The Cluetrain Manifesto was originally hosted as a website by four employees who respectively worked at IBM, Sun Microsystems, the Linux Journal, and National Public Radio (NPR). These four IT and social experts wrote "The Cluetrain Manifesto: the end of business as usual" and created a paradigm shift in the way businesses view customers, ecommerce and the Internet. Authors Christopher Locke, Rick Levine, Doc Searls, and David Weinberger convincingly illustrate that the freedom of expression provided by the Internet will force businesses to listen and conversate with customers on a real level or face business extinction.
The book contains a list of 95 theses. Below are my favorite 10 from the list:
1. Markets are conversations
2. Markets consist of human beings, not demographic sectors
7. Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy
12. There are no secrets. The networked market knows more than companies do about their own products. And whether the news is good or bad, they tell everyone
18. Companies that don't realize their markets are now networked person-to-person, getting smarter as a result and deeply joined in conversation are missing their best opportunity
24. Bombastic boasts - "We are positioned to become the preeminent provider of XYZ" - do not constitute a position
50. Today, the org. chart is hyperlinked, not hierarchical. Respect for hands-on knowledge wins over respect for abstract authority
60. Markets want to talk to companies
74. We are immune to advertising. Just forget it.
75. If you want us to talk to you, tell us something. Make it something interesting for a change.
The heiarchical mass marketing mediums like TV ads, billboards, and planted Press Releases are rendered virtually useless because customers don't want to be interrupted and they no longer believe in a one-way business conversation. Customers can compare prices across tens of thousands of stores with a click of a mouse. User feedback and peer reviews speak truth to corporation's product and service quality claims. And activist groups are creating tribes of followers to challenge the PR statements written by tenured media relations experts.
The book encourages companies to allow employees at all levels to speak openly with customers, answer questions and personally respond to issues and complaints on blogs, email and forums. The authors contend that the traditional command and control management of employees that restricts open employee interaction with customers will ruin a company in the post web 2.0 world.
The Cluetrain Manifesto is guide for doing business in a world with thousands of collaborative social platforms in existence today and will exponentially grow tomorrow.
I personally attended Church with Doc Searls, before Dr. Searls moved to teach at Harvard, and heard Doc share that 'markets are conversations'.