Crowdsourcing: Make Your Customers Feel Good (Without Getting HR Involved)

Remember the last time someone you liked and cared about honestly asked your opinion on something in their life? How did you feel — warm? Fuzzy? Appreciated? For the last couple of years, companies have been asking for their customers’ opinions concerning new product offerings or even completely new ideas. There’s a word for that, and it’s…

Crowdsourcing! Also known as the fancy marketing term for asking customers or fans for input on an aspect of your business crowdsourcing has been thriving in the past few years due to the high influence of social media in consumers’ lives. I’m sure back in the day it required a lot more work as compared to today, where all you need to do is upload a ‘Poll’ question onto your brand’s Facebook page and wait to see what customers think. Some major brands out there are going the distance to find out what their customers really want to see happen!

Domino’s Pizza has done a complete 180 concerning their marketing efforts. Their CEO, Patrick Doyle, has brought customers’ complaints to the forefront of their day-to-day operations and has reinvented their pizza as a result. They launched their “Think Oven” campaign a few months ago on their Facebook page, which allows customers to voice their opinions on all things Domino’s. There are two ways they’re asking for customer involvement — specific projects and idea box.

  1. Specific Projects: Domino’s has specific projects that they’re looking for input on (new uniform designs or improving their online order tracker). When the clock runs out to submit ideas, they’ll pick out the best suggestions and award the person and see if they can turn that person’s idea into a reality. Ta-da!
  2. Idea Box: Customers can submit an idea pertaining to anything Domino’s-related. They’ll see what could work and will try to implement it into day-to-day operations.

Here’s a YouTube clip explaining exactly what Domino’s is doing and and what they’re hoping to achieve:

A good idea? You betcha! They’ve increased their customer loyalty in an unheard of amount of time and brought their issues to the forefront of their commercials instead of working behind closed doors to fix them. As someone who never really ordered a national chain pizza before (I’m a true Chicago girl at heart, have to stick with the local deep dish place), I know that I’ll consider ordering pizza from them over another national brands like Pizza Hut, Little Caesar’s, or Papa John’s.

Who wouldn’t want one of these shades back?

Tired of hearing about pizza? Maybe crowdsourced make-up is more your thing. Since October 2010, famed makeup artist Bobbi Brown has asked customers and fans to pick which lipstick shade “Bobbi Brings Back.” She chooses ten shades she’d like to bring back and then asks fans to vote for their favorite on their Facebook page (which increases traffic and engagement) and then share their votes with their friends (again, more traffic and engagement going on). Everyone wins! Your favorite shade of lipstick (or your boyfriend’s or husband’s favorite shade on you) comes back and they don’t have to spend extra marketing dollars on research. Sounds like a win-win to me!

Mmm, Chunky Monkey

Now for something everyone can enjoy. Ice cream! Not just any ice cream though, but Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. These two guys are known for going against the norm for their brand, which is part of the reason why they’re so gosh darn awesome. Some of your favorite flavors have been customer suggestions, like the famous Cherry Garcia, Chunky Monkey, and Chubby Hubby. They have nothing to lose by asking fans’ input, because the fans feel appreciated and like that someone is actually listening to them, and everyone gets yet another great flavor to crave!

I feel like I threw a lot of information and examples at you, so let me break it down into bite-sized chunks of delicious takeaways (sorry, I’m really hungry for pizza and ice cream now):

Imagine those cars were people rushing to your website!

  • Fans feel more connected to the brand asking their opinion and will share with their friends and family (Your customers will practically say, “hey, they do care about my thoughts and opinions on stuff! Visit their site and they’ll care about yours, too!”).
  • Fans will visit the site more often to either vote or see results (hello, fan engagement and increased traffic to your website).
  • Companies don’t have to pay for expensive and time-consuming market research (more money to spend elsewhere).
  • Companies can save money by posting what are usually expensive projects such as creating a new logo or commercial. Name your criteria and watch the submissions flood in, then choose which one you liked the best. (Overall, crowdsourcing lets you save money and control the number of people you need to have on staff).

Everyone loves feeling wanted and needed from time to time, and your customers are no exception. Let them know that you genuinely care about their thoughts and opinions about your company. By using crowdsourcing, chances are they’ll come up with wild and crazy stuff that never would’ve crossed your mind on a new project. One of them could be the next ‘Chunky Monkey’ idea! Dare to dream and try crowdsourcing for your next project!

Have you ever heard of any of the campaigns mentioned? Do you follow a company that ‘crowdsources’? Did you participate? Sound off below!

Image credit to jacobms.

Amy Hoidas

Amy is one of Quality Logo Products’ Community Manager. She is a self-professed newspaper nerd and thoroughly enjoys reading business and financial news and having impromptu discussions about it. Oh yeah, she’s “one of those” people! A true Midwestern girl by nature, she loves riding her bike, photography, and the Chicago Cubs. You can also connect with Amy on


  1. Jill Tooley

    I’d participate in crowdsourcing if a brand I cared about used it (like Charming Charlie, Amazon, or Kohl’s), but probably not at random. If Ben and Jerry’s happened to crowdsource for a new flavor, you can bet I’d be all over that as well! 🙂

    Awesome post, Amy. It’s interesting to see the brands that are harnessing this, and how they’re doing it. I agree that crowdsourcing brings fans closer to the brand, because they feel like they’re actually a part of the decision making. As they should be!

    • Jaimie Smith

      i agree with Jill. I would DEF participate in crowdsourcing for brands that I really care about. (Victoria’s Secret, Ulta, and probably a million more). It makes me happy to see businesses really care about their customers.
      Great post, Amy!

