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We need to see more employees of more companies talking with customers and users. In fact, we talked about exactly that in Chapter 4 of The Cluetrain Manifesto. Search down for the How to Talk subhead. It's near the bottom.
34: To speak with a human voice, companies must share the concerns of their communities.
35: But first, they must belong to a community.
36: Companies must ask themselves where their corporate cultures end.
37: If their cultures end before the community begins, they will have no market.
Your crawler is hitting our servers too hard. Please slow down, it's hurting the service we provide to our customers. Thanks. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Funny thing to write on your website especially if there is no crawler involved but only my Internet Explorer. But perhaps they do not like Microsoft ;) or one request for the very first time is too hard for them to handle. BTW I´m sorry to hurt their customers. I did not intend to do so. ;)
In spite of its self-congratulatory tone and its "too easy" criticisms of the most clueless of large company practices, it's still required reading along with Permission Marketing and other volumes that are "so 1999."
Unfortunately, some more recent efforts (Chris Locke's Gonzo Marketing) seem to be "just more Cluetrain" - coaching corporations on how to tap into their markets' sensibilities so they can seem sensitive and caring so they can make more profits.
There is not much that is far-reaching in the analysis, but indirectly I think the analysis can help most companies build a better, more responsive web presence.
You could probably get the same thing, though, in Godin's 30-pages+pictures The Big Red Fez.
Then why do they give the full text free on the web?
The clue was well ahead of its time in 99, and I can't think of it being more applicable than it is today, right now, right here. This very thread is the embodiment of most of the theses in the book. This is the ground zero real world provening grounds for the book.
Digital, in its pre-Compaq days, had an organizational structure that fostered such real converstaions, internal and external. The way that 3-M fosters skunk-works is similar. And they gave the world Post-It notes.
In many ways a "teams approach" can be exactly what Cluetrain points to -- "valuing hands-on knowledge over top-down authority". I read that as "fear-based authority".
Before my migration to a web career, I spent 3 decades in management - first managing retail businesses and then training managers. I struggled even back then to find the words to clarify these very issues - issues which intranets and internets are making ever clearer.
The principal issue I see is what Cluetrain calls "top down command and control style management" vs. "respect for hands-on knowledge".
It's a fact -- many corporate messages do sound transparently foolish, both within the company and out in the marketplace. It's also a fact that much of management activity actually defeats what the embedded knowledge within a company COULD achieve.
I don't see Cluetrain as a fad or an outdated effort. I see it as part of an ongoing change in how people organize themselves into effective companies.
There will be a lot more happening on this wavelength. The Internet has already begun to destroy those who aren't paying attention. Every year, management has a lot less wiggle room.
And thanks for all the kinds words.
Also, credit where due: Chris Locke, David Weinberger and Rick Levine also authored Cluetrain. A number of the items folks refer to here come from those guys as well.
The answer to this riddle is simple: Cluetrain was the free version, and the speaking fees and subsequent books were the paid version.
One of the Cluetrain guys told me he got a $200,000 advance for his next book, and made the same again in speaking fees one year.
Get it now?
Doc's phrase in Cluetrain about the big corps and big ad agencies wanting to "pipe weld the Internet onto the back end of television history" or something to that effect still rings true, and we are painfully reminded of it every time we read another lecture on the joys of top-down, intrusive, spam-like advertising from the compromised crew at ClickZ.com (yesterday's edition had a couple articles that really got my goat).
Somehow, I don't think getting blitzed with 20 popups a day from Gator was what I envisioned when started getting really excited about the WWW circa 1991. Read the most respected advertising & marketing journal online though (ClickZ I mean), and it's Gator this, Gator that. No wonder Eric Norlin had to leave in a huff.
I hope the Cluetrainers (and their followers) have enough fight left in them to keep the dream of an interactive 'net (not a broadcast spam-channel) alive for the next 20 years, because mainstream advertisers and their agents would rather see this dream dead, and they won't give up anytime soon.
On the contrary -- he takes on Cluetrain with verve and without resting his entire argument on ad hominems. Are markets people? Conversations? What are they? Who knows -- the authors certainly can't seem to make up their minds. And that's just the beginning. Cluetrain is self-important nonsense from <edit> people </edit> who haven't managed a large corporation (or substantially grown a small one) to profitability a day in their lives. Just because you can build a decent website doesn't make you a Rockefeller.
First, John was doing his thing there. I've been a guest on his show, and quote him in the book (Chapter 4 [gonzomarkets.com], the stuff about PR). We had a fun email exchange after he posted that piece. Bottom lines: The original manifesto was a rant, and so was John's response. No big deal.
A lot more went into the book, not that it matters.
Third, about the 1999-edness of the whole thing. The day I was on John's TV show (in 2000), Jakob Nielsen (another guest on the panel) told me he thought Cluetrain (both site and book) was what happens when a bunch of marketing guys defect from the profession and take sides with markets. It was a good insight. That's what it felt like. We believed most marketing types didn't get what was really going on with the Net. Because plenty of them still don't, many of Cluetrain's 1999 points are no less sharp in 2002.
Fourth, about running companies. I co-founded Hodskins Simone & Searls in North Carolina in 1977, and helped the company grow to become one of the top advertising and PR agencies in Silicon Valley in the years that followed -- all long before the dot-com madness. I forget what our billings were, exactly. Dozens of millions, anyway. Had a whole building in downtown Palo Alto before we moved to the City (around the time I left, in '92 or so). Anyway, we started with nothing, grew to something and made money the old fashioned way. Profits, too.
He also sold a lot of Harleys (for free). The only point was "there really is nothing new under the sun". The Lincoln commercial is nothing more than a "pop-up", where the "Easy Rider" movie was more "editorial" in nature.
Brands can be built in both environments.
I wonder how much you would have to pay Britney to walk around on stage with a bottle of Gatorade (PFP)?
The difference between the self-righteous boomer generation of yesterday and the self righeous x-generation of today is simply this: The WWW has accelerated the "sell out" cycle.
I can see why old-school marketing guys might accuse those who take sides with markets as spouting self-important nonsense but in the online world the people who make things faster, simpler and easier; the people who connect with their audience; the people who keep themselves a "caring steward of the Internet superstructure" are most likely to enjoy continued success.
A proportion of WebmasterWorld members have some dependency on Google working in their current role, but IMO Google need to keep that role too.
I already started to develop something in this direction. It's going to be an open project and it'd be good to team up with other enthusiasts and to have somebody like Doc or RageBoy [rageboy.com] (aka Christopher Locke) on board.
Anybody interested? ;)