Small Business Talk: Tapping the Power of the Crowd

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"crowdsourcing"Clueless on that next big idea for your business?  Try asking the crowd.  That’s Right! The huge phenomenon that has saved Netflix the expense of putting up a team of their own in designing their software is  making waves of success by simply tapping into their customers’ brainpower through:  Crowdsourcing. The question now is, ” Are you ready to go down the grass roots level and get honest-to-goodness answers? ”

What Exactly is Crowdsourcing?

Wikipedia defines ‘crowdsourcing’ as the act of outsourcing tasks, traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, to a large group of people or community, through an open call.  In short, it’s calling people to do your dirty laundry.  From the word itself, you are calling on the power of a crowd to source useful information that can help you make your business better.  The idea is not really new.  Now that trends are becoming more customer-centric, it only makes sense to ask for their valuable opinions – since they will be the end users or target market of what you have to sell or offer.  It makes sense!

Crowdsourcing:  What’s In It for You?

If you are running a small business and you don’t have the budget to run an extensive market research, crowdsourcing can save you lots by asking people nicely for what’s on their heads.  Sounds simple? Not really.  With the collaborative innovation that crowdsourcing brings come the challenge of pushing that initiative to your crowd.  Will they participate in your efforts?

How to Run a Successful Crowdsourcing Campaign for Your Business

Like running an online ads for your product, your crowdsourcing campaign should be something fun, catchy and smart.  To make sure that people participate in your efforts, you need to ask these:

Know Thy Crowd

Who is your target crowd?
Where can you find them?
Are they members of your online community?  Social networking sites?
How can you reach them?

Give the Right Message

Is your call to action crystal clear?
Is there a possibility that your message gets misinterpreted?
Does your crowd understand what you are asking?
Do they understand the purpose of your call?

Be Clear with Instructions

What steps do your crowd need to take in contributing to your call?
How will you make your crowd choose or vote?
Where will your crowd make the selection, contribution or voting?

Set a Deadline

When is your target deadline in compiling results?
Does your crowd knows how much time is asked from them?
Do they feel the sense of urgency in your call?

Give Rewards

What’s in it for your crowd if they participate in your campaign?
How will you reward your participants for their time, ideas and efforts?
Will you consider other types of reward than money?
Will you give credit to the best ideas you get?

Get Involved

Are you joining in the conversation?
Do you give timely answers to questions that your crowd have?
Do you give feedback on ideas or suggestions, no matter how good or bad it is?
Are you transparent in your crowdsourcing efforts?

No matter what type of crowdsourcing you get into, from polls to surveys, keep in mind to give power to your crowd and respect their decisions – or you defeat the purpose of your campaign.  The results may not be something you want, but if you want your business to survive, you have to think what your customers really want.  The crowd has spoken… Listen!

What is Crowdsourcing?

Something Interesting:

6 Cool Crowdsourcing Business Tools
Republican Whip Tries Crowdsourcing Attempt at Whacking Budget Deficits
Five Crowdsourcing Sites that Give Small Businesses Quality Designs on a Budget