Marketing Communication Strategy 2008

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Author: Birgit Aigner
Aigner Marketing & Communications - www.aigner-marketing.de
April 2008


Background history and short outlook

The Open Source Geospatial Foundation has been created to support and build the highest-quality open source geospatial software. The foundation's goal is to encourage the use and collaborative development of community-led projects. This website serves as a portal for users and developers to share their ideas and contribute to project development. As the Open Source Geospatial Foundation grows and changes, so will this website.

Regarding the marketing activities, work has focused on refining the OSGeo logo, producing some brochures and other material for trade shows and advertising, business cards and presentation templates in a maybe not completely coordinated way because of lack of a detailed marketing plan.

Therefore Aigner Marketing & Communications is happy to provide OSGeo with some new ideas for strategic and tactical marketing to give a push forward to this interesting initiative.

As next steps we recommend to first highlight the actual market situation and how OSGeo is actually represented there with all particular strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Then we'll take a look at the quantitative and qualitative goals and define already existing new target audiences. After this analysis and even defined the USPs (unique selling proposition) in this whole market environment we will provide you with an adequate positioning as well as messaging. Unique selling proposition is one or more advantages, or a special combination of advantages that differentiates a company, an organization or a product clearly from its direct competition. Without having this creation of a clear profile and thus branding is impossible.

From that strategic point on we finally move to the more practical part and define best tactics for OSGeo.


Reader Comments

Comments have been inserted in a separate color and with a user identifier. As these comments are actioned (addressed or decided against) they can be removed. The commenters are identified below:

  • Cameron: Cameron Shorter. Systems Architect and sometimes Business Development Manager at LISAsoft in Australia, hence my bias will be toward the business of Open Source.
  • Miguel: Miguel Montesinos my bias will be toward the business of Open Source and OSGeo's market positioning.

A market approach

The Open Source 'Market' itself at the moment is rather young and therefore not quite established, as well as still not really well known to the public. The most important challenge of every market is finding the best way to combine cost-benefit ratio, strategic and tactical ideas and customer satisfaction. The Open Source market and the sum of its processes, often address the similar issues.

For companies deciding whether or not to use Open Source Software, they still primarily demand an efficient value added chain to reach their economic targets. The efficiency of the value added chain is often the primary (buying decision) factor for many possible clients. As a natural consequence, software based companies prefer software models with comparably low engineering, implementation, service or licence costs. For this reason, the use of Open Source Software often offers certain savings. Furthermore we can define some qualitative benefits for Open Source Software: the innovation, the support of the community as well as the high quality.

Every company, institution and consultant offering software or software products can offer Open Source Software. There is no financial profit for Open Source Software through selling usage licenses like there is for proprietary vendors who focus on direct sales of software licenses. Profit is generated through solution oriented, complementary services. The potential for highly scalable software solutions (e.g. Linux) seems to be a lot lower in the geospatial realm. One exception might be web based solutions as offered by some of the major search engine sites.

On the other hand Open Source Software may ease market entry for start up companies with lower budget and fully service oriented businesses.

It is important to know how OSGeo moves in this market environment at present, specifically how it helps to meet the needs of potential users of its software. The following SWOT analysis will help to better understand the actual situation.

SWOT analysis

The following SWOT analysis shows the strengths, weaknesses of and the opportunities and threats for OSGeo in a graphic overview.

Miguel Montesinos: I think we should make a difference between general open-source geospatial market and OSGeo. Is an OSGeo aim to promote the use of open source software in the geospatial industry, but for a precise analysis, SWOT should be focussed on OSGeo (including OSGeo open-source actual or future projects) rather than general open-source features. I add a suffix to distinguish between OSGeo specific features (O) and FOSS4G general ones (F). Please review them, it's just an oppinion.


