Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Of Course Crowdsourcing Will Get Stale If You Think Of It As Just A Marketing Gimmick

I came across's Tim Leberecht wonders if crowdsourcing has "jumped the shark," pointing out that everybody and his dog seems to have a crowdsourcing program in place, and wonders if consumers are getting tired of the gimmick. I think the problem here is the way the question is being framed. If a company views crowdsourcing as just a one-off opportunity to get some free labor out of its customers, then obviously customers are going to get tired of it. But that's the wrong way to look at it. What crowdsourcing is about, ultimately, is improving communications with your customers, and among the customers themselves. Asking your customers to become more involved in various aspects of your business -- offering product advice to one another, providing feedback on new products, or offering ideas about advertising strategies -- increases customer loyalty by demonstrating that your company is actually engaged with its customers and responsive to their concerns. If your "crowdsourcing program" is limited to the marketing department, you're throwing away much of the potential value of the concept. Building strong relationships with customers and fostering online discussion about your products is at least as valuable as any cheesy ads a "make your own ad" contest might produce. Advertising gimmicks "jump the shark," but strong relationships with customers never do.
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