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Connecting consumers with brands to crowdsource and innovate on product ideas.

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3 Amazing Crowdsourcing Examples

Crowdsourcing certainly is quite the buzzword these days, but it still has a long way to go in gaining much serious traction with the average company or corporation as far as a marketing or product development tool goes. You probably know that lots of people use crowdsourcing and it is changing the way things are done in various different industries, most notably investments. But even still you might ask, how exactly is crowdsourcing useful? Oh boy. There are just so many ways.  The best way to answer this question is probably through a list of examples and a short little summary at the end. We promise to keep this list super fun and interesting though, not your usual run of the mill “top 3 crowdsourcing examples” list. What do you think? Good. Betterific likes that idea too.

Ancient history – Mars M&M’s runs their new color campaign in 1995 – Engaging your customer base and mega awareness

If you are at least 30, you probably remember this commercial:

That commercial had me running to a pay-phone (a what?) every 15 minutes to vote for my favorite color when I was in middle school. It was soooooo cool. In 1995, Mars ran this campaign to replace the old tan colored m&m candies (who actually remembers the tan colored m&m’s anymore?) and the world changed forever. Well, perhaps the candy world did. But, let’s just give this a moment’s consideration before we write this example off as just a lark. As you can see the M&M commercial hits a nerve in the American conscience… a democratic nerve. The election booth, the call to change the world through casting a vote, the question to think about what’s “best” for the future… quite an interesting marketing tactic don’t you think?  Strangely enough, this ad came out a time when American voters had reached an all-time apathetic high. In the 1994 mid-term election year only 38.8% of the voting age population turned up to cast a ballot. Mid-term election voter turnout had been hovering in this range since 1974 and even the presidential election voter turnout hovered between 49%-55%. So why on earth did Mars choose this particular marketing tactic? The secret became the saving grace of the producers of American Idol and every other voting based program in the last decade…

In the realm of candy, who is your most avid supporter? Who is your target market? Children! Clearly candy is extremely relevant to a child’s daily concerns, so when Mars Incorporated ran this campaign they really capitalized on engaging with their target consumer. Although no official numbers were ever published by Mars listing the effects of the marketing campaign on their sales, some figures estimated that the total number of votes received for the campaign topped 10 million. That’s right… 10 MILLION votes. We could barely get together a crowd big enough to help us decide the fate of our country, but all be damned if we’d be stuck with pink m&m’s forever. Apparently an actual faction of tan colored m&m supporters also developed as a result of this campaign… thank god that party never got off the ground.

Blue won in the end with over 50% of the vote and as a result, here in the U.S. the Empire State Building got lit up in blue and in Australia the very popular Carlton Football Club donned pale blue guernseys for the first time in its history. The result? One marketing textbook says Mars, Inc. got “millions” in free publicity and that the campaign “certainly” added to the brand’s awareness level. This is just one way in which crowdsourcing creates huge advantages for those who engage in it.

Even more ancient history – The Longitude Prize of 1714 – Finding solutions in unexpected places

The Sicily Naval Disaster of 1707

The Scilly naval disaster of 1707 in which 1400 sailors died, prompted the British government to implement a huge prize for a way to correctly measure longitude.

Back in the day, we traveled around the world in wooden ships with just a compass. Compared to a lot of the risks involved in life today, the risk involved in undertaking a sea voyage was considerable. Simply put, there was absolutely no way of knowing whether or not you would make it anywhere close to where you were attempting to go when taking off on a sea voyage. (Imagine, a world with no GPS, again if you’re 30 or older, you might remember a time like this…) This led to a lot of lost lives and money. In 1714, the British government established the Act of Longitude which formed the Board of Longitude and a considerable prize (20,000 pounds) for the individual who could determine an accurate way of calculating longitude.

Keep in mind that this was a problem that Isaac Newton, Edmond Halley, Christiaan Huygens, and Giovanni Domenico Cassini (all extremely influential scientists of the period) had failed to solve in a meaningful way. It took quite some time but a reasonable, although not perfect, solution was found, by a non-scientist. John Harrison was a self-educated carpenter and clockmaker who invented the marine chronometer, essentially a special sort of clock that allowed one to measure the difference in time between two geographic locations (Greenwich, England and wherever the ship was). Although the device did not offer a perfect solution to the problem, it was a huge step forward in the advancement of the technology needed to solve the problem. Not to mention the fact that Harrison became the underdog who toppled all the high-falutin’ scientists of the era… we like that part. Harrison was eventually rewarded 15,000 pounds for his invention.

