throwing papers out the window. Former papergirl Molly Snyder explains the shift:

The shift in carriers’ age was due partly to the disappearance of evening newspapers that provided student-friendly delivery times. The accessibility of internet news, growing concerns for the safety of un-escorted kids, and new distribution procedures also affected the change.

“To remain profitable, we phased out the ‘neighborhood shacks’ and home drop offs and migrated to larger distribution centers dealing solely with adult distributors,” said Ronald Zinda, distribution supervisor for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel of 45 years.

Nano-small businesses of the present

Even with the disappearance of paperpeople, there are a number of jobs today that fly under the radar of the Internal Revenue Service, city business license departments, and other government regulatory bodies. Here are a few examples; while some of these types of business may actually comply with government reporting requirements, many of them don’t.

By Nalbarian – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=95136303
  • The person on the street corner selling fruit treats.
  • The person on the street corner selling flowers.
  • The teenager who comes up to your door selling candy for a school club, a sports team, or as part of a supposed program to keep kids out of trouble by having them walk around neighborhoods and sell stuff after dark.
  • The person who sells homemade crafts.

Bredemarket can’t really serve these nano-small businesses. When your products (fruit treats, flowers, or whatever) only cost a few dollars, you’re not going to pay Bredemarket hundreds of dollars to create content for your website or social media outlet. In fact, you probably don’t even HAVE a website or a social media outlet.

Which businesses NEED Bredemarket’s services?

Let’s move up a step and look at small businesses that have an established online identity, do their best to comply with business requirements, and meet the IRS definition of a (non-hobby) ongoing concern.

Now any of those businesses COULD use Bredemarket’s services…but many of them don’t NEED Bredemarket. A number of small businesses are doing just fine in meeting their business goals, and are perfectly capable of taking care of the written communications necessary to keep the business profitable.

But what about the businesses that have particular goals that they can’t meet? Specifically, what about businesses that need targeted, regular online content to make customers aware of the business, but the business owners don’t have the time (or the inclination) to create the necessary online content?

By Unknown author – postcard, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7691878

If you own a business and need a consultant to help you create online content for your website, your Facebook or LinkedIn page, or for another communication method (even paper), Bredemarket can help. My “What I Do” page lists the types of written content that I can create for your business, including both short length (400-600 word) and medium length (2800-3200 word) content. (No, I don’t author individual tweets, but I guess I could author a thread if you like.)

If you’re interested in using my marketing and writing services, talk to me. I can collaborate with you to ensure that your business goals are met and your business messages are disseminated.

How and why a company should use LinkedIn showcase pages

This post explains what LinkedIn showcase pages are, how Bredemarket uses LinkedIn showcase pages, and (a little more importantly) how YOUR company can use LinkedIn showcase pages.

What are LinkedIn showcase pages?

LinkedIn offers a variety of ways to share information. Two of those ways are as follows:

  • A personal LinkedIn page. This allows an individual to share their job history and other information. Here’s an example.
  • A company LinkedIn page, which contains information about a company, including “about” details, jobs, employees, and other facts. Here’s another example.

A third method is a LinkedIn showcase page. This is tied to a company page, but rather than telling EVERYTHING about the company, a showcase page allows the company to zero in on a PARTICULAR aspect of the company’s product/service offering.

How Bredemarket uses LinkedIn showcase pages

Most companies, even very small ones like Bredemarket, can segment their products and services in various ways. In Bredemarket’s case, the company offers some prepackaged services, such as a “short writing service” and a “medium writing service.”

However, it didn’t make sense for me to segment my services in this way. The people who are interested in 400 word written content are not dramatically different from the people who are interested in 2800 word written content. So instead of segmenting by service, I chose to segment by market.

I started by addressing one of my potential markets, the identity market (biometrics, secure documents, and other identity modalities). Back in November, I created a Bredemarket Identity Firm Services showcase page on LinkedIn, which eventually became a place for me to share information about the identity industry, both content generated by me and content generated by others.

Bredemarket Identity Firm Services on LinkedIn. https://www.linkedin.com/showcase/bredemarket-identity-firm-services/

Since then I’ve expanded my offerings. On LinkedIn, I presently have TWO showcase pages, one concentrated on the identity market, and one concentrated on the more general technology market.

Bredemarket Technology Firm Services on LinkedIn. https://www.linkedin.com/showcase/bredemarket-technology-firm-services/

These concentrations made the most sense to me, although I could segment even further if I chose to do so (separate showcase pages for fingers and palms, anyone?).

