Tuesday 14 October 2008

Creating a GeoFOSS marketing pipeline

Petrol stations are strategically placed around the globe to be accessible to the world's extensive fleet of motorised transport. All petrol stations (called gas stations in the US) contain a petrol pump, a cash register and a shop attendant. This distribution pipeline for petrol can be effectively used for other products too. Cars need oil and drivers get thirsty so why not package up oil and canned drinks and sell them too. You see, it is easy to add extra packaged products to an existing pipeline.
The key elements in this pipeline are:
  • The distribution channel (a chain of petrol stations)
  • Packaged products. Coke is easier to sell in the can than pouring from of a jug
  • A company which produces the product, like the Coca-cola company.
  • Promotion and Price. These should also be mentioned to complete the four Ps of a marketing strategy: (Product, Price, Promotion and Place - or distribution pipeline).
Geospatial and Software Conferences are an attractive marketing pipeline for Geospatial Free and Open Source Software (GeoFOSS). These conferences attract key purchasing decision makers, the conferences occur around the world using a standard format of speakers + exhibition booths and GeoFOSS has a world wide pool of enthusiastic champions willing to man booths and give presentations.
To fill the potential for this conference pipeline, we need a conference exhibition pack. This pack could include a stack of demo DVDs, fliers, an OSGeo banner or two, GeoFOSS demos running on a computer and train-the-trainer material for GeoFOSS exhibitors. My feeling is the demo DVD is the most valuable sales tool in the pack and should be given our initial priority. The demo DVD can run on a computer in an exhibition booth and I've heard a lot of people walking away from GeoFOSS workshops with a demo DVD saying they will try the demo DVD at home with their own data.

The GeoFOSS exhibition pack will be a win for multiple parties:
  1. OSGeo exhibitors will have professional material to present which will increase the exhibitors' professionalism and sway more users toward GeoFOSS.
  2. GeoFOSS software developers will have an international marketing team selling their projects. The offer to developers is, "Get your packages into the demo DVD, get your marketing material sorted and your products will be marketed internationally by a team of GeoFOSS evangelists".
  3. GeoFOSS Sponsors will have an extensive marketing channel which will justify sponsorship in return for advertising. We need sponsors because OSGeo's modest marketing budget won't cover costs for a presence at all key international, geospatial conferences.
Once established, GeoFOSS products can be marketed through other channels as well, (e.g. the demo DVD can be handed out to new University students) and other products can be marketed through GeoFOSS channels (e.g. The OGC are considering developing a persistent, standards based Geospatial Integration Showcase).
So I propose that we, the GeoFOSS community, build our marketing pipeline, starting with a GeoFOSS exhibition pack and GeoFOSS demo DVD. The marketing pipeline will have a major impact on the GeoFOSS market and will spawn numerous related projects which make use of this direct line to users.
Further Reading:


Archaeogeek said...

Totally agreed! I've looked at the stuff on the wiki, but I'm not really sure how this sort of thing is progressing, or how people can help.

Cameron Shorter said...

Best way to start is to get involved with the OSGeo Marketing Committee. Join the email list, drop in on the IRC meetings, or watch the development through the wiki.

This committee seems to be getting a lot of extra energy and focus lately as us OSGeo Community members are building a joint marketing focus. I guess we should be expecting to see you there soon too?