The fact is that if the British government had not offered an incentive for someone to attempt to solve the problem, it is uncertain how long it would have taken for someone to invent the needed technology that ended up speeding along the colonization of the western hemisphere. You never know where that magical solution might come from unless you ask the crowd. 

Modern answer to a centuries old question – Mysterious and illegible margin notes in Homer’s Odyssey – Oodles of press and validation

1504 Edition of Homer's Odyssey

What it really says, “Odysseus, you’re such a γόον.”

This 1504 Venetian edition of Homer’s Odyssey was donated to University of Chicago in 2007 by M.C. Lang. Mr. Lang knew that these mysterious notes were only on a few pages of the book and appeared to be written in some strange shorthand, possibly French. (Hmm… should of paid more attention in French class). But neither he nor anyone at University of Chicago knew what it was or how to figure out what the heck it said, let alone who might have written it. Now, in the greater scheme of things it’s a rather unimportant question, but it is one of those things that stares you in the face taunting you with your own ignorance… really annoyingly. So, on April 28th 2014, University of Chicago made an announcement on NBC stating that a $1000 prize would be offered for the person or persons able to decipher the writing. Just 6 days later they had an answer. That’s right, this unknown writing which had been on the pages for, oh, close to 200 years was suddenly no longer an itch the academic world couldn’t scratch.

The outcome? An Italian computer engineer, Daniele Metilli, and his colleague Giulia Accetta were apparently the perfect pair with the perfect set of knowledge and skills to find the answer. Daniele is a digital humanities student and was able to search vast archives of information to find similar scripts and shorthand versions to those on the page within hours and Giulia is an Italian stenographer fluent in French. So as it turns out Lang’s hunch was correct, it was an 18th century form of shorthand created by a Frenchman. It turns out that the writings are mostly translations of the greek text itself into French, only not written in straightforward French, but crazy cryptic shorthand French (go figure). But the mystery remains of who wrote them. Needless to say, University of Chicago has gotten a huge amount of press as a result and lots of street cred in the academic world for (inadvertently) showing how helpful technology can be in a world that typically reveres dusty bookshelves and old school library catalogs. The crowd just might change the way you do things while simultaneously validating what you thought you knew. 

There’s lots more where that came from

We hope you have enjoyed this list of crowdsourcing examples. Clearly there are quite a few more, especially from the “contemporary age.” Pepsi crowdsources superbowl ads, a crowdsourced GPS app called Waze might just oust Google Maps, and Amazon might be changing the face of outsourcing through its MTurk program. The fact is, crowdsourcing rocks and that’s why we do it at Betterific.

Happy innovating!

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16 Handles Betterific Challenge – Winners Announced!

Um, that looks delicious...  (Image by Justine on the blog Hoboken Girl)

Um, that looks delicious… (Image by Justine on the blog Hoboken Girl)

Betterific has had a busy April, running both the 16 Handles and Coke/McDonald’s Challenges, not to mention the current Washington Nationals campaign that has been running since April 25th and will end on May 5th, 2014 at 3pm (there’s still time to give the Nats your best ideas)! Needless to say, the Betterific team really enjoyed working with 16 Handles on their customer experience campaign. We had a great time talking with their team during the set-up of the campaign and we are excited to help such a young and inspiring new company, headed by their amazing CEO Solomon Choi. We also hope to follow-up with 16 Handles several weeks from now to do a case study on their campaign, find out what worked for them and what didn’t and to come up with a better idea of best practices to implement when companies crowdsource for product development and marketing. While we always enjoy the process of seeing what ideas come about when people start brainstorming for companies, coming up with new and creative ways for making the frozen yogurt experience better was certainly a lot of fun and it’s a good thing frozen yogurt is healthy because there were definitely some serious cravings happening as a result of intense fro-yo idea generation.

Now, back to the winners! The campaign ran from April 8th to April 18th during which time Betterific members were able to post their ideas on the site for how to make the 16 Handles customer experience better.  111 ideas were submitted with the top themes identified in creative marketing, special events, community involvement, new products and fro-yo accessories. The grand prize winner would receive free frozen yogurt for a year and 5 runner-up winners would each receive a $25 16 Handles gift card. In addition, all winners were to be given the chance to meet face-to-face with CEO Solomon Choi to discuss their ideas and their passion for frozen yogurt.

