How Crowdsourcing Can Supercharge Your In-House Brainstorming Lauren Nelson | August 3rd, 2016



Advertising executive Alex Faickney Osborn was frustrated. The storied firebrand of world renown advertising agency BBDO, he was less than impressed by the creative ideas his team had been bringing to the table. So in 1939 he began working on a process he believed would inspire his team and others to think outside the box and push each other to dream big. He shared that process with the world in his 1948 book Your Creative Power, calling it “brainstorming.”

Whether in the classroom, the conference room, or the boardroom, odds are you’ve taken part in some variation of this creative process. There’s a reason for that: it works. Groups can and do make each other better. As cliche as it sounds, iron sharpens iron.

Well, most of the time at least. Despite the brainstorming’s widespread popularity and ubiquitous application, it’s an approach that can be overused, wasting a great deal of time. It also only works if the dynamic of the team brainstorming allows for equal and unrestrained participation, which can be a tall order when your team is a mashup of personalities.

As a result, different tweaks have been introduced over time in an effort to make brainstorming more effective and efficient. In a video for, Senior Editor Mark Wilson talked about some of those alterations, including something called “brain writing.”



But regardless of whether you’re writing down ideas or shifting coffee cups by a few millimeters, there’s still an inherent limitation to team brainstorming: the team itself.

That’s not to say that your team isn’t wonderful or that they’re incapable of coming up with good ideas. But they are, at the end of the day, existing within your culture. Over time, thought patterns can become increasingly homogeneous on your team, as members learn each other’s quirks and adapt to each other’s needs. That homogeneity can have a significant impact on not just demonstrated creativity, but creative capacity.

Does that mean brainstorming is worthless? Of course not. But it might mean that your brainstorming efforts need a shock to the system, and crowdsourcing creative work can do just that.

Crowdsourcing is often discussed in terms of convenience and value for your dollar. Those are absolutely some of the associated benefits. But really, the primary benefit of crowdsourcing is that you get a litany of ideas presented to you by a diverse group of creatives.

That’s fantastic when you’re looking for just the right logo or tagline, but the projects you commission via crowdsourcing do not exist in a vacuum. They’re collateral that will interact with a number of other elements in your overall marketing strategy. And that’s how crowdsourcing creative work can be uniquely beneficial to a marketing team in a rut. Seeing a wide array of creative concepts associated with your value proposition or upcoming initiative can help do what in-house brainstorming alone could not: spurring truly unique ideas from your team.

It’s a concept that would make Osborn drool.


Image Source: Iron Post Media

5 Ways to Tackle the Tricky Business of Measuring Branding and Marketing ROI Lauren Nelson | August 2nd, 2016

Return on investment


One of the major benefits of the digital age is that marketers now have far more meaningful metrics by which to evaluate the success of their initiatives. It’s no longer just about creative swagger and assumptions regarding your audience. We have an avalanche of data on consumer preferences and behavior, website usage, content engagement, and more at our disposal.

It’s enough to make ya giddy.

With this data comes the ability to quantitatively evaluate the performance of our efforts. A landing page, for instance, can be analyzed relative to conversions. Your display ads can be scrutinized according to cost per lead. Your social media posts can be compared on the basis of impressions and engagement.

But is that really enough to demonstrate ROI on an overall strategy? How do you calculate the dollar value of a shared meme from your Facebook page? How do you determine the expected RoR on a newsletter subscriber? How do you assess the impact of a prominent retweet to your bottom line? How do you nail down the contribution of a new logo to your profits?

This conundrum is particularly relevant to those making a case for a specific budget or allocation to a marketing initiative. This data glut has created an impression among those not directly involved in marketing that everything can be boiled down to decimal points. But what about all of the peripheral marketing and branding activities taking place that push your audience to convert? How does one explain that to the powers that be?

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Battle Royale: Evaluating the Marketing and Branding Efforts of Clinton and Trump Lauren Nelson | August 2nd, 2016

If you’re a fan of the musical Hamilton, you know elections weren’t always this polarizing. It wasn’t until 1800, when young upstart Aaron Burr chose to break with tradition and openly campaign against favored Republican candidate Thomas Jefferson, that the idea of directly attacking an opponent and speaking on your own qualifications became a thing.


