Crowdsourcing is a MUST for Open Innovation in Market Research

I’m a big believer in playing to your strengths, and I think the same goes for an overall team. With that said, our experience developing GoRankem has given us a significant leg up in three main categories:

  • Ranking
  • Crowdsourcing
  • Aggregating of the collective opinion

Before we even settled into the industry, we had the general premise that brands should leverage their fanbase for market research purposes, specifically in the form of a crowdsourced ideation optimization process. 

Providing reaffirmation for our beliefs, Tamara Barber wrote a great piece on Affinova‘s blog about The Evolution of Open Innovation recently. In it, she described four different ways Web 2.0 could have a positive impact:

  • Idea management systems: As companies go global and business becomes digital, more formalized idea management systems allow people from the far reaches of the organization to submit their suggestions.
  • Innovation management: The company uses technology to methodically connect the best ideas to company goals and incorporate them into the innovation process.
  • Collaborative innovation: At this stage, the firm begins to seek out broader employee input throughout the innovation and development process, not only at the ideation stage.
  • Open innovation: What if the best ideas aren’t inside the organization?  Now, customers, suppliers and other constituents outside of the company are tapped for input and ideas in the never-ending search for competitive advantage.

Building off of Tamara’s suggestions, brands have poured a ton of money into building their fanbases on the social networks like Facebook and Twitter over the last couple years — why don’t we leverage that foundation as a breeding ground to source the best ideas? Sounds like a no-brainer to me!


naming a startup now requires 3 checks

As recently as 1-2 years ago, reserving the ideal URL was the primary consideration once you settled on a company name.

I remember back in 2008 when I first started to acknowledge the behemoth that Twitter was establishing. Surprisingly, there were very few companies that we could model a business account after — I remember Home Depot & Comcast being two companies in particular that were ahead of the curve.
Then we saw Facebook introduce fan pages for businesses in 2008. These pages saw an enormous uptick when Facebook made the subtle, but profound switch to ‘like’ instead of becoming a “fan.

Nowadays, any company getting started, especially B2C startups trying to build cultivate their fanbases, must confirm the availability of the preferred URL, but additionally, you must make sure that you can obtain the ideal Twitter and Facebook pages. If not, you’re facing an even steeper climb of sifting through all the noise in the digitalsphere.

P.S. Twitter offers ways to obtain your URL if it qualifies under their inactive account policy.



why does naming a startup have to be so difficult?

We were at a standstill. We were ready to move forward with the new offspring of GoRankem, but we needed a name!

We would be super-excited to think of one (“nobody has that…”) only to be disappointed time-after-time.
For a little while, we decided that a .com top-level domain (TLD) was not an absolute necessity. In recent memory, we’ve seen a number of new domains emerge as fairly popular startup options:

I remember just a couple years back when the .com we were looking for was taken so we thought long & hard about grabbing the .net or just going with another (but similar) .com — we went the .com route.
Nowadays, with the rate at which startups are launched, I get the sense that many founders don’t want to get tangled in the mess of obtaining a .com so they just grab another TLD if the preferred is not available.
A strong name is still crucial for a memorable brand, but many founders just say they’ll get a hold of the .com if (check that) when the time comes 🙂

are you cut out to be a startup entrepreneur? if so, things you can’t be: a golfer (part 1)

fittingly, with the US Open this weekend, i figured it’d be good timing to share my thoughts on this topic.

golf provides a great outlet for so many working professionals, but if you have plans to bootstrap your way to the top as a startup entrepreneur, you probably should drop that hobby habit.

two simple reasons off the bat:

  1. costs way too much money
  2. takes way too much time

if you’re a true startup hustler, all of your disposable income should be invested in your business…believe me, it will be if you care enough about it. as for your time, you won’t have five straight hours to commit to the course without wanting to be bettering your product or service.

beyond those, if you have the ‘tenacity‘ that is typical of many successful entrepreneurs, you just won’t have the patience for golf.

did i mention it takes practice? i like to think i have some solid natural ability on the links, but as any avid golfer would tell you, it requires as much muscle memory as any sport.

lastly, the concentration required is unmatched. if you’re really a startup entrepreneur, your mind won’t be able to allocate the proper focus required…it’ll be moving a mile a minute and spinning in a number of different directions.

i retired from golf before i really got started. i like exhilaration, and the startup rollercoaster takes care of that for me.

