However, a new breed of marketeers is emerging with a different vision of the world. Inspired by websites such as The Cluetrain Manifesto, they understand the mindset of the new consumer and the values of Open Source markets. And this has set them on a path very different from the command and control mindset of the traditional marketeer.
They understand that the powerful new markets created by Open Source values are transparent, that they operate in real-time, that they are controlled by people not companies, that they are global, highly reactive, flooded with information and that made up of millions of interlinked niches. And they understand that for marketing strategies to be effective they must reflect this new marketplace.
These strategies are as sophisticated as the new markets themselves but a few principles are emerging.
1. BACK TO THE SOURCE Consumers are no longer happy to sit back and be fed a brand and its values. They want to interact with the ‘brand source’ in the same way that Linux programmers want to get their hands on the programming source code. That means giving consumers access to the brand and inviting them to co-create on branded projects. Open Source marketeers understand this and make it easy for customers to get involved with a brand and affect its direction, maybe even its values.
2. SPOT BRAND FANS The new breed recognise there is no point in ‘demanding back the source material’ because it is well and truly out there -- in the public domain. And it’s not coming back. In fact, they look to put the brand source materials in the hands of the consumers, especially brand fans like George Masters. Then they sit back and watch the fireworks as communities create and innovate in ways that enlarge and enrich the community.
3. BE A BRAND HOST They know that that brand guardians are no longer relevant to the marketplace and that brand hosts are more in tune with the times. Today’s consumer wants to interact with big, exciting, sexy brands, but on their own terms. Brands can host the party and try and make it attractive to consumers but they must realise that the new consumer has a full diary and plenty of suitors. marketplace and that brand hosts are more in tune with the times.
4. ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME? The voice of the mass markets was a LOUD and BOOMING monologue. Which didn’t leave a lot of time to listen to anyone. Open Source communities are all about conversation and dialogue. Open Source Marketing means listening really closely to the rumours and whispers that bring the new marketplace alive.
5. GET REAL (LIKE SCOBLE) Authenticity is one of the most valuable currencies in the transparent marketplace. So human, friendly voices (like Robert Scoble) are particularly effective. Corporate speak and PR flack is just ignored. And it’s no good just pretending. YOU WILL GET RUMBLED. This can be a difficult leap of faith for companies who have been used their brands like shields, to keep the world at bay.
6. YOUR CUSTOMERS ARE CLEVERER THAN YOU Open Source marketeers understand that their customers are clever, cleverer than themselves and their agencies. So they try and tap into this intelligence to help grow their brands. By the way, this includes the obssessive customers who make a racket about every last product detail or development and constantly get in touch with leftfield ideas. They are probably the most valuable.
7. LET GO Open source marketeers understand, most importantly, that people are now in control of the brands that for so long have been wrapped up and locked in corporate safes. Brands are no longer proprietary and companies need to adapt to that reality. There’s no point in calling in the lawyers to try and change things back. The world has moved on.
8. OPEN MINDS Open Source marketeers also know this new environment is not as dangerous as it sounds. They know the greatest barriers are the mental ones built up during the reign of mass marketing and TV.
By setting some rough parameters and then challenging consumers to get involved, or co-create, they are already seeing some fantastic results.