An aside for Facebook users

Incidentally, you can perform similar segmentation in Facebook. In Facebook terms, you can have a page associated with a particular company, and then (rather than showcase pages) you can have groups that link to the company page and delve into topics in more detail.

So Bredemarket (which is committed to disseminating information via multiple communication streams; see my goal number 3 here) has Facebook groups that are somewhat similar to the Bredemarket LinkedIn showcase pages. One difference is that I have three groups on Facebook. In addition to the identity and technology groups, I also have a general business group. At this point it didn’t make sense to create a LinkedIn showcase page for general business, but it did make sense for Bredemarket to have such a group on Facebook.

Enough about me. What about you?

Obviously Bredemarket is an unusual case, although for some of you it may make sense to segment based on markets.

Most companies, however, will choose to segment based upon products or product lines. This especially makes sense for multinational companies that offer a slew of products. However, even smaller companies with multiple product lines may benefit from showcase page segmentation. If a potential customer is only interested in your square blue widgets, but doesn’t care about your other widgets, a showcase page allows the customer to read about blue widgets without having to wade through everything else.

Some of you may have received a pitch from me suggesting how a showcase page can help you highlight one product or product line in this way.

Perhaps it’s best to show an example. I’ve previously highlighted Adobe as an example of a company with showcase pages, but for now I’d like to highlight another company with a similar issue.

Let’s look at Microsoft, which has an obvious interest in using LinkedIn to its fullest potential. Microsoft’s product and service lines have expanded over the years, and while some Microsoft entities (such as LinkedIn itself) have their own regular LinkedIn pages, Microsoft uses showcase pages for other entities, products, and services.

For example, Microsoft has a showcase page for Microsoft Dynamics 365.

But here’s a showcase page that has nothing to do with a product, service, or market: “Microsoft On the Issues.”

So there are a variety of ways that a company can slice and dice its communications, and LinkedIn showcase pages provide an ideal way to do that.

Does this interest you?

Of course, setting up a LinkedIn showcase page is only the beginning of the battle. If you set up a showcase page and don’t publish anything to it, your efforts are wasted. Potential customers look at your company’s online presence, after all.

If your company has established a showcase page, has set goals for how the showcase page will benefit the company, and now needs to generate content at a regular clip, Bredemarket can assist with the creation of the content, working with internal company subject matter experts as needed. If this service interests you, contact me. We will collaborate to ensure that your LinkedIn showcase page includes the best possible content.

(Bredemarket Premium) My (biometric) baby is American made

When I first entered the biometric world, the portion of the world that directly interested me (the automated fingerprint identification system, or AFIS industry) had three major players and one emerging player. Of those four, two were privately held American companies, and the other two were U.S. subsidiaries of foreign companies (one French, one Japanese).

Today it’s different.

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My prediction of the death of tangible collateral was premature

I love it when I am SPECTACULARLY wrong.

Just a few days ago I wrote a post dedicated to marketing intangible products, in which I said things like this:

…when I started attending trade shows in the mid 1980s, I would go by booths and pick up company case studies and white papers and stuff them into a bag. (Booths and sponsors that provided such bags were VERY important.) Today, some vendors don’t even have printed case studies and white papers in their booths any more; the attendees simply request electronic copies.

and:

In the old days of product marketing collateral, you could get into big discussions about the quality, weight, and finish of the paper that you used to print your collateral. Today, those discussions are for the most part irrelevant, since the recipients print the collateral on their own printers, if they print the collateral at all.

My prior post definitively stated that all of that printed collateral stuff was a relic of the past.

Then I went to an event on Friday.

The event was here in the city of Ontario, although it was way on the other side of the city and it took me 25 minutes to drive there. It was called “Tech on Tap,” and was held at the New Haven Marketplace, a shopping center next to a new residential development in the former agricultural reserve.

The event started with a half hour of speeches, followed by the ribbon cutting for a new microbrewery. Rather than listening to all the speeches, I spent my time visiting all the “Tech on Tap” booths.

When I went home, I realized that I had accumulated a BIT of tangible collateral.

OK, a LOT of tangible collateral.

So much for Mr. “Everything is Intangible.”

So WHY was I spectacularly wrong? I think there were two reasons:

  • I am normally used to attending events in the B2G/B2B space. The city’s event was clearly a B2C event, and individual consumers have different expectations than business/government attendees. (Even for B2G/B2B events, how many attendees end up snatching booth swag for their kids?)
  • While a number of the booths at “Tech on Tap” were staffed by tech companies (robots, ISPs, and the like), about half of the booths were staff by departments of the city of Ontario. Sometimes cities do not rush into tech as quickly as businesses do, and sometimes the citizens of a government do not EXPECT cities to rush into tech.

