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 11

Posted in social networking and business, startups, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on August 15, 2018

This is my 11th 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 1-10.)

I have been developing the narrative offered in this series since its Part 2, in large part in terms of two specific case study business examples, that I repeat here in their single bullet point description forms for smoother continuity of discussion:

• 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.

In actual fact, I have up to here primarily just focused on the second more established business example as offered there, and have primarily just cited the startup example in preceding installments to indicate that the issues under discussion in them are more widely applicable than the second example alone might suggest. Quite simply, it is intuitively more obvious and certainly in broad brush stroke outline, how the issues that I have been discussing here would apply in a first scenario, startup context.

My goal here is to turn to and at least begin to more explicitly explore the above-restated startup example for its details too. And in anticipation of that and for purposes of that line of discussion to come, I posit that a startup that would meet the criteria implicit in the above scenario bullet point, would also hold the following organizing characteristics:

• Its owner founders and any other early founding team members brought in, in support of their effort are all willing and able to plan ahead and with at least a goal of developing and following a single overall strategically planned out and executed business model.
• And I assume that they can and do communicate together at least sufficiently effectively enough and on at least the essential core details and issues that they face, to be able to coordinately pursue their business and its development in a manner that tracks with their underlying plans and intent. So I assume a basic coordinated consistency in what is done and how.
• Note that I am not necessarily assuming easy or automatic agreement there: just a willingness to communicate and work together in an effort to build a consensus that the business can be developed from.
• If accomplishing the above three bullet points means bringing in occasional outside consulting or similar help for specialized expertise (or for mediation assistance), I assume that fits into their ongoing business development program smoothly and cost-effectively enough so as not to be disruptive of this venture.
• And I set aside as moot, for purposes of this discussion and certainly here in it, any issues of outside funding and the impact that can have on strategic and operational decision making and their execution. For purposes of simplicity and focus of discussion here if nothing else, I assume that the people who have to live with decisions made at a higher level in this business, get to make them and without anything like outside interference.
• And I of course, start out assuming that these people are comfortable with new approaches and with trying them out. Note that this does not necessarily mean disruptively new and game changing, as gorilla marketing and viral marketing to cite the two “nonstandard” marketing options raised in my starter paragraph to this posting, are not all that new anymore at least as general approaches. Specific new and innovative ways to implement and apply them in the particular instance might be new and even game changingly so, but the basic approaches themselves are not. Nevertheless, I can also state that I also assume here that the founders of this new venture are not overly conservative in what they do; they are not going to be late or even just mid-stage adaptors when you characterize that type of business approach determination in terms of the rate and manner in which new innovation diffuses out into the marketplace and into eventual use there.

With that list of working parameters noted and with one more still to be added to them, I offer, with some context-appropriate modifications, a set of variations on the basic to-address topics list that I delved into in an established but somewhat sclerotic business context as discussed in installments leading up to this. My goal for the next installment and the next several to follow that, is to more systematically discuss those comparable, but more startup-oriented retakes on my earlier to-address points and in an explicitly young business and startup context.

