What the Cluetrain Manifesto taught me about events

Skift Take

- Markets consist of human beings, not demographic sectors.

The Cluetrain Manifesto is almost ten years old. I was actually surprised to see it was written in 1999 for two reasons:

– It is amazing to see how it is still relevant to both Internet and businesses. The words of the manifesto sound like a Web 3.0 startup’s mission. They got it right. The people who signed it saw 10 years in advance what was about to happen. Few things are yet to come but I’d bet we’ll shortly experience them.

– Crazy, crazy, crazy. Companies had in front of their eyes the chance to get the most out of the Internet and treat the customer in new, engaging ways. It was there, clearly written and explained. It is SAD to see how only few organizations have embraced these life changing concepts.

The Cluetrain Manifesto is free to read. How the most popular Italian and world’s top 10 blogger, Beppe Grillo, would say, download it, print it and start sharing it around. Give it to your boss, to your colleagues, if possible pass it to the person sitting next to you on the underground.

The Manifesto has a lot of things to say to those involved in events. I went through the 95 Theses and got few that I thought might be of interest.

I said before than men are not monkeys. Treating your guests as demographics is a giant step toward looking at them as these animals. The human kind is indeed of the animal genre but of the social one. Social media are a great examples of that. Great conversations, great ideas, great feelings and strong emotions that we wouldn’t otherwise experienced. BarCamp and Unconferences should be the role models of every event manager. Empower and connect, do not try to divide and lead because you won’t be happy with results.

– The Internet is enabling conversations among human beings that were simply not possible in the era of mass media.

What are you doing to allow conversations among the people attending your event. Are you integrating technologies? Are you aware that recruitment now happens on Linkedin? Do you know that there are widgets you can embed in your website to encourage carpooling to your event? Most of the people attending events such as conferences are only interested in networking. Carpooling as well as online forums or wikis enable networking even before the event.

– The inflated self-important jargon you sling around

Be clear, be precise and be real. Rhetoric and Pavlovian stimulus-response tactics belong to the past. It’s good to have demanding attendees because it means they actually care. Talk to them and tell the truth and do not try to persuade. Allow interaction and hold time and space do not try to be the star of the show.

– We are immune to advertising. Just forget it.

How are you talking to your audience. How do you communicate your event. I don’t believe in brochures anymore. Apart from being an environmental disaster (and your customers do care about the environment), I think there are tons of other creative and more engaging ways to get to your audience. Do you have a blog? Have you ever heard of Twitter? Engage, do not try to tell how beautiful your event will be.

– We are waking up and linking to each other. We are watching. But we are not waiting.

There is not much time left. The economy as a whole is changing. As Seth Godin said this week, during recession times the biggest changes happen such as Google did. Change now because it’s not sure you’ll be able to do business tomorrow.