If you look closely at my loot, you will see that most of it is from city agencies. And there were a lot of agencies represented, including city utilities, police, fire, and recreation.

Oh, and if you look closely at my loot, you will see that I ended up with TWO bags, BOTH from the same agency, the Ontario Municipal Utilities Company. This agency had two separate booths on opposite ends up the area, one staffed by the recycling/trash folks, the other by the water folks. After I had already obtained the green bag from the recycling/trash booth, the person at the water booth insisted on giving me the blue bag (which folds up; nice). And when I started to put the blue bag inside my already-filled green bag, he convinced me that I should do the opposite.

I’m still amused that I, the proclaimer that there will be no “death of passwords,” was myself equally insistent about the “death of tangible collateral.” Neither is going to happen.

On marketing intangible products

These days, more and more of us are marketing products that are intangible. But most of the essentials of marketing intangible products don’t differ much from marketing tangible ones.

Many, many years ago, the phrase “intangible product” seemed like a lot of nonsense. How could something be a product if you couldn’t touch it? Could you grab a product out of thin air?

By Hoodedwarbler12 (talk) – I (Hoodedwarbler12 (talk)) created this work entirely by myself., Public Domain, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26933846

Obviously that is no longer the case.

I’m not even going to, um, touch the NFT world, but clearly things that we used to think of as tangible products are now moving to the intangible realm. I’ll give you two examples from my experience:

  • When I started selling automated fingerprint identification systems (AFIS) in the 1990s, a law enforcement agency’s AFIS consisted of a set of computer servers in the agency’s computer room, coupled with a set of some fairly expensive workstations in the agency’s work areas. But even then, there were several states that had minimal computer servers at the state agencies, with most of the servers located in the state of California. The Western Identification Network model was duplicated in later years by other agencies who would host their biometric server “products” at faraway Amazon or Microsoft locations.
  • Similarly, when I started attending trade shows in the mid 1980s, I would go by booths and pick up company case studies and white papers and stuff them into a bag. (Booths and sponsors that provided such bags were VERY important.) Today, some vendors don’t even have printed case studies and white papers in their booths any more; the attendees simply request electronic copies.
By Silverije – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=63431852

Yet for the most part the marketing of these intangible products isn’t much different from the way that the old tangible versions were marketed. The differences are minor:

  • When Printrak sold AFIS servers, care was taken to place a Printrak logo prominently on the server, where it would compete with the Digital Equipment Corporation logo from the server manufacturer. The logo even appeared as a component on an extended Bill of Materials. Now, purchasers of cloud solutions from the biometric companies don’t need to worry about placing logos on physical servers.
  • In the old days of product marketing collateral, you could get into big discussions about the quality, weight, and finish of the paper that you used to print your collateral. Today, those discussions are for the most part irrelevant, since the recipients print the collateral on their own printers, if they print the collateral at all.

The important thing in each case is the content. Fewer and fewer law enforcement agencies care WHERE their biometric data is stored, as long as it meets certain security, accuracy, and response time requirements. Similarly, people who collect marketing collateral are much more concerned with WHAT the collateral says than the weight of the paper used to print it.

By Rick Dikeman at the English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=164188

I have been accused of preferring substance over style, and I plead guilty. While style is clearly important, the substance of the product must excel or the style is wasted.

Sometimes this requires the product creator to take a step back from the nitty gritty of collateral creation, and decide what the collateral is supposed to do, and why the customer should care. Rather than saying “give me a case study that tells how the widget is exactly 70 mm high,” my clients are now asking to “give me a case study that tells our customers why our product will let them sleep securely at night.”

If you would like to explore these topics for your next piece of collateral, whether it be a case study, white paper, proposal, or some other marketing written work, Bredemarket can help you explore. Bredemarket uses a collaborative process with its clients to ensure that the final written product communicates the client’s desired message. Often the client provides specific feedback at certain stages of the process to ensure that the messaging is on track. I combine the client’s desires with my communications expertise to create a final written product that pleases both of us.

Contact me and we can discuss how to work together to realize your goals.

How livescan fingerprinting enrollment service providers win business

One of the tasks that I used to perform as an employee of IDEMIA was to track the state-by-state status of livescan fingerprinting enrollment services. And I soon discovered that enrollment services differed substantially from IDEMIA’s other major product lines.

