Call to action - volunteers for openHAB "marketing"

For a short summary about volunteers, ideas and actions jump to post no. 2

Original post:
There has been a very intense discussion in this thread (openhab marketing is lacking) about missing marketing for openHAB.
I am trying now to give a short summary of this very contentful and long discussion (please correct me, if I forget something important or misinterpreted something):

There is a threat that openHAB might not attract new users and new developers in the near future (or maybe we are already at this point). This could potentially mean that at some point of time there will be no progress anymore and openHAB will eventually die. We were identifying the following areas which need to be improved in order to attract new users and developers and reduce the number of users moving on to another home automation system:
a.) simplify and partially automate the process for new users to add bindings, things, items, first dashboard, etc.
b.) improve our tools for “external communication” such as website, documentation, videos, blogs, press work, etc

I am very much in favor of a professional approach as opposed to the common approach where a crowd of individuals are producing in an uncoordinated way even more (potentially inconsistent) output which potentially confuse even more new users:

  1. Put together a professional plan for areas mentioned under a.) and b.) in a consistent way.
    (Let’s have a clear understanding first what we want to achieve and what we want to change and then start acting)
  2. Attract more contributors for the plan and start executing on the plan. Eventually we’ll define task forces so that each contributor can focus on a preferred topic.
  3. Execute on the plan. Step by step. No hurry.

Let’s come to some details what I mean with a “plan”.
Let’s see it from now on with the eyes of a potential new user, a person like you right before you have visited the openHAB website for the very first time where you wanted to get an impression if you could consider openHAB as your first home automation system. And now go to openHAB’s website. The “Get Started” button leads a new user directly to our documentation. Very efficient from a maintaining perspective and it might attract developers but maybe a nightmare for a new user.

  1. Let’s create some ideas for our website on how we can attract a new user and new developer for openHAB to dive in deeper.

At some stage of his visit the potential new user wants to understand how to install and customize his system. Now go to our documentation page. There is an Introduction first, then a " Getting Started - Tutorial Overview" which covers file based vs. GUI based configuration. Then “Getting Started - First Steps” covers how to create an admin user and modify settings. Installation, which is prior to configuration is a little bit more down and covers e.g. 3 different flavors of JDK to decide on (Zulu, Adopt, Oracle). To make it short: the documentation is VERY good, very contentful but NOT suited for new users.

  1. Let’s create ideas how to provide information to new users who need more information than provided in step 1

  2. After we have provided some more detailed information the new user/developer need the next level of information. That might be a combination of new doc/webpage and a collection of links to our official documentation.

All information mentioned in 1.) to 3.) need to be provided in a “nice” way: easy to understand, consistent, complete. All new stuff needs to have the one and only aim: make sure that new users get attracted by openHAB and finally decide to give openHAB a try.
We need to take this potential new user on a little journey where at its end he decides for openHAB.

  1. And there is so much more which should be part of our plan like NEW videos for our youtube channel, improving social media presence, improving press work, just to name a few of them

=============================================

I’d like to work with a bunch of dedicated people on this. If there is anybody out there who wants to be part of this journey please let me know in this thread.

10 Likes

List of volunteers, areas of engagement:
@stamate_viorel, all areas
@bartus, videos
@timo12357, positioning and other areas
@jlemmer , description of openHAB

Ideas:

  • rework website to address new users by providing our USPs, guide them in the process from the first visit, retrieving first information on possibilities, installation, customisation

Collection of USPs

  • vendor-independent home automation solution, 100% royalty-free, no monthly fees
    (this means the user gets a platform which is open to new other brands as opposed to a closed shop solution like Bosch where they might try to avoid supporting their competitors)
  • single point of control for more than 4000 devices and services from numerous vendors.
    (we already support 3100 things plus can be added more as we have a generic http binding where you can literally integrate an unlimited number of webservices
  • platform independent (Server runs on Raspberry Pi OS, Linux, Windows, macOS, Docker, Synology, etc., App available for Android and iOS)
  • low system requirements, a Raspberry Pi 4 (4GB) will do
  • automatic installation for Pi to reduce manual interaction to almost zero
  • pre-defined GUI for a quick start
  • highly customizable GUI for all device types (PC, tablet and mobile phone)
  • Wizard for creating simple rules (“when X or Y happen, do A and/or B”)
  • support of common scripting languages (Blockly, JS, Ruby, Python, Groovy, Java, Node-Red) to create complex rules
  • cloud access free of charge
  • Fully respects your privacy (no telemetry or data collection, no ads, no hidden backdoors.
  • 100% open source, built by home automation enthusiasts for the love of home automation, not for profit)
  • Rigorous/standardized process in creating 2 releases per year, updates and adding new features
  • highly motivated and responsive community, detailed documentation available

