Marketing 2.0 and its Resemblance to Open Source

There is this fantastic working paper over at Harvard Business School that sums it all up so well what has been labeled Social Marketing or Marketing 2.0: Digital Interactivity: Unanticipated Consequences for Markets, Marketing, and Consumers.

The authors hit the nail, positioning marketing in a constructivist manner by referring to Web 2.0 phenomena they describe as “consumer collaboration”, “digitally enhanced communication among consumers”, “peer-to-peer interactivity”.

[…] marketing is a cultural producer. Just as an author puts into circulation words that do not become ideas except in the minds and hands of readers who make them over for individual or social purposes, so marketing in this paradigm aspires to be an author in the culture of its customers. For marketing to play this role it needs to be welcomed, not resisted.

I can’t get that idea out of my head that Marketing 2.0 was actually invented years ago by Open Source developers. Their style of communication has lead to transparent and honest information about their products, something that customers of Open Source software highly appreciate.

Additionally, no Open Source company can afford a marketing guy who has no or only little clue of software technologies, because especially when it comes to community relations (which I regard as part of Open Source marketing) one can only convince by expertise.

Hence, I believe that the Open Source style of marketing aka evangelism aka community relations has very much formed the basis of Marketing 2.0 and contributed to the understanding that marketing needs to act more like an ally of customers rather than an intruder (e.g. by aggressive mass advertising).

This makes me hope that with Marketing 2.0, things will become more realistic in all kinds of businesses. Marketing staff will loose their nimbus of spin doctors, magical seducers and manipulators. Instead, marketing will be much more about forming trustworthy relationships based on human interaction between a company and its customers.

Marketing 2.0 also requires marketing persons as well as management and staff in general to develop their own voice, because only authentic communication e.g. via blogs can leverage “the power to mobilize identity” (as the working paper states) within and between customers and company.

Something I miss in the HBS working paper is a discussion of Long Tail effects on marketing. For example, whether and how social marketing needs to be different in the head and the tail?

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