5 tips for positive promotion

This is a follow-up to yesterday’s article about the rules of grid competition.

So you’ve decided to avoid self-sabotaging, unproductive, negative types of marketing and competition.

What’s left?

Lots of stuff!

1. Market your cool new features

Don’t expect people to notice it when you add a major improvement to your grid or services. People are totally oblivious.

Post an announcement, share it with OpenSim social communities, and, of course, send me a press release.

Don’t forget that other grids will eventually copy your features, and, if they’re important enough, add them to the OpenSim code base.

Make that feature do triple marketing for you by donating it to the community. It will take time for OpenSim and other grids to adopt the new feature, giving you a marketing advantage during this entire period. Plus, you’ll get the positive PR from having donated the code — and other other grids and developers will be in a position of owing you a favor.

Finally, you avoid the problem of having a differently-code version of your feature adopted by the OpenSim code base, since you’ll either have to port your feature into new versions of OpenSim, or just delete all your work and switch over to the alternative that everyone else is using. Either one sucks.

So if there’s even the slimmest chance that other developers will want to redo your work — beat them to it and donate the code first.

The welcome region of the Spellscape grid. Spellscape, together with Avination, recently contributed a big bug fix to OpenSim.
The welcome region of the Spellscape grid. Spellscape, together with Avination, just contributed a big bug fix to OpenSim.

2. Promote your people

This actually should be number one, but most grid owners are techies first, and focus on features before anything else. Now that we’ve got the features out of the way let me tell you the sad truth: people don’t care about features. Well, not as much as the developers do.

That’s why they keep buying technology that’s not as good as the other stuff on the market.

People care about people.

So if you really want to promote your grid, you want to promote the people on your grid.

Promote your creators.

Promote your builders.

Promote your merchants.

Promote your performers.

Promote your events.

Use a Google Calendar — or another calendar that offers export functionality — and invite the public to subscribe to it.

And, please, don’t use a cover photo of an empty build or landscape, no matter how pretty. Use photos from actual fun events.

Think of it this way: Visiting a new grid is like jumping off a bridge. Do you want to jump into an empty, strange river? Or into one that has a lot of people already in the water, jumping in all around you, having fun, yelling, “The water’s great! Come on in!”

That empty, strange river could have rocks, or a nasty current, or be really cold — or have snakes in it. Snakes! You don’t want to go there.

This summer's Ozzie Con on the Virtual Highway grid. That grid has a lot of parties.
This summer’s Ozzie Con on the Virtual Highway grid. That grid has a lot of parties.

3. Promote your humanitarian side

Make people proud to be residents of your grid, not ashamed of it, and they’ll promote it to all their friends.

Donating code, as in tip 1, is one place to start. You can also donate to OpenSim development, or to OSgrid, to help with its recovery. Kitely recently donated $250 — and see, here I go, mentioning it.

You can also hold an in-world or online fundraiser for a good cause, and promote the event, and the people who help with the event.

Holding a fundraiser gives people double the reasons to visit your grid — to enjoy the event it self, and to support a good cause. Plus, it makes them more likely to promote the event to their friends, since it for a good cause.

The video below, for example, is of a Led Zeppelin tribune concert last month on the Virtual Highway grid, where all the proceeds were donated to St. Jude’s Children Hospital.

4. Use positive comparisons

Let’s say you have a choice of using two quotes in your next promotional outreach. One says that the person had received great service on your grid. Another says that a person had lousy service on a competitor’s grid.

Use the first quote. It attracts people to your grid.

The other quote will repel people from the competing grid, without necessarily attracting them to yours. Plus, it might encourage the other grid to retaliate — you probably have some disgruntled users, as well.

Plus, by promoting your good service, you’re encouraging all grids to up their game. That means that there’s a net benefit to OpenSim as a whole, which, in turn, will attract people from outside OpenSim to check it out.

There’s also a third reason to focus on positive comparisons. People will only pay attention to so many of your promotional messages before they start to tune you out. Make each message count. A messages that promotes your grid will have a big positive impact, while a message that hurts another grid won’t help you much at all.

Finally, people want to be associated with positive experiences. If your grid comes across as a source of negative energy, you’ll be repelling people, and your residents will be less likely to recommend your grid to others.

If something bad is happening on another grid, and you really feel that the public needs to know, send me or another blogger a private note so we’ll look into it. OpenSim doesn’t benefit if bad practices continue unchecked.

And then, if you’re quoted in the story, make your quote positive.

Instead of saying, “I can’t believe that they did that. How dumb is that!” Say something like, “This is what we do on our grid, which seems to be working well. We’d love to help the other grid set up a similar system.”

That’s an advanced PR secret, by the way. You’re letting a neutral party take the flak for going negative, you come off sounding like a good guy — and you’re helping grids improve, which helps everyone. It’s a win, win, win.

You can even turn it into a four-way win by posting a tutorial on how to fix the problem for other grid owners to learn from. Now you’ve also donated to the community, which earns you extra brownie points.

5. Ask for help

So now you’ve earned all those brownie points from donating code, giving money to developers, holding fundraisers, and helping other grids improve. What do you do with all this good will? You ask for help.

There’s bound to be something you need help with.

Maybe you need mentors. Or organizers for events. Or people to come in and film videos and take pictures or do write-ups of destinations. Maybe you need development help, or content. Or a lead on cheaper servers.

Ask for it.

Not only will people step up and help, but they will also feel more positive about your grid afterwards. After all, if they helped you, you must be worth helping!

They will feel that they have a personal investment in your success. And they will help promote you.

Now when you go back to step 1, your marketing messages will go further, and have more of an impact, because people in the wider community will want to see you succeed.

Maria Korolov