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Reading Reflection: Cluetrain – Markets are Conversations

6 July 2009

What struck me first about the Cluetrain Manefesto was  the copyright date – 1999, 2001.  The Cluetrain Manefesto was certainly early.  Even before the advent of Web 2.0 platforms, the Cluetrain Manefesto was encouraging conversation between businesses and customers while deriding businesses for their short-sighted marketing practices.

The “Markets are Conversations” chapter reveals to me that these ideas aren’t quite as new as I think they are.  In general, I link ideas of markets having conversations to the time web 2.0 websites started becoming mainstream (around 2006).  However, it is clear these ideas aren’t driven by the web 2.0 websites we know today.  Clearly, online networks were strong in 1999, and certainly before that.  Since that time they’ve become much stronger, but that doesn’t mean the ideas behind them are new.

Businesses are still struggling to understand how to have conversations with their customers.  They are certainly getting better – particularly big businesses that can pay a lot of money for social media consultants.  Personally, however, I’ve found small businesses are struggling to catch up.  Many small businesses have been trained to market online like big business, but haven’t made the shift to conversations yet.  The unfortunate part of this is that small businesses can more easily have conversations with customers online because they can generally be more authentic when they engage in online conversations.

It will certainly be interesting to see how marketing continues to evolve.  Looking back at the Cluetrain Manefesto, it is clearly evolving slower than I would expect, but now that web 2.0 technologies have developed and become more mainstream, we may see the evolution accelerate.


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