Posts Tagged ‘Threadless’

Crowdsourcing: Letting the Market Guide Your Direction

Saturday, December 6th, 2008

Many of you are familiar with the concept of t-shirt competitions. Such sites at Threadless, DesignByHumans, Teetonic, Shirt.Woot and so on host competitions where you can submit designs and the community as a whole votes on them. The ones with the most votes go into limited production and are sold out before you know it.

This is part of  a much bigger trend in society today of actually listening to the market and letting the market make their choice. The term is crowdsourcing and it is part of the Web 2.0 approach of doing business. It’s connecting you to your audience and allowing them to participate and become part of the overall experience.

So how does this apply to us? Past posts have talked a little bit about price sensitivity and how the market is driven by commodity behavior. Anytime we can elevate the end user to actually participate in an activity, we move toward experiential marketing. This is exactly what Walt Disney did with Disneyland in the ’50’s and Cirque du Solei in the 90’s with the circus.

These companies changed the perception of their product or service. They went well beyond the accepted norm for their respective industries and redefined the offering. You can do exactly the same thing by involving your customers and the end users of your decorated apparel. This is already a common practice with schools (especially elementary) where they have a class contest and then vote on the best design. But there is one major difference.

The difference is the designs are being done by amateur designers. They are coming up with primitive images that capture some, but not all of the emotional elements of the group, organization, or class. Your opportunity is to go beyond this by incorporating trained graphic designers into the equation.

Going beyond the classroom, a perfect example of this would be to team local designers or design students with the group and have the designers compete for the approval of the group. If you’re wise, you’ll find some way of compensating the winning designer from the price you charge the group for the shirt. This will make it appear the group is getting the design for free AND they’ll get a much better image than they would without trained involvement.

The possibilities are endless. The more you can access the end users in the design and selection of the graphic, the more connected they’ll be to you and the more they’ll talk about you to others. This is one of the most powerful leverage strategies you can use to get and hold the attention of your target market. For more on how to actually implement this approach, visit the TShirtSuccess website and look at the TShirt 2.0 section for more ideas and strategies.