The amazing thing here is that business keeps trying to improve advertising — and always by making it more personal — as if that’s the only way we can get to Michael’s “sweeping, basic, transformative, and simple way to connect buyer to seller and then get out of the way.” Three problems here:
- By its nature advertising — especially “brand” advertising — is not personal.
- Making advertising personal changes it into something else that is often less welcome.
- There are better ways to get to achieve Michael’s objective — ways that start on the buyer’s side, rather than the seller’s.
…In The Cluetrain Manifesto, which Chris Locke, David Weinberger, Rick Levine and I wrote in 1999, we laid into business — and marketing in particular — for failing to grok the fact that in networked markets, which the Internet gave us, individuals should lead, rather than just follow. So, since business failed to get Cluetrain’s message, I started ProjectVRM in mid-2006 at Harvard’s Berkman Center. The idea was to foster development of tools that make customers both independent of vendors, and better able to engage with vendors. That is, for demand to drive supply, personally. (VRM stands for Vendor Relationship Management.)
Imagine being able to:
- name your own terms of service
- define for yourself what loyalty is, what stores you are loyal to, and how
- be able to gather and examine your own data
- advertise (or “intentcast”) your own needs in an anonymous and secure way
- manage your own relationships with all the vendors and other organizations you deal with
- … and to do all that either on your own or with the help of fourth parties that work for you rather than for sellers (as most third parties do)
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