How do Hackers and Makers Factor into Your Marketing?

It’s now easier than ever for consumers to modify and hack technology. Once just the domain of uber-techies, modding, hacking, and maker culture is accessible to anyone with an internet connection, some disposable income, and no concern about the possibility of voiding their warranty.

You know a certain percentage of your customers are probably going to hack your product. Some of them do it to get around security measures, but others do it just for the fun of customizing their devices and finding exciting new ways to use them. So as a marketer, how much should you embrace that sort of customer?

There’s a careful balance you have to strike. Your company should avoid actively speaking out against device mods, as it can alienate the maker community. But if you embrace it too openly, you run the risk of customers blaming the company when their mods damage or even ruin their devices!

As such, your primary marketing shouldn’t mention the modding capabilities. Instead, make it a subtle part of your social media marketing. The occasional sharing of a cool, unexpected way that the maker community is using your device allows you to show that you appreciate what your customers are doing, without necessarily suggesting that others do the same.

In some ways, you can shape the dialog by carefully choosing what sort of mods and hacks you share. Look for the ones that find new and clever ways to use your device without subverting it. Perhaps someone programmed a great app, or found a cool way to get your device to play nice with their sound system and an array of programmable LEDs to create an immersive musical experience. You can also showcase things like custom, DIY cases, stands and displays, which serve to enhance your products without actually modifying them.

Another way you can embrace the maker community is to reach out to them. Send them some free products, or bring them in to the office to solicit their opinion on what you’re working on. This sort of outreach reaps viral rewards, and can also give you some great ideas to integrate into future products. If an in-person visit isn’t possible, consider hosting a video chat or an AMA on Reddit to connect with makers and pick each other’s brains.

The important thing to remember is that makers, modders and hackers are passionate about what they do. They love to discuss their latest mods and builds, to show them off to their friends, to blog and vlog and tweet about them. If you can harness that enthusiasm and show that you respect their dedication to their craft, you stand a good chance of converting them into loyal customers – many of whom may buy more of your products than the average customer, so they can do multiple builds.

Have you seen any clever mods or builds using your products? Let us know in the comments!

-AJ

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