Admittedly, things have… intensified… since then. The 2016 election cycle spend blew past the $1 billion mark in April of this year, well before the final candidates in the general had been decided. Now that both the Republican and Democratic conventions are over and done, things are about to kick into high gear, with a high dollar budget to match.

Where do all those dollars go? The most expensive branding and marketing campaigns in the world.

That’s what a campaign is, at the end of the day. It might have started with Aaron Burr talking at social clubs, but campaigns today include millions dumped into advertising, social media strategy, promotional products, and more. And just like any other campaign like this, some of it’s good… and some of it’s awful.

So how are the branding and marketing efforts of the candidates stacking up to date?

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Monday Motivation: Thought Candy Lauren Nelson | August 1st, 2016

Monday mornings can be hard. The burgeoning to do list on your desk can quickly become overwhelming if you start things off on the wrong, under-caffeinated foot. It’s gonna be alright, though. To help ease you into the workweek, we’ve compiled some excellent reads that will inform, engage, and inspire as you tackle the marketing and branding challenges ahead.


Weekend Reads: Daydreamin’ Lauren Nelson | July 29th, 2016

It’s gross and rainy in Chicagoland, so you’ll have to forgive us if our minds have already turned to happy, shiny visions of the weekend. We figured we wouldn’t be the only ones looking for a distraction as Friday goes on, so we thought we’d share some diverting reads for your own mental escapes.


But it is Friday, after all. Give yourself a giggle with this rainbow of fun:



A Mile in Their Shoes: Framing Your Content Marketing Strategy Lauren Nelson | July 29th, 2016



There are thousands of articles, videos, and books out there, all eager to tell you the “secret” to effective content marketing. There’s a reason such resources are in high demand: 88% of all B2B businesses are investing in content marketing, along with 80% of B2C businesses. Of course folks are gonna want to know how to get it right.

Many of these resources focus on tactics and analytics. A great deal focus on management and tone. That’s a great starting point, but insufficient. Your strategy can be technically perfect and impeccably measured, but there’s an element to marketing along any channel that will always rely on subjective and immeasurable creativity and humanity. Guidance on how to excel in that facet of your marketing has always been difficult to form and process, but it’s sorely needed if you want your investment in content marketing to pay off.

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Startup Marketing: 5 Startups that changed their name (and why) Nick Bowersox | July 28th, 2016


A lot of time can be spent choosing the perfect startup name. Conventional wisdom says that the name should be less than 10 characters, easy to remember, and the .com has to be acquirable. Startup names can be descriptive (PayPal), suggestive (Amazon), or even fanciful (Apple). Once you find the perfect name for your startup, it’s hard to think that any other name could fit the company you are building.

But what if the company you are building begins to change? Startups are intended to be agile businesses that consistently face engineering and marketing challenges with creative thinking and a willingness to evolve. Just because the name was perfect when you launched doesn’t mean it will always be the right fit.

Unsure if your startup is in need of a new name? Take a look at 5 top startups that have changed their name (and why):

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Fresh from the SPRING: TJNCS11 Audree | July 28th, 2016

When perusing our galleries here on crowdSPRING, we see some amazing work submitted in the projects. Today, we noticed this gem submitted in this logo project.

Let us start the slow clap for TJNCS11. Check out more great work on TJNCS11’s profile page.

Nicely done, TJNCS11, nicely done!


What Trends in Email Marketing Mean For Your Strategy Lauren Nelson | July 27th, 2016



Email marketing and customer communications strategies have long played an important role in a company’s user engagement and conversion rates. The direct nature of the messaging and ability to personalize those messages allows email to serve as an effective means of conveying information and persuading recipients to take specific actions.

Though speculation has bubbled over the past four years that such tactics were losing efficacy in a world where younger internet users, in particular, were showing preference for fast-paced messaging services, data shows that email use has actually risen substantially during that time period. It is predicted that more than 1/3 of the global population will be using email by 2019.