Our grand prize winner was Sara Levin and our 5 runner-up winners were Luke Bornheimer, Tovah Silbermann, Ashley Smith, Ari Polsky, and Diane Lipson. Below are a few of our favorite ideas posted by the winners. (Please note that these ideas are not necessarily the ideas that were selected by 16 Handles for implementation.)

Wouldn't it be better if 16 Handles sold reusable plastic cups that you could buy then reuse at the store and get a discount.

Wouldn't it be better if 16 Handles had a blending machine that allowed customers to blend their yogurt and toppings into a Blizzard-type concoction?

Wouldn't it be better if 16 Handles had suggested recipe guides by the fro-yo counter (Example: S'mores Ice Cream Cup -Graham Cracker Yogurt, topped with hot fudge and marshmallows).

Wouldn't it be better if 16 Handles had a froyo sandwich (ice cream sandwich) station

Wouldn't it be better if 16 Handles had a starbucks style membership system/gold card.

Wouldn't it be better if 16 Handles sold thin pieces of chocolate that could serve as cup dividers so your flavors don't mix together?

Ok, we’re going to get some fro-yo… Happy innovating!

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The Coke/McDonald’s Challenge on Betterific – Winners Announced!


The winners of Betterific’s Coke/McDonald’s Challenge have been announced! The competition was fierce and all the ideas were amazing. We honestly have to say this was one of the best challenges we’ve run on Betterific and we are very happy with the results. Just to recap, Betterific members were asked to brainstorm innovative and creative ways to make the Coca-Cola experience at McDonald’s better. From April 8th to April 18th Betterific members posted their ideas on new products, new services, and interesting marketing campaigns. One grand prize winner was to be selected for a $500 gift card and 5 runner-up winners would each receive a  $50 McDonald’s gift card.

Over the course of 10 days, 125 ideas were submitted (35% of which were shared to Facebook and Twitter). Several themes were identified amongst all the ideas that were submitted including: new menu inspirations, beverage accessories, healthy options, vintage experiences, loyalty and customization.

Our grand prize winner was Metro Power Yoga (she’s got 260 lifetime betterifs!), and our 5 runner-up winners were Ann Murtha, Benjamin Shirazi, Tony Busko, Kelly Williams, and Jordy Clements.

Here a few of the ideas that we liked which our various winners posted during the challenge. (Please note that these ideas are not necessarily those ideas that were selected by Coke or McDonald’s for implementation.)

Wouldn't it be better if you could make your own coke infusions at McDonald's when you ordered a coke by adding syrups like almond or raspberry or coconut...

Wouldn't it be better if Coca-cola/McDonald's had frozen coca-cola (and Diet Coke and Cherry Coke) during the summer?

Wouldn't it be better if Coke/McDonald's had incentives to recycle or reuse your cup. $.50 refills.Wouldn't it be better if Coca-cola/McDonald's came out with a slow-cooked Cola-Barbecue Pulled Pork Sandwich? With or without coleslaw on top! Delicious summertime fun!

Wouldn't it be better if Coke would use pure cane sugar and avoidusing high fructose corn syrup in their drinks.

Wouldn't it be better if McDonald's offered a healthy value meal that paired a salad with Coca-Cola's Odwalla juices.

Thanks to all our Betterific members for being such great innovators!

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Wizards Betterific Fan Experience Contest Winners Announced!

We are happy to announce yet another successful close to a campaign on Betterific! Members of the site were asked to brainstorm innovative and creative ways to make the Wizards fan experience better by posting ideas on marketing, promotions, concessions, in-game entertainment and more. Betterific members had one week to post as many ideas as possible in order to be considered for a prize. At the end of the contest, the Wizards would consider all ideas that were submitted and select 5 winners who would receive tickets to a Wizards game. We had a lot of fun running the Wizards fan experience challenge on our site and here are the overall results:

136 ideas total were submitted

30% of the ideas were shared on facebook/twitter

Top themes: Vintage Bullets experience, in-game promotions on social media, new food items and concessions, technology integration, activating the fan base

The winners, who were chosen by the Wizards based on the overall creativity of their ideas, were: George Roche, Arthur Reinaltt, Rachel Sternstein, Jefferi, and Jammal Matthews. Below is a random sample of some of the ideas from our winners that were posted. (Please note that these ideas were not necessarily the ideas that were chosen by the Wizards for implementation.)

