According to Wikipedia, crowdsourcing is a process that involves outsourcing tasks to a distributed group of people. The most common type of crowdsourcing assignment that you might be familiar with is running a logo design contest. This is where you share a common creative brief with a diverse, distributed set of graphic designers that provide potential solutions for payment.
At ROF, we are starting to see pharmaceutical and biotechnology marketers embrace crowdsourcing with their most sensitive element – strategy. The approach boils down to gaining input on the brand strategy from all corners of the organization and deriving the final strategy based on this ‘disciplined’ approach.
However, the disadvantages of this approach are many, including*:
- Poor quality feedback – unlike the logo design example where you’re soliciting feedback from trained graphic designers, the respondents are not necessarily trained or well practiced in developing strategy
- Popularity Misleads – the number of votes cast for a particular strategy has nothing to do with whether or not it’s the most impactful for the brand
- Wrong Direction – amateur strategists too often lack the nuisances of the marketing and regulatory environment to provide thoughtful direction
- Derailment – by soliciting feedback, you automatically put yourself on the hook to provide a detailed response and frequent updates to those providing input, ultimately derailing or delaying the process
- Disengagement by Best Talent – high performers, well-versed in strategy development and steeped in market dynamics may withdraw from participation in a popularity contest requiring no credentials for participation
Crowdsourcing your strategy may certainly seem fast, appear to be cheap, and feel quantitative, however the results yield a bloated, unfocused strategy derived from group-think, not marketing science.