Indiegogo, Kickstarter, and other websites have made crowdfunding a popular tactic
for product developers looking to raise money for their new products.

But you can crowdsource more than just money. Lots of companies have turned to crowdsourcing to come up with new product ideas, finetune existing products, and even brainstorm marketing campaigns.

If you’re ready to harness the power of the crowd, here are a few guidelines to follow.

Decide how formal you want your process to be.

Crowdsourcing can take many forms. It can be as simple as a tweet requesting feedback on your latest product, or as complicated as a YouTube contest with rules and deadlines.

The simpler your process, of course, the easier it will be to begin. If all you want to do is see how people react to a prototype of your idea, posting an image on your Facebook page or sending out a quick tweet can suffice. It’s an easy way to get people to send you their immediate impressions of your product. This can be important knowledge, when it comes time to get your product onto store shelves.

The major drawback to simple crowdsourcing tactics like this is that you open yourself up to copycats or even outright theft of your idea. Because of this, you need to keep an inventor’s notebook or otherwise document your development process. Start doing this before you broadcast your product to the masses. This can become evidence in your favor in the event of a legal battle.

You can protect against these potential problems with a more formal, closed process – say, creating a special page on your website where people can offer comments or submit product ideas.

Identify the “crowd” you want to hear from.

We generally think of the “crowd” in crowdsourcing as the general public, but it certainly doesn’t have to be. You can narrow your crowd down considerably, based on your needs.

If you’re developing a medical device, feedback from the general public probably won’t be very helpful. However, hearing from doctors who would be using the device, and hospitals that would be purchasing it, could give you valuable insights.

To get in touch with specialized groups like this, you can contact trade associations, conferences, or other industry organizations. You can also go with the modern version of going door-to-door: Contact doctors and hospitals in your local area, and ask them directly if they’d be willing to talk with you about your product.

If appropriate, use your crowdsourcing strategy as a marketing opportunity.

Hundreds of companies use crowdsourcing for not just product development, but marketing, too.

Doritos, the Frito-Lay company behind the bright orange chip, is a pro at this. From 2006 to 2016, Doritos held the Crash the Superbowl contest – they asked fans to submit commercials. The winning commercial was aired during the Superbowl, with the creator winning $1 million.

The Crash the Superbowl contest gave Doritos hundreds of new advertising ideas – for free – but it also worked as a massive marketing campaign in the months leading up to the Superbowl.

Your crowdsourcing campaign doesn’t have to be nearly as large in order to serve as a marketing opportunity. Thanks to social media, you can run all kinds of marketing campaigns with little to no financial investment.

For example, you could invite people who offer feedback on your product to submit selfies on Instagram tagged with your brand’s hashtag. Or you could take pictures of your product in different settings and ask your followers to supply captions for each photo.

Crowdsourcing can be a great way to get in touch with your potential customers, gain ideas for improving your product, and generate buzz for your product before it hits shelves.

But if you decide you need some professional assistance, contact us at Pivot International. We can help you put those fresh new crowdsourced ideas into practice.