ACTIONS:
@Oliver2 : add guide for new users to our home page which covers in an easy way and less technical language the whole „onboarding process“ from installation, to adding bindings/things/items and finally end with GUI rule. This guide will by intention not cover various possibilites (that is already done by our existing doc). It will cover just one, which is the easiest one.
At the end of the guide there will be a section “What next?” which helps the user understanding other features of openhab (persistency, scripting, etc) and can be seen as the glue to our documentation.

1 Like

Look I can help but I am not very good with documentation but I can try if I get an task. Openhab needs some organization but it’s going to be a hard sell even with documentation. Recently home assistant added a new onboarding layout and looks like an off the shelf product by now.
Lets see next who comes …
Edit looking at my post spelling and also grammar etc looks like crap :disappointed:

1 Like

Thanks Viorel,
that‘s exactly the intention. Everybody can focus on those bits which are most interesting for the volunteer. It is like cherry-picking. We just need enough cherry-pickers😀 so that all areas are covered.

Idea #1 - Youtube Shorts / IG stories - 1 or 2 minute clips showing (quickly) step-by-step how to do simple beginner (or more advanced) tasks in openHAB, i.e. setting up a Hue light, connecting OH to GHome, building a quick widget into a new dashboard, etc - without getting too in the weeds of descriptions or caveats. Pros: Relatively simple to make by anyone, lower effort than full-length videos, reach a larger audience quickly, highlight best features of OH, usable as “Getting Started” clips on OH homepage. Cons: May not get into all the details of set up, but should still allow the viewer to get started down the path, with support from the forums.

Idea #2 - Outreach via our subreddit (www.reddit.com/r/openHAB) - use it to post ideas, how-tos, showcase your setup, but more importantly, interact with existing posts via comments and replies. Cross-post openHAB related content to r/smarthome and other home automation subs, in order to get more “eyes” looking at OH.

I’ve already started doing #2 more, and I may be able to do some short vids for #1 (or shorten some of my older YT vids into Shorts), so put me down as a volunteer…

5 Likes

I like both of these ideas
This is a good start

My idea is the same (short 2-3 min videos) but even more basic… what can home automation do? Promote the idea of why would I want a home automation system? What can it do?

2 Likes

I have just come aboard the OpenHAB train a year ago and am very happy with the system as it runs now. Due to a very unfortunate backup disaster I had to rebuild my system from scratch a week ago. Even with good howtos on the forum, one year experience, and my rather extensive notes it took me three days to get the system back on line.

I am an engineer with a marketing degree and a linux user since the 90’s and have written some code over the years. Still, the pain of understanding the Thing, Item, Channel semiotics and the whole concept was very tangible when I rebuilt my system a second time. Ouch!

This very morning I had a WhatsApp discussion with one of my friends, who is also an engineer and very technically minded, about the possibilites of using OpenHAB for his home automation. I could not recommend OpenHAB to him. Why not? I would not recommend it to him, or anybody for that matter, because the model of things-items-channels is not intuitive and understanding it is a prerequisite for getting a good OpenHAB based home-automation system up and running. I have spent the time and managed to get a grasp of it and I love OpenHAB for its versability and possibilites, but it has taken far too much time.

I belong to the school of marketing professionals who subscribe to Philip Kotler’s 4P marketing paradigm: Product, Price, Promotion and Place. I think OpenHAB has problems with all the four P’s but especially with Product and Price. The product is not yet mature for mass market adoption due to the insane learning curve necessary to get it to work. This is related to the Price, too. In our case time is money and very, very few people are willing to invest the time needed for getting OpenHAB up and running.

Openhabian, myOpenhab and this very forum are necessary and good services but they are not sufficient for OpenHAB mass adoption. The Product concept really needs an overhaul and simplification. I am not sure but I have a feeling OpenHAB positiones itself on the market as the difficult, techie solution compared to HomeAssistant being perceived the easy user centric alternative.

If we want to fix OpenHAB marketing I think we need to start with the first two P’s.

4 Likes

Agree. But we need to do both, 2Ps AND attracting new users and developers. I don‘t see a problem in starting with a marketing initiative now. I am sure, we are able to attract more new users but you are right, it will be more if we simplified our product.
But that should not stop us from acting now.

