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 8

Posted in social networking and business, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on March 16, 2018

This is my 8th 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 1-7.)

I have been discussing this set of issues, and particularly from the wider perspective of the overall business organization and its market context here, since Part 2, doing so in terms of two generic but nevertheless realistic case study examples:

• 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 in the course of developing that dual-facing narrative, I have at least mentioned communications disintermediation-enabled marketing approaches such as gorilla and viral marketing on several occasions, as specific areas of operational and strategic intent and action. Then at the end of Part 7 I said that I would continue its line of discussion here, by:

• More directly focusing on those new and emerging marketing and sales options themselves, and on communications disintermediation as a goal in and of itself.

I begin doing so by more explicitly considering the issues of intent for this per se, as viewed from a marketing business side and as viewed from an actively responding and engaging marketplace and consumer side. And I begin that by noting that both the similarities and the differences found between those two perspectives are important, and telling. To be more explicit as to what is to follow here, I will address this narrative thread in terms of a business scenario sketch that could consistently arise in either my already discussed new or established business case studies as developed up to here. And I will consider both the business and the marketplace side to these marketing and communications issues, assuming that either:

• A manufacturing or otherwise market supporting and servicing business: new and startup or old and established, approaches the products and I add any supportive services that they would bring to market with an active intent, seeing those offerings and their success in sales of them, as crucial to their own success and to their long-term viability as a business.
• The consumers and potential consumers of these offerings that they face in their targeted marketplace might or might not take a correspondingly focused approach to those same offerings. They might, however, be more inclined to do so if and when they see them as being necessary in some way for their own genuine, higher priority needs: ongoing, or at least contextually here-and-now. But when those products and/or services are viewed as more fad in nature, impulse purchase in nature, or both, a real asymmetry of perceived importance and value can emerge between provider and consumer in this, with those consumers viewing those purchase options as holding lesser priority and significance than their providers would.
• So manufacturers and their wholesale and retail distributors have to be able to look beyond their own product and service assumptions, and their own conceptions of priority and need here, when reaching out to their markets. They need to find ways that help themselves to better connect with their customers and potential customers, and in terms that resonate with the consumer-side vision of what they offer, as is actually taking place around them, and with a goal of capturing the interest and if possible the purchasing activity of these people too.

Marketing in this sense is all about developing and conveying a vision of knowing and understanding the consumer and their needs and preferences, however strongly held or fleeting, as might apply in any given here-and-now. And it is all about crafting a message to these buyers and potential buyers that mirrors and validates their views and opinions, and in an encouraging and supportive manner.

• That reflects the reactive face of marketing and connecting with the marketplace and its consumers as they already are. Really effective marketing just begins there and proactively seeks to shape the message, and in ways that can lead consumers and potential buyers to see value in what is offered too. Both sides of this, would ideally fit into the same overall pattern that I write of here.

Traditional marketing bases the resonance that it seeks to establish in all of this, in in-depth market research that it then crafts into messages and images that it broadcasts at its intended target markets and their consumer members. Viral and gorilla marketing may supplementally build themselves from similar types of more formally gathered market data as starting points, when reaching out initially to begin more direct conversations. But they continue on from there, developing direct information gathering channels, with specific members of those markets from that point on. And crucial to this, these are two-way information sharing channels: two-way communications channels.

• Viral and gorilla marketing are spontaneous and free-flowing from the market side, and of necessity so. This is true at least in part, because that is how most marketplace participants approach this type of communications and information sharing opportunity: for its entertainment value as much as for its information gathering value and its purchase decision making value.
• And viral and gorilla marketing are inherently less structured, and for both sides to the conversations that arise there.
• But these same approaches are of necessity much more tightly organized from the marketing business side, and certainly for their overall messaging and branding intent, and even if they are carried out in an at least seemingly more spontaneously manner in the specific conversations entered into.
• A business entering into this type of conversation, presents its brands and represents itself in terms of them. But at the same time, the individuals actually reaching out and engaging in them as representing those businesses, of necessity have to be able to share something of themselves and of their own personalities in this too, if their side to these conversations are to show any spontaneity or anything of a genuine quality. Static script-only in this, abrogates any possibility of actually entering into a genuine two way conversation with anyone. From a consumer perspective that would be more like talking back to a robocall, and it would be just as disengaging, and just as much of a turn-off.
• And the market participant consumers who these business representatives meet and converse with in all of this, bring their own personal perspectives and priorities to these conversations too, and individually so, while at the same time showing their affiliation with the general demographics they resonate with too.

One of the core Marketing department goals that a business should pursue in making this type of endeavor work, should that of making these conversations into data gathering exercises, and with every possible learning curve opportunity cultivated from all of the marketplace-to-company and back, interactive exchanges so developed. Traditional focus group exercises are often developed and run with a goal of gathering structured data wherever possible, that can readily be fed into more standard statistical analytical tests for better modeling and understanding their consumer markets. Some unstructured data that cannot simply be handled that way, all but inevitably leaks into that mix too, there. But the conversations that arise here, in the more direct two-way interactive contexts that I write of here, reverse that with a perhaps majority of all data gathered in, starting out as unstructured data and with just some more immediately readily structured data of a more traditional form and format leaking in there too.

Imagine, from the marketplace consumer perspective, that you’re receiving a message from a business about a new product idea through social media. And they express interest in hearing from you, about what you think of this. But instead of their trying to capture your interest and curiosity as a full person, they try hitting you with a traditionally formed marketing survey that is filled with yes and no only questions, and questions that allow for fixed numerical scale-only responses, and with no options or opportunities for more nuanced or unplanned for responses allowed. How quickly would you unfriend them and move on? How quickly can you use a mouse or keyboard?

I have taken a more generic approach in this posting than I have in other installments to this series up to here. But I will turn back to reconsider my two working business scenarios of earlier installments in my next posting to it, to at least begin to discuss how the issues and details raised here, would more specifically apply to them. 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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