The Creative Seed

Plant Seed

Nothing can truly be “designed” for the mass market anymore and be considered a success. To go after the masses you now need to cater to the individual.

The level of customization and expectation of product quality is such that it doesn’t behoove you to meet everyone’s expectations. If you try and please everybody? You will end up pleasing no one.

While this may seem counter intuitive? Bear with me:

Creativity is no longer about the final product. It’s about the inspiration and conversation starter.

Inspiration is now the desired outcome of a product launch or marketing campaign. A company needs to provide a spark, the crowd can do the rest.

The customer needs to have a hand in the decision making and creative process. By doing so you can create true evangelism, dedication to the improvement of the product and cut costs all at the same time.

“Rapid-iteration”¹ is going to become the new norm for products for better or worse.

The model for releasing software and video games already works on this basic model. The company releases game to a players beta test, augment and suggest improvements, then launches the game to the general public. All along the way, players, programmers and the software company are improving the final product.

What makes this model sustainable? Most programmers/players don’t have the money to invest in building, seeding and putting the creative thought into a powerful gaming engine and storyline. What do they have? Time and lots of it. Thus they can augment, tweak and improve the game to their liking.

Player based content and creativity can add years to a game’s life span. Why can’t this same philosophy be tied into marketing and community driven exercises?

It can and it will.

Crowdsourcing is going to be baked into every single creative push going forward. How could it not be? It’s cheap, sustainable and can build on and increase the power of your initial idea. The key is being able to effectively influence, understand and direct the creation of the product/marketing materials.

The new task for creation is simple but requires a fundamental paradigm shift: move to inspiring and inciting for activation instead of pure creation. The more customization and ability to tweak your content? The stickier the content will become.

Come up with a great idea. Create a model/demo.  Allow the crowd to execute and riff off of it. This is the future of the creative model.

Image Source: Peter Kaminski

 


11 thoughts on “The Creative Seed

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  • Macintosh is a cult company with a cult product base. The iPod was inline with a pre-established idea of simplicity and design.

    It was going after early adopters. Everyone else just jumped on to be cool 🙂

  • Nice post, Stuart. I am in favour of this approach. I think it works best for new brands and high growth brands, but there are a lot of mature brands/agencies out there that will not know how/be tentative to make this happen.

    Question for you: how would you advise clients (agencies/brands) to incorporate this into their process? More importantly, when do you turn it on and how much should be used? I agree that crowdsourcing will play an increased role in the creative process…or as you are suggesting, product development. There are many, many clients and agencies that still do not understand how to integrate social media into campaigns, let alone inject consumers into the mix. This shift will take time before it becomes fundamental to the process. What are your expectations on this?

    When I read this, the first thing that came to mind: Hollywood. Millions are spent on movie production from concept to merchandise. Crowdsourcing has long been a part of this process, i.e. screenings for audience testing. It is arguable that the creative process could get squelched based on the testing of a random selection of a target audience/product users. The stories of audience test results changing the course of movie endings, or sending movies to straight to DVD release are abundant.

    Movie producers and studios are afraid to take risks based on the monies committed to these projects. If, as you suggested, crowds run with creative, brands need to have clear strategies and understand how to evaluate risks.

    Also, I think the inspiring and enticing bit has and always will be part of the creative process. How I read what you are suggesting is that it is now to get people to buy your product/but to play a role in marketing it as well.

    Cheers.

  • “Nothing can truly be “designed” for the mass market anymore and be considered a success”

    Not sure I agree with that statement (iPods?).

    I do agree, though, that involving the customer in the process can create more loyal and engaged customers who are probably more likely to share.

    Not every business can live in the Long Tail, though.

  • Stuart, great post and some very interesting thoughts. It is pretty surprising that this model that is pretty standard in the gaming industry hasn't been embraced in other product based marketing models. It seems like most are under the philosophy of “let's make a product, put it out there, and then see what changes we need to make based on everyone's reaction.” It only makes sense to do this on a smaller scale prior to the launch and so that you can take care of any issues you can.

    Sounds like an obvious choice, but, well, so do a lot of things…

  • Not sure I agree with that statement (iPods?).

    The ipod is a rare example. One the whole, the mass consumer is a dead paradigm and must be replaced with the unique purchaser. The world and the market place are flat, but w/ in its flatness we have dynamic sales opportunities.

  • Not sure I agree with that statement (iPods?).

    The ipod is a rare example. One the whole, the mass consumer is a dead paradigm and must be replaced with the unique purchaser. The world and the market place are flat, but w/ in its flatness we have dynamic sales opportunities.

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