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Shireen Qudosi

The Future of Marketing: Trends in Crowdsourcing

Aug 13 2012, 04:39 PM by

Crowdsourcing has witnessed a tremendous growth in areas such as idea generation and funding, leading to open-source technology and more. The question is, with crowdsourcing being such a common denominator these days, what other gains can users expect when it comes to digital collaboration?
Crowdsourcing Marketing Departments
Not every business will have all the tools they need, and most businesses can’t afford to hire vetted professionals for certain tasks. While it’s ideal to go with a pro that can carry a project through beginning to end, even if relying on their own subcontractors, it’s not always the most budget-friendly option. Crowdsourcing alleviates some of that stress.

Crowdsourcing doesn’t always have to take on a digital persona. You can crowdsource in “real time” by dividing needs up based on local availability. Say you need marketing material designed and you can’t afford a graphic designer. You can crowd source the project by offering a contest to local college students studying graphic design and/or marketing. The best marketing piece wins recognition and a monetary award (or perhaps a tech gift like an iPad).

The same strategy can be applied to just about any marketing need you may have. But remember that filtering through entries is going to eat up time. Some might argue that you suffer a lack of professionalism from students, but this can be contested. Students, who lack ego and are eager for work, can surprisingly be more professional than the professionals.
Crowdsourcing Ideas
If you’ve got a blog or some other written project, you may soon run out of ideas or inspiration. You can crowdsource your inspiration by asking your network for ideas. The best approach will lead the way by being specific in their request. Are you looking for subject ideas, questions, anecdotes, research or maybe something else?

Outside of content needs, some companies have relied on crowdsourcing to source innovative projects. Take General Electric and their “ecomagination” project, for example. Even TED, famous for moving ideas forward, is ultimately a crowdsourced platform. More recently, collaborators across several industries have gotten together to offer 30 second to one minute audio clips on a central theme, the end result being a 30 to 60 minute production that has crowdsourced the best minds to speak on the same subject without ever needing to coordinate schedules or travel plans.

Effective crowdsourcing is just as much about bringing good ideas together as it is about finding the best ideas possible. Even embarking on your crowdsourcing mission, it’s key to keep in mind what your ultimate goal is. Do you need crowds to help you generate ideas or do you need them to help you find the best one? Your answer will essentially dictate how you move forward and what partnerships you should consider, and what incentives you should offer.
Crowdsourcing Will Shape the Future of Employment
As a business owner, would you rather have one employee trying to generate ideas or would you rather have 100 idea generators coming up with enthusiastic solutions to your problem?

Smart crowdsourcing ventures and platforms draw out the best of the best – and businesses are willing to pay for that talent. The medium also tends to attract people who are actually interested in the subject, who will likely be knowledgeable and passionate about it. If you hand over a project to them, you’re going to get a product created by your core audience and vetted by well-informed users. This definitely beats the cliché humdrum employee that doesn’t have a sincere interest in your project beyond just a paycheck.

For a thorough examination on using crowdsourcing to optimize your marketing, I recommend Paul Whitla’s 2009 Crowdsourcing and Its Application in Marketing Activities (hyperlink directs to downloadable PDF file).

Posted in Tips & Resources, Growing Your Business

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