Proceedings from the Marketing Strategy Workshop

On Thursday late afternoon we had a great Marketing and Strategy Workshop. The session was chaired by myself and Italo Vignoli, and Florian Effenberger’s presentation on the LibreOffice’s “Anthill” had been merged to the workshop. This allowed us to discuss the marketing strategy and community building for almost two hours. I believe the session was quite productive, and in many ways proved to be an eye-opener for many people in the room (including myself).  This session’s results are a good base to a rework of our marketing activities, at least the marketing/product/community  aspects of the question. I will be highlighting the major points that have been made during the session and as they were very much brought forth by the participants in the room, do not hesitate to let me know if I have forgotten other elements and points you think were important as well in our discussion. I would like to thank the participants for their precious feedback and participation, as well as their humor and cheerful spirit.

The scope of our discussion

We did not get out of the session with a marketing strategy (we might have needed about two more hours at least for that) but we did get out with a serious base to elaborate a strategy, and a general framework for marketing.

  • We will not be marketing a product (i.e the binaries)  but will “market everything and everyone inside the LibreOffice project”. 
  • Our core values as a project do not rest in a specific product’s positioning; don’t look for one, you will not find it. But rather, our goals and the baseline of our message is specifically described in the first document that was ever released by the Document Foundation and the LibreOffice project the very day they became public: it is our Next Decade Manifesto. It is likely that some, if not a large part of the people interested in marketing LibreOffice may never are read it, and it’s all right, but this manifesto very much describes who we are, what we want to do in absolute non-technical terms. The general idea, then, is that the marketing team should elaborate specific messaging on top of the ideas expressed in the manifesto and encompass LibreOffice as a project, not as a product.
  • We need to be more structured in our approach and our contributions. At the moment, there are only a few marketing volunteers but certainly nothing that comes close to a team. We will start structure our work towards that goal from now on.
  • We do not have a market, just like we do not have a product. But we do have a community and we have a project. This point implies a real departure from traditional marketing. One of them is that, while we have clear criteria for TDF membership, we should also make people feel part of our community, and once they are turn them into actual contributors. This is a key idea, not just because we are in need of volunteers in specific areas of our project: but also because this is the way we will grow our marketshare  community .

Specific ideas

  • Starting from the Next Decade Manifesto document might make some people think our messaging will be more political. At least I was among the ones who made that observation (don’t forget to check the video stream of the session).  This may not end up being the case as the Manifesto does not attempt to make political points: it outlines what the LibreOffice project stands for, so its values are consubstantial to the project and the software itself.
  • The exact expression of the messaging might end up being very different from one local teams to the other. As an example, while the values might be communicated in the same way across several local teams (we need to find another name than the old ‘native-lang’ for them) the new features that are deemed important may vary: the French team might not care the least about improvements to the CTL stack but the Japanese, and others, might well consider this one major feature for them.
  • While the whole conversation may seem to have been stratospheric it did hit on very concrete points as well: we need more volunteers and more promotional materials. For instance, we need to make sure that we have a reliable team who will be in charge of designing and publishing the best or most prominent features of the major LibreOffice versions; we need people who are able to maintain the events calendar (not just Marc :-) ) and people who can draft press releases together with Italo. I’m sure I’m missing at least two or three items in this line of thought…
  • We need to be doing something about the Download page. It is not just about the presentation or making sure there’s no mistake: it’s also about relieving Christian Lohmaier and Eric Christian. The entire download process cannot rely just on two people.
  • We need to think about engaging people in the community when they’re downloading LibreOffice. It might just be one small action, i.e “tell your friends about LibreOffice”, but that does help create the feeling that the new user is part of the community, among other possible things.
  • The marketing team should act as an information broker outside and inside the LibreOffice project: connecting various parts of the project (for instance local teams) together and spreading relevant information is key to keep the cohesion and improve the understanding of what’s going on.
  • We also need to reframe our activities and be actually active. For instance, stopping the recurring discussion on the two stable branches of LibreOffice is a requirement: the marketing list is not made for complaints or the expression of everyone’s ideas on everything and the kitchen sink.
  • Last but not least the website’s design will have to be gradually reinvented. The marketing team should be an important stakeholder in this conversation.

Please let me know if I should add some more points to this list. I look forward to starting the marketing team for LibreOffice soon!

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