Running a small business keeps you busier than you could have imagined. From designing logos to creating blog content and getting involved in community efforts, there are endless ideas to be generated and big decisions to make.
How can you find the time to come up with ideas that will both work for your small business AND bring in new customers? Crowdsourcing might be your answer!
Crowdsourcing is the act of getting ideas, information, or funding from a group of people. Similar to a”suggestion box” crowdsourcing is a way of collecting something useful from your target demographic. There are several different types of crowdsourcing: idea generation and innovation, news information, and crowdfunding.
Crowdsourcing is easily used to for idea generation and innovation and can easily help small businesses in this way. One benefit of crowdsourcing is that you can get ideas from a group of people who are directly related to or interested in your business. For example, NASA recently partnered with Harvard University to crowdsource innovative solutions for some of their most pressing issues. through the NASA Tournament Lab.
News channels like television and radio use crowdsourcing for keeping up to date on breaking news. The Department of Homeland Security and local police departments use crowdsourcing for keeping people safe. Have you heard the motto, “If you see something, say something” or a news channel TIP line? That’s crowdsourcing for information on suspicious or criminal activity!
Crowdfunding is a means of gathering money for something. New technology companies use crowdfunding websites like indegogo and kickstarter to fund their startup costs. Crowdfunding also has a personal benefits with websites like gofundme that are used to offset costs for various reasons.
One of the benefits of crowdsourcing is that it is an efficient way of getting relevant information and ideas for your business. In today’s digital age of social media and technology, information travels fast among users. Using social media or other types of digital communication as a source of crowdsourcing is a fast way to get new ideas, feedback, and information on your business and services.
Crowdsourcing is also a great way to engage people. By virtue of its function, crowdsourcing engages a business with current and potential customers to get their feedback. It provides a way for businesses to engage one-on-one with existing and potential customers and listen to them. Customers want to be heard and crowdsourcing is a great way for small businesses to make a customer feel valued!
There are several ways that small businesses can benefit from crowdsourcing. Similar to the suggestion box, small businesses can use Facebook or Twitter to ask customers what they thought of a new product or service or create a campaign to solicit new suggestions.
Perhaps your health club has a new fitness instructor who is certified in Zumba and CrossFit. You can either create a Zumba class and a CrossFit class and gauge interest by seeing how many members show up to either, or you can crowdsource! Use Facebook to ask your members if they would rather have a Zumba or a CrossFit style class. Members will appreciate having a say in making their health club a better place and you won’t waste time and money with trial and error.
Have current customers requested an extension of your services or a change in something that you currently provide? Perhaps your daycare parents want a gluten free meal option–ask parents in an email newsletter for their thoughts! Have a Twitter chat or pin a Facebook post to your page asking for suggestions to improve the current menu that you provide. You can’t go wrong with trying to accommodate food allergies for your students.
Are potential customers asking the same questions over and over again? These questions are an unofficial type of crowdsourcing–the information came to you from the crowd without being solicited. Create content on your website to clear up confusion and help your potential customers. A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section on your blog or website will provide content, increasing your SEO, and answer questions for people!
Crowdsourcing doesn’t have to be a big organized effort. Keeping a list of frequently asked questions is a great way to crowdsource! Anytime someone has questions about how your business works, or if you offer discounts or other offers, write it down! Keep a list of things your customers want or need or are confused about. This information can be used to create new content, innovate and grow your business!
Depending on your audience, you can expect anything from little interaction to a huge influx of ideas. Keep a record of the ideas and feedback. If possible, keep track of who suggested what so you can follow up with the person who suggested it. If you end up using or learning from their idea, thank them for their help. Then, ask if their idea was utilized how they intended and what they think of the implementation.
You don’t have to implement all of the changes or ideas that you got from the crowdsourcing. Although you’re asking for others’ ideas, as the business owner it is up to you make the best decisions for your small business. You can always use the ideas as content for a blog post or implement the ideas at a late date.
No matter what, make sure to thank the crowd for their help, ideas, and insight. Highlight changes or thoughts that you’re considering as a result of the crowdsourcing on your blog, and, if you couldn’t guess–crowdsource for feedback!