Wouldn't it be better if the Wizards promoted to young professionals already downtown with day-of "happy hour" tickets that go on sale an hour before game time at a reduced price. This could also generate a decent sized crowd around the Verizon Center for extra fan festivities.

Wouldn't it be better if the Wizards gave out different color t-shirts for the different seating levels, to make a red, white and blue stadium! 100 level with blue t-shirts, 200 level with white and 400 level with red?  It screams DC.

Wouldn't it be better if the Wizards had jumbo slices at the Verizon Center

Wouldn't it be better if the Verizon Center created local food nights where pop up vendors for specific games were features (i.e., bus boys and poets, dc brau, dolcezza, etc.?)

Wouldn't it be better if the Verizon Center had a play area for for children with wizards/magical things for when some kids get bored with the game?


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Evolution in Business and “Digital Darwinism” – Why your company needs innovation to survive

It seems like all you hear these days are stories about “how business is changing.” Brian Solis, the principal analyst at the Altimeter Group, coined the phrase “digital darwinism” to capture the essence of change in the business world today. Business has always been about finding better ways to do things, but technology has created new opportunities as well as challenges for business. The term “digital darwinism” refers to the fact that today’s society and technology is changing faster than most businesses’ ability to adapt. Even the companies with the “big guns” have had trouble coping.

Evolution in business seems to be favoring those who take a leadership role and who place themselves at the forefront of change by leading the charge into new territory for what business can do. Of course, in the long run we have no idea what this will mean, but in the now, we know that today’s company needs to be smart, proactive and courageous when it comes to pushing the boundaries of what they do and how they do it. We’ve seen quite a few giants fall in recent years because they failed to identify ways of recreating and evolving the way we do things. It’s easy to just “blame the internet,” for the downfall of many businesses but it’s more than just that. Blockbuster, Kodak and Borders are all perfect examples of companies who had great management teams and lots of expertise/connections in their respective industries, but they all fell prey to the fact that they refused to recognize the relevance of change and how they could ultimately profit from it.

In life and in business, you really can’t afford to sit on your hands. Just as in our own personal lives we need to have a certain amount of daring to progress. If we don’t progress, we risk losing relevance. So how do you foster that progress as a business? How do you harness daring or find a way to stay on top of things such that you are the one creating the change that the rest of the world embraces? At Betterific, we attempt to help companies make good use of crowdsourcing as a tool to help foster the innovation and creativity needed to inspire changes in the way things are done. But even with new tools, most companies still have a long way to go when it comes to figuring out how to best capitalize on that innovation. Ideas are always floating around, but you need to have a plan on how to capture those ideas, leverage them efficiently and then turn them into profits, if you really intend to thrive.

Brian Solis makes a living helping companies figure out ways to foster innovation and then implement change. We thought we would share Brian Solis’ “12 Pillars of Innovation” here because they provide something of a roadmap and an explanation regarding the overall system that needs to be set-up in order to capitalize on innovation and change. Click on the infographic below to see a full explanation of each of the pillars.

In our own words though, when it comes to creating a system within your company that will allow you to be more innovative you start here:

Decide what parts of your business could benefit from new ideas and new ways of doing things

Assign someone or a group the role of overseeing and implementing any project(s) aimed at increasing innovation

Identify the best tools to help you accomplish your goals and experiment with them

Evaluate outcomes and adjust your projects and goals accordingly

There are certainly a number of ways to encourage innovation and each company will have different methods and needs to be addressed. The objective is to become the sort of company that knows how to implement the changes needed not only to be more innovative, but to benefit from the innovation. Brian Solis definitely gives a number of ways in which companies can do this including “reverse-mentoring” and work time to allow for creative thinking sessions. We strongly suggest you read through his article. Happy innovating!


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Top Ten Ideas of the Week! Microsoft, Starbucks, Google and Instagram look out!

Coca Cola and McDonald's Betterific Crowdsourcing Campaign Image

16 Handles Betterific Crowdsourcing Campaign ImageThe past few weeks Betterific has been running some great campaigns on the site, including 16 Handles Fro-yo, Coca-cola and McDonald’s. We love combing through all the ideas to see what things people are posting, which is why we take such great pride in our top ten ideas of the week announcements. Below is a list of those ideas that we’ve most enjoyed recently. Oh, and would you believe that there is actually a “Morgan Freeman” betterifs page? Well, there is!


Stay tuned for more!


