Defining An Open Source Marketing Strategy

1 week ago, we had a meeting of the executive management team of Mindquarry where I presented the envisaged Mindquarry marketing strategy for 2007. Let me share some of the basics with you which you should not miss in your marketing strategy presentation.

Focus Your Activities

The most important aspect is of course to focus our marketing activities. It’s very critical especially for startups to do this right. For example, Mindquarry had a German Web site until recently, in parallel to the English version. We dropped it, because we will focus on the international market in 2007 and the visionaries as well as early adopters. These groups usually understand English very well. Getting rid of translations in this early phase of our business will allow us to concentrate on basic marketing activities.

Define Your Niche

It was also important to define the niche of Mindquarry well. We decided to go for “Mindquarry, the Open Source Collaborative Software”. As you can see at our Web site which got relaunched today, we added this to the logo in the header. Wikipedia and a good friend of mine helped me to sort out the niche.

The niche implies that Mindquarry is a new product in a new market, as the term Collaborative Software is not yet as widely known as for example Enterprise Content Management or even Operating System. It is of course a challenge to position our product well, especially because it addresses a rather new market in the Web 2.0 space. Open Source can certainly help us to achieve a high visibility.

Organisational Success Factors

I identified two critical organisational success factors for our marketing:

  • Coordinate well between sales, marketing and development from the early days. Otherwise, business and product development will lack behind.
  • Coordinate marketing campaigns between teams with the goal to push a message out to the market at once.

Remember that you will also have to address your community, which will include developers of other companies as well as their marketing and sales personnel. Hence, take care of internal and external coordination.

Marketing Style

Mindquarry is a Web 2.0 company, hence we will also do a lot of social marketing. This means, we will heavily make use of communication tools such as blogs, podcasts, Wiki, etc. This includes that I will happily share with you what’s going on within marketing at Mindquarry (as I do here). My vision is to make Mindquarry’s marketing a public project to some extent, where Mindquarry asks for feedback before or after we implement something. For example, you might have guessed that our CEO does not quite like the green download button🙂

Marketing Execution and Deliverables

Don’t forget to think about what you are actually going to do when you define a marketing strategy, for example:

  • your team resources and how you would like to grow the team
  • events you plan to attend (trade fairs, conferences, etc.)
  • collaterals (brochures, business cards, etc.)
  • the infrastructure you need to manage marketing (task manager, file sharing, etc.)

Coaching

Especially in an Open Source company, marketing is a lot about coaching your colleagues in doing marketing themselves. This includes how to do good customer or conference presentations, how to write a nice blog entry, etc. In the end, if you give to your colleagues, you will get back from them – and this is what will keep the wheel turning and ensure a good coordination between marketing and other teams.

Of course, marketing coaching also includes your Open Source community. There will be externals who will approach you because they plan to write an article about your product. Help them and offer to review their text!

Check out Ian’s excellent entry A Marketing Model for Open Source for more on Open Source marketing strategies.

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