Recently I read an interesting article on the marketing of Open Source Software. Author claims marketing of open source software is marketing in its purest form. Well I must say it is statement in its purest form. However, some points made in the article seems interesting. The fact that open source software projects are great involvement for the developers and not for the general users certainly drew my attention. Author reminds marketing is not advertising nor it is telecalling. He feels generally people think; marketing is all about conning people, making people buy what they don’t need. I feel failure of marketing is evident when it fails to stops the organization to produce or promote something people don’t want buy.
We cannot teach people anything; We can only help them discover it within themselves- Galileo Galilee
One of the first thing a marketer does is to define the set of people with a need or want for some product or service. In term of Open Source software marketers have a different
challenge, as I assume primarily one develops the software for his/her own need and release it in open source license scheme for people so that a collaborative effort can help people to use the product which is available at lower cost and can be customized as per requirement. Challenge for marketers it to build the community and keep it going. It shall involve people for different walk of life and involve technical and not- technical people. A community that can build and serve the needs each other and grow to involve more people. I compare this to a small village, where it has people providing services and using services of the people in the same community. There is governance to regulate the behaviour of the people in community. Everyone promotes its services and in turn the community get propelled. This is a different world of marketing, one needs to be open, transparent and mindset has to change for command-n-control to collaboration. The governance needs to be flexible and people have to give chance to test and try the projects to others.
The best of them excel and give a platform for others to climb. And taking this aspects through the conventional aspect of 4 P’s of marketing. Product – Open Source software products are unique as it doesn’t comes with the guarantee and warranty. The provider gives you the products in as best form however doesn’t assure of usability to your requirement, neither takes any liability for losses you incur. The feature aspects of the product is dependent on the community size and contribution from the community. Pricing – Open Source software are pitched as free software under some conditions. However, one does incur cost in terms of time and resources. The pricing is the most important aspect of Open Source software, as it is pitched as community model, the bigger is community and better is contribution, the more feature rich product is available Promotion- Promotion of the product in some terms is dependent on community again, members of community are the best promoters of the product with word of mouth publicity Placement or Distribution of the product is also done by the community, being in information product category, Internet has been biggest contributor in distribution of the Open Source software. It is cheapest medium of distribution and being the free removes the obstacles of payment issues. The fact marketing of the open source software is most interesting comes from the aspect of personalization, resource sharing and collaboration with Peer to Peer Connection. It poses new challenges for execution , drives innovating thoughts and changes existing rules of game.
The marketing in last few decades has changed in the way it is executed, the primary reason being because the product and related aspects have changed in terms of mechanics of physical products or physical evidence related to delivery of services associated with the product. However, what has not changed is the basics of marketing, it is only the application which is now executed in different fashion. As Galileo Galilee Said : We cannot teach people anything; We can only help them discover it within themselves.”