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February 10, 2005


Johnnie Moore

Like all concepts, this one of "conversation" can get done to death. Everyone uses the word to mean different things.

For me:

Having a converstation does not mean doing dumbass market research and taking what people say literally.

It does not mean that a company expects me to have deep existential dialgogue each time a buy a mars bar.

It does mean that an organisation is sensitive to its stakeholders. That it notices their responses, and its own responses to their responses.

There's a whole lot more going on in conversation than just the words on the surface.

So I don't see "markets are conversations" as meaning a giant talk fest. I think it's about recognising the humanness of what happens in markets, and getting away from mechanistic, mass marketing dogmas of doing things to people instead of with them.

Sorry, that's probably not nearly articulate enough!

Jon Strande

Johnnie, yeah, that is pretty articulate. But, my impression is that people don't want anything to do with MOST of the companies that they deal with. Wouldn't you agree?

I get the whole "Markets are converstations" thing, I've read (most) of Cluetrain, and I love the sensibility of it. But what I took from the book is that if people WANT to engage in communication with you (as a business), then you should be open, honest, and caring. The authors I think we're prescribing a business renaissance - one that takes us back to the days before television and advertising, when the person who created the product was the person who sold the product - and the person who supported it.

Perhaps I'm getting to hung up on terminology... but I'm terribly afraid of the way that some marketers and business people will percieve it and put these ideas in to practice.

Thank you for the great comment!

Johnnie Moore

Jon, based on current experience of marketing, you have every right to be afraid.

I think I'm up for some kind of friendly contact with people who aren't totally fixated with selling me things. Most companies have some people who get this, and some who don't.


Wow, I guess I cannot get passed the research project results. What really saddens me is that we have so many people who are in the world who have no ability to communicate effectively. Business aside for a moment, no wonder so many people fail in attempting to acquire the most basic human needs: relationships (requires language aptitude), a job (ditto), kids, community involvement, a political voice, etc.

While I completely agree with the concept of unspoken communication, our reality does not allow for intuition, belief, the unseen. We live in a world of logic, of evidence. Feelings and beliefs are for the ethers.

I would get into the social construct and historical relevance of this, but that could get crazy. Plus, I am sure you can make the connect.

Maybe what you are looking for, Jon, is not just an appreciation for observation, but an entire shift in a logic based society to one that values the unseen, the depths of human complexity.


Nah, Jon, You're not a tightass, you're a Diogenes.

Aleah, the undercurrent for a shift is there. Institutions are experiencing sustained scour the way bridge pilings do, and like no other time in business it seems. In many ways the lateral counterweight of popular support for companies and traditional "pillars of society" has been inundated by the shabbiness of their own actions and character failures. The violent dissonance between PR claims to virtue and internal acts to the contrary is having a horrendous effect inside even the "better" outfits, and new media like blogs are only laying bare the level of rot even more. The next serious dip in national economic fortunes (or perhaps storm is a better analogy), and over many go. It'll be messy but, supposedly, the death throes of dinosaurs usually were. Perhaps it's wishful thinking, but things should redirect a bit from there. Jon's just impatient. And early. but he's definitely not alone.

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