Marketing: Necessary (But Not Evil)

Business Leadership Day
Location: F 151
Average rating: ****.
(4.00, 5 ratings)

I say “marketing.” You probably hear “advertising.” Perhaps (likely) you cringe a bit. Or perhaps your mind replays snippets of Mad Men, all cigarettes and Scotch. It’s very doubtful you think “Open Source Project” but you probably should.

Marketing is so much more than just data mining and advertising (targeted or not). Marketing is discovery and identity and community outreach. Marketing can help your project help others. Marketing can help you turn your users into contributors and your contributors into evangelists. Yeah, now you’re thinking “Open Source Project,” aren’t you?

Come join me as I dispel some of the clouds of pollution which obscure the name of marketing, show how it can help your projects, reveal how—whether you realize it or not—you already use marketing every day and how that’s a very good thing indeed.

Photo of VM Brasseur

VM Brasseur

Juniper Networks

My name is VM Brasseur. I am based in San Francisco, CA. You may call me ‘VM’ or ‘V’ or ‘Veem’ or ‘Veeb’ or even ‘Vicky,’ which is the short form of my given name of ‘Victoria’ and is, in truth, the name by which most friends and co-workers know me. However I answer to all of the above. TIMTOWTDI, after all.

My introduction to Open Source was watching a college boyfriend fill countless 3.5" floppy discs with a new operating system he was downloading from Usenet over his shiny new 14.4K baud modem. “It’s, ya know, like UNIX. But, ya know, free.” Somehow this made a deep impression. I started paying attention and recognized that openness is a Good Thing™. Since then openness of all sorts has been a feature of my life, often in small but meaningful ways.

As of 2011 I am in my twelfth year as a manager of technical people, projects, processes and products. My professional interests lie in technical management, free/open source software, open access, libraries/archives, technical writing, user-centric software development and a fair smattering of business and marketing (which is not evil, despite what we techies would like to think). While I have been a programmer and can read and understand most programming languages with little trouble I have no interest in generating code. Frankly, while it’s something I can do it is not something which I feel I should do (or, more specifically, be allowed to do). We all have our strengths. Mine is helping technical people do good things and do them well. In the very rare event I do code something it will be written in Perl, for which I have a very soft spot in my heart.

When not working I make things, dote on my spoiled cats Nigel and Percy, and obsess about Doctor Who.

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Picture of VM Brasseur
VM Brasseur
07/21/2012 7:26am PDT

Hi, Shane. It’s difficult/impossible to give a general answer to the question because there is no one correct approach to marketing. It depends entirely upon the needs and goals of the individual project. If you have one you’d like to discuss specifically, send me mail at vmb at vmbrasseur dot com and we can get a dialog going about it.

Picture of Shane Curcuru
Shane Curcuru
07/20/2012 10:47am PDT

Wish I could have made this session. I agree, finding effective ways to do “marketing” is critical for communities. What are the key topics that can help volunteer and community-governed groups do this kind of work? I.e. how can things like independent Apache projects succeed at this, with just their internal geek committers as (most of the) resources?


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