Unpublished thingy just hanging out and stuff

Drupal's brand still carries baggage of having a "community plumbing" tagline: with its connotations of clogged toilets, filthy masses, plumber butt cracks and all[1]. I complained about this in 2005 -- back when I was young and foolish enough to believe in traditional marketing humbug.

In spite of all the crap connotations of community plumbing, Drupal is doing something very right. If we had a marketing agency for the last 5 years, i'm sure we'd give them credit, but the fact is we've experience exponential growth[2] even while we offered our "community plumbing" in contrast to our competitor's "most powerful CMS on the planet". For anyone interested in marketing Drupal, I think its critical to understand how drupal has grown so much, in spite of reminding all first time visitors of clogged toilets. 

A Propsect's Perception: Reality Based Vs. Marketer Imposed

Drupal's growth has been primarily fueled by what I'll call reality-based perception, as opposed to marketer-imposed perception (Yes, we make up terms here instead of figuring out what terms the actual professionals might use at this blog -- just bear with us.).

A reality-based perception of drupal will come from an assortment forum postings and random blog posts all around the web - a large portion of which are far outside of Drupal's control. People usually gain this perception of drupal through google, using common search queries that someone looking for a new CMS might use.

The key distinction here is that the purpose of content is almost always to inform their audience, not so much persuade them of anything. I'll give you an example: "The White House uses drupal." No need to dress that up -- you can just say it direct, and its impressive. Here's maybe the best example of reality based marketing of drupal. Someone clicks around the company names, clicks around the site and says, "Its an open and shut case Johnson: drupal is good enough for our autopart's company's website."

Marketer-imposed perception is best epitmoized by Mambo back in the day touting themselves as "One of the most powerful CMS's on the planet." The most defining characteristic of any content that's trying to imprint a marketer-imposed perception is inflated language. Why say that Drupal can be adapted to almost any need when you can claim that "Drupal's robust extendable modular architecture can adapt to the changing needs of enterprise customers in the 21st century".

As the critical reader may have noticed, i'm not a big fan of marketer-imposed perceptions. In general, they are a tactic best reserved for companies that sell suger flavored carbonated water to teenagers over MTV.


1.Today the not-so-average-joe who's willing to bet tens of thousands of dollars (or sometimes hundreds of times that) on drupal doesn't mind a toilet metaphor. Indeed what is a more fitting metaphor for a modern CMS than a toilet? Like a toilet a CMS tends to be a convoluted, failure prone contraption that processes crap - the more shoddy, the more easily it gets clogged; users even tend to prefer to their "business" in maximum privacy, keeping their drafts and activities (e.g. crap) hidden from everyone else.

2.The data, points to an unmistakable trend of growth that's been constant since I first met drupal. Consider Dries' prediction last April when we had around 117,000 drupal sites.

"Either way, based on the growth data that we do have available, we can predict that we will near 240,000 Drupal 6 sites by January 2010."  - Dries, April 2009.

As of Jan 3rd there are 227,152 drupal 6 sites that are reporting home - pretty much dead on as far as predicting future numbers goes -- perfectly inline with the pretty chart from nearly a year ago.

Now, if only I a marketing agency could take credit for that.