service mix… yes it does concern you!

Posted: June 30, 2010 in fedora

On one of our SWOT thread in the Marketing List, Rejaul left a valuable contribution that kept me thinking until today. On my initial approach, I though to complement it with a small analysis on the Marketing Mix. I introduced this for a small kick in into the Marketing Plan and to help people working on other documents that could need this information.

I made this approach considering Fedora Linux to be a ‘product’, and Rejaul introduced a concept which is valid, but it’s more oriented for ‘service marketing’, or marketing for services… the great issue and I did tried to dodge it, is that Fedora Linux can also be considered a service.

I understand that this is kind of strategical stuff that doesn’t matter for most of you people reading this, but if you are responsible or develop for a open source project, it also have the need to promote you software, and this bunch of stuff can actually help, or at least give you a inview on how the ‘proprietary’ market moves and sees things… the concepts can be used for open source projects and much more.

So… what can we get from this in a very superficial and non-mind crushing way?

Well ‘services’ have very special characteristics when compared to ‘products’, usually there’s an interaction from the user and there is a special importance if you consider ‘time lines’. This requires the traditional marketing strategies to introduce new elements into the Mix, in this case, we will call it ‘service mix’.  There are several theories, and while ‘product mix’ relies mainly on 4P’s (Product, Place, Price, Promotion), the ‘service mix’ will be extended into 7P’s, but I’ll use 8P’s instead and make it more complete.

So in general lines, a service marketing mix can be created/evaluated/understood or whatever you decide to do with this information by 8P’s.

PRODUCT – The core of your operation… and also your primary service. This also includes support services (services that complement the core product). Marketing says that you should associate the highest number possible of supplementary services to transform the core product into a more wider product. I believe this is also true on the Open Source way. Also using Marketing language, I would say that we need to pay attention to all services that can contribute to the creation of more value to the consumers.

This to say… if we look into Fedora Linux, we should promote not only the main product, lets say, the technological platform, but also give relevance to all the support services that can contribute to the creation of more value to the consumers. So far nothing that much new.

Going the open source way… learn to identify your core product and never neglect all the accessory services around it that can translate more value for your users, and be mindful that if it’s important for your users, it becomes important for you.

PROCESSES – This topic is usually one of the most problematic in many service organizations, strangely the open source community has sorted out all their ways and provides powerful methodology and designed processes that allow outstanding performances. If we consider git, Transifex, bugzilla and other available in usage through the open software realm… everything seems to work… If it doesn’t we would had problems providing Fedora Linux on schedule for example  or anything similar. In my opinion this is one of the hot topics where open sources excels in everything.

TIME AND PLACE -This in a way replaces the ‘distribution’ in the tradional 4P’s Marketing for products. It concerns to the moment and place where the services are delievered, as it also reflects the channels and methods used. If you look into Fedora Linux with the eyes of a marketeer, you see it this way: the service is ‘consumed’ whenever one uses Fedora Linux. This is the main variable, then you also consider the channels and methods used… I would consider pointing the relevance of using electronic/digital channels for distribution. This also seems to be farily easy for Fedora, but many times it’s a critical factor for consumers. Providing bad iso’s, broken updates… all of that can influence the act of one consuming Fedora Linux. It’s strange but generally in software, it’s flagged by marketing as a service and the act of consuming the service is when we use it.

PRODUCTIVITY AND QUALITY – On a service, the productivity is translated on how the inputs are transformed into outputs that are valuable to the users. Quality is often associated to the degree in which a service satisfies the consumers by answering to their needs, wishes and EXPECTATIONS. The quality of a service is vital for differentiation and loyalty of users. It is important though to have a balance between productivity and quality. This is interesting to approach on free software projects. I would dare to say that users would recognize a quality in Fedora Linux (from my experience), but it’s important to notice that from Fedora scope, the things should be measured from a different angle. I would dare also to say that the relation between productivity and quality also favors Fedora. On normal service organizations, sometimes this is where things get messy…

PEOPLE – Many services depend directly or indirectly from personal interaction between users and collaborators. The nature of this interactions influences the users perceptions regarding service quality. Usually service organizations dedicate special efforts into recruiting, training and motivation of it’s collaborators, specially front-office. This is interesting to approach from the eyes of a Marketeer, as the Fedora Community is actually once more an example of the excellence of free software communities. This can be confirmed (right?) by user, contributors, etc feedback. Yes I guess we are doing a good job.

COMMUNICATION AND EDUCATION – Going from a free software project perspective such as Fedora, I would place it this way: communication is mainly educational, specially to new consumers. We do it in lots of different ways, flavouring many times our own communication networks (planets, blogs, events, conferences, etc). Marketing would suggest that here we could get 3 vital things:

* supply necessary information and advice;
* convince the target of the benefits of Fedora Linux
* convince the users to take certain actions in specific moments (ex: join our community

I believe that in a way this might help supporting the Fedora Marketing defined user base growing. We for sure need to be more educational, and in a point, it is widely understood that new contributors might lack of a start up ramp in the early stages. Not always people have the time to walk-in someone, but is there any way to improve it?

PHYSICAL EVIDENCE – This CSI looking thing on the eyes of a marketeer usually can be described as the aspect of buildings and company vehicles, the interior of the places where you perform the service, etc. This provides impacts on users and on their perception of quality.  Though this is not actually our case, it remains by interest…

PRICE AND OTHER COSTS – This once more is bit out of the scope of Fedora, as we are not a Commercial Linux distribution, instead a Community Linux distribution. I don’t any relevance in approaching this topic.

I would like to thank Rejaul for pointing me this way. I believe some of this information might be useful, and I’ll try to translate this in the best way possible on the SWOT that is being processed.

My thanks also with everyone else that has shown interest and contributed on the Fedora Marketing mailing lists.

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