Strengths


  • Motivation and enthusiasm of the team and its members community (O)
  • High quality of software (OF)
  • High diversity of application (OF)
  • Relatively new way of software production, increasingly popular (F)
  • Low procurement costs (F)
  • Lower Total Cost of Ownership, in particular for licensing (F)
  • Global outreach and local contact through local chapters (O)
  • Open organization (O)
  • Unique similar organization in FOSS4G realm (O)
  • Incorporate well-known FOSS4G projects (O)


Weaknesses


  • Limited 'off the shelf product' examples (OF)
  • Software often in need of explanation, more documentation (F)
  • Comparatively high development costs for clients (F)
  • Dependency on sponsors and volunteers to run organization. High dependency on very few sponsors (O)
  • Internal communication process originally more difficult as in a structured company (O)
  • Possible clients may need to have in-house know-how for further specification of software (F)
  • Lower profit margin (F)
  • Highly skilled, professional developers in the community often mis-perceived as being novice volunteers (OF)
  • Lack of some reference projects in OSGeo (e.g. PostGIS) (O)



Opportunities


  • Popularization of Google Maps has made people more aware of the use of Geospatial Tools (F)
  • Enormous possibilities for application (F)
  • Emerging market situation (OF)
  • Open Source emerges new marketing tactics with low budget (F)
  • De facto quality seal widely recognized to enforce OSGeo (O)
  • Self difussion and spreading through local chapters (O)


Threats


  • Internal organisation or communication weaknesses (O)
  • External challenges as potential threats to OSGeo, e.g. new competitive software, lack of budget or volunteers (These are important and different threats, I'd split them)
  • New competitive software (OF)
  • Lack of budget (O)
  • Lack of volunteers (O)
  • High interdependency between software development, volunteers and members (O)
  • High dependency of good marketing and communication tools (O)
  • Confussion between OSGeo and general FOSS4G projects (O)
  • Bad influence from big sponsors (O)
  • Similar newcoming organization breeded by a huge stakeholder (ONU, EU, USA, Google, ...) (O)


As general facts that could be seen as strengths or weaknesses depending of point of view and further development we would like to point out the following characteristics:

OSGeo
  • Has huge and wide-spread target groups
  • Is a non-profit organization
  • Is an incubator for Open Source software, helping support the development of projects
  • Is an incubator for a living vibrant and professional 'geo-spatial' community
  • Is service oriented

As a first consequence of above analysis we would like to highlight that the communication (content) itself as well as the communication flow to internal and external target groups is critical for OSGeo's success. To get a more detailed picture, we therefore have to define the targets and target groups.

Miguel: A further analysis could be made from the SWOT, pursuing these goals:

  • Strengths: How to keep them
  • Weaknesses: How to combat them (to minimize)
  • Opportunities: How to take advantage of them (to maximize)
  • Threats: How to minimize them

OSGeo's targets

As for definition, every small or big company, every institution as well every non-profit organisation has quantitative and qualitative targets.

Beginning with the more quantitative aims, here are the most important ones as discussed by OSGeo:


Foundation project management:

- To provide resources for projects such as infrastructure, funding, legal

- To encourage the implementation of open standards and standards-based interoperability in foundation projects

- To ensure high quality in order to build and preserve the foundation 'brand'

- To make foundation and related software more accessible to end users e.g. binary 'stack' builds, cross package documentation

OSGeo community related aims:

- To promote freely available geodata - free software is useless without data.

- To promote the use of open source software in the geospatial industry (not just foundation software) - e.g. PR, training, outreach.

- To provide support for the use of OSGeo software in education via curriculum development, outreach, and support.

- To encourage communication and co-operation between OSGeo communities on different language (e.g. Java/C/Python) and operating system (e.g. Win32, UNIX, MacOS) platforms

- To operate an annual OSGeo Conference, possibly in co-operation with related efforts (e.g. EOGEO)

- To support use and contribution to foundation projects from world-wide community through internationalisation of software and community outreach


The listing of OSGeo's overall targets leads us to the inherent marketing and general communication goals.


At this point we already can underline that 'quantitative' communication goals will be focussed on Resources, Product, Open Source and Services as well as brand communication. But in this context we have to really underline the importance of the internal communication. The internal communication processes must be defined before the beginning of the external outreach.


