Still, many Open Source projects think they will rule the world without marketing, simply because their software is hyper-fantastic-mega-great. In the early days of Open Source, that might have worked out, at least within the growing group of aficionados.
Today, there is a growing amount of often competing Open Source products and most importantly, the companies or organizations behind the software want to sell to end users who are sometimes not geeks (to say the least).
Hence, it is time to spread the word about your great Open Source product in a way that your focus group(s) understand(s) – and that’s what marketing is about. Some people call it “evangelism”, because the term “marketing” seems to have a bitter taste in the Open Source domain.
Nevertheless, in the end, what you will do, is marketing, and most likely, you will use traditional as well as new fancy means to gain visibility. So, let’s call it what it is.
The main reason why I avoid the term “evangelism” is that Open Source companies are usually technology-driven because they have been founded by software developers. The key for success lies in becoming market-driven and there’s nothing holy about it, it’s rather down-to-earth customer-oriented work.
There is indeed something special about Open Source marketing and that’s the aspect of community relations. It’s got a lot to do with social media marketing and building personal networks, in essence an ecosystem of mutual coaching and support.
I started to compile an Open Source Marketing Checklist in my Wiki and will keep extending it over time. This checklist is supposed to help Open Source companies and organizations to start or sanity-check their marketing. All hints come without any warranty, of course, but they always worked for me.