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 13

Posted in social networking and business, startups, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on January 9, 2019

This is my 13th 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 1-12.)

I began discussing a set of issues that would arise for well established businesses that have become set in their ways, in the context of this type of series, in Part 2. And I then switched directions in Part 11 to at least begin to consider a newly forming startup example in contrast to that, which I have cartoonishly summarized for its basic form as:

• 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 as an orienting starting point for what is to follow, in fleshing out and examining that type of case study example, I offered a to-address topics list that can be considered startup-oriented in its basic tenor and orientation, which I repeat here for its first three entries for purposes of this posting:

1. 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 and business practices of their past experience: positive and negative that they might individually bring with them to this new venture, and their thoughts as to how a business should be organized and run as shaped by all of their prior workplace experience. So I will consider change as arises in how the business is planned and run, at least as much as I do when considering what would be developed there and brought to market as product or service. I will mostly just cite and discuss the later for its contextual significance in all of this.
2. Focusing on the business planning and development side to that, and more specifically on high priority, first business development and operations steps that would be arrived at and agreed to for carrying 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,
3. 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.

Note: I also outlined some of the essentially axiomatic assumptions in Part 11, that I would bring to my analyses and discussions of all of the topics points and their issues as listed there: the above-repeated first three included. And I recommend that you review them as discussed there. That noted, I began addressing the above restated Point 1 in Part 12, focusing there on a need for effective negotiations as involved stakeholders air and argue the case for their respective understandings of the goals and priorities faced, for developing and building this new business venture. And my goal here is to finish addressing that Point 1 and its issues, at least for purposes of this series, and to at least begin addressing Points 2 and 3 as well.

To be more specific here, I approached Point 1 and its issues in Part 12 of this series, by primarily focusing on the fundamental need for informed and mutually agreed to consensus, among key stakeholders:

• As to what type of business a startup is to grow into, as it realizes its business model,
• And what its goals and priorities should be, at least in a more immediate here-and-now context, and for next steps that would be taken moving forward beyond that.
• And to add one more detail to that summary: the earlier that any really significant points of disagreement can be identified and worked through among the key stakeholders of a business, at least to the level of their arriving at basic workable functional agreement, the better. Problems of that sort that are set aside for later consideration, only fester and grow.

I turn here to consider a What and How counterpart to that Why. And I begin addressing this half of my response to Point 1 by dividing this approach to its issues, into two areas of consideration:

• What specific tasks would be agreed to and for type and priority? And what specific tasks act more as focus points of disagreement?
• And Who arrives at the determination in any finalized sense of how these discussion point decisions would be resolved and by whom, at least for immediate and next step purposes as the business proceeds forward? I simply note here in generic, generally stated response to that question, that there are circumstances where stakeholder priority in arriving at and phrasing such resolutions would best be based on equity ownership in this venture and on position and title held, and some would best be based on specific relevant expertise and certainly for more technical issues and their tasks. The details as to how this would and should play out, would of necessity be business, and business-model specific and depend on the nature of, and the decision making influence of the emerging corporate culture coming into place.
• Who would make these relevant binding decisions as far as the second of those points is concerned, when determining how specific business decisions would be parsed out according to those decision maker options? And how would their decisions and conclusions, or their recommendations if so identified, be supported and moved forward on?

The first of those points is explicitly What oriented. And together, the second and third points of that set, at least begin addressing the How (and the by whom) side of the issues raised in Point 1, above. The rest of any such answer to the question as raised there, becomes a matter of personality, and of leadership and followership, as can be found or encouraged among the key decision making stakeholders of a business. And the patterns that arise from this process, lay the foundations of the overall corporate culture to come at this new business as it becomes established and begins to grow beyond the initial founding team.

And with that, I offer a word of explicit warning:

• I have seen startups and early stage businesses succeed and even to spectacular degrees. And I have seen them flounder and fail too. And one of the core, fundamental differences between these two outcomes-defined groups can be found in how well the decision makers there, and those who can influence and shape the consequences of their decisions, can come to agreement and achieve alignment in what they do there, or fail to do so.

Abraham Lincoln’s so relevant words come to mind for me as I ponder what for me, is a repeatedly validated point of observation that they compel: “a house divided cannot stand.” Lincoln had a very different and I add more societally impactful context in mind when offering this advice, but it applies in the smaller scale of individual businesses too.

This, as experience shows, can be an even more important metric of overall likelihood of success for a business, long term, than the challenge of arriving at an effective way to profitably monetize what a business would offer to market as its primary product or service. Google, to cite a well known example there, and its founders, knew that they were building a business that would offer a best of breed online search engine as the core element of its overall market facing offerings. And they were effectively aligned in this and in how to proceed in developing their business for this. But they did not in fact work out the details as to precisely how they could best create a profitable service that would enrich the business (and themselves) from this, and even until after they initially went IPO for this venture.

They knew basically what they wanted to do and they were able to effectively capture the imagination of the public that they were trying to reach with this business, and with their online search tools. And they were able to come to sufficient agreement on all of the key business development issues that they faced as they organized and launched and began to grow this new business. And they captured a very significant market share for what they would do. Then, they figured out in more fully working details, precisely how they would earn money from all of this productive effort. Were some of those steps carried out in a very contrarian order, and one that other new businesses would best avoid trying to emulate? Yes. But they did get the most important of their basic business development decisions and steps worked out early, and even from the beginning – and at least effectively enough to make it possible to move forward in achieving all of the rest. They were at least working together in all of this, and certainly for all of the really important issues and decisions that they faced.

And with that offered here, I will turn next to more directly and fully consider Points 2 and 3 from the above list, which I just touched upon in the above narrative. Then after completing my discussions of those topic points and their issues, I will proceed through the rest of the Part 11 to-address list points, as offered in detail there. And I will connect this overall narrative as I have been developing it here, to a more strictly Marketing and Communications context, noting in advance of that, that

• While it is not possible to effectively discuss that area of business activity, or its more social media-based forms without considering the business and its markets that would enter into that,
• It is still necessary to tie any such contextual narrative back to Marketing and Communications again too.

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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