I am very much a friend of the marketing approach to see it with the eyes of your customer. There is a saying for this: „The fish must like the bait, not the angler“.
OpenHAB is a fantastic product. But we fail to convey the message. Nobody has even thought about to identify our USPs. We need to provide reasons for new users to give openHAB a try. I would be happy if you come onboard.

2 Likes

Thanks Bartus!
I very much like the idea of Video Shorts. Instead of or in addition to writing long exhausting text sometimes a short video will convey the message even better.

I’d be happy to help.

In his book Crossing the Chasm, Geoffrey Moore offers the following template for a positioning statement: For (target customer) who (statement of the need or opportunity), the (product name) is a (product category) that (statement of key benefit – that is, compelling reason to buy).

May I suggest to start with developing a positioning statement for OpenHAB using the above template? We need to define target customer, need or opportunity, product catecory and reason to buy. After this is done promotion becomes a lot easier.

3 Likes

I know crossing the chasm very well😀.
I think home automation is already beyond the chasm as home automation is not just used by early adopters, but hey, let’s start with it. Let‘s start on the positioning and to identify the USPs as a starting task for our marketing plan👍🏻

1 Like

Absolutely so. Home automation as a product category and concept is well beyond the chasm. One could argue that with players like Bosch-Siemens, LG and Philips having entered the home automation market the concept of home automation is entering the tornado phase.
OpenHAB as a product is IMHO still in the early adopters phase, no?

I might be wrong but crossing the chasm covers how to make a new technology (sure, represented by a first product) succesfull so that you can enter the mainstream market.
But I see it the same way like you, allthough home automation is a mature market, openHAB in itself is not yet established there. But I like the idea that we/openHAB need to „jump“ over the chasm. The analogy you are mentioning is absolutely there.

1 Like

So here is a provocative and exaggerated take on the positioning

target customer: Technically savy, software coding capable person that likes living on the forefront of technology

need or opportunity: Primarily show off to friends and familty and secondary simplify everyday life

product name: OpenHAB

product category: A software

key benefit: Minimizes daily chores and optimizes use of energy

I propose we improve this.

2 Likes

Right, that‘s a positioning if home automation would not have crossed the chasm yet. If you relate this nowadays to openHAB we might scare away non-technical users (exactly our key problem as openHAB is regarded to be too technical).
Maybe our positioning should include what openHAB will be in the near future?
Like: user-friendly and easy-to-implement home automation solution.

That leads us to the USPs (these are not true „unique“ SPs, very rarely you have a true USP, but in overall, I think wecare in a good shape):

  • vendor-independent home automation solution
  • platform independent (Raspberry Pi OS, Linux, Windows, macOS, Docker)
  • 350 existing interfaces to easily integrate standard protocols and various brands of devices and services
  • automatic installation for Pi to reduce manual interaction to almost zero
  • pre-defined GUI for a quick start
  • highly customizable GUI for all device types (PC, tablet and mobile phone)
  • support of common scripting languages (JS, ruby, python)
  • highly motivated and responsive community, detailed documentation available
3 Likes

Good point! Defining the intended positioning will help to identify the deltas to the current state.

The unique selling points should be effective to the target customer, right? We need to define the customer before we can effectively define USPs. For example, support of common scripting languages is not a USP when it relates to my wife, who also uses OpenHAB, Is or is she not a target customer?

You are right, each target customer or market segment needs to be addressed with its own set of message, USPs, etc. But if we are diving too deep into marketing and its mechanisms, we might run into danger of scare away volunteers.
But let’s keep it in mind what you said.

Given that these concepts are the core concepts around which all of OH is built, short of starting over from scratch (in which case is it even OH any more?) what would you propose to fix it? Who is going to do that work?

These are not rhetorical questions.To fix the first P in your list, as you’ve described it, implies a complete re-architecture of OH. Merely changing the names of these concepts won’t be enough. Completely hiding these concepts would have been done already were that possible under the current architecture. So the answers to these two questions will be critical to making any headway on that front.

3 Likes

That is a THE question.

And as I already wrote in the other thread: This is something you can communicate quite well and make understandably by telling people the need and advantages of it: This concept is the guarantee that OH can and will support everything that is there and might come there in the most consistent way and that a user without the attitude to become a professional developer can take great payoffs form OH without the need to constantly go under the hood himself when there is something new to implement. Instead you can relay mostly/often nearly completely on knowledge once aquired without being locks to one vendor or standard.

BTW: Some nice grafics could help to understand the concept and show the advantages of it over other solutions.