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Joomla! Selling the Solution, NOT the CMS!

Joomla! Selling the Solution, NOT the CMS!

Recently I was at the 2014 JoomlaDay Sydney. It was a fantastic day and great to see so many familiar faces. A wonderful group of speakers, great location, food, atmosphere and Joomla! What an amazing, powerful, mighty application and it is all for FREE! The Joomla CMS, it can do so much and has so many amazing features: ACL, content versioning, over 65 languages supported, downloaded 10s of millions of times, runs about 3% of the Internet and growing. This all appears to be very positive, however, I am sorry to say this, but this is also a sign of what we are doing wrong!

I do feel strongly that Joomla has been marketed by developers, not marketers, business owners or anyone else. We certainly have some of the best developers in the world working in the Joomla project, however, we need some of the best marketers selling the solution for us as well..

The fact that we saw and continue to see the same familiar faces year after year at JoomlaDay Sydney or at our Joomla User Groups, shows both a positive and negative aspects within the community. We have a great dedicated community that love Joomla, but very few new faces are interested or have even heard of it.

I don't meant to be raining on everyone’s parade so lets start with the positive first. We certainly have a loyal following whom we are grateful to have and support the project. We continue to see them year after year, month after month. I truly look forward to seeing the people in the community as I have met some wonderful people and made some great lifetime friends.

The negative aspect sadly shows that the Joomla project is not growing at the rate that it should for such an amazing product when compared to the growth of the internet and other popular solutions like WordPress, or even web based solutions like Wix or SquareSpace.

I understand and I am well aware that next year there are some major plans to promote Joomla, however, we need to be mindful of the messaging. Current health check of the Joomla Project is well outlined in the following graph.

Here is a comparison of the three applications from public perspective graphed thanks to w3techs.com.

CMS Trends

(Credits: This graph was provided by Rod Martin during JoomlaDay Sydney 2014).

When looking at the graph above, Its interesting how WordPress has managed to grow an average of 2.5% per annum in the total Internet market share, whereas Joomla has grown on average 0.01% that is NOT a very positive growth at all. We can also see that since January 2014 to october 2014 (in 10 months) we have actually lost 0.2% of the Internet market share and the year prior to that we had 0.0% growth.

Of course these stats are never 100% accurate but is does give you a general guide as to where and how things are progressing.

These arguments have been mentioned many times in the past already:

I am not suggesting abandon ship, I am simply highlighting the fact that we need to be more aggressive in marketing and promoting Joomla as a solution. The question we need to ask ourselves is, if we were investors, would we invest in WordPress that has been growing at a consistent rate of 2.5% per annum over the last four years? Invest in Drupal which has just signed up the whole of the Australian Federal Government as a client? Or would we invest in Joomla that has only had an average growth of 0.01% and had a loss of 0.2% market share loss in the last 10 months?

On the positive side, looking at the graph there are still over 62% of the internet that does NOT use any form of CMS. I see that as a massive opportunity for Joomla to grow, only if we have a long term strategy and plan. Earlier in the year at J and Beyond, Jessica Dunbar gave an amazing presentation called “The Bare Naked Truth about Joomla!’s Data” in which she highlights some key areas around Joomla. I highly recommend that you watch this.

The point I am trying to make is by understanding the issues around Joomla now, I believe is an opportunity to turn things around for the Joomla Project.

If not, by 2020 Joomla will almost certainly be an archived page on Wikipedia as a CMS that once existed.

To give you more of an insight into my thinking, I would like to take a close look at Sydney, since I live in Sydney (yes, its a tiny fraction of the world’s population, however the change is noticeable).

Sydney is the business hub of Australia and has a population of over 4.5 million people. We have one of the highest market penetration in the mobile market compared to the rest of the world. (Actual stats according to a Google Research in 2012.) In Australia, we had 27 million mobile devices for a total population of 22 Million people. Ok, so we are internet savvy in Australia, or maybe we like to think we are. We have two Joomla User Groups in Sydney, both hold monthly meet ups in two separate locations. We nevertheless see the same presenters and volunteers at every event almost every time. To me, this is because we are not active enough to promote the project and attract new people to the community. Despite the fact that we actively engaged new sponsors, and tried different types of presentations and topics to attract new members that aren’t Joomla centric. There is a massive market out there, the question is why? Why are we not able to, or have the resources to get Joomla out as a solution to those people that are connected 24x7?

I believe the issue is that we have not been careful enough in how we promote Joomla. We need to be vigilant with how we get word out. As I am certain most would argue that we are already promoting the project. If we are then I am sorry to say that its an epic fail, and more needs to be done in a more methodical manner.

Let me put on my marketing hat

As a marketer we should not be selling our new or potential clients Joomla. Frankly the name straight away seems like industry jargon (Different Debate/Article). I am sure we have all heard and been told never to use industry jargon. If you have not, then I am telling you, please don't confuse our precious clients!

I believe we need to understand the main objective of businesses and prescribe solutions to problems that keep business owners and decision makers up at night. We need to be the problem fixers, not a cold-hearted salesman who sells them Joomla, Joomla and more Joomla, especially when trying to grow the community and support for the project. We need to showcase solutions, case studies and demos that are simple, powerful, engaging and solve a business need. So far all the marketing activities I have seen has been trying to sell Joomla.

A doctor will analyse the symptoms and prescribe the right medication to fix the ailments. Patients don’t want to know about the drugs, or how the drugs are made, but rather what the end result will be. Of course, there are some savvy patients who want to do things a certain way or want to understand more, just as our own clients do for their web solutions.

My recommendation is to focus on people and businesses who need help, those who want to build a website or need to be online, or perhaps have a poor online presence. We need to show them how we can help enrich their overall user’s interaction with their brand and a well-established digital footprint to help them grow their business.

As a community we need to show businesses how to get better results online via social media, search engines and online marketing implemented using Joomla. Wow them first, then tell them we achieved this using Joomla.

We don't have to sell Joomla straight away, as they will automatically be an advocate by this stage without realising it. Only then we should tell them this was achieved using Joomla and how much more Joomla can do. In a nutshell, we need to be selling the roast not the oven.

We need to change our plan of action, in marketing everything you do is about selling, be it customer services, CRMs, Mailing Lists, Blogs, Order management systems etc… We need to understand that there are two main strategies to selling a product or a service.

  1. Developing campaigns to create brand awareness: this is to build trust in the brand and attract people when they see the name, that may otherwise be reluctant to try.
  2. Developing product/service based campaigns: this to create awareness around the products and WHY it exists. What is the purpose and what can the product or service offer the users, the business and their clients.

Finally, one other important aspect we should consider is the growth of the Internet. The web is currently doubling in size every year. According to a report by IBM by 2020 we are expecting to have an average of 26 web-enabled devices per person in the world as part of IoT or Internet of Things. That is over 200 billion web-enabled devices in the world. If we are to continue to operate at 3% of the web, then we must power the backend of at least 6 billion of those devices/services. At the current rate, I do not believe that Joomla will be capable of achieving this, unless we start to plan ahead now and make some drastic changes in how we introduce the world to Joomla.

I strongly believe in 2015 we really need to plan better for the following years. The marketing plans need to consider the types of users within the Joomla community and how they can best utilise marketing materials, style guides, design files, language, tone, pitch and messaging to help promote an event. If we use these plans in our daily business dealings as a way of attracting more people to the project, a goal of operating well into the two digit market share of the Internet by 2020 is quite easily attainable.

A special Thank you to Peter Bui, Rod Martin and Tim Plummer who helped in putting this article together.

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