marketing and sales executives from Silicon Valley

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The limits of crowd-sourced marketing

I met with a few people today and ended up in a "crowd-sourced marketing" discussion. I enjoy the live sharing and discussion, but especially the banter back and forth around an idea. While I do enjoy it, I have colleagues who are dead set against that type of activity - unless they are paid for it.

I completely understand where they're coming from, and they bring up a number of good points. Here are a few:

  • You could give them an idea that could save their business
  • You should be paid for the good ideas you provide to others
  • They may never hire you - "Why buy the cow when you get the milk for free"
  • You cheapen your brand by giving so much away

I don't disagree that those points could be true, however I have my own response based upon my experience:

  • Ideas are cheap. Without the details and careful thought about implementation, it's very rare that an idea could save a business
  • Ideas are only the first of many steps. If you want my details and help with strategy and implementation (the hard part), then I deserve to be paid.
  • If someone takes my idea and doesn't hire me, the odds are that they can only implement part of what I've verbalized. There's more to an idea than what you can share in quick meeting.
  • My ability to create, position a product or service, or provide valuable ideation comes grows from past experiences including collaboration. Part of my brand is idea generation, then finding a way (scrappy or full blown) to make it happen. 
Do you agree or disagree?

I've heard a number of good ideas which have been followed by poor implementation, poor messaging, or poor positioning, and that has lead me to believe that the details and the implementation matter as much or more than the idea itself.

The more I see the more I believe the statement attributed to Edison holds true "Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration" (source WikiQuote).

So the next time you worry about someone stealing your idea, think about the time, effort, and energy needed to make steal or copy that idea. If they really did implement your entire concept that you gave them - then yes, the person is a douche-bag, but if you just had the idea and never followed up on it, what ownership do you really have?

Disclosure: This discussion is about marketing ideas and does not apply to patents created or owned by me or my employers. Just sayin 8-).

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