The wonders of living in a social media world is that it is now possible to co- create with your customers. But the same things that make this possible (large, diverse, anonymous participation) works directly against the spirit of collaboration.
In fact, the biggest obstacle might be to start the process. As Bruce Springsteen once wrote, “You can’t start a fire without a spark.” And while much has been written about the potential of customer co-creation, I don’t think enough has been said about setting the stage for creativity.
In my search for inspiration on this subject, I turned to Game Show Network.
One of my associates recently had the pleasure/distinction of being a contestant on The Price Is Right. As she described it, she actually won the opportunity to share the stage with Drew Carey because of her pre-interview and the enthusiasm she showed to the producers.
If you’ve ever watched a game show (and who hasn’t?), you’ll realize that the audience is primed when that red light goes on and the show goes live! There’s a palatable aura of excitement that is absolutely critical to enjoyment.
As my firm embraces the potential of co-creation, I realize more and more that we can learn from game shows.
Now you may ask yourself “Seriously, Kev, you’re turning to the cheesiest aspect of show business to improve product ideation???” and my short answer would be, Damn Right!
When something has been proven to work for over half a century, that’s an impressive dataset. And my feeling is that MR has a lot to learn from Let’s Make A Deal.
Specifically, you have to create the right environment for creativity. We want to get folks in the proper mindset. You can’t just show up, issue your challenge and expect nonprofessionals to start creating.
Below are a few ideas that I would bring to your next customer co-creation challenge:
1. Selling The Drama – Do an advanced activity on the subject to spark discussion and camaraderie among the participants. Get folks thinking about their recent experience with your product/service and set the stage for co-creation. Get them primed for your challenge!
2. Make it Fun! – Why not videotape the challenge rather than just issuing a brief. Make it more like Mission Impossible “Your mission Jim is to create a new easy handle that is kid safe but still easy enough for someone with severe arthritis to open.”
3. Inclusive – Your challenge should be direct, to the point and an open invitation. Anyone with a passion on the subject and a desire to make a difference is invited!
4. Everyone Can Be A Great Chef – Yes, that’s true but you need to put in the work. We can’t expect folks to develop a new bottle handle without doing some homework on what’s currently available. Like a video game, provide additional resources on the home page for anyone willing to learn more about the subject. Incentivize folks to do their homework and immediately reward them for going the extra mile!
5. Addictive! – Folks want to know who is winning or losing. If you have a top ten idea, you certainly want to do everything you can to keep your idea in the running. Pushing out daily updates keeps you on their radar. The expression “Motivation gets you started and habit keeps you going” applies. You need to make participation a habit.
6. Character Development! – Most experts on collaboration agree you need to quickly progress from task master to collaboration champion and culminate as an unabashed cheerleader. There is an alchemy, a precise chemistry to this process. Adjust your outward persona appropriately over the course of the challenge.
A successful customer co-creation experience starts with that initial spark. Knowing how to ignite that spark and spread that into a creative flame is an art form.
And sometimes inspiration for your art doesn’t come from the Metropolitan Museum but rather from the time honored technique of warming up the audience.
Are you ready to rock your challenge? Then come on down!
Suggested additional reading: Harvard Business Review / Eight Ways to Build Collaborative Teams