The Visual Studio 2005 evangelists have created a new community marketing experiment: High Five Wikisheets. Microsoft marketing has taken some flak in the past (ahem), but this wiki seems to be pure Cluetrain Manifesto material. Risky, radical, and all about the conversation. I love it :)

I first heard about the idea a couple of weeks ago, when I was looped into a discussion between Craig Neable and the Channel 9 team. Craig and his boss Carter Maslan work every day with developers who are trying to sell their bosses on the benefits of .NET. I figure this normally means a lot of “push” marketing – preparing datasheets and case studies and competitive analyses. Then Carter had the slightly-crazy idea that the developers themselves know why they want Visual Studio 2005, so why not give them the floor? Or, in his own words:

Nowadays, some of the best “Marketing” is happening in a Cluetrain Manifesto style expository conversation taking place at scale in community blogs – 1000s of them. The problem is blogs stink at synthesizing and summarizing those conversations at any given moment. Where can I go for a synopsis of the top reasons to move to VS 2005? Does that synopsis reflect the breadth and depth of the community’s actual project experience How could Marketing datasheets become succinct and accurate reflections of the real-life project experiences of the community?

Craig bounced a few namespace ideas off me, some of which I teased him for unmercifully (sorry Craig!), and then we got down to playing with prototypes. To kick things off, Craig and Carter have added the reasons they think companies will love Visual Studio 2005, but now the High Five Wikisheets are open to developers everywhere. Got a great reason that convinced your boss to switch? They want to hear it. Convinced that Visual Studio 2005 adds no value? They want to hear that too. Spotted a connection between two different scenarios? Refactor the wiki — or just join in the conversation on Channel 9!

Now, I wonder what Rick Segal and Seth Godin think?

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