Naked Conversations. A Review that Resonates.

The strategy at the heart of blogging
Blogging Birth Tales by Scobel and Israel

In 2006 I read Naked Conversations: How Blogs are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel. These  notes from that reading are from May 29, 2006, almost exactly a decade ago. I am astonished at how accurate and insightful some of this information is. There is far too much for one reading, so I will spread it out over a few days. I read Naked Conversations and Cluetrain Manifesto along with many other tech savvy slanted marketing books 10 years ago and thus started online, digital and content marketing services that corecubed still does so expertly today.

Remember these notes are from 2006, so some of the details are not accurate. Plus, some predictions for the future have not materialized, and some usage of phrases and names have not stuck as intended then.

Notes from May 29, 2006:

Basically Naked Conversations and the Cluetrain Manifesto both preach that marketing as we know it is changing based on the two-way conversations now possible between business and its customers.(via blogs) I have organized these notes so there are general descriptions, then marketing ideas, and some history and some examples.

Basically, blogging is not for anyone, but it works for a company that is a good company, has a good product, and has some interesting stories or referral possibilities in a particular knowledge base. The blogger must be authentic, passionate and an expert with knowledge to impart and time to blog regularly. It is this transparent, authentic communication between business and customer that draws the attention of users who are interested in the product or service. Then the blog becomes a customer-generator, as trust is built.

p.81      The blog is a trust-building mechanism.

p.3       The core marketing revolution is about the way businesses communicate – not just with customers but with entire constituencies – partners, vendors, employees, prospects, investors and the media.

p.5       Author/philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer once observed: “All truth passes through three stages: first it is ridiculed, second it is violently opposed, and third it is accepted as being self evident.”  This new revolutionary marketing is being called “conversational marketing, open source marketing, two-way marketing, even corner grocery store marketing”.

p.17      Vic Gundrota (General manager for Platform Evangelism who was in the initial team to sell Microsoft on the idea of blogging as a marketing and recruitment tool) said that a project about blogging was about increasing transparency, which “is not high risk unless you have something to hide”.  Channel 9 (Microsoft’s officially sanctioned corporate blog) is generally recognized as the most innovative form of blogging or for that matter, corporate communication.  It was the first

  1. corporate video blog
  2. to put the words and faces of customers on the front page, thus creating a form of equal time for those who either praise or admonish Microsoft
  3. to use wikis to allow product teams to collaborate with customers to improve products and upgrades.
  4. full corporate site to use RSS, the technology that enables syndication, on every page

p.110    Holtz: “Introduction of mini to mini communication has had an impact on the communication environment.  For one thing, I don’t believe PR ever had control of messages.  Instead, I see a more significant change on the other end of the equation.  The audience has been amplified exponentially.  Blogs affect organizational communication in terms of transparency, tone, channel and influence.  There’s not an element of PR that won’t be affected by blogs.”

p.131    Where people are encouraged to speak their mind and those in power trust the people they oversee, blogging flourishes.

p.154    A good blog should build trust, interest, awareness and enthusiasm, just like they teach in Marketing 101.

  1. 19 RE; Channel 9 (Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft): “It’s been a great way for us to communicate to our customers and for our customers. More importantly, for our customers to communicate with us.  We trust our people to represent our company; that’s what they’re paid to do.  If they didn’t want to be here, they wouldn’t be here.  So in a sense, you don’t run any more risk letting someone express themselves in a blog than you do letting them do go out and see a customer on their own; it just touches more people.  Hey, if people need to be trained, we can do that; but I find that blogging is just a great way to have customer communication.”

p.23      John Naisbitt, author of Megatrends: “Everything never changes.  Something has changed, and it impacts everything else.  Your life is the same; people go to the same jobs at the same places, they go home to the same families and watch the same TV programs.  Everything never changes.  Something has changed, and that something will impact a great deal; but life as we know it will continue.”

p.24      Dave Winer is created with inventing the blog. He started looking at organizing entries in a new way, and added a variation on emerging technology and it created the syndication feature that will eventually emerge into really simple syndication.

This blogging phenomena is creating revolutionary changes, and the book asks, “If we were to have met you in 1994, the same young developers at Netscape were finishing up a browser that would let you view internet pages and get to those pages quickly on links, and that is what started to change the world of information sharing.” Would you think that the World Wide Web  or the stagecoach, or the Gutenberg press were revolutionary changes when they were first used? History has to tell us when something is revolutionary.

p.32      Seth Godin talks about traditional marketing as “interruption marketing”.

p.33      Seth Godin: “Listening to customers and engaging them is one of the keys to blogging.  These customers become company champions and encourage others to use the products and services.  They defend companies from unfair inaccurate attacks.  They tell companies that care about how to build better products and services.

McConnell, a partner in creating customer evangelists, says there’s nothing more powerful than customer evangelists.

p.38      FireFox exemplifies what the blogging denizens called the passion chamber, a recurring theme in conversational marketing.

p.39      It’s essential that bloggers know the difference between words that spread like FireFox or bounce back at you like Howard Dean’s.  Companies need to offer something so unique, valuable and compelling that people will want to tell others about it.  What turbocharges word of mouth is loyalty to people you trust, not companies whose brands you recognize.

None of this matters unless the product or service is truly remarkable. 

p.40      If you create something remarkable, something worth remarking about, then they may choose to remark about it.  If they do, the word spreads.  Ideas that spread win, and they rely on people telling people.  The best way to do this is to make something worth talking about.  Marketing is now about product development, not hype.  Remarkability is in the eye of the consumer; if the marketplace doesn’t think your product is remarkable, then it’s not.

People who are seeking out the new and useful is the audience that doesn’t need to be interrupted because they’re already listening.  They’re alert, on the lookout for the next best thing.  If you’ve invested the time and energy to make something remarkable, then this audience can’t wait to hear about it.  That’s the audience that you reach through the blogs.

More to come tomorrow.