The importance of co-creation in marketing – both commercial and not for profit – has grown mainly due to dramatic changes in the communications landscape over the last decade. The online world has besieged us and the internet has had an enormous impact on the way we interact with each other. Social media has allowed anyone to become an opinion former, writer and producer and has empowered people to voice their own opinions and create and distribute their own content.

This tells us that many people want to participate. The notion of collaboration and participation is central to the way that co-creation works. It isn’t about handing over control to ‘the crowd’ it is about working in teams of people who have different experiences, skills and backgrounds and generating ideas together.

Rather than merely listening to opinions, in the classic ‘stimulus/response’ mode that dominates market research practice, in co-creation members of the target audience sit beside you, contributing ideas and helping to evolve concepts. In the current economic climate staying close to the audience has become more important than ever.

How can we co-create?

There are many different approaches to co-creation often starting with a face-to-face workshop designed to bring professionals and consumers together to problem solve. However, we prefer a pre-stage that gathers insight, understanding and potentially initial solutions derived through social media analysis, crowdsourcing and online community work. We then use the co-creation workshop as an opportunity to really build on what we have learnt from the pre stage to develop workable solutions.

When it comes to the workshop, the art of evoking creative thinking and ideas from people who might not automatically consider themselves as ‘creative thinkers’ is part of the skill of structuring and facilitating. Using a number of tested methods, we use techniques that maximize participation including using art and craft, speaking exercises, storytelling and forum drama.

When all is said and done…

If time and budget allow, we would advise taking the insights gathered from the workshop and moving back online for further refinement and validation. One invaluable aspect of co-creation is language. Marketing ‘speak’ is not always understood. By taking concepts and ideas back online into a community of fresh, critical and unbiased people we have the opportunity to pick ideas apart on the level of individual words and phrases and ensure that the ideas are expressed as clearly and relevantly as possible.

Why is co-creation so valuable? 

There are some really clear and tangible benefits to co-creation. We find that co-created campaigns outperform ‘siloed’ campaigns. Consumer articulation and validation at the point of idea generation means outputs are richer and more complete, and ultimately ideas are turned into tangible outputs more quickly and cost-effectively.

To discuss co-creation with the social change team call us today!