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Challenging, fresh, varied. No, I’m not referencing the fashion spectacle at the recent Royal Wedding, but rather a different type of spectacle playing out in stores and –increasingly — online. Crowdsourcing — a term used in the most general sense to describe the outsourcing of work to a community, or crowd, whether the need be creative, literal, or otherwise — has gotten a bad rap in the press as of late, but that doesn’t mean marketers should turn a blind eye to its power (or cash in their iGadgets, for that matter). Need a new commercial? A new slogan? A new word-of-mouth campaign? Get your loyal consumers involved. Their opinions have long played a vital role in marketing, and social networking has exaggerated it — in a good way. Brands such as Doritos and Pepsi have been lauded for their successful use of crowdsourcing in recent campaigns; a few months ago, Vertical Marketing Network applauded the Doritos “Crash the Super Bowl” spots. The takeaway: empowering your consumers to help build your brand elicits results. Marketers engaging in successful crowdsourcing stand to gain a lot, while consumers stand to lose nothing and possibly gain something, too (accolades, recognition, etc.). It’s a winning combination.
Maybe I’m just blogging out loud, but it seems like crowdsourcing is not unlike a modern-day choose your own adventure series. The Web 2.0 has given rise to Marketing 2.0, and every consumer is in on the game.
While crowdsourcing — as an official concept – is fairly “new” in theory, savvy marketers recognize the concepts as old standards.
Below, 5 reasons crowdsourcing matters to marketers:
1. If They Build It, They Will Buy It — Ownership is as American as apple pie. But how about craftsmanship? Crowdsourcing inspires consumers to get creative and get involved in your brand. The resulting sense of “ownership” breeds brand loyalty.
2. Great Minds Are Not Alike — As the saying goes, the more the merrier (especially when it comes to ideas). Take, for example, CafePress, an early crowdsourcing success story, which lets members buy, create and sell user-customized products.
3. The Price Is Right — Just ask Pepsi. Last year, the beverage giant traded its $20 million Super Bowl spot for a social media campaign of the same value, arguing constant consumer contact trumps 30 seconds of limelight. This year, several brands followed suit. But crowdsourcing need not demand major spending. Engaging your consumers can cost nothing on sites such as Facebook.
4. Faster. Easier. Better? First, we had the Internet. Then, the rise of social media and the Web 2.0 made everything faster, easier, and some might say better. Whether that’s true or not, marketers can’t deny that crowdsourcing is an incredible tool for creating and selling.
5. Home-court Advantage — Of course, at the end of the day, a brand and the minds behind it are ultimately responsible for the image and products it creates. Think of crowdsourcing as the ultimate brainstorming session, where agency professionals and consumers join forces. But those ideas remain meaningless until they are put into action, and that’s where marketers truly get to shine.