OSGeo's targets may be derived as follows:


Targets To be Defined Where
Provide Resources Definition of appropriate resources Resources and Services communication
Promote geo data Research and definition Resources and Services communication
Co-operation, support of different programming languages Definition of technical possibilities and internal processes (Technical) resources and Services communication
Encourage Open Source Definition of product, product level and services Open Source and Services communication
Promote Open Source to geospatial industry Definition of product level(s) and services Open Source and Services communication
Provide support Definition of offer and support levels let's leave services out Product and Services communication
Give accessibility to end users Definition of product and services Product and Services communication
World wide outreach Definition of product level(s) and services Product and Services communication
High Quality -> Brand Internal (process) definition; internal communication Brand communication

Miguel: I really don't understand this. I can see these targets, but what are the to be Defined and where column used for? What is derived from this?

Qualitative goals and qualitative circle, outlook and first recommendations

As for definition, quantitative aims are normally defined with concrete units and timelines (e.g. to provide resources for projects as infrastructure, funding, legal for minimum 10 projects in 2008). Not defining aims with concrete numbers on one hand gives a bigger sense of 'freedom' in realisation of marketing tools. But the challenge is to strictly and continuously step forward with a communication plan to get the correspondent results. Many marketing and communication tactics are strong due to continuous and regular measurements.


So Aigner Marketing & Communications definitely recommends OSGeo to have an extra meeting to quantify their goals in a realistic way and discuss the timelines.


As now there are the qualitative goals left, we provide some of the most important ones and within those develop the qualitative communication circle as a recommended general qualitative strategy for OSGeo in a short form.


For a high qualitative communication strategy first of all there is a need of a good reliable background attitude, meaning the already existing deep knowledge in combination with a strong motivation to really push and support the OSGeo idea with correspondent messaging. This is the precondition for the building of a trustworthy image and an important step towards developing a brand.


The brand and the good image then build an important basis to the next quality: the broadening of the awareness in the market, which at least should flow in an excellent market perception to all target groups. Please note that not only the content of messaging, but also the authenticity will be a crucial factor to success!


Qualitative goals are much more difficult to measure and directly depend on quantitative goals. Once they are defined, the qualitative ones can be measured, e.g. by number of new relevant contacts, news clippings, quality of subject in articles.


As the target discussion is directly connected with target group definition, here is the outline.


The target audiences and their needs / Setting Segments

Being an incubator for OS software development, OSGeo faces many different types of target audiences who operate under different structures and have different needs. Approaches to these target audiences differ according to their segmentation. The success of the communication will depend entirely on its ability to reach key audiences in all related segments, using the most appropriate and effective tools for each audience.

Thus, messages for each target audience have to be developed to address their requirements. For clear demonstration, please see the following segmentation proposal:


[[Image:]] Cameron: Could we please get this image.

Cameron - This actually was not an image but a table with bullets. I added what is in the document (see "Snippet starts" below).

All: Please feel free to delete, reorder and add. This should be harmonized with what we have at WebCom OSGeo Site Focus.

Snippet starts

Developer communities

Needs

  • Technical support (meaning SAC operation?)
  • Profit from collaboration in community
    • Same for “new projects”

User communities (new users)

  • GIS professionals
  • Web developer
  • Site maintainer (what is this?)
  • ISPs (are they a separate main target?)

Needs

  • To get their software project proven?
  • To profit from achievement of better Geospatial data availability – this applies to new (mass) markets and are fiercely addressed by Microsoft, Google etc.
  • To get better education
  • To learn more and to get better understanding

Potential sponsors

GIS Companies

  • Governments (Small communities, Counties, States, Ministries, Regional, commercial organizations
  • Space agencies
  • International bodies (UN)
  • EU
  • NGOs
  • Building Industries, Estate agencies, institutions
  • Consultants
  • Proprietary Software vendors

Needs

  • To enhance awareness
  • To (build and) improve image


Academic Institutions / Universities

  • Professors
  • Students

Needs

  • To have “state-of-the-art” knowledge
  • Access to R&D tools
  • Teaching materials
  • Raise awareness to market needs (supposedly the market only needs proprietary experts, therefore professors stick to teaching proprietary tools)

Opinion Leaders

Needs: See Academic institutions

Clients

Needs

Awareness of the existence of the software stack and the companies supporting / developing them


Who Might Be a Project Sponsor?