Wouldn't it be better if all coffee shops made their ice with coffee instead of water so when they make their iced drinks they don't get watered down.

Wouldn't it be better if when an email bounces back, there is an immediate option to correct email address and resend the same text

Wouldn't it be better if Instagram allowed to create albums for grouping pictures around different types of events and exeperiences!

Wouldn't it be better if there were an ocean version of a Safari. Deep in the sea, so you could interact with the mammals and fish in their natural habitat.

Wouldn't it be better if 16 Handles let customers guess the weight of their concoctions at the register, and if they guessed correctly, their fro-yo were free!?

Wouldn't it be better if Coca-Cola/McDonald's made a kid's cup that included a scratch panel so the kids could put their names or other mark on their drinks and know who's was who's after they'd been running around for 20 minutes.

Wouldn't it be better if you could click on the heading of a Word document to quickly rename it.

Wouldn't it be better if the NY subway didn't use the exact same noise for "enter" as it used for "swipe again".

Wouldn't it be better if you could subscribe to an email service to provide brief daily summaries of favorite television shows.

Wouldn't it be better if there was Morgan Freeman voice changer. It'd be great to use these in presentations. Maybe an app?


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How to Crowdsource Effectively for Your Company

There is a lot of information on crowdsourcing and also quite a few examples of who’s done it. In today’s blog post, Betterific would like to share three articles that are particularly insightful regarding the value of crowdsourcing and how best to manage it.

1) 3-real world tips to get your crowdsourcing on – by Jane Park for

3 Real World Tips to Get Your Crowdsourcing On

Ms. Jane Park is a former executive from Starbucks who has since founded her own beauty products business. If you’ve read any of our previous posts, you’ll know that Starbuck’s has had huge success with their own crowdsourcing platform MyStarbucksIdea. Ms. Park’s new business, Julep, uses crowdsourcing for product development. “For many companies, crowdsourcing is most valuable for product development and marketing–two areas where customer feedback is worth its weight in gold. At Julep, we’ve integrated the wisdom of the crowds directly into the product development process, creating over 300 new beauty products in 2013 alone based almost entirely on customer feedback,” writes Ms. Park.

The three tips this veteran maven gives are:

Go all in.

Pick one or two focus areas.

Ask the right question.

This is a fantastic article, so please do read it for Ms. Park’s full advice if you’re tentatively exploring crowdsourcing as a tool for your own product development or marketing campaigns.

2) B2B Crowdsourcing: Product development effort boosts sales by 17% and new product sales 37% – by David Kirkpatrick for

Marketing Sherpa is a research institute specializing in tracking what works in all aspects of marketing

This article is in fact a case study published by Marketing Sherpa, a research institute specializing in tracking what works in all aspects of marketing. We find this case study particularly interesting because it focuses on a B2B company, Madison Electric Products, in a particularly un-glamorous industry – electrical products for electricians.

Here’s a short tid-bit from the article:

“Fisher said the team was coming up with ideas to provide value in the industry, and understood adding new products that electricians would find useful would be a powerful marketing tool. ‘We could spend months and months trying to dream up ideas, going through prototyping and focus groups,’ said Fisher. ‘We decided that we wanted to crowdsource our new product development through our social channels.’ This effort accomplished a couple of goals: – Shortened the product development lifecycle, – Created new products that were validated by Madison’s customers because they were designed by the customers.”

The highlights from this case study:

Crowdsource new product development.

Keep the process simple.

Promote the effort through social channels.

Promote the online portal through multiple channels (not just digital).

Utilize innovative channels to become an industry thought leader.

This too is a fantastic example of how a company can draw huge benefits from crowdsourcing in an effective and organized way. Be sure to read this article because Madison saw big increases in their sales as a result of these efforts.

3) 3 Retail Crowdsourcing Tips to Increase Participation – by Retail Category Consultants, 

3 Retail Crowdsourcing Tips to Increase Participation

This article is written by Retail Category Consultants, a Canadian retail consultancy firm with clients across North America in the grocery, specialty, department store and drug segments. Here again you’ll find some good insight into how to run a successful crowdsourcing campaign.

What should you do according to this article?

Use existing customers first. 

Let Participants know they matter. 

Promote through PR communications to maximize audience reach.

Be sure to read through these articles carefully and prepare a plan on how to effectively utilize this fantastic marketing and product development tool. On behalf of the Betterific crowdsourcing happy community, thanks for reading and happy innovating!

Written by Gwen Gurley