That doesn’t mean that email strategies are easy to develop and execute. Spam filters are the perpetual bane of the email marketer’s existence, and the dawn of Google’s Promotions tab has made things even more difficult.

In such a world, knowledge is power, which is why we were so excited to take a look at IBM Marketing Cloud’s 2016 Email Marketing Metrics Benchmark Study. The comprehensive study takes a look at email marketing KPIs by metric, industry, delivery period, function, and region, offering useful perspective on email marketing and communication strategies. Here are some of the key takeaways.

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More than a Logo: 5 Additional Ways to Leverage the Crowd for Your Creative Needs Lauren Nelson | July 27th, 2016



When we talk about crowdsourcing creative work, the primary focus of the conversation is frequently on graphic design, and, more specifically, logo design. In all fairness, that makes some sense. After all, that’s the concept that’s been part of the digital marketing narrative for the longest period of time.

But as time has gone on, additional opportunities to leverage the crowd for your creative needs have emerged. In a world where more and more content is required to feed the digital marketing beast, knowing your options in this arena can only help you grow and flourish.

What kinds of services are we talking about?

Company Naming

A rose by any other name might be as sweet, but the name of your company can serve as an initial sniff test for would-be customers or investors, making the process of naming your company an important one.

It can be the first impression generated for those encountering your brand. You want it to be memorable and in line with the tone you’re trying to set as an organization. You probably shouldn’t change it anytime soon once you launch, so you want your selection to be a durable one.

Why not take it to the crowd? This might not be the most intuitive sort of crowdsourcing projects out there, but it is one of the most impactful, and with a decision as important as this, it can’t hurt to get a couple hundred suggestions in play before you make up your mind.

Infographic Design

Did you know that infographics are three times more likely to be shared via social media than any other form of content? If you’re trying to get your message across in a compelling fashion, infographics get the job done.

Unfortunately, they can also be difficult to design. Crowdsourcing infographic design can give you multiple visualizations of data that support the argument you’re trying to advance, giving you your best shot at making a persuasive case to your audience.

Email Template Design

Email marketing has, time and time again, been proven an effective tool for driving traffic and conversions for your business. But email marketing has become increasingly difficult in a world where people’s inboxes are flooded and Google is relegating content they view as suspect to the netherworld of the Promotions tab.

It’s never been more important that your emails be effectively designed. It’s the best way to not only avoid the Twilight Zone of the inbox, but a great way to drive higher click-through rates. Crowdsourcing can be an excellent way to get innovative email template designs that do just that.

Mobile App Design

It’s not uncommon to view mobile app development as a package deal. You find someone to do the work, you give them your idea, you hope they come through. In some cases that might be enough, but in many cases the people you engage for such development are programmers by nature. There’s nothing wrong with that, but programmers don’t always have the expertise in user experience that a mobile app designer might have.

Crowdsourcing design once features have been determined is a way to make sure that your app doesn’t just work — it wows. Designers tend to have a better feel for how a user interacts with the functionality of an app or website, so their insights and suggestions can make all the difference in terms of behavioral statistics and user retention. Getting ideas from a slew of designers is even better.

Presentation Writing

There are a number of reasons you might need to speak in front of a crowd. Maybe you’re accepting an award. Maybe you’re giving an address at a conference. Whatever the reason, such events provide a major opportunity to wow individuals who could be future customers, allies, and evangelists. If you’re in a position to give such a speech, you probably aren’t terribly bad at it, but there’s certainly a noticeable difference between a good speech and a great speech, and most folks don’t have a ton of experience in the speechwriting department.

Crowdsourcing the drafting of your presentation can give you an edge in this sense. It might seem weird to be relying on people who don’t know you to help craft your words, but even the most lauded public speakers in recent history work with a team of speechwriters. Why shouldn’t you benefit from many minds as well?

And there are slew of other kinds of crowdsourcing projects you can explore, as well. Think outside the box! All the best people do.

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