Worth Reading: The Cluetrain Manifesto

Cluetrain Ch 1

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Cluetrain Ch 2 And 3

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Just go buy this damn book: The Cluetrain Manifesto: The End of Business as Usual.


I’m using it for a new course I’m teaching on Music Marketing.

Can you imagine? A course on music marketing, huh. Fuck. Should just call it, “Give Up.”

Alas, music marketing it is.

Of course, the books I’ve chosen, Cluetrain, Herd: How to Change Mass Behaviour by Harnessing Our True Nature, and Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die never really address music at all.

What ties them together is a belief that traditional marketing/PR is totally dead/worthless.

So, what to do? Give up? Nah.

Build a Tribe, of course. Start thinking in terms of markets being conversations. Start creating social objects.

Start doing the Straddle (Do bear The Straddle in mind should you flip through the embedded powerpoint slides below).

Fortunately for my students, it won’t just be me prattling on about marketing. I’ve already enlisted the help of the best the College of Business has to offer, Dr. Kendra Reed, and I’m looking forward to more of my colleagues chiming in.

Also, I’m going to get me some experts in the field to join the conversation: I’m looking at you Billy O’Connell.

The amazing thing about the book is that while it was written several years ago, it was pretty much on target about everything. It’s interesting to read certain ideas, and see that they’ve materialized. I read along going, “Yeah, that’s blogs; that’s Twitter, etc.”

It’s not all right; there’s a lot of talk of intranets, which (unless I’m out of it) seem to not really be terribly relevant today.

Perhaps the coolest/most horrifying thing is just how relevant it still is: I’d say there are maybe a handful of companies who are doing what they’ve suggested (and, they’re of course killing it), while most are still operating in the same way they did when the book came out (2000).

To give you a sense of what I’m on about, I’ve embedded my powerpoint slides from the first two lectures. Basically, I’m just grabbing the key points in the Cluetrain. Of course, in the classroom we pull these ideas apart, and discuss them. I’ll leave you to do that yourself.

Oh yeah, buy (or download) the book.

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  1. Braden Piper’s avatar

    So, I ran into this dilemma whilst reading chapters 2 and 3, Prof. Howard: so many of those companies that are refusing to engage in the conversation and are doing marketing and PR the old way, with canned responses and control over who can say what, etc. etc. are still huge thriving companies. I definitely see evidence of companies that are engaging in the conversation and making a killing, but what do we make of all those companies that are still doing fine? (I mean come on, I honestly don't think of Microsoft or McDonald's or Sprint as forward thinking companies in the realm of marketing (have you ever talked to a Sprint representative? They're like cyborgs designed to be useless) but none of these companies is what I would refer to as “struggling.”)

    PS: What's all this talk of tribes? Would you like to see my tribe? CuriousTribe that is… http://www.curioustribe.com/blog


  2. Mathew Bodie’s avatar

    This has been my take on the reading to far:

    So far The Cluetrain Manifesto has presented itself as trying to be to the business world what “Disarm Authority, Arm Your Desires” is to anarchists. In fact, it is written in much the same way citing alienation, loss of voice, and over-arching management as the cause of the human race’s problems. It would not surprise me to discover a past history of flying black flags by the authors of the book. They are correct that humans hate being managed. However, the authors are also correct that humans need management to feel safe from the surrounding environment. The main problem is, as the authors brilliantly state, that business is unmanageable, but the humanistic desire to tame the untamable drives control-freak executives to extremes in an effort to regiment every aspect that can be controlled. This regimentation, in effect, is what has driven the concept of humanity out of the working business world. Well actually, regimentation in conjunction with an overly litigious and thin-skinned society who feels threatened by anything and everything that is not homogenized. What has resulted is Hume’s Social Contract gone wild. What has also resulted is the separation from our collective experience by compartmentalization, political correctness, and fear of outsiders (which, by modern standards, an outsider is just about anyone besides yourself).

    The authors of Cluetrain state that the Internet has become the solution to this by bringing the human voice back to the forefront. I personally think that it has gone a step further by putting us back in touch with our collective experience and subconscious. Think of it, every thought and experience past, present, and future that a human being is capable of can and will be expressed in some way on a website. Now you simply need to find it. As technology advances, these thoughts and experiences are accessible at speeds nearing the capabilities of human thought. Once this access speed becomes a reality, every concept, thought, action, or experience known to mankind will be available for our personal perusal and consumption. The lack of connection with our collective subconscious, alongside rampant greed and competition, is what has hindered modern human advancement for centuries. All of these burdensome boundaries are being smashed at a rate that increases every day that new bandwidth increases. We are on the brink of a new oneness that has not been seen since the days of tribal culture. I am wholeheartedly optimistic about what this could mean for our humanity and our collective futures.


  3. Alex Clancy’s avatar

    One of my favorite quotes is in chapter 3 when the author's are explaining the way web sites break down that barrier:
    “I'm seduced into spending time staring at evidence of their humanity, despite my better judgement against such a 'waste of time.' And then I do it again. And again.”

    There is just something about the authors' voices and the way this book is written that just has me going “Hell yeah!” over and over.



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