During the last WordSesh event held in August 2016, Matt Mullenweg joined the community for a session where he spoke about the growth of WordPress and his thoughts on confronting the project’s external threats. Mullenweg floated the idea of a WordPress Growth Council – a collection of individuals and organizations interested in contributing to WordPress’ growth.
WordPress has grown organically over the past 13 years through the power of its community, without expensive advertising campaigns or traditional marketing initiatives. For the first time, Mullenweg is looking to tap a segment of the community that hasn’t often been directly involved in contributions – people and organizations with large scale marketing expertise.
“I think we could do a lot to figure out a roadmap for countering this huge marketing spending being directed against us, because we are the big guy here,” Mullenweg said. “We are the 26% and they are like a 1%. But even though they’re smaller, they might be cannibalizing some of the most valuable aspects of the WordPress customer base.”
Just before WordCamp US, he formalized the idea with a post on his blog and an open invitation for council member applicants:
Never have there been more threats to the open web and WordPress. Over three hundred million dollars has been spent in 2016 advertising proprietary systems, and even more is happening in investment. No one company in the WP world is large enough to fight this, nor should anyone need to do it on their own. We’d like to bring together organizations that would like to contribute to growing WordPress.
The survey for potential council members asks them to share what they bring to the table as well as a few ideas about the growth of WordPress so far, how it can be accelerated, and how the project can best respond to the millions of dollars competitors are spending in advertising. Responses have already started coming in.
Alexa Scordato, VP of Marketing at Stack Overflow, applied to be part of the council. She said her experience as a long-time WordPress user and marketing executive has motivated her to help improve the overall consumer experience.
What Will the Growth Council Look Like?
After WordCamp US, I had the opportunity to ask Mullenweg a few questions about what types of applicants he’s hoping to attract to the council. He said he envisions it will function very much like a working group or mastermind group where council members learn from each other.
“It’s not necessarily only people at larger companies – the biggest contributions will come from people who currently are or have in the past managed some sort of large promotion of something,” Mullenweg said. “It doesn’t need to be WordPress. Maybe they sold Starbucks. Large advertising campaigns are what we’re trying to counter so experience for that is a good precondition for participating in the growth council.”
Mullenweg said he has received applications from people whose companies aren’t in the WordPress ecosystem but who are experienced in this area and want to contribute some night and weekend hours to help out.
For the past three years, WordPress has consistently added 2% to its market share each year without any form of advertising. Instead of the project continuing to get by on “marketing happenstance,” as Mullenweg put it in the State of the Word address, 2017 will be the first year that WordPress makes a coordinated marketing effort to change the growth curve.
This article is just an excerpt of the original article written by Sarah Gooding and published on WP Tavern