The Cluetrain Manifesto: Markets as Conversations

August 15, 2015

If you heard that a book from 1999 is still one of the preeminent pieces written about the power of Internet marketing, would you check it out? You should.

Representing the collaborative work of Rick Levine, Christopher Locke, Doc Searls, and David Weinberger, The Cluetrain Manifesto introduced many of the concepts that remain hallmarks of marketing in the Internet age.

Alluding to the groundbreaking work of Martin Luther and his Reformation-era 95 Theses, Cluetrain is also comprised of 95 theses about online marketing and sales. Just as Luther’s work caused shock waves throughout the world in the 1500s, The Cluetrain Manifesto ushered in a significant paradigm shift for business leaders and professionals in the late 1990s.

Connected and Conversing
The essential point stated by Cluetrain is that “markets are conversations.” In short, an internet-based society is constantly connected and conversing. Unlike the golden age of marketing, there is no way to control messaging. Instead of floundering against the forceful wave of progress, Cluetrain calls for businesses to participate in conversations—not as businesses, but as humans.

The message and storytelling of marketing is still as important as ever, especially with the rise of technology in these spaces. If businesses fail to interact and participate with their client base, consumers will do business with the companies who are savvy enough to tune into their needs and build a relationship.

Looking back over the 16 years since Cluetrain was originally published, it is readily apparent that its authors were on to something. In today’s market, and with the prevalence of social media, brands both large and small are in constant discourse with consumers. News about brands—both good and bad—is released and disseminated instantly. The only existing filters lie in the consumers’ eyes alone.

The evidence and arguments made in Cluetrain are, so far, timeless. The applications of each of the 95 theses may not apply directly to today’s market, but these points single-handedly built the foundation of modern marketing. Cluetrain remains relevant, shedding light on essential aspects of communication, sales, and the business of relationships.

Read more at cluetrain.com.