Crowdsourcing: A Dream Come True For Marketers

00264_00134Crowdsourcing: The practice of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people and especially from the online community rather than from traditional employees or suppliers (provided by Merriam/Webster.com)

The concept of soliciting creativity across a large network of people intrigues me. I am working on a project that my boss suggested would be a perfect fit for crowdsourcing: a new tagline.

Normally in this situation I would talk to one of the copywriters I use regularly and set a budget for the job. I would receive a handful of ideas back, but what if it is not what I am looking for? Will their quotes be more than I’m willing to pay? Is this really the best solution to accomplish my goal?

For this project the answer is no.  The current economy has forced all of us to do more with less. There are so many people unable to find traditional work, they’re turning to crowdsourcing to get back in the game. It is a dream come true for us marketers; an enormous outpouring of fresh ideas at a minimum price.

So we jumped right in and gave it a try. I have to admit I was very impressed. The process was easy. I posted the project oncrowdspring.com. I filled out a quick form with the details of the project which included who we are, our web address and what I wanted to accomplish. I did have to pay ahead of time so the decision on the dollar amount was in question, but they did give me a ballpark number so I went with the average. The entire cost was very reasonable and under budget.

Within minutes my inbox was flooded. I was asked to rate each one with up to five stars or I could click a button saying “thanks anyway but this is not what I am looking for.” This rating process helps others see the types of taglines I prefer allowing the respondent to generate their submissions to my style.

One negative to this process is that it is a bit time consuming. Managing it effectively will be something I need to take into consideration on future projects. To be honest, it didn’t seem to bother me too much. I was able to rate a bunch of them over my lunch break. You also have the ability to respond to each person directly. There were some that I gave feedback to and they came back with more suggestions. The competitive nature of winning the project was evident.

Crowdsourcing makes a lot of sense. There are many opportunities where this could be a good fit: logo designs, advertisements, promotional ideas or contests, graphic design, writing assignments — the list can go on and on.

Does crowdsourcing represent the beginning of the end of creative organizations? Or is this a fad resulting from a weak economy with such high unemployment rates? Either way, creative agencies will have to wake up and react to a new reality.

I just posted this project yesterday and it will run for seven days. I already have a handful of ideas to consider. In coming weeks we will reveal our new tagline — and now you know our secret to its creation.

Have you used crowdsourcing for your company?