A Royall Juggle

Weekly #1: The Fab Four Theses

Posted on: September 22, 2010

The Cluetrain Manifesto’s “95 Theses” present some pretty blunt and entertaining points of view about how business, especially corporate communications, is transforming. I find it interesting that this book was written in the late 90’s and more than ten years later, many companies are just starting to ‘get it’. Although all 95 Theses are worth reading, here is my version of the cliff notes:

1)      Talk human and be genuine. Markets are conversations held in human voices – think about how you’d talk to someone you have a relationship with face-to-face and apply that to how you speak to your markets online (think about it: mass messages you deliver to thousands get read by one individual at a time).

2)      Technology helps organize and empower your markets. As more technologies are introduced and others evolve, your markets can connect and network person-to-person in meaningful ways such as common interests and pain points at work. Companies should maximize those networks and contribute to the knowledge-sharing taking place, not be afraid of it. Your market is getting smarter with or without you, and if you don’t help them find solutions, someone else will.

3)       “The company” shouldn’t be a blockade between you and your market. Your company is really just a group of individuals (employees) working toward a common goal – to help other individuals (your customers, prospects, stakeholders, etc.). Don’t let “company talk” hinder those individual relationships. If you do, your market will find another company that speaks their language and you will lose your market.

4)      Actively participate in and listen to your internal and external community (they are one in the same). Companies must belong to a community of discourse inside and outside the company walls.  The lines between the conversations of your employees and markets are blurring because your markets want them to. You can learn a lot from each other, and if you don’t participate, you won’t succeed.

Right now, I’m in my hotel room in Dallas, TX working at my company’s annual event, the IDEA E-Biz Forum. Our president and two of our customers revealed a new technology solution during the opening keynote presentation today that was envisioned at the 2008 Forum. Guess how? Through a candid conversation between two individuals – one of our employees and a customer.

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