Friday, November 11, 2011

One Global Market

The “Cluetrain manifesto” was written in 1999, when the Internet was still in its infancy. The 95 step manifesto asserted
that the new medium would create a revolution for business marketing, which would need to be reinvented for this new medium. The central insights was that the internet allowed for human to human conversations, which is unlike the marketing models that big business was using. It argued that what was happening, was that the Internet was a global conversation, of people.

Markets, in the past, were places where people met. Trading was only part of a more total, more personal experience. People went there for social interactions, not just buying goods. “In many ways, the internet more resembles an ancient bazaar than it fits the business models companies try to impose on it.”
But then, as our society changed, the importance of the personal experience of going to the market disappeared, and was replaced by a one-way communication: the market and its leaders were talking to the customer and all they cared about was buying and what the customer should buy. But then the internet arrived and all of a sudden, the customer was empowered to talk back to the providers and about the products they offered.

A decade ago, Borders bookshop had two decades of advantage over Amazon. But what Amazon introduced in its market experience was that each book could be commented upon and rated. New markets like eBay allowed everyone to offer their goods without any real investment in shop fronts and like, meaning that everyone was competing at an equal footing. Trust in providers was once again created by a system of customer feedback and their experience and ratings.

But most refreshing of all was that the new methodology of buying had become more personal; these markets were conversations, not just when it came to leaving comments, but even the possibility of asking the sellers additional questions about their products. And everyone communicates in a language that is natural, open, honest, direct and often funny.

It was, in short, the end of business as usual and a return to "business as before” – the markets had functioned
for millennia. But what the Internet had managed to accomplish was substitute the traditional, physical market place with a global market place, one where everyone could come to, hang out, and if they enjoyed what they were seeing, buy some products.

The 2012 phenomenon is all about the creation of the global village; the internet as the global market is an aspect of this, and it is no coincidence that this new market was created and grew from ca. 1993 onwards, the final katun of the Great Cycle of 13 baktuns of the Mayan calendar system. The Mayans’ message was always
that the final katun of a Great Cycle was one that would see tremendous change and this has clearly been the case for our world. We have become a global village, but we should not forget that we are also becoming a global market.

What the web accomplished, was to bring back humanity and personality back to the marketplace. It satisfied a primordial need, which the corporate world is still largely incapable of delivering. For it to survive, it will need to find and put on a more human face and realize that when it comes to selling, we are back to basics. The internet is a global bazaar.

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