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 9

Posted in social networking and business, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on April 23, 2018

This is my 9th 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 1-8.)

I have spent a progression of postings in this series leading up to here, focusing on the business systems contexts that marketing and communications: both standard and traditional, and more interactively inclusive, have to effectively fit into. And I have done so for the most part in terms of two specific business scenarios, chosen for their combination of overtly visible and even obvious differences and for their significant but often less apparent underlying similarities:

• 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 and grow 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.

I have in effect forced a focus in this on the points of difference as arise between these business types in this series, leading up to Part 8 of it, and have done so from how I have addressed them as entirely separate and distinct sources of insight for the specific issues that they raise. Then I began to tie them together for at least one aspect of their potential points of similarity in Part 8, where I began building an explicit foundation for discussing the marketing side to this series per se.

I stated at the end of Part 8 that I would turn here to reconsider my two working business scenarios, and at least begin to discuss how the issues and details raised in that posting would more specifically apply to them. And I begin to do so here with my second, established business example of the above-repeated pair, as the startup scenario as offered up to here is probably the more obvious of them as a context where direct-with-consumer, novelly designed interactive messaging and marketing would be seen as offering value, and cost-effectively so. And it is probably the more likely of the two for this type of New to be accepted as a viable option, and one that would be actively used too.

Established businesses of my second scenario are set in their ways, and essentially by definition. And operationally that means those businesses, and the people in them who would either accept-in or block change as their key gatekeepers, fitting into a more late-adaptor mold with their being more likely to frown upon most anything that would be new or novel to them until extensively validated and proven by others.

That would certainly hold true in areas such as marketing and outwardly connecting communications, such as interactive or more directly personalized marketing with members of their customer bases. That type of marketing, after all, would most likely call for a rethinking and reframing of their basic business brand in place. I stress the word “with” as in “communicating with” or “marketing with” there, as businesses of this type and at this point in history are still much more oriented, at least by default, towards entirely centralized broadcast-only marketing: marketing-to, or if you prefer marketing at their customers and not with them. Tradition, in this can be seen as supportive of a single and more stable monolithic brand image, and in ways that more diverse and flexibly targeted, consumer-individualized communications and marketing would challenge.

And it can safely be assumed that long-term employees and managers there, see their employer as an organization as being built around established and settled processes, task-by-task goals and understandings, that collectively form what for them is their ongoing tried and true and for all that is done there, and certainly routinely. Collectively all of this adds up to a “that’s how we do things here” mindset that can be difficult to significantly challenge, let alone change. But it is just as safe to assume that at least selective, carefully planned out and executed change is going to be needed there too, along with an effective approach for securing buy-in from those who would have to take ownership of this New and actively carry through upon it as their new “that’s how we do things here now.”

This is a marketing oriented series at heart. So let’s focus on that aspect of the above stated overall challenge now:

• Specific products and/or services offered might or might not need fundamental updating while changes in how they would best be marketed are considered. That depends on whether those marketable offerings have become dated and have come to be seen as being out of step with current consumer needs.
• But at the very least those offerings might need cosmetic updates to help bring them to appeal more to a wider, new audience. And yes, from a marketing perspective: the same message and even the same packaging might not work optimally for all target demographics too. Language choice used in packaging is an obvious point when selling online and certainly across national borders. But even details such as package coloring might be important there, where green for example is associated with new life in some cultures, but with death and funerals in others. I cite that as a perhaps extreme but nevertheless real example. It is the seemingly simple and small details that can most easily prove to be the most important here, and precisely because they start out at least seeming to be minor ones – from outside of the culture that a targeted market demographic comes from.
• But regardless of how the above set of issues would be addressed, it is certain that if this business has to reach out to new market demographics, or to old ones that have been drifting away from them for that manner, they probably have to update their messaging and their brand to at least a degree, and re-conceive how they reach out to connect with and engage with their intended markets, and certainly if they seek to capture earlier adaptor demographics as part of that too.

A change in direction and a business revitalizing of the type that I write of here, is of necessity going to have to be built around a renewed focus on excellence and on the marketplace relevance in what is offered. But just as importantly, it has to be built around a renewal in how the message of what is being offered to market is shared, if any of this new desired marketplace is to positively respond and buy in. And this brings me to a basic question:

• If change per se in a business and its ways, is going to engender resistance from the ranks within it anyway, why not focus on making the right changes from a market-facing perspective and certainly going forward, and simply accept a need to bring the people working there along with it, as an unavoidable cost element?

I will address that question and its complexities in my next series installment, where I will at least begin to discuss the costs and benefits of change and of buy-in for it. I will consider and analytically discuss the challenge of increasing adaptive flexibility and resiliency in a business as a part of that, where marketing and branding and a business’ self image as an organization can serve as an important case in point testing ground for more effectively accomplishing that. And as a key part of that discussion to come, I will address points of similarity as would be expected in my two business scenarios under consideration here, where change for the startup can mean stepping away from the assumptions and automatically assumed best practices that its team members might bring with them from their prior work histories. Startup does not mean starting fresh from a business and organizational tabula rasa, and for anyone involved in it.

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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