End user organizations using the foundation packages, such as governments, NGOs and service organizations. These organizations are already saving money (I would not want to comunicate this but instead that they are raising productivity becasue the software is better, more flexible and can be used by more people because there are no restrictions) using free software, and have a stake in the successful future improvements to the packages and the health of the open source geospatial ecosystem. Consultants and integrators are building solutions for their clients based on OSGeo projects. The continued success of the packages (it is not a single package! There is strong competition inside OSGeo between project) is important to their commercial leverage. The PR benefit of sponsorship helps raise their stature when with potential clients. Proprietary software vendors using the libraries in their packages are good candidates. These companies depend on the quality of the libraries. And some are not very keen on supporting OSGeo Marketing their usage of Open Source software.

Who Solicits Project Sponsors?

Project sponsorships are primarily beneficial to the project being sponsored, so it is anticipated that members of the project community will be primarily responsible for soliciting project sponsorships. The fundraising committee of OSGeo will also be explaining the project sponsorship option to organizations it reaches out to, but will generally be encouraging Foundation Sponsorship. [Tyler: We no longer have this committee. I think this should be described as a role for the Board of Directors and staff, e.g. Executive Director]

Snippet ends

Cameron: Following are my suggestions of users and their needs:

Miguel: and mine

Cameron: Project community (developers and users)

Cameron: Users and developers are continuously aiming to improve their projects. This includes:

  • adding new features
  • improving quality
  • improving documentation
  • improving infrastructure which in turn improves productivity

These goals require developers, and developers are generally paid for by sponsoring users. Hence it is important for projects to woe developers and users (usually from competing products).

OSGeo helps projects by:

  • Using the OSGeo brand to attract users and developers.
  • Providing infrastructure services to streamline software development.
  • Providing collaboration opportunities with related projects.

  • Helping to spread the project
  • Helping to organize the project

Cameron: OSGeo Service Providers / Developers

Cameron: Companies and Open Source developers make money by selling software services: software development, systems integration, support, etc. These companies depend upon customers selecting Open Source over proprietary systems and benefit from OSGeo by:

  • Promotion of Geospatial Open Source (over proprietary alternatives).
  • Helping customers find OSGeo support companies.
  • Teaming with other Geospatial Open Source providers.

  • Easing the selection of OSGeo projects because of quality and OSGeo branding reputation
  • Offering a single entry-point for documentation and support

Cameron: Geospatial Application Users

Application users have business problems they need to solve which often can be solved by OSGeo applications. The users need:

  • To find the most effective tools (both open and proprietary) from the vast choice available.
    • OSGeo branding helps refine choices.
    • Related case studies are highly regarded.
    • Finding tools which integrate with existing infrastructure is important.
  • Finding developers and support are very important.

  • Be updated of new features, projects, news, public geodata, ...
  • To assure standards compliance

Miguel: Sponsors

Miguel: Sponsors (actual and potential) are sustaining OSGeo. A special focus should be made to keep them and get new ones by offering them:

  • A corporate image of supporting OSGeo is a marketing tool for them
  • OSGeo branding usage.
  • To influence or suggest project's new features?
  • To spread sponsorship using OSGeo resources (marketing material, FOSS4G, ...)
  • Marketing material (t-shirts, cap, ...)

Already in this first description we have to point out the diversity not only of target communication tools and content, but even of target groups of OSGeo. All of these challenges now have to fit well with the following positioning and messaging discussion.


Strategic Communication

Coming back to the right background attitude and the good motivation to push forward and support the OSGeo idea we even may draft a Vision and Value statement to underline the initiative' s general direction. We urgently recommend to discuss and define these statements even by OSGeo management internally to give right direction above all from the 'real OSGeo feeling point of view' even on the longer term.


