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Revisiting the Cluetrain

I read some articles that I don’t quite buy that Twitter is dying.

Twitter and most online entities are suffering from something the authors of The Cluetrain said almost 20 years ago. ” When we get tired of hearing ourselves speak, then we will see the true power of the Net.” I will cover that in depth later, but the simple answer is “If you fail to study history, you are doomed to repeat it.”

Where I am taking OneDegree is back in time, and forward at the same time.

I was given the rights to the material in The Cluetrain to use in my courses. I found it enlightening and also the classes I taught shone a light, a different lens if you will, on not only the net … but daily life. My daily life. It changed me!

The recent election was an interesting online battleground like nothing I had ever seen before. Oh wait, yes I did! the first Trudeaumania in ’68 and the atrocity known in Toronto as Ford Nation in 2010.

This has caused me to take a look at the 95 Theses and see if they are still relevant or if they need to be adjusted.

I have them on my site  or you can drop over to the Mothership and see them.

So let’s get down to it.

Before I begin you should be warned – I really want this to be  more like Lapham’s Quarterly rather than Clickbait sites!

So, if I lose you in the process as a one-time avid OneDegree reader, I’m sorry.

#1 Markets are conversations.

The recent elections demonstrated to me the current trend of poor listening. IT IS A PANDEMIC. People tend not to listen on the phone, in the service industry and certainly NOT online. A conversation is a two-way street. And a great rule of thumb is that because we have two ears and only one mouth we really should listen twice as much as we speak.

In a recent job I had one of the folks, there was typical of the young earner-beaver kids in the workplace. The issue with her conversation skills were that she talked, stopped, waited for you to stop talking so she could continue. Never really engaging with the other person.

This too was the election. My friends in Social Media tend to be left-leaning and no matter what point was brought up – the response was all but ignored and their POV was never shifted, nor was there any attempt in their having a look at the other side.

Engagement is the key factor – that is what makes conversations. Real conversations. And in The Cluetrain when we talk about “markets,” this NOUN is created through relationships and engagements and true conversations with real people. And we know what real people sound like. We know what humans sound like. Humans do not talk to each other in technobabble or marketing buzzwords.

Most companies fail miserably in their communications because they are thinking “strategy” and “developing” a marketing comm plan and executing on target etc

As the Cluetrain guy, this flies in the face of what is right.

I don’t think folks can effectively market with that aggressive and rather an antiquated approach. Sure Bernbach changed the tide by adding humour – but market still became some verb, with us as the object.

Traditional marketing emphasizes the logical side of management and not the side of the process the customer actually experiences. Sure you need strategies … but add humanity into the strategic mix. Or, quite simply talk to people.

Sadly that is the last thing companies do. They want customers (Read their money) they don’t want relationships. How many times have I heard that old joke … “Our business would be great if it wasn’t for those damn clients!”

I would love to see companies drop the draw bridge. Open the gates and let folks in. It would be scary. But it can work.


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