Attended: CalTech/MIT Enterprise Forum’s Crowdsourcing Seminar

The latest from the CalTech/MIT Enterprise Forum provided insight on the power of “crowdsourcing”. The seminar entitled, Crowdsourcing for the Entrepreneur: Unlocking the Power if Online Communities showcased an exceptional panel of speakers, including representatives from Microsoft, Profounder, and Salesforce.

What is Crowdsourcing?

The morning began with a general overview of what crowdsourcing is, and why it’s a useful tool that should be utilized in all businesses. Using this form of outsourcing is not only a problem solving mechanism, but also a way to access low cost marketing opportunities.

As it turns out, feedback is the still the most constructive way to product improvement and achieving customer loyalty. It’s no surprise that asking consumers to provide thoughts and opinions is an easy way to build on existing products and services – but Peter Coffee of Salesforce reinforced this idea with an emphasis on customer satisfaction.

Positive engagement with the people who are actually using your product, will allow the crowd of users to get what thecrowdsourcingy want by voicing real, quality feedback, therefore creating the knowledge you need. When customers are happy, the product gets better and the loyalty is effortless. Several of the panelists suggested an “idea exchange” to coincide with the feedback analysis of crowdsourcing. Letting the crowd discuss your product in a forum setting can lead the way to new markets and new customers.

Another aspect that came up during Q&A with the panel was how to direct crowdsourcing and how it can show results. We already know most marketing strategies are an investment, but crowdsourcing is one of the only tools that is cost efficient and works off the assets you already have, customers. According to the panel, making sure there is a clear direction for your crowdsourcing technique can show a powerful result. What will keep your existing customers loyal?

Ultimately, adapting to local and different markets is what is going to drive business. Take the iPad for example. Apple used its existing laptop customers’ complaints and suggestions to envision a whole new product that came with an entirely new market. It’s this type of information that can keep your company innovative.

Now, how can you use a crowdsourcing tool to fuel your business? Find out what works, what people want from an existing product, and what will keep customers referring their friends.

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