For first discussion however, Aigner Marketing & Communications is happy to provide you with some first propositions:


  1. OSGeo to become the technical and service quality leader of Open Source Geospatial Software
  2. OSGeo to become the world wide first brand in Open Source Geospatial Software
  3. OSGeo to provide state of the art Open Source Geospatial Software and service to everyone interested, at any time and any place

After the internal discussion and definition of the final Vision and Value statement , we now have to find a correspondent basic positioning for OSGeo to then develop messaging, (general) communication content and communication tactics for the targeted outreach.

Before discussing concrete positioning, let's look back at the initiative's mission statement as already outlined in OSGeo's White Papers:


'To support the development of open Source Geospatial Software and promote its widespread use'

On our way to an adequate positioning and having mirrored the already existing mission statement ('To support the development of open Source Geospatial Software and promote its widespread use'), we now would like to outline from above developed strategic approach the following facts as the most important ones:

- OSGeo is a strong, motivated and collaborative community

- OSGeo encourages the use of Open Source Software to end users

- the most important benefits of OSGeo's Open Source Software are the innovation and incubating character, the high quality as well as the relatively low (start-up) budget needed. In addition, OSGeo ensures that a project has an open and sustainable/substantial user and developer community

- Furthermore developer communities can rely on important resources (infrastructure, funding, legal) and generally on widespread support


Subsuming above points leads us to the following positioning proposal:


OSGeo is a non-profit initiative and incubator for Open Source Geospatial Software that believes in the power of communities. It provides high quality software and substantial services and moves forward world wide Open Source Geospatial applications.


Based on this positioning, the general messaging could be as follows:


The OSGeo initiative, incubator for Open Source Geospatial Software, provides high quality software and substantial services to move forward worldwide Open Source Geospatial applications.


We like the claim 'OSGeo - your open source compass'. Here - derived from the general messaging some alternatives:


  1. ) OSGeo - we believe in Open Source Geospatial Software, strong communities and high quality!
  2. ) OSGeo - go for high quality Open Source Geospatial Software!
  3. ) OSGeo - go for Open Source!
  4. ) OSgeo - the incubator for Open Source Geospatial Software and Services

As we now outlined general messaging, we have to adapt to the above discussed target groups to more exactly meet their single expectations and needs. Please note that in the communication process OSGeo for general information or information materials should always refer to general communication. But in the more detailed communication to the different target groups (if written or spoken), OSGeo should show it's deep understanding of these target groups and use its professionalism to approach them with specific messaging.


Building on the above defined target groups; we recommend the messaging according their needs:


Developer Communities:

Their major needs are consisting in the technical support and profit from collaboration. Therefore we propose communication as:


OSGeo as incubator for Open Source Geospatial Software believes in the power of communities. It provides high quality software and substantial (technical) services and moves forward worldwide Open Source Geospatial applications for everyone interested.


User Communities

User Communities have almost the same needs as developer communities.


The major challenges of these communities are the approval of their software projects, the best profit from getting Geospatial data and to get better knowledge and understanding. So even the message is finally the same as for developer communities. Both target groups can be addressed in the same way.


OSGeo as incubator for Open Source Geospatial Software believes in the power of communities. It provides high quality software and substantial (technical) services, deeply supporting and moving forward worldwide Open Source Geospatial applications.


Potential Sponsors

Enhancing awareness and improving the image are the most important needs for possible sponsors as above mentioned. Therefore OSGeo could align the messaging as follows:


OSGeo is a non-profit initiative and incubator for Open Source Geospatial Software that believes in the power of communities. The goal is to deeply support and move forward world wide Open Source Geospatial applications.

Academic institutions, universities and opinion leaders

Their goals can be simply described by having the state-of-the-art-knowledge and thus optimizing the correspondent image. So we recommend a communication wording like


OSGeo is the incubator for Open Source Geospatial Software believing in the power of community knowledge and knowledge development. Therefore it provides high quality and state-of-the-art knowledge software to deeply support and move forward world wide Open Source Geospatial applications.


Discussed positioning and (individual) messaging, let's come to the applied roll out of the communication strategy and inherent best tactics.


Communication tactics

The following communication tactics will be outlined wherever possible in a chronology and first shortly cover product/service definition and internal communication as pre-conditions to a successful implementation of external marketing tools and outreach.


