October 04, 2004

The More Things Remain the Same

Doc Searls digs up a long lost classic from 1995 (this is essentially pre-commercial web or just when just a few were entering the game, folks). How true it is today:
  1. The Internet is the ultimate base medium -- it will either undermine or support all other media. Think of the Internet as a phone system, a postal service, a library, a distribution hub and a yellow pages -- all in one. Only, unlike all those traditional institutions, nobody controls it. Anybody can participate in any of those roles.
  2. On the Internet, all communications are personal. The "mailto" link on every working Web site goes to an individual. If a site lacks that link, or if nobody responds to a mailing across that link, the site is virtually dead.
  3. Communication = conversation. Markets are conversations, whether they consist of one person or ten million people. Marcom needs to take advantage of this fact, both within the company, and between the company and the conversations that constitute its markets. **
  4. A company's "Intranet" connections should equal or exceed its Internet connections. Without groupware you get gropeware. Whether you use Notes, Groupwise, Collabra or POEMs (Plain Old E-Mails)... you need to make, and use, your internal connections. In fact, your company will be no more effective than its collaborative platform. Making that platform work should be everybody's -- especially marcom's -- job.
  5. Customers are the best sources of useful information -- and the most abundant. Now they're good for a lot more than money.
  6. There is no strength in isolation. Ivory towers are the last refuge of the clueless.
  7. Relationships matter. More sales are becoming marriages, and fewer are one-night stands.
  8. Service is everything. If you can't service your customers, they'll find suppliers who will.
  9. Branding requires substance as well as style. If you can't walk your talk, nobody will follow your lead or listen to what you say.
  10. There is no market for messages. In fact, there never was, but now the customer is in a position to say so.
  11. Logic and reason sit on the mental board of directors, but emotions cast the deciding votes. This is why share of heart matters more than share of market and even share of mind.
  12. The purpose of marketing communications is not just to tell & sell but to learn & earn. Every company needs to learn from customers and to earn their interest and loyalty. If they don't, they'll talk to nobody and sell nothing.
  13. There is no market for secrecy. Customers rarely demand that companies keep secrets. But they always demand more information. Don't hide it.
  14. Your "position" is a fact, not a statement. And the only fact you can't change is where you come from. This is the one thing you can't lie about, and the first thing people want to know about you.
  15. Marketing should be as simple as a handshake. Your marketing should answer the same questions people ask strangers when they meet for the first time:
    • Who are you?
    • Where do you come from?
    • What do you do?
    • What are you doing here?
    • Where do you live?
    • Who are you with?
    • Where are you going?
    If your answers to any of these questions are unclear, or if you can only explain them at length, you're not making sense. This helps: one or two word answers work best.
  16. Information isn't data -- it's the communicable form of knowledge. Derived form the verb to form, information literally changes what we know. The goal of a communications strategy therefore is to inform and to become informed. It must work both ways -- an exchange that makes a difference for both parties.
  17. Competition is necessary to a marketplace, but not sufficient. Customers want choices; and every product choice results from many people, and many companies, adding their goods together, not just opposing each other. The next time you hear a story about the U.S. versus Japan (or Mexico, or Germany...), look inside your PC. On average you'll see labeled products from up to 13 different countries. Peace at work.
  18. Conversation isn't win/lose or even win/win. It's play/play. Think of marketplaces as homes and communities, not just as ball courts and battlefields. The press loves sports and war metaphors for a good reason: stories are about conflict and struggle. No story starts with "happily ever after." This is why the press' job is to make trouble, often where there isn't any. Really, they can't help it. But the truth is usually much more complex, much less dramatic and rarely as conclusive as the stories told by the press. Just remember: if a customer loves your company and buys your product, that doesn't mean he's taking your side. If you think he is, you may end up fighting your wars alone.
  19. Honesty is the only policy. "If you can fake that, you've got it made," George Burns says. Unfortunately, most of us can't. It's very hard to fake one side of a conversation. And truth is a lot easier to maintain than a lie.
Much more here and in Doc's post.


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