This post describes the nuances in livescan fingerprinting enrollment services, the many players that are involved, the livescan technology, and (most importantly) how enrollment service providers win business.

Why enrollment services differ from driver’s license and AFIS services

At IDEMIA, I tracked the company’s presence in three major product lines (and a slew of others). And IDEMIA’s presence in each market differed depending upon the nuances of the markets.

  • For IDEMIA’s driver’s license services, there was only one provider for each state. Let’s face it, you can’t have two agencies issuing state driver’s licenses. (Although I guess this would satisfy someone’s libertarian fantasy.)
  • For IDEMIA’s automated fingerprint identification systems (AFIS), there was only one provider of law enforcement AFIS in each state. However, there were other statewide fingerprinting systems back in the days when fingerprints were used for welfare benefits, and a number of county and city law enforcement agencies had their own AFIS systems.
  • But for IDEMIA’s enrollment services, there could potentially be dozens or hundreds of small businesses that provided the service. All of this depended upon how the state authorized enrollment. In some states, only one private entity could provide enrollment services, while in some other states multiple private entities could do so.

Why we have enrollment services

So what are “enrollment services”? I’ll defer to my former employer IDEMIA and use the description from its IdentoGO website.

IdentoGO by IDEMIA provides a wide range of identity-related services with our primary service being the secure capture and transmission of electronic fingerprints for employment, certification, licensing and other verification purposes – in professional and convenient locations.

Of course IdentoGO isn’t the only “channeler” in town. A number of these small businesses that provide enrollment services are allied with Certifix Livescan, others with Thales (Gemalto), others with Fieldprint, others with Biometrics4All, and others with many other FBI-approved channelers.

And in some cases, you can go to your local police agency and have the police capture your fingerprints for enrollment purposes.

The Ripon (California) Police Department provides LiveScan fingerprinting service to the public. https://riponpd.org/?page_id=1226

The channelers, and the hundreds upon hundreds of local businesses that are supported by them, handle some or all of a variety of fingerprint verification tasks, including (depending upon the individual state or Federal regulations) banking, education, firearm permits, health care, insurance, legal services, real estate, social services, state employment, transportation, and many others.

  • The basic theory is that if you are, for example, applying for a banking position, your fingerprints are searched against the FBI’s fingerprint database to make sure you don’t have a prior fraud conviction.
  • Or if you’re applying for an education position, you weren’t previously convicted of committing a crime at a school or with children.
  • Or if you’re applying for a transportation position, those multiple drunk driving convictions may cause a problem.

You get the idea.

Who are the end enrollment service providers?

So who are these small business owners who offer these livescan fingerprinting enrollment services?

In most cases, enrollment services are an add-on to a small firm’s existing business.

  • Maybe the business is a travel agency, and it offers fingerprinting along with other travel-related services (such as passport photos).
  • Maybe the business is a tax preparation service.
  • Maybe it’s an insurance agency.

So the business buys or leases a desktop livescan station, aligns with one of the major channelers, gets the necessary state approvals (in California, from the Office of the Attorney General), and waits for the applicants to…well, apply.

Livescan fingerprint capture isn’t idiot-proof, but if I can do it, you probably can also

“But wait,” you may say. “Isn’t the capture of fingerprints a specialized process requiring substantial forensic knowledge?”

She’s not a CSI, but she played one on TV. By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17752707

While you do need to take care to capture fingerprints correctly, livescan systems have dramatically improved in quality, allowing a travel agent or insurance agent to capture high-quality prints.

(I’ll let you in on a little secret: even the law enforcement officers who capture livescan prints from criminals don’t necessarily have years of experience in fingerprint capture.)

As someone who has worked with livescan systems since the mid 1990s, I can attest to the dramatic improvements in livescan technology. I wasn’t around in the early 1990s when Printrak and Digital Biometrics partnered to provide an AFIS-compatible livescan, but I was certainly around when Printrak introduced its own livescan, the LiveScan Station 2000 (LSS 2000), that competed with Digital Biometrics, Identix, and other livescan providers. (Today, former competitors Digital Biometrics, Identix, and Printrak are all part of a single company, IDEMIA.) The LSS 2000 used a Printrak-manufactured capture device attached to a computer running Digital UNIX.

