Weekly #1 – The Cluetrain Manifesto

What is The Cluetrain Manifesto?  Why the hype? Ninety-five theses, really, why so many?

At first glance, the book appears to be very overwhelming.  How can anyone understand, much less implement 95 theses in day-to-day businesses and communication strategies?

Not to worry! After reading The Cluetrain Manifesto (which I highly recommend for any business and communications practitioner), it is easy to breakdown the complex set of information into a smaller, more manageable set.

The following statement, as located in the Forward of the book, truly encompasses the overlying thesis.

“The idea that business, at bottom, is fundamentally human.  That engineering remains second-rate without aesthetics.  That natural human conversation is the true language of commerce.  That corporations work best when the people on the inside have the fullest contact possible with people on the outside.”
Thomas Petzinger, Wall Street Journal

Based on the ninety-five theses, I took a stab at condensing them down to four main concepts.

  1. Markets are conversations which require actual human-to-human interaction.
    First of all, listen. Second of all, ditch the corporate voice.  People want to be treated as human beings, thus is it necessary to establish a dialect that is open, natural and uncontrived.  Companies need to let consumers know they are important.  They need to communicate directly and openly. Furthermore, companies need to monitor online chatter, and when feasible, they need actively respond and interact with the audience.
  2. Conversations are networked communities: The consumer is ultimately in control.
    The internet provides a multitude of channels for sharing information and expressing opinions. People are willing and unafraid to talk and internet-based networks are becoming a larger part of one’s lifestyle. No secrets are withheld; everything is out in the open.   Consumers value interpersonal relationships, companies who don’t establish those relationships get the boot.  Maintain community.
  3. Companies need to stay up to date with communication and marketing trends.
    Know the audience. Know how they connect with others and where they go to look for information and share opinions. Understand that company-communications is now all hands on deck, everyone needs to share information internally and externally, forget company hierarchy.  Furthermore, embrace the web for all it has to offer, not only from a communications position but also from a marketing position. Consumers are no longer impressed with four-color brochures, they want digital media! The consumer does not want to be bored! Embrace change.
  4. Understand the volatility of brand loyalty, and recognize the responsibility associated with a good, strong brand.
    Connected markets are able to renegotiate relationships with blinding speed.  Just because a brand is strong and reputable today doesn’t mean it will be tomorrow. Stay ahead of the game.  Talk openly with the public and don’t spend too much time second-guessing.

How accurate is this summary? Can the underlying concepts be applied to all markets, or are there boundaries to it’s effectiveness?

What are your thoughts about the infamous Cluetrain Manifesto?


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