Considering crowd-sourcing? Better have a plan

Is crowd-sourcing simply turning over your problem or your project to a random online assemblage and hoping for the best? Not if you want good results, says the co-founder of CrowdSPRING.

When Gap officials responded this month to criticism of its new logo by offering a crowd-sourcing approach, they were met with a less-than-satisfied crowd.

For instance, one designer, Mike Monterio, tore into the company in a blog post, complaining that the company was looking to get for free what he sells every day.

“You sell good stuff,” he wrote. “But never in my experience has any of your employees offered me a free pair of pants because the ones I was wearing looked bad. I wouldn’t expect them to. Their job is to sell me clothes.”

Where Gap marketers went wrong, says Ross Kimbarovsky, co-founder of CrowdSPRING, an online crowd-sourcing community, is that they seemingly didn’t create a crowd-sourcing plan before diving in. They simply reacted.

“It wasn’t clear what their goal was beyond the original logo,” he says. “It seemed like the crowd-sourcing angle was an afterthought and maybe part of their strategy to try to save face. It certainly didn’t seem like that’s what they were thinking all along.”

The key difference between a crowd-sourcing campaign that succeeds and one that fails, Kimbarovsky says, is whether there’s a plan in place to reach specific goals.

Setting a goal

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