By the time I became a product manager (not for livescans, but for AFIS servers), Motorola introduced two new livescan devices, the LiveScan Station 3000U and the LiveScan Station 3000N. (The “U” stood for Unix, the “N” for the Windows NT family.) The capture device for these two workstations was manufactured by Heimann Biometric Systems, which through a series of subsequent mergers is now part of HID Global.

When you’re an employee of a fingerprinting company, you’re often asked to participate in fingerprint scanner tests. (At least you were in the days before GDPR and CCPA.) So the livescan engineers decided to compare the capture quality of the LSS 2000, the LSS 3000U, and the LSS 3000N. I joined several others in participating in the scanner tests.

But I ran into a problem.

At the time that I participated in this scanner test, I had been working with paper for about two decades, and as a result of this and other things I have very light fingerprints. This isn’t an issue if you’re using a subdermal fingerprint capture system (Lumidigm, one manufacturer of such systems, was also acquired by HID Global), but it’s definitely an issue with the average optical system.

Oh, and did I mention that we were capturing our OWN fingerprints as part of this test? Rather than getting a trainer or someone with law enforcement experience to take our prints, this motley assemblage of marketers and engineers was following the DIY route.

With the result that the fingerprints that I captured on the LSS 2000 were pretty much unusuable.

But the later generation LSS 3000 prints looked a lot better. (I believe that the LSS 3000N prints were the best, which heralded the last hurrah for UNIX workstations in the AFIS world, as Windows computers proved their ability to perform AFIS work.)

And of course time has not stood still since those experiments in the early 2000s. (Although you can still buy a LiveScan 3000N today, for the price of $1.00.)

Today you can buy livescan stations that capture prints at 1000 pixels per inch (ppi), 4 times the resolution of the 500 ppi stations that were prevalent in the 1990s and early 2000s. And frankly, that are still prevalent today; most law enforcement agencies see no need to buy the more expensive 1000 ppi stations, so 500 ppi stations still prevail.

So how does a customer select a livescan fingerprinting enrollment service provider?

So let’s say a customer is applying for a position at a bank or at a school or somewhere else that asks for a fingerprint check. In the state of California, there’s not just one place that you can go to get this service. For example, there are probably a dozen or more enrollment service providers within a few miles of Bredemarket’s corporate headquarters in Ontario.

So how does a customer select a livescan fingerprinting enrollment service provider?

Well, customers do so just like they do with any other business.

IdentoGO Mobile Enrollment RV. https://www.identogo.com/mobile-enrollment-rv
  • Maybe they saw a picture of the IdentoGO RV and that caused “IdentoGO” to stick in their mind when searching for an enrollment service provider.
  • Or maybe they’re driving down a street in the neighborhood and they see a sign that mentions “livescan fingerprinting.”
  • Or maybe they’re on Facebook and see a page that promotes a specific livescan fingerprint enrollment service provider.

The key for the enrollment service provider, of course, is to make sure that your message stays top of customer’s mind when the time comes for the customer to need your service.

  • Your message needs to appear where the customer will see it.
  • Your message has to speak to the customer’s needs.
  • And your message must explain how to obtain the service. Does the customer have to make an appointment? If so, how does the customer make the appointment?

If the customer never sees your message, it’s going to be a lot harder for the customer to use your business. While the California Office of the Attorney General does include a list of all of the authorized livescan fingerprinting providers in California, and all of the various channelers maintain their own lists, neither the Attorney General nor your friendly channeler is going to necessarily direct someone to YOUR business.

You need to let your customers know of your existence, and WHY your service BENEFITS them as opposed to the service down the street.

Bredemarket can help.

If you provide livescan fingerprinting enrollment services and need experienced and knowledgeable help in getting your message out to your customers, contact me:

Marketing messages at multiple levels

Today is podcast day on my content calendar, and I decided upon a title for my next podcast before I even started recording it.

The title? “All clear for an IPO.”

When I selected that title, I knew that 100% of the listeners would discern that the podcast had to do with some company’s initial public offering.

And I knew that 5% of the listeners would understand the significance of the word “clear” in the title.

And I additionally knew that 1% of the listeners would understand the significant of the word “all” in the title.

If you listen to the podcast episode, you’ll understand the significance of these two words, if you didn’t already know their significance.

This is an example of a marketing message that works at multiple levels. Some people will take the title at face value, while others will discern deeper information.

Personally, a lot of my writing is like this, with dense links to illustrative material and occasional phrases that have multiple meanings.

But what happens when a marketing message has multiple meanings and the marketer doesn’t know it?

