Do You Receive or Send?

by Jay Deragon on 12/08/2008

Business in the industrial era was focused on filling a huge demand for mass produced products with a market awaiting all this “stuff”.

Communications with suppliers, employees and the customer was not a significant element of success. Rather the advertising world was responsible for letting the mass market know “we have a product for you to buy”. And the market consumed it like candy.

As society evolved so did the “buyer of all this stuff”. Communication mediums such as radio, television, telephone, email and the internet equipped buyers with a voice to “talk about all the stuff they were buying”. Soon consumers began complaining about defects in the products and services they were buying. Overseas competition began producing “higher quality stuff” and consumers migrated with their pocketbooks. Corporate America awoke to the demands for quality and re-engineered everything accept the communications with the market, the buyers of all this stuff. Quality improved the products but not necessarily the relations.

How Important is Communications?

Kevin Kelly writes: Communication – which in the end is what the digital technology and media are all about – is not just a sector of the economy. Communication IS the economy.

Brian Solis writes: As Social Media becomes more pervasive in marketing, it’s imperative that we become gatekeepers to prevent opportunistic marketers from bankrupting the conversation economy.

Doc Searls writes: The Economist asks, Will Facebook, MySpace and other social-networking sites transform advertising? Good question, but it’s the wrong one.

The right question is, Can we equip customers to become independent of sellers and their controlling intentions —

I’m not only a co-author of The Cluetrain Manifesto, but guilty of being the guy who foisted the “markets are conversations” line on the world in the first place. For all the good intentions behind that line, it’s still woefully misunderstood, and what the Economist says in that paragraph is no exception. To me the most powerful line in Cluetrain came from Chris Locke who wrote,

we are not seats or eyeballs or end users or consumers.

we are human beings and our reach exceeds your grasp. deal with it.”

Three people telling the same story. Ironically their story is primarily being heard not by the institutions called business rather by “we the people”, the largest and most influence institution is the world.

All this “social stuff” represents power to the consumer, the people. The conversations people have amongst their relationships are creating the new economy. The Relationship Economy has reversed the communications flow where the people are the sender and business is the receiver. Learn to receive and you win. Don’t and you loose.

What say you? Can you hear me?

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