Published by Basic Books on April 5th 2011
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I think it’s time to put The Cluetrain Manifesto in the vault. For 17 years it has been touted as the life changing marketing book that everyone should read. It’s now 2016 and while some still need to adopt the practices, more marketers have taken the manifesto and improved on it. Many years ago.
There are now better books to learn from and more advanced lessons to learn.
For those who aren’t familiar with this book, it started as a website back in 1999. Many still considered the Internet a new thing and many businesses hadn’t gone further than putting their brochures online and calling it a website.
Then a group of marketers came along with the Cluetrain Manifesto and put it onLine. The manifesto was an innovative list of the future of business. It included things like talking with your customers, and using public relations and breaking down barriers to created integrated experiences. Does it sound run of the mill? It is now, but in 1999 that was innovation. And it was published as a book.
Ten years later the book was still selling strong enough for a new edition. Extra chapters were added, a reflective introduction set the scene. It’s still much-loved now. I put a photo of it on Instagram today and a couple of marketers told me “great choice”. It was the second edition that I read.
The book starts by listing all 95 theses of the original manifesto. It’s the best part of the book.
The next 73 pages (of 290) is an introduction to the new edition. Seventy-three pages. It refers to a lot of what’s different, which maybe I missed the point on because it came before the original book, so I didn’t have them for reference. I was confused. The book then has the original text (well, I assume it’s the original from the Style Book used), and a couple of semi-case studies at the end.
I am trying to work out if I’m being overly critical, but I suspect it’s just that the Cluetrain Manifesto is now too old to be relevant. There are still mentions of MySpace and AOL. Transport companies seem to rule supreme. Sure retargeting is too new, so the mention of platform barriers is valid, but I would have enjoyed updates to include mobile commerce. Maybe I was also swayed by the old StyleBook. Internet and web were capitalized. URLs still started with the Ws. It was off-putting. I expected more updates in a second edition. Maybe I should think of it as a commemorative edition.
Who should read The Cluetrain Manifesto?
There are a few people who could get something from reading this. If you still. Think B2B is a thing, then definitely read this. The same for those who think Facebook is a fad and LinkedIn is only for job searches. Then read H2H by Bryan Kramer.
Wow, so this broke my streak of positive reviews. The Cluetrain Manifesto isn’t a bad book. It was amazing for its time. We just need to take it off the pedestal and put it in the cupboard, where it belongs.