Category Archives: Concept

What It Means When The Forecast Is Set To “Crowdstorm”

Everyone is on. Image by Carlos Lopez-Barillas.

Everyone is on. Image by Carlos Lopez-Barillas.

One of my first posts was about “the wisdom of the crowds”. Since I know I don’t know everything, I am a big believer in consulting others and picking their brains for inspiration or advice. Well, I don’t need to tell you that the social web offers endless possibilities on exchanging ideas. It’s called “crowdstorming”. Out of curiosity, I have done some research on how it works in some greater detail.

Crowdstorming is a mix of brainstorming and the use of the wisdom of crowds. It allows engaging many more people than in a real brainstorming session, as you can use a variety of online communities. Just like in a brainstorming meeting, you need a community and a “crowdstorm manager”, who manages and organizes the participants. These communities should have a certain relation to your business or product. Be it through experts that tend to engage on this community or future customers.

If you plan crowdstorming for a new product, you should be very specific and clear on what you want. Don’t talk business jargon that no one understands, but engage people and offer them to be part of a smart crowd, where they can contribute to and gain recognition for their ideas.

According to the authors Shaun Abrahamson, Peter Ryder and Bastian Unterberg, who wrote the book “crowd storm”, there are four reasons why people engage on a crowdstorm:

  1. It might either be for altruistic reasons, because they want to feel good about it.
  2. Or they are seeking attention as a form of a reward.
  3. Money is obviously another way of motivation
  4. or they just do it for the sheer experience they have on your crowdstorming platform.

Fundamentally, crowdstorming comprises of five stages:

1. Awareness of your crowdstorming needs. Ensure proof of credibility or ask your involved employees to participate as “messengers”. People are bound to want evidence that you are serious about turning their ideas into reality.

2. Consideration and evaluation. Ask the questions you want to get answered, and offer incentives to people for their participation.

3. Participation (engage people by voting for ideas or by competing for prizes). During this stage the crowdstorming manager (or various crowdstorming managers, depending on the size) builds different groups for each idea that materializes out of all individual ideas. This way, you bring your crowd storming into the next phase.

4. Experience (develop and evaluate the results): This is the difficult stage, where you have to pick the ideas you want to follow-up on. Here’s a hint: If ideas have been proven to be good through positive feedback from community members, they are likely to set of in your target market, too.

5. Advocate: Keep your crowdstorm community alive. These people are valuable product advocates for your launch. They are – naturally – keen influencers of the ideas or products they have co-created.

Surely, managing your crowdstorm community is the biggest of all tasks and the most time consuming work. Having said this, it is crucial for your project to structure it well, interact with individuals and master the overall communication well. The better you succeed in that, the more valuable are your gains.

And your experiences with crowdstorms? Have you managed one already or participated? What did you like, what worked, what didn’t? What have been the biggest challenges and what was the outcome?

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Marketing Crime Series: Is Your Marketing not Converting? – Crime #2: Missing Concept

crimescene_carlos1

*Grrr* Some crime scenes really are spooky. Picture by Carlos Lopes-Barillas

I also came across really nasty, bloody crime scenes in marketing departments of big corporations. Even big marketing budgets can’t guarantee success. If activities around a product launch, for example, don’t bring high conversion rates, something clearly went wrong. To my observations, it happens due to time pressure, but sometimes also because of a lack of experience. There is no excuse, for example “that a certain measurement never scores higher in returns anyway”. If a marketer thinks that’s the case, then he or she shouldn’t apply it! It’s a waste of money and of other resources. The ROI must be neutral to positive or else the campaign has failed. Having said this, I have only seen very little companies that calculate their return-on-(marketing) investments!

So how can marketers ensure their marketing projects are successful and no crime will be committed in the first place?

  • Step 1: You get an order or a new project, let’s say the launch of a new product.
  • Step 2: Get a briefing from your “sponsor”. What are the objectives (in numbers) and the purpose of the launch? What are the features of the product? What does the competitor offer? Who is targeted precisely and why? What are the benefits for the target group? What are the KPI’s? What is the timeline?
  • Step 3: Write a concept. If you follow the order above including a SWOT analysis and other necessary analysis, you will be forced to breed over this launch in every single aspect. Even though, personally, I know roughly which instruments and tactics to apply in the beginning, I’m sure at this point I still wouldn’t leverage on the full capacity of the campaign. As far as I’m concerned, only during the concept phase the best combination of tactics and creative ideas pop up into my head. Personally, I can only derive a marketing strategy during the conceptual phase.
  • Step 4: Draw up a detailed project plan that you update regularly. This way, you can manage your team easily, are aware of time constraints and can build-in back-up-periods or plans in case something unexpected happens. Plus, you can give feedback on the status of the project easily. And no, a project plan is not some random checklist.

It all takes quite some time, but trust me – it’s really worth it. Make your sponsor aware of it, and the additional time it needs from the start. Not only will you be in control at any time, and you will deliver smart, creative and successful campaigns, it also saves you a lot of stress later on.

Move wisely, and don’t let anyone put you under pressure. The product wasn’t developed in one month either. Ask questions from the beginning right ahead that get you information. Sometimes even the Product Managers don’t know the questions yet. In this case, invite them to do a workshop. I’ve carried out workshops when I realized I had too many stakeholders in a project or my sponsors lost focus on the customer and put the success of the project in the centre of their activities.

If instruments are chosen wisely, they will complement each other and ensure you capture as many addressees of your target group as possible.