Marketers, Open Source is Different

How Not to Market to Open Source Communities

As an open source community manager, I am often asked about the best way to market solutions to open source communities. For example, many open source projects have ecosystem solutions built specifically for the open source solution and these companies want to engage the developers and users to promote their technology. This is a common activity; however almost all the marketers for these ecosystem companies do it wrong!Typical Scenario:A management software company has a product that can analyze network traffic within a given open source platform solution. This company wants to reach out to the developers and users within the community to notify them about their solution. Most marketers would then send out an email to the community with product information, pricing, etc. Perhaps a webinar would be part of this or social media campaign. Regardless, the focus will be on their product, pricing, and competitive positioning. In the example above, the company will lead with their product to the open source community who will quickly dismiss the product and move on without even considering their solution. Why? The answer is that open source communities are interested in the technology and not the product. By promoting a solution with marketing positioning and price the company is immediately turning off the audience.  Thus, here is how to market to an open source community…Step 1 – Lead with the TECHNOLOGY! I can't say this enough. Open source users and developers are interested in the technology being implemented in the solution and not the product. In conclusion, a smart marketer will understand the community and work with the community in trying to sell to the community. Always check with community managers and leaders on the best practices to engage the users and developers.

Step 2 – Engage with community leaders to discuss your technology and leverage community blogs and technical discussions to share your ideas; perhaps you will even get some new ideas and features that make your product even better

Step 3 – Market your technology through via approved community practices. For example, many community managers have processes in place to introduce technology solutions to the community as an ecosystem solution. Work with the community on their established process

Step 4 – Lead with the TECHNOLOGY!

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