• What types of change are being considered in building this new business, and with what priorities? In this context, the issues of baseline and of what would be changed from become crucially important. I assume here that change in this context means at least pressure to change on the part of business founders, from the assumptions and presumptions, positive and negative that they might individually bring to this new venture with them as to how a business should be organized and run. So I will consider change as arises here, in how the business is planned and run, at least as much as I do in what would be developed there and brought to market. I will mostly just cite and discuss the later for its contextual significance in all of this.
• Focusing on the business planning and development side to that again, and more specifically on the high priority first business development and operations steps that would be arrived at and agreed to for carrying that out (in light of the above bullet point considerations here), and setting aside more optional potential goals and benchmarks that would simply be nice to be able to carry through upon too,
• Where exactly do those must-do tasks fit into the business and how can they best be planned out, for cost-effective implementation (in the here and now) and for scalability (thinking forward)? Functionally that set of goals and their realization, of necessity ranges out beyond the boundaries of a Marketing, or a Marketing and Communications context, applying across the business organization as a whole. But given the basic thrust of this specific series, I will begin to more fully discuss communications per se, and Marketing, or Marketing and Communications in this bullet point’s context. And I will comparatively discuss communications as a process, and as a functional area in a business there.
• Turning back to the main, overall business-wide thrust of this progression of topics points, what costs and risks of cost would accrue, if the higher-of-necessity priorities as arrived at in this exercise were not followed through upon, and what would be saved or enabled in increased business viability and revenue generation potential if they were addressed and on a high priority basis?
• Now what costs would arise and both directly and consequentially if these goals and tasks were set aside for future resolution, where a decision might be made to address them but only as if they hold what amounts to a de facto lower priority? Looking back to the first of these here-reframed bullet points, I note in this context, the ease and the peril of seeking to achieve consensus by kicking awkward or difficult decisions down the road to make easier a current (and probably transient) here and now.
• What would the costs of actively pursuing these goals be, and of pursuing them in the face of possible conflict that their resolution might hold with at least one of the founder’s more individual a priori comfort zones for how the business would be run? This, I add is a question that of necessity cannot be fully contained in a more routine bookkeeping ledger manner, any more than its counterpart for the second business scenario can be in its context. Costs in this, critically include human impact as well as directly calculable monetary finances, and the costs of resistance to change, and the cost of adaptation and learning curve participation have to be included here too and even if a change involved there is fully and even eagerly endorsed and widely so.
• Now let’s consider the key stakeholders to all of this activity, and particularly those whose actions could stymie or enable them, and whose resistance or positive participation would influence overall costs faced, and of all types. That obviously includes founders and owners as they might agree or come into conflict with each other over policy or implementation. But in anticipation of discussion to come on this, that also includes the potential to facilitate or effectively slow down or even block timely action, as can arise from the decisions and actions of key founding team members brought in as non-owners too. And as a business begins to grow and build out a headcount, this type of influential impact and its range of sources can scale out with that too. Who is significantly going to be involved in this at an influencing if not outright controlling level, and on a critical needs implementation, by critical needs implementation basis? Once again, I am particularly focusing on critically important business development issues here, though “pet projects” have to be considered here too and as potential resource drains if nothing else. The goal here is to find better ways for arriving at as realistic an overall assessment of what can and should be done as possible, framed in terms that would lead to and facilitate better, more effective overall execution. Once again, Marketing and Communications offers useful case in point examples of how this can play out, and precisely because that is a functional area that is often carried out as a more separate area of expertise and without the same type of operations-connections considerations that you would expect to see considered for departments such as Information Technology or Manufacturing Production.
• And I will be blunt here. If there are crucially positioned gatekeepers of the type noted above, who would actively work against and resist changes that any prudent business systems analysis would show to be essentially necessary, are they the right people for the positions that they hold in the business? Here, the challenge faced definitely includes the fact that business founders who hold equity can at least potentially come to fundamental disagreement with each other, with all of the peril for this new venture that that can lead to. But to complicate matters, others who are brought in for support of this new venture are likely to have been chosen on the basis of preexisting interpersonal relationships and even overt friendships with those in authority there, and certainly early on when hiring can be so networking and prior relationship driven. So challenging the decision making and follow through of these people and certainly for critically positioned early-on employees can be just as stressful to the business as a conflict between founder owners. And the issues that might come to demand action here can be just as consequential. I write this on the basis of personal experience arrived at when working with at least some of my business clients.

And with that offered as my new to-address list for this startup context, I turn back to my basic assumptions list to add the last of them to it, at least for purposes of this posting:

• I assume that any disagreements arrived at, as for example noted in my above to-address notes, can be resolved. This might be done strictly in-house or it might call for outside consultant assistance: that is actually a moot point of distinction here. I will simply assume that one way or other, workable resolutions can be arrived at that will preserve and even strengthen the business involved.

I am going to start delving into the questions and issues of the above to-address list, doing so in light of my assumptions list as offered here, in the next installment to this series. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings and series at Business Strategy and Operations – 5, and also at Page 1, Page 2, Page 3 and Page 4 of that directory. You can find this and related postings at Social Networking and Business 2, and also see that directory’s Page 1. And I also include this posting and other startup-related continuations to it, in Startups and Early Stage Businesses – 2.

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