The Cluetrain Manifesto – The End of Business as Usual

As luck would have it, a thought-provoking book found me recently at a local book store. It's the Cluetrain Manifesto. The tenth anniversary edition came out a couple years ago, or according to the authors, the "tenth ADDITION", and unlike most books on the internet that are obsolete before they even come to press, this important piece originating a dozen years ago could have been written yesterday.

it is a persuasive reminder that corporate communication can no longer be sterile, cleverly crafted bromides announcing the company's brilliance of perfection. People can no longer be fooled. "Your call is very important to us" followed by "Please leave a message" just reminds one how little the company truly cares about them.

This is one of those books that will resonate differently with every reader. Here are 10 of their 95 theses that I really liked:

  1. Markets consist of human beings, not demographic sectors
  2. Whether delivering information, opinions, perspectives, dissenting arguments, or humorous asides, the human voice is typically open, natural and uncontrived.
  3. People in networked markets have figured out that they get far better information and support from one another than from vendors. So much for corporate rhetoric about adding value to commoditized products.
  4. In just a few more years, the current homogenized "voice" of business-the sound of mission statements and brochures-will seem as contrived and artificial as the language of the 18th-century French court.
  5. Already, companies that speak in the language of the pitch, the dog and pony show, are no longer speaking to anyone.
  6. Companies need to lighten up and take themselves less seriously. They need to get a sense of humor. Getting a sense of humor does not mean putting some jokes on the corporate web site. Rather, it requires big values, a little humility, straight talk, and a genuine point of view.
  7. Companies attempting to "position" themselves need to take a position. Optimally, it should relate to something their market actually cares about.
  8. Public relations does not relate to the public. Companies are deeply afraid of their markets.
  9. Most marketing programs are based on the fear that the market might see what's actually going on inside the company.
  10. Brand loyalty is the corporate version of going steady, but the breakup is inevitable-and coming fast. Because they are networked, smart markets are able to renegotiate relationships with blinding speed.

And those are only from the first third of their theses. Stay tuned for more-or better yet, read this book-and in the mean time, consider communicating with your customer in a way that gets her attention and surprises him with some unexpected honesty. "Listen carefully since our menu items have recently changed."? Too many of us are no longer listening because we don't believe you.


About Mike Lake

Mike is the Senior Vice President of Marketing for Evergreen Trading. When not playing jazz trombone he is probably obsessing about writing content that will capture the attention and interest of business people and fellow learning junkies everywhere.

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