«Return to Blog List If Markets are Conversations, Blogs are Natural Marketing Platforms
I don’t know how many of you have read the iconic book, The Cluetrain Manifesto, which was first published in 1999, the same year I moved to New Mexico. I am almost certain I read a portion of it a few years earlier, however, because I was working for a corporation when I first read its 95 theses on marketing. Because I was a marketing communications manager in a corporation, the ideas it contained hit me right between the eyes. I almost ran up and down the hallways yelling things like, “Companies that don’t belong to a community of discourse will die!” (thesis no. 40). Fortunately, I kept a grip on my inner revolutionary and was able to depart corporate employment a couple of years later on my own terms rather than immediately, in a padded vehicle.
That bit of personal history aside, I am still amazed at how prescient the book was. Thesis no. 1 is “Markets are conversations.” Honestly, I’m not certain I completely understood what that meant at the time. OK, I’m not sure I completely understand what that means now. But social media has become common in the years since as a platform for the kind of conversations the authors were talking about. Blogs, Facebook, and Twitter are considered by some “marketing gurus” to be the three pillar plarforms of online market conversation.
Personally, I’m not that taken with either Facebook or Twitter (witness my lame showing on both), though I see lots of companies and individuals using them effectively to reach their markets on a conversational level. Business blogs, however, I understand. They offer business people the opportunity to address and engage their customers, offering assistance in ways that were not possible before blogs were common and before people went to Google so frequently instead of the Yellow Pages. The ability for people to comment on blog posts, and for business people to respond to comments (all the time creating new, searchable web content) creates relationships with customers that only conversations can create. Also, since we’re on the subject of the Yellow Pages, as Google search replaces the Yellow Pages search for information (MerchantCircle; Local SEO Guide), blogs are becoming more important as information providers.
Can businesses still survive without an active online presence? I’m sure many can, just as many did without a Yellow Pages presence in the past. The important question in my mind, however, is “How much business are you giving away to your competitors by not participating in the conversation?”