If two heads are better than one, thousands of heads would be the best case scenario, right?
Not exactly. But using a resource that connects you with thousands of people can sometimes be what gets your company out of the doldrums. From reviewing your product to providing information on your target market, crowdsourcing (that is, using the vast stores of public information and open forums available on the web) has a place in your marketing plans.
Want some customer reviews of a new product you’ve just launched? Why not add a page to your website where users can comment on it (establish a privacy setting that allows you to screen comments before posting), or use your Facebook page as a platform to invite people to try out the product and let your company know what they think!
Name a specialty product
Having trouble settling on a name for your new whatchamacallit? Invite your existing customers – via an email newsletter – to participate in a competition to name your new offering! Users can submit ideas and maybe vote on their favorites. This encourages interaction with your brand.
There are services online that email you daily/weekly/monthly leads, but these can often be too general, not targeted to your specific company. Instead, invite your existing clients to invite their friends, and establish some kind of incentive. Subscribe to an RSS feed that tracks searches on your website’s keywords.
Free market research is available all over the web. Look for web-based publications that keep their thumb on the pulse of your industry. Read the comments sections. See what people are saying, what sites they’re linking to, and what they’re looking for from your type of business.
It’s always important to remember not to get caught up in the mob mentality. A big part of being a small business owner or solopreneur is knowing when to “go with your gut.” So if you’re seeing comments, name entries, or market trends that don’t fit your business or make you feel weird, don’t do them! The web is a public network – just as you’re asking people to share their opinions with you, you’re under no obligation to do what they say! This is merely a resource. Stay true to your brand, no matter what.