Although some companies would argue that customers don't have the professional training or market insight to come up with the next big idea, others are finding that their customers have a truer understanding of their own motivators and needs than even the most-qualified chief marketing officer (CMO)—and that an outsider perspective may be just what their organizations need to escape a rut.
It's called crowdsourcing, and it's been around since before it even had a name.
In 1995, for example, Mars Inc. held a contest to determine the new color of M&M's candy. Public opinion gave birth to the blue M&M, and by engaging its customers the brand achieved a revitalization boost.
Since then, users have been brought together to build open-source technology and construct Wikipedia entries, and businesses such as Threadless.com have founded themselves entirely on outsider contributions.
The advent of the Internet and social media have made crowdsourcing all the more feasible, enabling companies of all sizes to turn consumers into consultants, and those consultants into even greater fans and influencers through a new level of personal attachment to the brand.
Intrigued? This article is designed to inspire you with real-world examples and tips for getting started on your own crowdsourcing plan.