The Betterific Blog

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

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Marketers and Product Developers – Is crowdsourcing your new best tool?

Hey all you marketers out there. How much do you love your job? Marketing is after all a pretty cool gig. You get paid the big bucks to conduct market research and come up with ways to package, price, advertise and effectively sell your company’s products and services in a way that will delight people like us. You spend a lot of time finding the information you need to make decisions that will bring profits to your company, a process that is extraordinarily important for you and your company’s success. We know, and we thank you for it because we enjoy the thrill of using an amazing new service or product that makes our lives a little cooler or easier. And if it weren’t for all you marketers, we would never know about those cool things or where to buy them. That’s why we want you to listen to us.

So tell us, what tools other than Google Analytics, surveys, focus groups, and the occasional comments sent in via feedback forms do you use for figuring out what we want and how badly we want it? Those are all pretty costly tools and narrowly focused processes aren’t they?  So… wouldn’t it be better if there were a cheaper, easier way for marketers to source customer insights regarding their own company and competitors while strengthening customer relationships, getting feedback on what they’ve already done, and creating positive buzz about themselves? I may not be a marketer for a big company but I’m pretty sure the answer is “yes.”

This is where crowdsourcing platforms like Betterific  come in pretty handy. If you’ve been following any kind of trends in the digital world you know by now that crowdsourcing has revolutionized the way things are done in several industries already. Companies and individuals can get financing through crowdsourcing funds at sites like Kickstarter; people can get a wide variety of crowdsourced answers to random questions at Quora; and if you’re a small business there are a variety of websites that allow you to “crowdsource” solutions to your business needs, such as logo development, business planning and advertising. The fact is that crowdsourcing can be a powerful tool if leveraged properly.

Some marketers may not trust crowdsourcing as a tool, and others may have tried it at one point but weren’t impressed by the results. We’re the first ones to admit, crowdsourcing ideas isn’t necessarily practical for all businesses or all industries. But we have discovered a few interesting things that any marketer might want to know when considering it as an option to bring in customer insights. So, because we love our marketing professionals out there, we want to tell you a little bit about what you can expect to be true about the process of crowdsourcing ideas for your company (you can put your own dollar value on each item… cost-benefit analysis style):

You become an inviting member of a conversation. – Once you open up the door to the wider public, including people who aren’t a part of your target market, to think and talk about your products and company in a positive manner, you immediately become the beneficiary of a positive association in people’s minds. People like it when someone asks them what they like and don’t like, what they would do if they were in your shoes and what sorts of things they would really love to have. Many of the marketers we have talked to want to know the exact demographics of the Betterific user base so they can hone in on just their target market for a campaign… but the fact of the matter is, you don’t know where a great idea is going to come from. Maybe your target market is 21-35 year old women who are looking to start a family… but, who knows, that great idea the husbands, fathers, mothers or best friends of your target girl would be totally lost to you if you never gave them the chance to speak up.

You have to give up some control over the process. – We have found that the best results of crowdsourcing for things like product development and service improvements comes from posing an open-ended but focused question and letting people have at it. “How would you make XYZ better?”… Many marketers are nervous about giving the crowd too much leeway. They want specific answers to very specific questions. Here again, there is a bit of a trade-0ff when it comes to asking the crowd. You never know what you will get. Many of the campaigns that we’ve run on Betterific have lasted for approximately two weeks and have averaged around 200 specific ideas. The interesting thing about this is that there are patterns and trends in a lot of what people will say, creating a very clear theme about what is important to them. So, in the midst of getting some very unique ideas that you can use to your advantage you also get an overarching picture of where people’s wants are trending, giving you the ability to cater more closely to them.

The social aspect of crowdsourcing provides perspective and even more detailed feedback. Clearly, people like to share, especially when they’re asked to. The nice thing about sharing is that people support and feed those ideas that really resonate with them. When the crowd has the ability to vote for ideas and leave comments on them, marketers and customer service departments have access to various customer preferences and can respond to them immediately.

If you’re in marketing, you might just give crowdsourcing a chance to see whether it can have benefits for your company. Companies like Unilever, Coca-Cola, Amazon, Anheuser-Busch and Starbucks have already jumped on the bandwagon to give it a try. Stay tuned for an upcoming post in which we’ll take a look at the Starbucks crowdsourcing platform. Happy innovating!

Written by Gwen Gurley