“The triggering event, of course, is the advent of a global communication system that restores the banter of the bazaar, that tears down power structures and senseless bureaucracies, that puts everyone in touch with everyone” (Thomas Petzinger, Jr.
The Wall Street Journa, Forward to The Cluetrain Manifesto)

As the rules change we are beginning to see the tables turn. Suddenly the power is back in the hands of the consumer. No longer does an Ad on TV solve the marketing problem for companies because no one is watching. In 1980 most Australians were watching Hey Hey on a Saturday night. A company with an Ad on TV could capture 50% of the market. Now, the rules have changed.

One evidence of this is the emergence of VRM:, or Vendor Relationship Management, is the reciprocal of CRM or Customer Relationship Management. VRM describes a set of tools, technologies and services that help individuals go to market and manage relationships with vendors. In turn, vendors who align themselves to these tools, technologies and services will have the opportunity to build better relationships with their customers.

Cluetrain (ranked #6 on Business Week’s list of top books of 2000) touches on this shift in power, saying:

A powerful global conversation has begun. Through the Internet, people are discovering and inventing new ways to share relevant knowledge with blinding speed. As a direct result, markets are getting smarter—and getting smarter faster than most companies (http://cluetrain.com).

Cluetrain Manifesto goes on to say, These markets are conversations. Their members communicate in language that is natural, open, honest, direct, funny and often shocking. Whether explaining or complaining, joking or serious, the human voice is unmistakably genuine. It can’t be faked.

Most corporations, on the other hand, only know how to talk in the soothing, humorless monotone of the mission statement, marketing brochure, and your-call-is-important-to-us busy signal. Same old tone, same old lies. No wonder networked markets have no respect for companies unable or unwilling to speak as they do.

VRM is a new and emerging movement where consumers “manage” their companies, not the other way around.

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