The Fedora Marketing project is an intentionally open marketing effort. It is getting some stride in showing how a volunteer contributor community can do marketing amongst the most popular Linux distribution family (Fedora, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and friendly rebuilds). Fedora Marketing is finding a way to work with, instead of against or in ignorance of, Red Hat’s corporate marketing and PR teams.
Is it the first of its kind? Not sure, not likely. We are certainly not finding any academic research and such to suggest that ‘open marketing’ as we practice it in the Fedora Project is very common or understood.
It’s mature enough to invite you, a traditionally trained and skilled marketeer, to participate and get something great out of the process. The methods follow from the principles of free and open source software development.
The key principles I think go in to open marketing are:
- Practice radical transparency – all conversations and decisions are done in the open, including the full, 100% true marketing and brand plans.
- Trust your community – don’t save even part of the work for your corporate marketing team.
- Train your community – many of us didn’t know squat about proper marketing before becoming involved in Fedora Marketing.
- Increase your capacity for wider participation – you need room to get core things done and have legitimate peripheral participation.
- Don’t rush things – spin off tactical work e.g. event handling to a different part of the project; focus on strategy and enabling others to work from a common brand vision.
- Focus on being a service bureau – support the rest of your project as they need it, don’t try to get ahead of what they are doing with traditional product marketing approaches.
- Find how to lead with market research – open research of open communities will yield data useful to the rest of the meritocracy.
- There is no “way we do it” – people who know about any traditional profession should bring their expertise, but be prepared to transform and transmogrify on the fly.
A year or two ago, if a bunch of traditional marketeers had landed on Fedora Marketing, I think it could have been a disaster. There seems to be a sea change of thinking in marketeers. Maybe the power of the social media phenomenon has finally sunk in to the marketing way of thinking.
Before the social media blossom, open-minded marketeers didn’t have a lot of good reference points. Doing things “like” open source software wasn’t an argument for pursuing the open source way in marketing. There has been a lot of fauxpen marketing – it may purport to be authentic, but it’s really just skilled manipulation.
Skilled manipulation cannot move at the power of the people using Twitter and Facebook. Authenticity has a ring to it, don’t you think? I imagine there are hundreds of marketing folks out there now doing a version of, “I told you so,” as they rework plans to include such crazy things as innovation from the community of customers. Some marketeers have embraced free culture and are learning how to work with it for the benefit of all.
Many are surely still using ‘open marketing’ as they would ‘open source’ – an item on a checklist of “features” that speaks nothing about the actual way those are included in the path of innovation.
Here in Fedoraland, we’re building an open marketing campaign one brick at a time. If you are or know of any marketing people interested in getting involved in an open campaign, come our way.