Crowdsourcing Products and Services: Trendy but Boring (Part 1)

May 19, 2009

crowdOne of the hottest trends that the web has brought us this year is the idea of crowdsourcing.  The basic idea, for those that are not yet aware, is to make design and functionality decisions on products, services, and websites based on feedback from a community.  Facebook recently tried their version of this with their new Terms of Use Agreement.  They left it up to a vote by the community on whether or not they would rewrite certain parts of the document.

An ex-Google designer made noise by claiming the reason he left was because Google left too much of their design decisions up to data from the site’s users, essentially letting the whole world decide what designs worked and what had to go.  And today, over on Springwise, there is news about this company trying to start a crowdsourced fashion label.

While I do appreciate the innovative nature of this trend, allowing the end consumers to essentially design their own products, I think there is a downside to this growing fad.

One person may be creative and stylish, and another person may be quirky and willing to try anything, but the masses are boring.  The large majority of people are looking for something safe, easy and conservative in most of the products or services that they plan to use. Bringing the topic back to fashion, despite all the trendy labels out there, the majority of people will choose the more conservative appeal of a Gap or an Old Navy.

The problem that develops with the crowdsourcing approach is that the more people who get their input heard on the style of a product, the more boring it will become.  If 100 people lean to the left and 120 people lean to the right, the crowdsourced outcome of this product will be very close to being right down the middle.

When you try to please everyone, you end up being plain, and wowing no one. To build a successful brand, you have to wow someone, and boring just won’t do it.

Of course that is just one man’s opinion, I want to know what you think.  Is crowdsourcing going to lead to more popular products and services, or is it the end of creativity and stylistic flair?  Leave your comments below and I will follow up with a future post on this same topic.

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If You’re Selling Something, then SELL It

May 15, 2009

call2actionToo many companies are making money online for you not to be one of them.  And forgetting everything but the simple art of selling, there are a few simple things that you have to be doing to convert potential customers into paying customers.

When I get to your website, I usually got there on purpose.  Either I clicked on an ad of yours that looked appealing, or I searched for what you sell in Google, or someone told me that I would like what you’ve got so I cam there directly.  You are already winning the battle.  But there are ways that you can blow it, so don’t assume that just because I am there, the battle is over.

Strike. Hit me with some solid information right away.  Don’t make me look for it, because the attention span of someone searching the internet is short, and getting shorter everyday.  Catch my eye with headlines, have clear website navigation, allow me to search for exactly what I need.

Educate. Give me value in descriptions.  Too many companies put the same boring descriptions of the products that they are selling.  If your competitors description is the same as your description, you are not making my decision process any easier.  If you need to hire an expert copywriter for your site, do it.  Any thing to get a unique, value-driven message across that will entice me to buy.

Leap. Take a risk.  If you are afraid to take risks in business you will lose.  At this point, you have my attention, I have gotten to the product that I am interested in, and all it will take is one small thing to sway me one way or another.  So do something different.  Show me customer ratings, comments, descriptions.  Show me the prices of your competitors compared to your own.  Offer me a special deal as a first time buyer.  Make it easy and make it different, and you will have an easier time convincing me.

Lead. On every single page, put a call to action.  And make it stand out so I know exactly what it is I am supposed to be doing.  After all, your goal all along is to make a sale, so lead me down the sales line throughout every step of the process.  If I get lost, then your sale is lost.

Strike, Educate, Leap, and Lead.  Take a look at the pages on your website.  If you have a page that looks like it was made from a carbon copy of one of your competitors, you are losing.  If you have a page with no call to action, you are losing.  If you are not taking risks and being unique, you are losing.  This is a new era of selling online, and you need to keep up or lead to win.

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