How does a free software project do marketing?

Typically free software projects have lots of very smart developers. Large projects like GNOME might also be lucky enough to have lots of great translators, designers, artists and writers working on the project.

However, marketing is not typically an area free software projects have worked much on. GNOME is changing that. Over the past couple of years we have really increased our marketing activity from fundraising to spreading the word about GNOME. One way we’ve done that is through the marketing mailing list. Another is by getting together at GUADEC and having marketing hackfests.

We just held our second GNOME marketing hackfest and it was a huge success.

Why was it a success?

Who went?

We had a really good mix of people from the release team (who could tell us what really was in GNOME 3.0) to the art team (it’s really hard to do any final marketing product without a designer!) to marketing experts.

The Zaragoza Marketing Hackfest Team. Photo by Jason Clinton.

They all blogged about the event and you can read what they worked on.

  • Dani Baeyens. Dani was our resident local. In addition to doing marketing stuff all week like helping Jason with the videos, discussing how to do a GNOME 3 demo that people at conferences can use and helping me make slides in Spanish, he also answered all our questions about “where can I …”, “how can I …”
  • Jason D. Clinton. Jason has been working on videos to promote features of GNOME 3. He’s not just working on the videos but working on a way to make it easy for others to make videos of their own. He also actively participated in the discussions.
  • Paul Cutler. Paul leads the marketing team and helped out in a number of discussions like the webpage and the demo technology. Along with Vincent and I, he also met with lots of the local teams and politicians.
  • Licio Fonseca. Licio worked on the GNOME Ambassadors wiki.
  • Sumana Harihareswara. Sumana gets the prize from me. She stepped up and led the whole hackfest, created the GNOME 3 marketing roadmap and offered to project manage GNOME 3 marketing!
  • Bharat Kapoor. Bharat brought his mobile and marketing expertise. He worked on a series of brochures for events and interviewed many of the local leaders on how they use GNOME.
  • Andreas Nilsson. Andreas brought vital design and art skills to the hackfest. With his help we were able to design websites, brochures, business cards, tshirts, etc.
  • Stormy Peters. I worked with Agustín Benito Bethencourt, Ignacio Correas and Alberto Capella to plan the hackfest. During the hackfest I led a couple of the discussions, worked on the GNOME Ambassadors material and plan to encourage more people to speak about GNOME and met with many local teams and politicians to talk about how we can work together in the future.
  • Ryan Singer. Ryan brought marketing experience to our discussions. In addition he helped write the talking points and brochures, worked on the website and was one of the drivers behind getting more speakers to promote GNOME.
  • Vincent Untz. Vincent really helped us with his knowledge of GNOME 3.0 from the release team perspective. In addition to answering lots of questions he also met with the local teams and politicians, participated in the discussions, worked on the business card template and the GNOME 3 demo technology.

Most all of these people attended a week long event on their own time, taking vacation from work.

We are also all supported by the GNOME Marketing team and the GNOME community. They actively watched what we were doing, participated in the IRC discussions with us and we will now all work together to make the GNOME 3.0 marketing roadmap a reality.

In addition we got to meet with many people in Zaragoza. We met with the:

  • Ayuntamiento de Zaragoza. The Zaragoza city government to talk about how GNOME and Zaragoza can work more closely together. Zaragoza is interested in promoting software industry in their city, in particular around free software, and they are interested in working with GNOME to make that happen.
  • Gobierno de Aragon. The regional government is also interested in promoting software industry and free software and interested in working with GNOME to grow their local community and industry.
  • Technological Institute of Aragon (ITA). They are working on several free software projects with others in the EU and would like to figure out ways we can work on them together.
  • Lorenzo Gil Sanchez and J. Félix Ontañón about the accessibility work they are doing in Andalucia.
  • Heidi Vilppola and Ignacio Correas from eBox about communities.

What’d we do?

We met every day from 9 or 10 until 8:30 at night when the building closed in this really cool government building that used to be an old convent, the Water Library.

GNOME Marketing at the Water Library in Zaragoza. Photo by Jason Clinton.

We worked on all the stuff mentioned above:

  • GNOME 3.0 marketing roadmap. This is our plan for marketing GNOME 3.0 and all the steps left to do between now and then.
  • GNOME 3.0 talking points. Lots of people talk about GNOME and GNOME 3.0 and they want to tell people about it. These talking points will give them specific things to highlight and demo.
  • GNOME Ambassadors and speakers program. We want to make it really easy for GNOME community members and fans to promote GNOME. We created everything from talking points to tshirts to business cards. We talked about how to make it easy for people to represent GNOME (like providing travel assistance and talking points.)
  • website – coming soon!
  • GNOME 3 videos. Jason has been working on 30 second videos that promote GNOME 3. They will feature lots of community members and many good highlights of GNOME 3!

The last day we had a GNOME Event at ITA. There were presentations from ASOLIF, CESLA, the City of Zaragoza, Aragon, GNOME folks and GNOME Hispano.

Sponsors and Local Organizers

The idea to host a GNOME hackfest in Zaragoza came from Agustín Benito Bethencourt from ASOLIF. Together with Ignacio Correas and Alberto Capella, they put together the event. Not only did they find the funding from local government organizations like the Zaragoza Municipality, Aragon Regional Government, ITA, ASOLIF and CESLA, but they also found us a great venue, very nice hotel and made sure we were very well fed! (Don’t go to Zaragoza if you are on a diet – the food was awesome!)

Many, many thanks to our sponsors:

Thanks to all our sponsors and to all our participants for making GNOME Marketing a success!