Crowdsourcing is not a new concept in marketing. We entrepreneurs have been asking consumers to help us co-create products and programs for years. You could even argue that the age-old focus group (where we watch consumers sitting in a closed room behind a two-way mirror answering questions about proposed ideas) is a form of crowdsourcing.
Doritos is infamous for its crowd-sourced Super Bowl ads, and Haagen-Dazs has created contests for crowd-sourced flavors. When one of my friends' Haagen-Dazs flavors, Sticky Toffee Pudding, actually won in 2007, I was all in. Literally.
At the same time, Lay's potato chips has run several versions of “Do Us a Flavor,” Monopoly recently asked consumers to pick its newest gamepieces and now Oreo is in the fray with a crowd-sourced flavor picking contest called #MyOreoCreation.
There’s a good reason for the trend. As the court of social opinion weighs in on campaigns in a New York minute, brands are doing anything they can to get people involved upfront.
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Get early input.
As you start to think about your new initiative, make sure you get feedback from your customers ahead of time. Talk to them and share your thoughts. Listen to how they describe their needs and make sure that what you are planning helps them. While this might not be crowdsourcing in the traditional sense, you are in fact getting all the benefits by baking their input into your plans. I can guarantee that the information will make you think and execute differently, potentially saving you pain later.
Don’t forget that you are sitting on a valuable crowdsourcing resource right in your office . . . your employees. Engage them in the development process since they are on the front lines of your business. They probably know your customers better than you do, so pick their brains. Ask for their input and have them co-create with you. The program will be much more valuable as a result.
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Look at several create options.
I say this all the time to my teams, and it’s a mantra I’ve lived by my entire career: don’t just create one option. Always look at two or three concepts and work them simultaneously to see which one will ultimately be the best.
It's simple: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Keep your options open, and keep a few different versions of your initiative alive throughout the development process until you are sure which one is right. Then, when you're sure you've picked the best option, you can pursue it with confidence.
Test along the way.
It’s vitally important to continue to get feedback as you develop your idea. Show your customers and employees how your programs are progressing. Ask their opinions and find out if it’s hitting the mark while you are still shaping what it looks like. The end result will be much better as a result.
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Even once you launch a new product, service or campaign, it’s still not over. You can continue to crowdsource your customers and your employees to see if it’s working the way you planned. Ask if it’s delivering how you anticipated. Social media is a perfect tool for this.
Then, don’t be afraid to make changes in real time. Fix what’s not working and amp up what is. By doing so, you can reduce the risk that your efforts will go unnoticed and improve the odds that you get the results you want.