Product/service marketing

Beginning with product and service marketing, we first have to underline the importance of a good and comprehensible 'product portfolio'. As OSGeo is facing a relatively new market strategy with a relatively new product, which is surely in need of explanation for many people of the comprehensive target groups, it's extremely important to have a clear, understandable product and service definition. Remember the KISS (Keep It Simple and Stupid) - principle!


The simpler and clearer a product, a service or the pricing is defined, the better it can be marketed, even and above all to the non-technical target groups (e.g. to the possible sponsors!). It will also improve their confidence. Please consider, that product/services are distributed worldwide. As still there are many mentalities and different kinds of perception in the target group it is important to make sure that people understand the message(s) whoever and wherever they are. Thus we do not only have different target groups, but even different mentalities of different nations and even different individuals with different kinds of perception!


Therefore Aigner Marketing & Communications recommends the responsible team to seriously discuss how to define products and services the easiest way (KISS!) to get clear results. The results should be 'tested' with world wide friends or friendly companies that lack knowledge of OSGeo's business to get a feeling of their interest, perception and acceptance.


Internal Communication processes

OSGeo may achieve more success if it is concerned about a dynamic flow of information between its volunteers, members and its internal organization. Therefore it is not only indispensable to always have good and fluent communication tools and structures, but also to have really good motivation tools and a comfortable working 'environment' for all participants. It's a common human aspect that professionals prefer working for a task if they really like it and are feeling comfortable.

It is very important to always have someone responsible for the communication task in order to manage the whole internal communication flow, e.g. distributing news or other information by mail, special newsletter or even personal communication!


Marketing tactics

In general, we define following topics for OSGeo marketing tools:


  • Logo Design
  • Homepage marketing
  • Event marketing
  • Public Relations
  • Direct marketing


All subjects will be outlined and discussed in the next chapters, beginning with Logo Design.


Logo Design

As already discussed, the OSGeo Logo looks attractive and has the necessary 'uniqueness'. But since it is very filigree and contains colour gradients reproduction is always difficult. We have already provided you with new suggestions.

Logo variations for 'OSGeo Sponsor' etc. have been delivered as well. The distribution of the OSGeo logo variations through different communication channels will support market awareness of OSGeo significantly.


Homepage Marketing

Today the homepage of any company, institution or initiative has become crucial for their image, above all for the ones with online based business, such as OSGeo. Therefore it is very important to have a clear structured, understandable homepage with interesting and relevant content. Although if the actual homepage is already well done, Aigner Marketing & Communications would like to give some more recommendation for its optimization.


Even if design, logo and colours are attractive, there is a certain lack of clarity from the layout side of view as well as slightly too much information at one glance. So we would recommend creating on the 'home'-site besides a general information space even a button for every single target group so as developers, users, sponsors, universities, etc. That way, everyone can find his specific information in one click only and maybe download important files directly. All relevant information and news can be distributed for individual target groups, maybe supported by an intelligent content management system.


We strongly recommend including more photos / images in the homepage design, too. This brings the very important 'emotional aspect' and makes the site more reader friendly.


Furthermore OSGeo should use and keep strongly its Corportate Identity (CI). It is very important to create 'branding' which supports the recognition of OSGeo significantly.

Outgoing e-Mails could be attached with an OSGeo slogan, so as 'OSGeo - we believe in Open Source Geospatial Software, strong communities and high quality!' to support the recognition effect.


At length homepage should contain a 'personal' side, where developers, volunteers, operational teams etc. can post photos and short personal descriptions to give a kind of 'personal character' to initiative. There could even be an extra platform for intra communication or chats, e.g. with a 'search-find' space. On the one hand, this would give an important human touch to this web-based community and even more community feeling to members, but would be surely attractive to most sponsors by having better understanding of the persons behind this initiative.


Events

In our opinion, events are an excellent tool to expand OSGeo initiative's ideas and to focus on different target groups. Even if the importance of trade fair shows worldwide is declining, there are always good opportunities for an outreach.