Why Are Brands Embracing Social Media for Market Research Quicker than Market Researchers?

Building on my last post about the demand outweighing supply for social media solutions in market research, another statistic from the GreenBook Research Industry Trends Spring 2011 report has really stayed with me:

70% of buyers anticipate using social media analytics, suppliers are less convinced (45%)

How is there possibly a 25% gap?!? Sounds like an industry in flux to me!

While traditional market researchers are hearing all this hoopla about social media, that’s exactly what they look at it as: noise. On the other hand, the brands (AKA the ones that pay their salaries) are looking for those innovative solutions that can harness the impact of social media and fans of their brand engaging with them.

While ROI from social media is still a questionable subject for so many, brands are increasingly admitting there’s fire where there’s smoke (despite struggling with how to quantify it), but too many market researchers probably believe if you can’t quantify it, it must not be worth it.

I guess they’ll just get left in the dust with the longer they fail to embrace the subject.

Social Media Demand in Market Research Outweighs Supply by 20%!

I recently gave a hard look at Leonard Murphy’s highly informative report, GreenBook Research Industry Trends. If you haven’t checked it out by now, I’d highly recommend the read for anybody who wants to see the latest in the present state of the market research industry, but more importantly, they spend a good bit of time highlighting the future trends.

I’m shocked at the disparity between social media interest and adoption from the buyer (AKA brands) compared with the suppliers. As the GRIT explains, “buyers are far more likely to have used social media analytics (44%) than suppliers (24%)” That’s a 20% gap!

A staggering difference like that where the demand outweighs the supply spells O-P-P-O-R-T-U-N-I-T-Y if I’ve ever embraced a statistic. As the GRIT proceeds to explain:

“The discrepancy between suppliers and internal

leaders on social media raises a number of

important questions. Could it be that suppliers

are behind the curve, wedded to interrogatory

approaches as opposed to passive social media

listening posts? Do suppliers view social media

analytics ultimately as a DIY tool and not within

their wheelhouse? This gap is likely going to

be exploited by non-traditional suppliers who

recognize the demand and are able to meet the need of client side researchers.”

While many market researchers stick to their guns of traditional techniques that they believe to be tried & true, brands will increasingly start to migrate towards more innovative solutions that leverage social media.

Don’t be surprised if the market research industry is soon overrun by technology-based companies that back into the industry. As one of my favorite business sayings goes, “an industry in chaos is prime for new opportunities.” Look out!

How Brands Have Been Using Social Media vs. How Brands Should Be Using Social Media

The market research industry has looked at social media, but they haven’t been able to wrap their hands around the value. This is why you see so many new “entrants” into the market research industry that don’t have a market researchbackground.

On the flipside, brands looked at social media and knew they needed to embrace it. When brands first started to tackle social media (circa late-2008), they initially viewed it as a marketing channel.
The savvy brands quickly realized that the traditional walls were falling down, and the consumers were eager to engage with the brands. These savvy brands allowed the consumers to often dictate the conversation, and they’ve realized the ideal dynamic is a two-way street.
If you’re strictly publishing content, the consumers will often tune you out. If you’re out there in the crowd, they’ll often give you the benefit of the doubt when you want to publish content.
As I’ve been preaching for a long time, Twitter (among others) is more of a communication platform than a marketing tool. It’s important for brands to find happy medium between shoving messages down their consumers throats and interacting with those that care about the brand.
Here’s the game-changer that we really haven’t seen too much of to date:
Brands have been marketing to their fans…but how many brands are truly leveraging their fans?
If brands want to truly reap the benefits of social media, they need to stop marketing when no one is listening and stop communicating with those that won’t take action.
The Holy Grail that we’ve all been seeking from social media has been right in front of us the whole time: Stop Focusing on Marketing and Start Focusing on Market Research. I’ll be exploring this topic in great detail soon enough…