Drupal Crisis Point: Marketing Ice to Eskimos

Drupal Crisis Point: Marketing Ice to Eskimos

A week or so back, Mediacurrent wrote a thought provoking blog post about how Drupal is at a crisis point and losing the CMS marketing battle. The article expounds upon Dries' DrupalCon London State of Drupal keynote, calling on the community to better market Drupal. While I wholeheartedly agree with the points in the post, I think there is a bigger picture opportunity for marketing that is being missed. In the three and half years LevelTen has been doing Drupal there have been a couple things that seem a bit odd to me about how the community promotes Drupal:
  1. Drupal shops spend a lot of time marketing to other Drupalers
  2. Drupal pundits are very focused on the technical benefits of Drupal
It seems that most Drupalers primary focus is on building cool stuff. It even says it on several Drupal shop websites, "we build cool stuff". The buzz is always on how technically awesome Drupal is. But at the end of the day, what the CIOs, Marketing Directors and Brand Managers want are business returns. More and more, websites are owned by the marketing department. Sure, we are developers. Fields/CCK, Views, Imagecache, Features, etc. are all really cool stuff. But these are just features, it is benefits that sell; at least to marketing directors that don't know a node from a content type. When you talk to a marketing person about all these features, their eyes glass over. I know, being a developer I have a tendency to engage in Drupal techno babble with the wrong audience. So here is the good news: Drupal is really awesome at getting business results. There are a fairly sophisticated set of elements that are required to make a website successful: UX/branding, traffic, social integration, visitor engagement, conversion, retention, process improvement, continual innovation, etc. Drupal does it all, better than anything we have seen in our 12 years of building websites. It is why we switched to Drupal in the first place. It's why other businesses and non-profits should switch too. But wait, there's more. If an organization really wants to get a jump on the future, they should be diving into Enterprise 2.0 & social business initiatives. While Drupal is called a CMS, it is really a social platform. Drupal goes well beyond today's standard toolbox for getting results like SEO, social media integration and content interactions. It allows organizations to truly engage users, build community and foster brand champions like no other platform I have seen. Drupal Commons is probably the best example of this. We need to get the word out.

What to do

  • Go to non-Drupal meetups, particularly those that involve web strategy and marketing. Here in Dallas we like to go to things like DFW Scrum, Social Media Club, American Marketing Association, Startup Happy Hour, Usability Professionals Association, Dallas PHP, Print & Web Designers, etc. Get involved in the discussions. To implement strategy and marketing, you need tools. Drupal is an awfully good tool.
  • Start a beginner Drupal meetup. I am sure your normal Drupal User Group meetings are like ours. A bunch of techies that have discussions that scare newbies. Start a separate meetup to ease people into it.
  • Start a web strategies meetup. We just launched one in Dallas. We are going to have two montly meetups. A regular one with topics about marketing, project management, UX, etc. We are also doing a jumpstart course to help people build a solid foundation for driving results – and, surprise, the platform is Drupal. This is not a Drupal heavy group but we will weave it into the discussion. After all, great strategies need great tools.
  • Drupal Business Summits. Houston had one, we had one in Dallas, Atlanta is having one, there is one in New Orleans. These are great ways to reach out to business and non-profit managers that would feel out of place at a typical camp.
Got any other ideas? I would love to hear how others are reaching out to business and marketing managers. Photo by joshua aaron