Markets *really* are conversations

Since the publication of the Cluetrain Manifesto, the phrase ‘markets are conversations’ has been cited widely.

In the last two weeks I’ve been reminded
on three separate occasions about how these market conversations are
happening, quite literally.

There are three ‘theses’ that I’d like to refer to Chris Locke, Doc Searls and David Weinberger‘s original work and have mapped these to the three recent events on my blog.

1. Markets are conversations.

The first of the three events this week is to do with splogs – spam via RSS feeds and blogs.  I posted about my experience of the problem and called out:

“Question to the feed search engine folks…(David Sifry Blake Rhodes, Bill Bob Wyman
are you listening?)…how do we stop this? Can we?  It can’t
be good for your business if this kind of thing takes off, can it?”

Within 24 hours David, Blake and Bob each posted a comment on my blog,
acknowledging the industry-wide issue and confirming their companies’
commitment to solving the problem.  Bob even took the time to
point out that Bill Wyman (as I originally wrote) was in fact, and to
my acute embarrassment, a Rolling Stone. I noticed the rocking Bill
Wyman didn’t come to my blog to correct me 😉

I spoke, they listened and responded. Who am I? A nobody, but we conversed anyhow.

19. Companies can now communicate with their markets directly. If they blow it, it could be their last chance.

The second event blew me away (and a few others).  John Montgomery posted a ‘I don’t get this’ type post on the subject of a new start up called Ning, created by Marc Andreessen (of Netscape fame and fortune).

In response to John’s question about how the company was planning to make its money.  I speculated on a couple of revenue models and wrote, tongue-in-cheek:

“Good question John, I don’t know
either. Marc Andreessen might but hasn’t share the biz-plan me
yet.  Are you there Marc?”

Within hours, Marc Anreessen posted a comment on my blog:

“Alex — your description of what we are trying to do is very well said. It’s an experiment, but those are the goals.

are going to see if we can generate enough revenue through a blend of
advertising (like Google, Yahoo, etc.) and premium services to be able
to support what we are doing, including the free developer accounts.

Thanks for the thoughts and comments…”

I fell off my metaphorical seat (and
physical seat if I recall). Marc Andreessen is listening in on the
blogosphere and taking part directly.  This is what the
smart companies and people are doing. They ‘get it’.

25. Companies need to come down from their Ivory Towers and talk to the people with whom they hope to create relationships.

My third piece of evidence to show that
markets are really are conversations came in yesterday.  It
relates to a product I’ve used for some time now –
FeedDemon (an RSS feed reader), now owned by Newsgator.

Nick Bradbury (the original developer of Homesite, TopStyle) posted about a new feature available in a current beta release of FeedDemon.

I posted about how I thought the new feature was cool but I had an ‘ask’:

The file can’t be exported (OPML, would be nice Nick?…anything!)”

Nick commented on my blog explaining that I could get at my attention data but through another larger file. I wasn’t 100% satisfied and suggested a separate OMPL file for ease of use.  Nick commented again two days later:

“Just wanted to let you know that
I’ve added OPML export of the reports to the next build of FeedDemon –
expect to see this in RC2.”

No Ivory Towers here, just stunning stuff.

Markets really are conversations

If I was ever in any doubt the notion that markets are conversations (not that I ever was) or considered the Cluetrain Manifesto as a theoretical concept only, these two last week’s activities on my blog would have eradicated those doubts from even the most cynical critic.

Blogs have made the mantra become real.  For those who choose to participate, markets really are conversations.

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Comments (12)

  1. I also thought it was awesome when Marc Andreessen commented on your Blog entry. This one event was the catalyst for crystalising what my own Blog was going to be about. We often forget "famous" people can be intensely interested in the same topic as you are. But thinking of "conversations" should we be that surprised?

    When we look at the English speaking world there may be a fraction of one percent interested in this very same topic. How else these days can you find someone new to converse with if say your topic is "Global English". Probably not at the local market, shopping centre or church group. Famous people are also eager to find a forum to share other than the critical eye of the edited media channels.

    The convergence of text, audio, music, pictures, video and data will be built upon people having conversations. They will seek self expression through this jigsaw puzzle.

  2. d says:

    "For those who choose to participate…"

    For those who choose to participate, who also happen to have the money, technology, skills, time, and access to participate. Web companies talking to a small subset of an early adopter web audience via the web doesn’t really feel that revolutionary 🙂

    I’ll be more impressed when your average consumer can have this sort of conversation with the companies that make dish detergent or box spring mattresses or discount baby food.

  3. MSDNArchive says:

    ‘d’. I’m not trying to impress you.

    You quote me, so I’ll quote you:

    ‘"For those who choose to participate", who also happen to have the money, technology, skills, time, and access to participate.’

    You are confusing willingness with other things. If you have the will, you can invest in those things that require you to participate. Btw, how much do you think it costs for someone from a company to monitor what is being said about your company on the ‘blogosphere’? Or to posts comments? This isn’t rocket science, nor expensive to do. If you think listening to customers is a ‘cost’ and not an investement then get out of the game of creating products you want customers to buy – you’re in the wrong game.

    Your comment about the ‘average consumer’ sounds like you’re a marketer. D, are you an ‘average consumer’? Or to put it in more straight forward terms, do you buy and use stuff? I know I do. Do I want to have a conversation with the company that supplies my soap or detergent? Not really. Maybe you do, and if so, go for it. If it takes this for you to be impressed, I suggest you go and do something about it. Blog about them. They might even respond…!

  4. PeteCashmore says:


    Yep, it seems that every time I write a comment about a product on my blog, the creator gets back to me almost instantly. Since most tech-savvy web companies get notified of mentions of their product/service in their feedreader, I guess that’s not surprising. But back in 1999, that possibility seemed pretty remote, so its interesting to see how accurate those predictions were.

    But I guess "d" has a point – it’s only really web companies that subscribe to these ideas. I wonder what would happen if you set up a free blog on Blogger and posted about Microsoft – would Scoble come running? It seems (almost)possible, so maybe we’ve already started to put the real power into the hands of the "average consumer", whoever he may be…

  5. Christopher Carfi threw out a interesting idea yesterday… "When an organization puts out a product,

  6. Weddings says:

    Since the publication of the Cluetrain Manifesto , the phrase ‘markets are conversations’ has been cited widely. In the last two weeks I’ve been reminded on three separate occasions about how these market conversations are happening, quite literally.