Name of team: Sugar Labs Marketing Team Mission statement: The mission of the Marketing Team is to raise awareness of the Sugar Learning Platform, particularly amongst educators. The Marketing Team also handles press relations.
Context: Our goal is a breakout - achieving a rapid rise in awareness of Sugar amongst the world's 10 million or so elementary school teachers. This is possible, but requires funding (possibly joint marketing with an OEM partner beyond OLPC) and support for a strategy from the Sugar community. Without these, grassroots or "lemonade-stand" task-based marketing is of course possible, but awareness will only grow very slowly over time. A breakout will start a positive cycle of new contributors and resources, safeguarding Sugar's long-term longevity. I believe Sugar offers undeniable benefits in an uncrowded product market and has the potential to gain major market share. Short Term Goals (three–six months): 1. Launch new website, with new content in particular screencasts ready for localization. 2. Define new strategy. 3. Ramp up social media participation. Medium Term Goals (6 months–one year): 1. Build up the Marketing Team. 2. Develop and launch merchandising. 3. Improve trademarks protection. Long Term Goals (one year–three years): 1. With funding, develop a media mix including advertising to reach teachers. 2. With funding, commission recurrent market studies to better understand (a) teacher attitudes to information and communications technology (ICT) in the classroom and Sugar's competitors in particular and (b) market shares of major competitors. 3. Work toward OEM deals beyond OLPC including joint marketing. What does the team see as its constraints from being more successful in its Mission? * The chief constraint at this time is lack of resources. Marketing and PR are costly and it is quite difficult to obtain meaningful results without funding. The Marketing Coordinator has personally funded nearly all expenses up to now, but it is no longer possible for me to donate several thousand euros per year (not including travel expenses). In my view we need to find contributors to start and develop a Fundraising Team. Beyond that, the community would need to support earmarking a hefty share of the budget for marketing and PR. * We do not have a strategy at this time. The previous strategy - combating the installation barrier by marketing a demo version as Sugar on a Stick spotlighting the benefits of Activities, and combating the unfamiliarity barrier by raising awareness working with the press - was successful, but unfortunately fell apart after Sugar on a Stick was taken over by Fedora. We consider teacher buy-in to be essential, yet we are unable to offer a simple path for trying Sugar to teachers. We have laid groundwork for an umbrella "Virtual Sugar" strategy - proposing a matrix (distros, languages, Activity sets) of preconfigured VMs for Windows, OS X, and GNU/Linux, supporting many distros on an egalitarian basis - but this is on hold unless the community can choose to support this approach. A variant involves online emulation of the Sugar experience, but the technical challenges appear to be insurmountable at this time. * Technical orientation of Sugar Labs. This is a difficult and possibly insurmountable structural problem. The majority of SL contributors today have an engineering background; the hacker-teacher disconnect has been well documented. There is widespread ignorance, dismissal, or distrust of the importance of marketing, PR, and trademarks. Often, the professionalism in writing, reviewing, and committing code disappears when it comes time to do marketing or PR where anything goes (cf. obscure project names). There is an over-reliance on systems and technical tools. Contributing code is a higher-status activity than doing something else, which encourages a caste system. In these regards Sugar Labs closely resembles other free/libre open source software technical projects. Unfortunately, very few such projects have ever succeeded breakout marketing. I believe we need to break the mold and do things differently. * Product quality. Sugar is buggy and, if not already installed on a non-OLPC computer, represents a technical challenge for teachers who need a trouble-free tool in the classroom. A reliable, bulletproof Sugar would spread very quickly by word of mouth; teachers would become product evangelists. This is not possible today. Compounding the problem, teachers do not find the assistance and support they need on our current websites; the MIT MarketLab study showed that today, our site is not fulfilling its role of informing and supporting teachers. We may want to consider a one-year development cycle over the existing six-month cycle in order to focus on quality. * Absence of OLPC marketing support. OLPC has never had a marketing department, yet has done a great job of raising awareness through world-class PR and product design. To my knowledge, OLPC has never conducted a market study concerning teacher awareness, but anecdotal evidence suggests that aided awareness of "the little green laptop with a crank" is quite high. Unfortunately, Sugar is often omitted in OLPC communications; for example OLPC's new website's About/Software page only mentions Sugar in passing, with no logo at all. The OLPC Association has helpfully worked on promoting Sugar as part of their value proposition in pitches, but consistent joint marketing with OLPC would benefit everyone in the ecosystem. * Limited availability of XOs. From the start of the project until today, with the exception of the G1G1 program, it is extremely difficult for teachers and journalists to obtain an XO laptop running Sugar. As this is Sugar's native platform - eliminating the installation barrier - this policy hampers our ability to easily demonstrate Sugar as it used by most Learners today. Adam has done a great job with the Contributors Program, but the possibility of easily organizing small deployments would be invaluable for obtaining feedback. * Absence of usage experience data from teachers and Sugar Learners. With over two million instances of Sugar in use through OLPC, we do not have consistent, reliable feedback flowing back to us from the major deployments. We are not even sure which versions of Sugar are in use where. This information is vital for us to understand teachers' and pupils' needs better and to shape our marketing message. * Documentation. Sugar is an unfamiliar interface for teachers and documentation (including screencasts) need to be improved. (I have struggled for two years to find a reliable screencast solution, I am hoping the newly updated Activity will fit the bill.) Rich documentation eases the preparation of marketing materials. * Infrastructure. With Google Apps, we were able to easily publish our PR. This has disappeared and there is as yet no replacement (I use gmail and mass mailings are immediately blocked from personal accounts). What are you doing to try to resolve the constraints? The marketing challenges can be met. I am however pessimistic concerning the technical orientation of the project. In my view, if teachers had more weight in Sugar Labs, the Marketing Team could spend a lot less time explaining and fighting and more time marketing. However, for this to happen, developers would need to accept teachers' recommendations concerning the project's orientations. FLOSS engineers generally have a healthy aversion to accepting assigned projects such as at classic marketing-run companies like Microsoft or Apple. It is my hope that SL developers (and packagers, etc.) would become motivated to do so through contact wth teachers and Learners and reliable feedback concerning Sugar. What can Sugar Labs 'central' or the community do to help? I believe it is critical for Sugar Labs to: 1) Raise funds. The absence of resources causes many other unnecessary difficulties. This of course also involves a treasurer and comptroller, but countless other nonprofits have met that challenge. 2) Create a forum for teachers. This was a key recommendation of the MarketLab study and is underway for the new SL website. This could help us in gathering reliable feedback from deployments. We will need moderators! 3) Give more governance weight to educators. This could be achieved in several ways, but I believe the best way would be to form an executive committee of team leaders meeting periodically. The marketing strategy could be aligned with the development roadmap for a start, resources allocation could be hashed out, in general more unity of purpose could be achieved. At the same time, I believe it may be beneficial to remake the Oversight Board with allocated seats for educators (under the current conditions they will never be elected). Perhaps candidates could run as either general contributor or educator, and the top two scoring educators could take seats on the Board? Many thanks for those who manage to read through to here :-) Sean Sugar Labs Marketing Coordinator _______________________________________________ Marketing mailing list Marketing@lists.sugarlabs.org http://lists.sugarlabs.org/listinfo/marketing