Do free software projects need marketing teams?
Posted Apr 27, 2007 14:10 UTC (Fri) by kevinbsmith
Parent article: Do free software projects need marketing teams?
I think most FLOSS projects would do *much* better if they had marketing teams. Let's start with the fact that many/most FLOSS project web sites are absolutely terrible. Someone new (user or developer) coming to the home page for the first time should be welcomed with "Here is what our project is, here is why you might be interested." Unfortunately, few projects have anything like that. That's marketing.
Next, speaking as a sometime FLOSS project lead, I can list a few tasks that I didn't really enjoy, but which took a ton of time: Writing introductory documentation; writing release announcements, updating all the links to the project (freshmeat, ruby-org, etc); first-level tech support; responding to comparison reviews including our product. All of those could be considered marketing.
I also ran a survey at one point to find out what features would be most useful in the next release. Marketing. I managed the project roadmap. Marketing. We needed a logo. Marketing. We probably needed a catchy tagline. Marketing.
I would love to have had a marketing person or group who could have taken on all that work. It would have freed me up to write code, or answer the really tough tech support questions. Perhaps because I actually have a business background (degree), I appreciate that role.
In the case of GNOME, the developers either weren't aware of the marketing group, or didn't realize the potential value they could offer, or had decided that this particular marketing group was not capable of helping. Whatever the reason, that is unfortunate. And it certainly is no reason to come to the conclusion that marketing teams are not helpful to FLOSS projects.
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