Just back to the Bay Area from Seattle where the weather was slightly better. Robert and I spoke together at Microsoft, Amazon and the Seattle Chamber of Commerce. Robert has already filed an excellent and observant post. He had a fourth talk, which I managed to keep out of.
What inspired me the most, a little to my surprise, were the folks at the Chamber of Commerce. These were folks, as Robert puts it, who were hungry to learn. I met a wedding planner who blogs, and an architect and carpet cleaner, among others, who plan to soon follow suit. This is heartening for me. The day has finally come where small businesses can use technology tools to elevate and differentiate themselves and it is heartening to find so many in one room plunging into the blogosphere.
Amazon, to my surprise, turned out to be just about the toughest audience we faced. We got a great many questions challenging any contention that Amazon would benefit from blogging in any way. They voiced fears of losing control, IP, blog fraud, nasty comments and so on. Additionally, there was also a contention that Amazon uses enough mechanisms--forums, comments etc., to know what their customer thinks and that the brand should speak for all the employees. This profoundly disappoints me. While Robert and I received many words of encouragement following our talk, I left with the personal sense that it will be a tropical day in Seattle before any blogging between companies and customers is forthcoming from Amazon. I really hope that I'm proven wrong on this one.
By contrast, the audience yesterday at Microsoft was among the warmest and most enthusiastic of any we have faced. Yeah, it's Robert's home turf, but I don't think that was what was happening. I think it's that they get blogging. They enjoy being part of a company whose leaders seem to encourage their blogging. They are aware of how blogging has taken a tarnished image and improved it so much. They have learned that customers respond more warmly to people like themselves more than than they do to brands. brands.
I love these Naked Conversations talks But what I love is the interesting dialogue with people who attend. We walk away wiser from every presentation. What we hear s so much more valuable to us than what we get to say. Audiences everywhere continue to surprise us and we love it.
(NOTE--I just cleaned up a couple of typos here and republished.)