I am a lover of comedy, and one of my favorite comedy groups from the 1980s is the Pet Shop Boys. Now you might think of the Pet Shop Boys as a music group, but you’re wrong. The duo is actually an accomplished comedy group, with their comedy present in their musical, visual, and lyrical output.

Musically, seek out the Pet Shop Boys’ recording of “Always on My Mind” and compare it to, for example, Willie’s version. Tongue is firmly in cheek here.

Visually, I can sum things up in two words: Chris Lowe. While Neil sings away in videos or in concert, Chris has perfected the fine art of standing there.

“We had a video director once who said I stood still very well,” Chris informs me proudly. “It’s not easy, you know. A lot of people can’t do it. It’s an art form.”

And how about those lyrics? On the surface, songs like “Opportunities” sound like the lyrics came from a Thatcherite manifesto, but anyone who was aware of the currents in United Kingdom politics in the 1980s would obviously know that the Pet Shop Boys didn’t really mean that. Right?

Well

I wonder how many Allstate insurance customers are singing along with a song dripping with sarcasm.

However, I suspect that Neil and Chris enjoyed making a quick pound off of an American insurance company. After all, they got lots of money in return.

…the duo’s U.S. Top 10 “Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money)” has entered (Billboard) magazine’s Dance/Electronic Digital Song Sales chart at No. 5, after appearing in an ad for Allstate Insurance that aired during Super Bowl LV…

The tone of voice to use when talking about forensic mistakes

Remember my post that discussed the tone of voice that a company chooses to use when talking about the benefits of the company and its offerings?

Or perhaps you saw the repurposed version of the post, a page section entitled “Don’t use that tone of voice with me!”

The tone of voice that a firm uses does not only extend to benefit statements, but to all communications from a company. Sometimes the tone of voice attracts potential clients. Sometimes it repels them.

For example, a book was published a couple of months ago. Check the tone of voice in these excerpts from the book advertisement.

“That’s not my fingerprint, your honor,” said the defendant, after FBI experts reported a “100-percent identification.” They were wrong. It is shocking how often they are. Autopsy of a Crime Lab is the first book to catalog the sources of error and the faulty science behind a range of well-known forensic evidence, from fingerprints and firearms to forensic algorithms. In this devastating forensic takedown, noted legal expert Brandon L. Garrett poses the questions that should be asked in courtrooms every day: Where are the studies that validate the basic premises of widely accepted techniques such as fingerprinting? How can experts testify with 100 percent certainty about a fingerprint, when there is no such thing as a 100 percent match? Where is the quality control in the laboratories and at the crime scenes? Should we so readily adopt powerful new technologies like facial recognition software and rapid DNA machines? And why have judges been so reluctant to consider the weaknesses of so many long-accepted methods?

Note that author Brandon Garrett is NOT making this stuff up. People in the identity industry are well aware of the Brandon Mayfield case and others that started a series of reforms beginning in 2009, including changes in courtroom testimony and increased testing of forensic techniques by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and others.

It’s obvious that I, with my biases resulting from over 25 years in the identity industry, am not going to enjoy phrases such as “devastating forensic takedown,” especially when I know that some sectors of the forensics profession have been working on correcting these mistakes for 12 years now, and have cooperated with the Innocence Project to rectify some of these mistakes.

So from my perspective, here are my two concerns about language that could be considered inflammatory:

  • Inflammatory language focusing on anecdotal incidents leads to improper conclusions. Yes, there are anecdotal instances in which fingerprint examiners made incorrect decisions. Yes, there are anecdotal instances in which police agencies did not use facial recognition computer results solely as investigative leads, resulting in false arrests. But anecdotal incidents are not in my view substantive enough to ban fingerprint recognition or facial recognition entirely, as some (not all) who read Garrett’s book are going to want to do (and have done, in certain jurisdictions).
  • Inflammatory language prompts inflammatory language from “the other side.” Some forensic practitioners and criminal justice stakeholders may not be pleased to learn that they’ve been targeted by a “devastating forensic takedown.” And sometimes the responses can get nasty: “enemies” of forensic techniques “love criminals.”

Of course, it may be near to impossible to have a reasoned discussion of forensic and police techniques these days. And I’ll confess that it’s hard to sell books by taking a nuanced tone in the book blurb. But if would be nice if we could all just get along.

P.S. Garrett was interviewed on TV in connection to the Derek Chauvin trial, and did not (IMHO) come off as a wild-eyed “defund the police” hack. His major point was that Chauvin’s actions were not made in a split second, but in a course of several minutes.