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Waking up the Brand

Marketing and Drupal in 2010: Why my fellow marketers need to get over the idea that Drupal is for "geeks only" and plan for the new year with open source in mind

To be honest, I’m not even sure if marketers have had the opportunity to “get over” the technical misconceptions about Drupal. Because quite frankly, they don’t realize that the open source platform is a great marketing tool in the first place. It’s obvious to me why Drupal should be in the toolbox of every corporate and digital marketer (I’m biased), but is it to most marketing professionals? Probably not. That’s why I’ve come up with my top five reasons why marketers should be seriously considering Drupal as a critical digital marketing strategy element in 2010:

1. Drupal may have started out as a techie’s technology, but not anymore:
When Dries created Drupal 2001 the marketing applications for the platform were only possibilities. Back then the core technology was driven by an extremely committed group of developers who understood the social web and believed open source had much to offer content creators and web publishers who were building sites. But now, eight years later, Drupal has evolved along with the social web—including its ease of use—and this is exactly why it should be appealing to marketers. Marketers need customizable and relevant solutions to easily integrate with existing campaigns and social tools (blogs, wikis, RSS feeds, etc.). They need to build sites on the fly for specialized projects and leverage social software as needed. Drupal’s inherent features enable this in a way that doesn’t require you to be an experience coder to use it.

2. Social marketing is more than just Twitter feeds and Facebook pages:
Marketers who believe that their social media bases are “covered” by having a Twitter account and Facebook page tied to their brand are just dead wrong. In a matter of a few short years social tools have become both fantastic marketing tools but also incredibly noisy channels. Marketers must find a way to get their message heard using these mediums in a new way. That’s where Drupal comes in. With Drupal, a marketer can do more than just turn these channels on. Engagement has to be site-wide. Social media mechanisms that operate in very broad communities are channeled by Drupal into a brand’s targeted community – its site – and encourage customer engagement and participation at every level.

3. “Everyone is a marketer” in organizations today:
The fact is the marketing function within organizations has expanded to virtually every department: sales, IT, and even engineering folks will all find themselves in some “marketing situation” over the next year through online conversations, which is why a business needs to think holistically about their marketing strategy. The very tools that enable customer engagement on a brand’s sites (corporate, product, event, etc.) should be closely integrated into internal analytics and marketing processes. Only true integration of web content and social software will businesses be creatively nimble enough to navigate an increasingly competitive marketing landscape.

4. Drupal is something on which you and your IT department can agree:
As a marketer, how many times do you find your creative campaign ideas at odds with what IT is able to support or secure? Unfortunately, so many times marketing campaigns are designed without IT requirements in mind; whether it’s that we’re looking to do things that corporate technology policy cannot support or that IT tools that are already in place are not used to their full potential within marketing departments. The good news is that many of these hurdles are overcome with Drupal. On the marketing side, Drupal supports a wide range of marketing activities, both on the external-facing and internal side. On the IT front, it’s a platform that integrates seamlessly into the IT stack with minimal disruption to existing content management investments. On top of that, with a company like Acquia, no matter how Drupal-savvy your IT (or marketing department) is or isn’t, we have a level of support to fit your needs, making Drupal incredibly easy to navigate and cost-effective to implement.

5. Your customers are your most important brand evangelists and your site should be where they do their best marketing:
If there is one thing that 2009 has taught marketers, it’s that marketing campaigns are more interconnected with customers than ever before. I’m certainly not the first, nor the last, marketer to talk about leveraging customers as brand evangelists. With tools such as Twitter, Facebook and blogging, we’ve seen how customers have the ability to shape brand perception and recognition in a matter of hours. For many traditional marketers this has been a challenging exercise; relinquishing control over brand messaging to a sea of customers that are often difficult to identify or target can be gut-wrenching. And so with the landscape changing, one thing marketers can and should be doing is making sure that when customers are talking about the brand, the brand is making the most of it. Drupal sites, with their inherently social capabilities, are great cornerstones for this strategy. Take a look at sites such as mattel.com and clickfil.com - they’ve done amazing jobs of engaging customers with their brands and folding them into the marketing plan.

This is by no means an exhaustive or comprehensive list of why marketers should be reevaluating their consideration of Drupal, but I hope it’s something to get the creative juices flowing as we head into 2010.

Happy new year, everyone!

Comments

Posted on by Dave Terry.

Thanks for shedding light on the important role marketing plays in the Drupal movement. I will be very blunt – IMO, how Drupal is positioned and branded over the next few years will be the single most important issue the community will encounter.

No matter how you feel about Microsoft, there is no denying that they’ve always been a marketing company first and software company second. The passion and viral nature of OSS in general gives the Drupalsphere an inherent advantage over proprietary competitors. However, as Drupal gains more recognition as a threat to even Microsoft’s portfolio the FUD and negative rhetoric will surely increase. What will be interesting is the response – it was George Orwell who said “to see what is in front of one’s nose requires a constant struggle.”

Keep up the good work,
Dave
Mediacurrent