The opportunities and challenges of marketing Drupal
Last week, I talked about the Drupal Marketing Committee and how they will showcase Drupal’s unique capabilities. Let's continue thinking about what to do and where to be cautious.
At Drupalcon Lille, the Drupal Marketing Committee was centerstage, discussing how they will work to help showcase Drupal’s potential. Let's continue with some thoughts on what could be done.
This committee (Lynne Capozzi, former CMO of Acquia; Suzanne Dergacheva, Cofounder, Strategist, and Drupal Practice Lead at Evolving Web; and Nikhil Deshpande, Chief Digital Officer for the State of Georgia) will lead the Drupal Association’s new and focused marketing efforts.
Organizations, agencies, and developers in the ecosystem have all been marketing Drupal to varying degrees, but having a coordinated strategy that is creative and measurable will be a game changer, and I see it increasing adoption if done well.
But marketing takes time and thought. It’s also a process of experimentation. I thought I would run through a few of the opportunities and challenges with marketing Drupal that are important to consider.
The hard work over the years wasn’t for naught
Drupal has proven itself over the years to be capable of delivering significant results for a wide range of use cases and industries. Some of the usual competitors can’t make these cases because of a lack of time or experience in markets we have long been part of. We can better leverage these successes to demonstrate Drupal’s benefits to potential users.
Our developer ecosystem encourages innovation and the creation of custom solutions that address specific client needs, which are then shared with the entire community. This creates a constant stream of product-led opportunities to attract more developers globally, further enhancing our reach. The long-term growth of the Drupal project is partly a function of this developer and agency adoption.
The energy of the Drupal community also has gravity that has helped it to compete in a market where billions are spent on branding. Connecting this energy to a specific KPI isn't practical, but how we present ourselves as a group of smart, inclusive, and welcoming people is invaluable.
50% of our marketing works; the problem is that we don’t know which 50%
Marketing efforts, especially those aiming to increase awareness, change perceptions, or increase adoption, don’t succeed overnight. Results may not be immediately visible, requiring a sustained effort and consistent messaging to effectively communicate Drupal’s value proposition. Patience is key.
Drupal also serves many user segments, including SMB, Enterprise, and Higher Education. These diverse segments have varying needs and preferences, making creating a one-size-fits-all marketing strategy challenging. We will need to codify how we position Drupal and develop tailored messaging and resources to address the specific needs of each segment. There will need to be triage and clever approaches since resources are finite.
Another significant challenge is addressing the FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) around Drupal. This isn’t the same FUD as in the early years: “Open source isn’t secure, safe, or enterprise-ready.” It’s about demonstrating that it’s a more stable investment than an Enterprise solution, where the customer has one neck to choke. Put another way, competition can often showcase poor Drupal implementations, higher TCO, and disappointing results. All is fair in business, and part of marketing Drupal is objection-handling in the middle and bottom of the funnel.
By capitalizing on strengths and addressing its marketing challenges head-on, marketing can significantly enhance Drupal’s visibility and adoption. There is an opportunity to demonstrate results in creative ways that newer CMSs nor enterprise competitors can’t touch. By patiently and persistently communicating effectively, Drupal can grow and thrive in the extremely competitive worlds of CMS, DXP, and web applications.