Can you imagine your clients designing your next hit product? Or paying a tenth of what it would cost with an agency to develop an excellent advertising campaign? These are just some of the advantages of co-creation. Expert on marketing and innovation Mohanbir Sawhney focused on this key theme during his opening speech at the World Marketing Forum Mexico.
“You don’t control your brand, your brand now belongs to your clients,” challenged Sawhney. So what do you do? There is only one option: to take advantage of the creative potential of your clients and engage them. After all…”the conversation and the debate about your product is happening on social media with or without your participation,” said Sawhney. So participate and co-create alongside your clients! In the following we discuss what this strategy is all about and the distinct type of collaboration you can achieve.
In order to connect and involve your clients in the creation of products and marketing actions, you should start by understanding that the future of innovation and marketing doesn’t happen through the old command and control models where all steps of design, production, and final product delivery are previously defined. Now it is about connecting and collaborating with the client before the product is even conceived, even thought of.
Sawhney challenged the World Marketing Forum audience to “drive creativity and knowledge of clients in order to define, design and finally create the best products alongside them.” But why would clients want to collaborate with us? According to Sawhney, recognition is one of the most important factors for the people involved. So, it’s not only about offering them economic compensation for their collaboration, but also about giving them social compensation to make them feel utile, recognized, and valued.
Co-creation is a 360° process and involves the following dimensions of collaboration:
-Collaborative ideation: Do you know the platform My Starbucks Idea? There people sign up to share hundreds of ideas with Starbucks, from suggestions for a new type of coffee, to how to improve the customer experience in local stores. Sawhney used this illustrative, rich example to explain idea exchange with customers.
-Collaborative design: a clear example of product design provided by clients: the case of McDonalds. Maybe without even realizing it you enjoyed a delicious hamburger….whose ingredients were customized by its clients. According to Sawhney, “if they clients are involved, they will buy.”
-Collaborative testing: In the era of social media, how can you legitimize NOT inquiring and receiving the opinion of clients about your products? Create a community and quickly you will have feedback about products. Discover if it works or not, in an instant!
-Collaborative advertising: Why pay hundreds of millions of dollars on advertising if you can have a professional, quality, effective campaign for…so much less? There are sites where advertising professionals offer their work as well as compete in order to offer you an excellent service for little money.
-Collaborative support: There are support forums where clients support one another by reducing costs and satisfying their clients. The Cisco Support Forum is a good example of this, said Sawhney. It is obviously important to closely monitor responses in order to ensure that the advice is accurate, as well as allow users to rate the quality of replies by users
“Co-creation doesn’t substitute for internal effort, it complements it,” concluded Sawhney. For that reason it is necessary to develop co-creation muscles and the ability to exchange these ideas within the organization. Is your company exercising it?