We know that OSGeo is already very active in this (FOSS4G, Intergeo, AGIT etc.) but want to add the following recommendations:

OSGeo should even focus on webinaires as well as online live courses, with Specialists and keep strongly using opportunities to present OSGeo in trade fairs, congresses, university discussions and other relevant events. These should not only target software industry, but also geodata forums, developers or institutional environments. If possible, 'testimonials' (existing clients or sponsors) who profit from this community already could talk about their experience and the positive outcome. This creates high reliability and could be also used for interviews in related magazines.


Speaking opportunities should - if possible - always be accompanied with a (small) booth for interested people, where they can get more information and talk personally with OSGeo people.


Congresses should be chosen depending on their importance and history.


For such opportunities, informative brochures should be available as well as some nice give-aways like buttons, stickers, mouse pads, bags, maps etc.


In our opinion it is crucial not to be present at very big trade shows with a big booth, but to benefit from their speaker or discussion opportunities and continue talking with interested people after the speech or discussion in a small booth. OSGeo should rather focus on the diversity of professional managed events without dissipating energies.


Not wasting energy and enthusiasm of its members is one of the biggest challenges for the OSGeo foundation. As there are rather complex internal communication processes on the one hand and so many target groups with different needs and mentalities on the other hand it's crucial only to do few projects with a small marketing team or more projects with a bigger team. The most important in any case is a real professional, successful output. This should be the overall guideline regarding decisions for all marketing tools and possibilities.


A modern way to organize an event can be an 'OSGeo Open Day' to demonstrate to interested people of a single target group what OSGeo is about. Invited persons from around the world may attend the event via live cam or remote access and can communicate with developers and/or with each other. This 'event' could take place periodically.


Last but not least there could be also some motivating events and incentives, targeted at developers. They would be named on the OSGeo homepage with an introduction of their project and get some form of reward (OSGeo T-shirt?). This can be used together with nice photos for newsletters, PR or news site on the homepage.


Public Relations (PR)

Public Relations are a very important marketing tool for the OSGeo foundation. The most crucial tools are interviews, case studies, press releases, special articles and journalist integration (reviews).


The best way to start the periodical PR outreach is to get in close contact with editors, editorial staff of related magazines or free journalists, if not done yet. Responsible persons of OSGeo should meet / visit (if possible, maybe at tradeshows) relevant editors of specialised related GIS magazines, give an overview or a presentation of OSGeo's activities and goals and thus build or deepen personal contacts with journalists.


So regular PR work - which follows a PR plan - can be done with press releases and feature tracking. Feature tracking means to check editorial content plans of relevant magazines for subjects that fit OSGeo's goals. The PR plan should contain a time frame of about 12 months. To use such a plan helps a lot to release PR's in time (to announce events or to take part in an editorial contribution to certain related magazine features).


Please consider that magazines need PR's 6 weeks before publication of the printed version. For the submission of the PR's a topic distribution list is crucial. This means the existing list should be updated regularly.


The other way round OSGeo should encourage interesting subjects to magazines. Many editorial staffs are happy to be sometimes inspired. Press releases should be published periodically 1 or 2 times a month, but content must always be interesting for target groups to keep their attention. Texts should be relatively short, because normally journalists don't have time to read long contents. The most important content thus must be outlined in the header or in the beginning. At the end there should be always the same, short organization information added.


Besides this, case studies or experience articles should be initiated and placed in relevant magazines. Reading about good, successful projects raises not only the interest of target groups, but also confidence and awareness. These case studies afterwards can be used for newsletters, press releases, in the news space of the homepage as well as for demonstration in presentations or 'sales' materials. Please note that any articles or other written material e.g. with the client name or application must be approved by the client before they are published.


Advertisements may be used. But note that generally advertisements are not getting the attention wanted. Therefore OSGeo should tend to have banner advertisements in related media to promote events like FOSS4G. Advertisements in printed media are not attractive to OSGeo because they are extremely expensive.


The success of PR's and ads (if needed) can be measured in a certain degree with statistics of the hits on the homepage and the number of direct requests.

As a further step, speakers should be defined and trained. Interesting discussion subjects should be offered to journalists in order to get interview articles, if possible with photo of interviewed person to raise the 'human factor'. Even interview articles may be used then for further PR and marketing outreach as described above.


