The Secret Marketer on in-house crowd sourcing

We recently held an online crowd sourcing event for employees to get company input to a piece of new creative. I can hear many marketing directors screaming internally at the thought – myself being one of them, until I tried it.

Secret Marketer

It came about because a few months ago we ran an employee survey to try to understand what people across the company feel about the business. While generally positive, one of the key findings was around ‘employee engagement’, encouraging our people to get more involved in the running of the organisation. As such, the suggestion was put to me – ask our 10,000-plus employees to comment on a creative treatment we were looking at that sought to explain our brand to an unsuspecting audience.

I was aghast at the suggestion. It’s bad enough having the CEO stick his oar in but 11,000 engineers, call centre agents and (especially) accountants all commenting on our next campaign?
But being a good corporate citizen I agreed. We did it and, lo and behold, I saw the light!

More than 1,500 employees logged on and yes, there were the less helpful comments – “I don’t like red”… “Why is there a coffin in the image?”… “Why haven’t you mentioned the superconducting properties of the mega-widget that turn neutrons into superpolyglutomate?” etc. But there were also some helpful suggestions, ideas we had not considered, some multiple negatives about certain thoughts and, above all, some quantitative weight to our otherwise subjective feelings. And, best of all, a workforce who feel included in our next campaign and hence will become warm brand ambassadors when it rolls out.

I have always been a fan of ‘hall tests’ for campaigns. I have also, in the past, used employees as models in some of my sales collateral imagery, but I have always been somewhat sceptical of agencies that have spoken to me about the merits of crowdsourcing. However, I feel this one has merit – and it’s something any brand can do in-house and at no cost.

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