      • Amy Swanson

        Thanks guys, I’m glad you liked the post! I’m with you 100% in that I would only respond to questions that brands or companies that I currently like asked. I wouldn’t go out of my way to offer suggestions for what Farm and Fleet or White Castle could do. I couldn’t care less. However, if Kohls or Dunkin’ Donuts asked for suggestions I’d be right there with my responses 😉

  2. Jen

    If I cared enough about a company I would totally participate in crowdsourcing for them. I always go to Chapsticks F.B. page and vote on new flavors or answer the fill in the blank questions. It’s fun to get involved! Nice post Amy, I like all the examples you gave…but now I want some pizza and ice cream.

    • Amy Swanson

      Oh my goodness, I should ‘like’ Chapstick on Facebook. In my purse I either don’t have any (and I’m freaking out) or three tubes. Plus, I’d love to be involved with voting on flavors! Thanks Jen for the head’s up 😀

      Yeahhh, don’t worry. I’m still hungry for pizza and ice cream and I wrote this a few days ago.

  3. Eric

    When I was a wee lad, I once tossed a coin in a fountain, wishing for cartoons at night (and not just on the weekends). A few weeks later, “The Critic” (I know, hardly a children’s cartoon, but still) came on the air and man, I felt like freakin’ Aladdin. Moral of the story is…granting your customers’ “wishes” is one of the best ways to make them feel like their voice and business counts. Those businesses you mention have some smart cookies workin’ for ’em. And there’s my random anecdote for the day.

    • Alex Brodsky

      Heck yeah! “The Critic” was an awesome show!

      • Jill Tooley

        Agreed! Jon Lovitz is the shit! 😀

        • Amy Swanson

          Did this have a cameo on The Simpsons? Jon Lovitz’s character looks familiar and I think that’s where I’ve seen it before. Anyways, glad you felt like a “freakin’ Aladdin” when you were a wee lad, Eric 😀

          • Eric

            Actually, I think Lovitz’s character from “The Critic” (Jay Sherman) may have made a cameo on the Simpsons…hmm.

            • Amy Swanson

              Super. Wonder what space I’m wasting with that random bit of trivial knowledge lol

  4. Alex Brodsky

    For the sake of argument (let’s face it, I love the thrill of the fight) I’m not a big fan of crowd sourcing. It’s laznnovative. Sure, it works for NOW. But in the long run, it’s not a solid strategy to base a business off of.

    Facebook and Twitter are a fad. Believe me or not, it’s true. 5 years from now, neither will be as popular as they are today. What are these companies (who have become so reliant on these tools for marketing) going to do when they no longer reach the masses through these means?

    It’s a quick fix for now, but I believe it’ll be detrimental to these companies in the long run.

    Nice post Amy, and feel free to throw any arguments back at me 🙂

    • Amy Swanson

      I completely agree with your first point, Alex. In the long run asking customers for their input will not build a very reputable business plan. It’s like having that friend who’s constantly asking for your opinion on things that you don’t really care about to begin with. An occasional question is fine, but when it’s every single day that’s when it gets annoying.

      Now about your next point, my crystal ball is currently in the shop, so I can’t say for sure if Facebook and Twitter are a fad or not. I think it’s going to take something pretty epic to get people to stop checking it every day or week. It might be 12/21/2012 that ends it, or maybe Y2K has been hibernating and will take its revenge on us for forgetting about it. I don’t know really, but it’s going to have to be big.

      I’m nowhere near a marketing whiz by any stretch of the imagination, but I wouldn’t advise anyone to rely solely on crowdsourcing. Eventually customers will begin to wonder if you actually know what the heck you’re doing and will stop coming to you. But to increase engagement with customers I don’t think you can go wrong with trying it occasionally.

      Thanks so much for reading it, Alex and for leaving such a great comment! I really appreciate your thoughts!!

  5. Rachel

    Great post, Amy! I didn’t realize there were so many examples of crowdsourcing these days. As others have mentioned, I doubt I’ll go out and search for companies looking for consumer input, but if a business I already frequent is doing some crowdsourcing, I might reconsider. I fill out the occasional online survey, so I guess that’s similar, yeah? 🙂 Thanks for all the info!

    • Amy Swanson

      Haha, in one of my marketing classes in college we were required to mail out surveys for a project and then analyze the returned ones. My group mailed out 800+ surveys and got like 50 or 60 back completed and usable. Since that day anytime I’ve received a survey to complete I do because I know someone out there actually cares about my responses, even if I don’t. So, thank you Rachel for your input!!

  6. Mandy Kilinskis

    You hit the nail on the head, Amy. Everyone wants to feel like they are being listened to and that their contribution is valuable! For example, every time that Cheez-Its has their “vote for the next flavor” contest, I always vote. And then when the flavor you want gets chosen, you feel awesome. (And if it doesn’t, you can yell at all the other fans).

    Is it a little bit lazy? Sure. But if it delivers the same (if not better) results as focus groups, I gotta give them credit for saving money.

    • Amy Swanson

      Cheez-Its is a great example, Mandy! They have one of the best social media presences out there, and some of the most loyal fans. Plus, with them saving money they can put it somewhere else like R&D where a scientist can create the best flavor ever 😉 Now that’s money well spent, in my opinion.

  7. Roxanne Krause

    Yet again, another awesome post from the QL team! Keep them coming 🙂

  8. Roxanne Krause

    or should i say QLP team – sorry guys!!

    • Amy Swanson

      Haha, we knew what you meant, Roxanne 🙂 Thanks so much for stopping by!!

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