What is open source marketing?

The job of publishers, like ZDNet, and open source providers are congruent.
Written by Dana Blankenhorn, Inactive
The Salesman
Regular readers may note I don't talk much about marketing here. (Illustration, The Salesman, by Jon Calvert.)

What is open source marketing, some ask?

Well, I wrote about it over a decade ago. It's Internet marketing.

The Internet and open source are joined at the hip. The Internet made open source possible. The marketing savings from open source are Internet marketing savings. And the problems of open source marketing today are also Internet marketing problems.

Problems with Internet marketing? Let's list a few, shall we?

  1. Where do you draw the line between editorial and advertising?
  2. How do you get money to flow between the two, outside the click?
  3. How do you justify and measure the effect of this spending?
  4. How do you prospect the vast universe and turn it into a set of prospects for your product?
  5. How do you market to your existing customers?

Over the last few years I have seen open source companies, and publishers, struggle with all these issues. The job of publishers, like ZDNet, and open source providers are congruent. We try to segment readers, identify their needs, and serve those needs with information. Providers try to identify prospects, take them down the sales funnel, then close on them. For our business models to work, money to sustain us has to come from somewhere.  

Closing doesn't end the matter, however. As Seth Godin wrote in his seminal Permission Marketing, closing just gives you transaction permission. Building that relationship into a subscription, and eventually intravenous permission to extract cash from them (the kind of permission the power company has) is just as vital.

And it may be here that publishers can help in unexpected ways. We're used to doing surveys, focus groups, and case studies of defined experiences. We do this credibly. Credibility is our equity, without it we're worthless. That's what marketers need, too, if they're to climb the permission tree.

We've still got a lot to talk about.

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