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Social Media and Strategy
Business Plans Part II
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June 2010
ADM logoSummertime
June is the season of graduations: young people on the precipice of their adult lives. For many businesses, one fiscal year concludes, leaving them on the precipice of a new one. We are all hoping that the economy will continue to improve; that companies will proceed with plans to introduce new products and services, and initiate new communications programs.
Later this month, I am proud to announce that I will be installed as the president of the Long Island chapter of IABC--International Association of Business Communicators. Given our economy and the dwindling participation of businesspeople in professional organizations, this is a daunting task. However, I will have an enthusiastic and talented board with which to work, and I am excited and ready to roll.
When you scroll down you will see Part 2 of Greg Goodman's piece on business plans--a document and a process that is critical to your business' growth and health. Thank you to Greg and to Adrian's Network, through which I met Greg!
Social Media and Strategy
To Tweet Or Not To TweetYoung man texting 
Indeed, that is the question. Whether to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous twitterings, or to take arms against a sea of e-mails, and by opposing, end them? Okay. That was awful. But somewhere amidst the muck there is a point.
First, I am NOT opposed to social media, as a class of communication. There is no doubt that it has irrevocably changed the way we receive and transmit news and information--mostly for the better. What concerns me is the desire to think of these vehicles as a panacea or as something in which one MUST engage or be left in the dust. It seems to me that the result has, in fact, been a sea of irrelevant, and sometimes incoherent, ramblings that fill our inboxes and Blackberries to an overwhelming degree.
Then there is the race to achieve as many followers as possible. I understand that some employers use this number as a factor in hiring--if you have a lot of followers, then you MUST be a highly desirable employee. The nature and intelligence of one's tweets doesn't seem to enter into the picture. Moreover, if someone has a lot of followers, how much time is he or she spending on Twitter? How much will that incur on the company's time?
I would prefer to see more substance in messaging. This is what professional communicators do, and the good ones do it well. I understand the power of viral marketing, whether it is through "old fashioned" e-mail distribution or newer methods such as Facebook or Twitter. But it is more important to spend some time developing a communications and/or media strategy than to rush to distribution of some content that is developed "on the run." Although some people may lack the patience to first strategize, there is generally a return on this investment of time and resources. Like most other things, a communication campaign is more likely to yield the desired results (awareness, image, or sales) when it has been well-planned.
Therefore, even if you (like so many people) suffer from AADD, you may want to follow the old adage and look before you leap. Or, in a more modern parlance, plan before you tweet!
The Secret Power of Business Plans--Part II
It's An Ongoing Process 

A business plan starts to become a 'business-building tool' as soon as you stop thinking of it as a document and start viewing it as an ongoing process. Writing things down in an organized, methodical fashion brings order and clarity to your thoughts, and naturally causes you to question all of the assumptions about your business that you usually take for granted. Moreover, having a complete overview of your business in a single document-one that can be updated quickly and easily at any time-can do wonders for your efforts to stay organized, keep a handle on dynamic situations, and manage all of the tasks that you undertake day-in and day-out.


A well crafted business plan provides a view of your business from "thirty-thousand feet" and "under a microscope" at the same time. The big-picture is there and the details are there-which sets the stage for the next important thing that happens when you create a business plan in the right way:  connections that you didn't see before begin to emerge. Just as the geographic relationship between two countries is easier to grasp when you look at them on a map, the interplay between the working parts of your business, internal and external, become clearer in unexpected ways.


The ability of a business plan to expose connections and patterns is partly the result of thinking through facets of your business that you hadn't examined before, which makes those elements more visible and familiar. It is also an outgrowth of the "road map" nature of business plans in general. Determining how best to get from point-A to point-B (and C and D), as you progress from your "today business" to your desired "tomorrow business" takes strategy; and that means making choices regarding opportunities, resources, action-steps, and timing. A business plan makes it easier to see all of the important factors simultaneously so that different possible combinations can be evaluated.


Best of all, it happens naturally-try it and you'll see.


In addition, a business plan is a natural idea catcher-the perfect place to jot down inspirations, insights, concerns, and random thoughts about your business in context. If an idea relates to daily operations, there's a logical place to put it...if it's a new marketing angle, there's a section for that...and if you come up with an inspiration that has to do with future opportunities or ambitions, the "Long-Term Strategy" section is there at the ready. I routinely encourage my clients to scribble all over their business plans anytime an idea pops into their heads. It's amazing how quickly those ideas accumulate.


Change doesn't stop, and neither should your business plan process. When viewed in this way, a formal business plan ceases to be a static, one-off endeavor and becomes more of a baseline from which to evolve your business-i.e., there is no reason for the 'process' to suddenly stop just because you've put something in writing, and every reason to keep it going.


Here's my advice:  write a business plan (or update the one you have); keep it with you; review it regularly; add ideas whenever they occur; and, rewrite your business plan two-to-four times a year-or whenever your "scribbles" get too crowded.


You'll wonder why you never did it before.


Greg Goodman has been an independent business plan consultant since 1982 and recently published the book, The Best Business Plan Book For Real Estate Agents, How to Write a Great Business Plan and Use It to Grow Your Business Constantly. 

Upcoming Events
June 15, 11:30am-1:30pm
The International Association of Business Communicators concludes its program season with its annual Achievement Awards luncheon. The LI chapter will be awarding deserving communications professionals for Achievement in Communications, Community Service, and Student Achievement, as well as the chapter's Communicator of the Year award. The keynoter is Mark Schumann, Chairperson of the Board of IABC International, and the new chapter Board of Directors (including yours truly) will be sworn in. Go to for more information and to register for this wonderful event.
I look forward to seeing you there!
June 17, 6:00-8:00pm   
SMPS-LI is holding the last of its Marketing Tools Series for this program season, and an important one it is. Led by the talented and expert Liz Kupcha, CPSM, this program on Social Media follows her initial program, last year. I'm sure that lots has changed, and it is important to be au courant! Go to to register.
June 10, 6:30-8:30pm
For those of you who may be starting out (or re-starting) or know someone who is, the New York American Marketing Association is presenting "Interview Skills" for young professionals, led by Fred Ball, Managing Director at Ball & Associates, a human resource consulting firm. Find out more and register at
June 30, 6:00-8:00pm 
Adrian's Network has expanded to include face-to-face meetings in addition to its virtual network calls. At the end of the month, there is a networking event at Prohibition, a restaurant at 503 Columbus Avenue in New York. Go to the home page: for more information and registration.  In the meantime, click on "Calendar of Calls" to choose a virtual networking call
. Adrian always gets an interesting, diverse, and outgoing group together, whether it is a conference call at 8am or a pre-dinner in-person meeting at 6pm. Even if you are not a member of this network, you can participate in up to two calls to "try it out."
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