Last week Valeria Maltoni posted a great interview with Doc Searls, one of the four original authors of the Cluetrain Manifesto. Hard to believe it was nearly 11 years ago that this document emerged to declare that the “freedom and independence granted by the Net’s open and essentially ownerless platforms and protocols” would and should “equip individuals with their own instruments of independence and engagement.”
“We’re not there yet,” according to Searls, who in his re-write of the manifesto for a 10th anniversary edition added a chapter titled Markets are Relationships, suggesting that individuals and customers still don’t have the tools, data and access they deserve when it comes to doing business with companies. Perhaps his Project VRM, at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society will get us there faster.
But in reading Valeria’s post I want back and looked at the original 95 theses. Call them observations or predictions, it doesn’t matter. Seems like an awful lot are starting to come true; they may be far from universal, but they’re evident. And that’s a good thing.
Having just seen the Pepsi video about Project Refresh (true it’s a little self serving, and yes Doc Searls reminds us that the Cluetrain Manifesto was not a marketing document) I found that this highly visible project, at least as it’s being advertised, addresses at least eight of the 95 insights as to how the web would change the relationship between customers and brands.
Here they are. Remember they were written in 1999.
16. Already, companies that speak in the language of the pitch, the dog-and-pony show, are no longer speaking to anyone.
17. Companies that assume online markets are the same markets that used to watch their ads on television are kidding themselves.
23. Companies attempting to “position” themselves need to take a position. Optimally, it should relate to something their market actually cares about.
25. Companies need to come down from their Ivory Towers and talk to the people with whom they hope to create relationships.
38. Human communities are based on discourse—on human speech about human concerns.
57. Smart companies will get out of the way and help the inevitable to happen sooner.
67. As markets, as workers, we wonder why you’re not listening. You seem to be speaking a different language.
91. Our allegiance is to ourselves—our friends, our new allies and acquaintances, even our sparring partners. Companies that have no part in this world, also have no future.
It seems that at least some brands are starting to listen, to stop interrupting. Kudos to Pepsi if it joins the likes of other progressive companies striving to do business differently. They may not be creating the tools that put more of the power in the hands of the consumer (technology and people like Doc Searles are working on that) but they’ve finally got the message.
What do you think? Will 2010 be the year of real change? Is Pepsi a legitimate example or a contrived brand-centric attempt to appear customer focused?
Photo by: scripting news