Crowdsourcing is a very fascinating product of the internet age. It is defined as outsourcing tasks that would generally be handled by an in-house team to a large community of people through an open call for submissions.
In marketing, it is a relatively new concept. From the outside, it seems like a great win-win. Struggling designers from around the globe get the chance to hone their talents and show off their skills for an audience of prospective clients, who are receiving a wide variety of submissions hoping to address their marketing problem. Businesses and corporations around the world are looking to crowdsourcing as a new way to save some money and stretch their marketing further.
It all sounds good on paper, but there is a pretty big problem: It Doesn’t Work. Although it is tempting to crowd source your business’s marketing, there are three specific reasons to avoid this practice.
First, I call it Dart Practice in the Dark. Marketing is a long-term endeavor; a brand does not just grow overnight. Brands are complicated, highly developed, strategy-based plans: your business’s whole story. When asking for marketing submissions, you are asking for a group of designers to take their best guess at the long term strategy in place. The end product is generally shallow, and is inadmissible to any developed marketing plan. That’s why we call it Dart Practice in the Dark: these designers, lacking the proper strategy, are just taking a shot in the dark.
Next, Crowdsourcing does not work for marketing because crowdsourced designers are not Invested in Perpetuity. Simply put, they are interested in the short term. When you work with an agency, they have an invested interest in your company’s success: Great campaigns bring your profits higher, which brings more business to the agency. For a crowdsourced project, the designers involved have a singular goal of a one-time payday.
Finally, it is the Unexpected Cost of Free Labour. The expenses you think you are saving disappear quickly when you factor in the workload of curating hundreds of designs, managing the designs you like, communicating back and forth with designers, and going through extensive revisions because the designer has a limited relationship with you or your brand. In the end, you may be faced with contacting an agency to clean up the mess made from crowdsourcing, but this time with a limited budget due to the time and money wasted in developing your crowdsourced campaign.
At the end of the day, it is really a game of one step forward, two steps back. What you’ll save in initial expense, you’ll lose through administration, quality, and brand-adhesion. Your brand is not something to leave to chance: take it seriously or the public won’t either.