One of the most crucial activities in PR work is the management and the maintenance of (personal) contacts with journalists. The more journalists are persuaded by professionalism, importance and relevance of OSGeo subjects and convinced by the 'human factor' behind the initiative, the more there is the chance of an above-average PR success.


Generally Aigner Marketing & Communication recommends not only to provide a maximum of transparency to journalists and to organize some events or incentives (e.g. 'Open house', journalist breakfasts), but to bring journalists into the development process of the Open Source software and OSGeo itself. Normally many journalists do have a profound knowledge of market and market changes. Therefore it may be very helpful to have their support.


As a consequence the probability of a correspondent publishing on OSGeo activities can be much higher.


Direct Marketing

Besides above mentioned activities, OSGeo should not neglect the Direct Marketing. To gain awareness of target groups, short newsletters or direct mailings with attracting content for each target group should be sent periodically. This helps to stay in their minds despite general information overflow.


Especially the target audience of potential sponsors can be addressed with Direct Marketing successfully.


Correspondent databases must be managed and cared. OSGeo should define a responsible person or staff for this.


Summary and practical recommendations

To run successful marketing activities, some basic points should be considered:


Corporate Identity (CI) and Messaging continuity

To get the required awareness and understanding it's indispensable to have a consistent CI and a continuous messaging outreach. Continuity raises the recognition effect and gives an image of professionalism.


As a consequence all marketing material must always contain the same messaging and the same CI for every single target group.


Worldwide outreach

Not too long ago the strategy of many (US) companies was to standardise international outreach for all countries. From our point of view however it is necessary to be aware of different attitudes and mentalities of the countries all over the world. So we recommend to 'think global, act local'. European countries really differ one from another not only concerning the languages, but also regarding habit, awareness and the way projects are working. Targeting real success, OSGeo therefore should co-operate with local people or partner agencies.


Time Table and Planning

Before starting the above mentioned marketing activities, it would be helpful to make an assessment of potential partners, possible sponsors and marketing possibilities such as trade shows, congresses, university activities etc. All subjects should be valued, discussed internally and then outlined in a concrete marketing time/activity/responsibility plan in order to have a guideline for all responsible and interested persons.


After some period of implementation (we recommend after 3-6-9-12 months), there should be a meeting with all responsible persons to discuss the status, exchange experiences and make adaptations. Please note that a marketing plan on one hand gives a strategic guideline and on the other hand builds on practical experiences and thus requires flexibility to optimise it!


Information and promotion material

Does OSGeo already have letters, envelopes, business cards, presentations and online-documents with a consistent CI?

To get correspondent outreach, it is indispensable for OSGeo to have good and interesting information material. We recommend as basic tools a general information flyer which addresses community, developers and potential sponsors. The flyer can be used to hand out at events and should be available on the OSGeo homepage for download. (DIN A 4 or US letter format, 4 pages) .


Other downloads, e.g. White Papers or Q & A's should be available in authentic OSGeo-CI on the homepage and in a printed form for trade fairs.


The OSGeo journal could be optimized regarding texts and layout to become more reader friendly and to get a more 'human touch' and thus have better impact on target groups.


Furthermore it would be good to have a CD or DVD (maybe including a cool little film) with main information about the foundation to distribute with flyers.


Please think about some stickers, magnets, bags or other give-aways like pens, note pads, T-shirts, caps, umbrellas with a sign like 'OSGeo proven' or 'OSGeo - go for open source!'.


Since most of the GIS software of today is made to detect / avoid environmental damages please consider to think 'green' in terms of gifts, paper for printed material etc. A foundation like OSGeo could be a role model in this to remind people to protect the environment. Of course, OSGeo is not Greenpeace but to show that you care for and give people an impulse to this aspect too would benefit OSGeo's image approach. So you could look for T-Shirts or caps from organic material, use recycling paper, by 'fair trade' articles etc.


And why not have a message like this in your eMails?:

Please don't print this e-mail unless you really need to.


Aigner Marketing & Communications wishes you a huge success. We are happy to support OSGeo!