Looking back the beginning of Bazaarvoice, I remember my first blog post like it was yesterday. I remember how odd it was to blog back then. Sam Decker had joined me, Brant, Paul Rogers, Jacob Salamon, Jason Amacker, and a few others as our founding CMO. He had joined us from Dell where he was the first blogger in their company's history, I believe, and had his own blog site at DeckerMarketing (which is still live today and Sam is now a successful CEO at Mass Relevance). Sam wasted no time convincing me and Brant that we must blog for our company launch out of "stealth mode".
I remember how liberating it was to write my own post - my first - on Feb. 3, 2006. To write is to learn. It frees your mind and opens your heart. After writing just a single post (and, of course, many more to follow), I immediately became an evangelist for blogging. I encouraged other CEOs, such as the then current CEO of Urban Outfitters, Glen Senk, over dinner. I told them how unique their journey was and how their stories should be told - to their customers and to their team members. I told them how often I took photos of the journey - just like a vacation, to remember it all. A founder or CEO that focuses on legacy is more likely to create one because everyone wants to make the journey count.
It is really fun to look back on this first post. We were revolutionaries and only three or so retailers had reviews on their site at that time - just seven and a half years ago. The world was "closed" back then. Facebook was closed to the public. Twitter didn't exist. Certainly there was no Pinterest. And no iPhone or Android, where so many social interactions occur now. Consumers were seen as "targets" in "demographic markets" to be "penetrated". Rarely did an executive actually want to - gasp - hear what they actually said. It was easier to be ignorant - and distant - in the ivory tower. To listen was … scary (Who Moved My Cheese?). We had lost the humanity of it all. And now what I am most proud of accomplishing at Bazaarvoice is that we opened the world back up. We made the village smaller. We put the customer back at the center of business. Their voices - our voices (we are all "consumers") - could not be ignored. Word of mouth had always been the most powerful "marketing". Now we would all rediscover it. And rediscovery humanity in the process.
Welcome to the age of customer empowerment in our hyper-connected global village! We look forward to being your tour guide in this wild, wild ride.
To read the chapter that Bazaarvoice ("the voice of the marketplace") was named after, I cannot recommend strongly enough that you read Chapter 4 of The Cluetrain Manifesto. It is still just as important today as it ever was - for any marketer or CEO - and to think that the book's authors wrote it in 1999 blows my mind.