Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Leveraging social media in gorilla and viral marketing as great business equalizers: a reconsideration of business disintermediation and from multiple perspectives 4

Posted in social networking and business, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on October 1, 2017

This is my fourth posting to a series on disintermediation, focusing on how this enables marketing options such as gorilla and viral marketing, but also considering how it shapes and influences businesses as a whole. My focus here may be marketing oriented, but marketing per se only makes sense when considered in the larger context of the business carrying it out and the marketplace it is directed towards (see Social Networking and Business 2, postings 278 and loosely following for Parts 1-3.)

I initially made note in Part 2 of this series, of two specific business scenarios:

• A new, young, small startup that seeks to leverage its liquidity and other assets available as creatively and effectively as possible, and from its day one when it is just starting to develop the basic template that it would scale up from,
• And a larger, established business that has become at least somewhat complacent and somewhat sclerotic in the process, and with holdover systems and organizational process flows that might not reflect current actual needs or opportunities faced.

And I focused, and certainly in Part 3, on the second, larger and more established business type, under consideration here.

The first of these business scenarios is relatively obvious and intuitively so by comparison. New, small businesses have very little in the way of liquidity and either for reserves or for more immediate day-to-day operations, marketing included. So anything that they could do, that would favorably extend their marketing reach and their overall name and brand recognition would be for the good. Bringing marketplace participants into this effort, with their personal name recognition in their circles of friends and acquaintances, and as supporters and endorsers of a new business would be all but invaluable to that enterprise in helping it gain traction, and market share and more quickly than they could ever achieve on their own. So gorilla and viral marketing, as supported by the always connected, anywhere to anywhere of online social media, are obvious and increasingly essential resources – disintermediating the marketing process by eliminating third party publishing gatekeepers and directly connecting with and collaborating with the marketplace itself.

That is simple and straightforward. So I focused in Part 3 on the second scenario, which is much less so, where I offered an intentionally planned out digression into how these businesses are structured and into how they function per se. Why did I do that? My goal for this posting is to at least briefly explain that, and to complete this background foundation-building note, if for no other reason.

Let’s begin with that first, simple startup and early stage business example, as a point of comparison for what is to follow here. I just noted that they have little liquidity available, and either for reserves and for dealing with possible set-backs, or for maintaining their ongoing day-to-day activities with the expenses involved there. This is true, and essentially by definition for such enterprises and even if they do have outside investor backers as that type of funding can get burned through very quickly if it is not carefully managed and if its use is not stringently limited. But for purposes of this discussion, it is more important to note that with very small headcounts and with more direct communications throughout the organization, organizational systems are simple and direct and the effective table of organization, as actually followed operationally can be relatively flat and even entirely so for a variety of business functions and purposes.

Gorilla and viral marketing approaches can be viewed as simply following this same basic approach, and both as a necessity and as a source of opportunity, while limiting expenses in direct cash and in timing-delay forms. A larger and more established business might have greater reserves and larger and more reliably established cash flows that could be used in support of ongoing business activity. But more importantly here, they are also essentially certain to have much more complicated organizational structures with many, many more organizational layers and a much more complex and settled system of distinct supervisory and management led teams – and with all of the partitions that this creates, and barriers to smooth and friction-free communications and decision making. And I stress here that the boundaries separating these partitioned off table of organization layers, and the presence of all of those separate groups within the organization all offer opportunity for business friction with reduced and slowed down communications, and with all of the adverse consequences that this can create and certainly where a business seeks to be agile and resilient in the face of possible change. This impacts upon both internal, within-business communications, and on externally facing and connecting marketing and related communications efforts too.

One of the foundation-building observations that I made in this series and early on in it, which I repeated at the start of this installment, is that “my focus here may be marketing-oriented, but marketing per se only makes sense when considered in the larger context of the business carrying it out and the marketplace it is directed towards.” Here is where that becomes explicitly important:

• It cannot make a positive, value creating or enhancing difference to disintermediate and simplify operational processes and the communications that enable them in one area of a business (e.g. in marketing), if that more streamlined subsystem fits into and works within a larger overall business that is overly complex and bogged down with business systems friction and related inefficiency-producing barriers that undo any possible benefit so gained.

Small businesses such as startups and early stage businesses can find it a lot easier to make options and approaches such as gorilla and viral marketing work for them, because they do not attenuate and lose any potential value advantage so gained in a veritable swamp of overall inefficiency and delay, which can arise and certainly as a worst-case situation.

• And with that type of change management requiring example in mind, I note that simply adding in or attempting to add in new and exciting innovations such as gorilla and viral marketing, and without reviewing and correcting the inefficiencies and disconnects that this would have to work through, cannot help.

In a more normative context, with fewer and much less severe slow-downs and their inefficiencies, any advantage from directly connecting into the marketplace and with real participants there, can still easily be attenuated away and lost to the business – with that leaving dissatisfied members of those marketplace communities, when and as their efforts to positively communicate with the business seem to drift off into the twilight zone.

And with this offered as background material for thinking through these two business types, I return to the types of issues that I raised towards the top of this posting regarding how and why they would turn to approaches such as gorilla and viral marketing. And I pose two questions that I will at least begin to address in my next series installment, which I raise here in anticipation of what is to come:

• How best can an established business that is set in its more traditional ways, break that perhaps long-established pattern to bring in innovative new approaches such as disintermediated marketing?
• And how can such a business make this work for them, and in ways that do not simply leave any value potential created, lost in the complexities of the rest of the business?

In anticipation of this, and addressing these questions, I add in one more, as a point of orienting focus:

• Can an established and even at least somewhat sclerotic business use the introduction of new and different, such as gorilla or viral marketing as a starting point for reinvigorating and updating the business as a whole, and if so, how?

Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings and series at Business Strategy and Operations – 4, and also at Page 1, Page 2 and Page 3 of that directory. You can find this and related postings at Social Networking and Business 2, and also see that directory’s Page 1.

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