What if you could read your customers' minds to find out exactly what services and products they want? Well, there's a way to do that.Okay, it's not exactly reading their minds. But there is a customer engagement plan that is the next closest thing. It's a plan that we love to use with some of our biggest clients. In fact, it's a proven way to not only find out what customers want, but to also build these products and solutions with them.
It's called co-creation.
Co-creation is all about involving your customers in the ideation process and letting them have a voice in your products or services. This is highly engaging for customers because they can feel as if they are a part of the process with a brand that they already love.
Related Read: Co-creation vs Crowdsourcing
Why does it work so well? Keep reading and we'll tell you everything you need to know about the ultimate customer engagement plan.
Why it Works
The biggest part of co-creation is actually letting customers participate in your innovation and marketing processes.
With or without your brand's involvement, customers and fans will co-create your products or services for their own or someone else's needs.
When your brand validates that co-creation process, you validate and recognize your customers. You let them know that they matter to your brand.
One of the biggest factors that drive customer co-creation is the brand's ability to innovate. When customers perceive your brand as being innovative, they're more likely to be drawn to co-create with you.
They will get the sense that your brand has the ability to hear their ideas and put them into motion in a meaningful way.
The only thing you need to do to connect with them is meet them where they're at.
Customers are already forming communities around brands all over the world. Chances are your brand has some sort of community, too.
When your brand engages with those communities or provides the space for a community to form, you help foster a connection. A connection between your brand and its biggest fans. You also help create a connection between everyone who is passionate about your brand.
Connecting these passionate people with a community that gives them the opportunity to be heard by a brand they love boosts their engagement with the brand and the co-creation process.
Co-creating with customers helps them to personally invest in your brand. They feel as if they are contributing to your brand. That on its own gives them a return on their investment.
Customers who are invested in your brand are loyal. And, they become your brand advocates in their circles.
Because your customers have played a part in co-creating a product or service that you are now offering, you can be confident that it will be relevant.
If people are asking you to create this product and are playing an active role in making it a reality, then you already know they want it. The relevance of your product is already confirmed by the demand for it.
In the LEGO Ideas community, for example, kit designs created by fans need to gain 10,000 "supporters" among community members before LEGO reviews the design. That's 10,000 fans who are already invested and excited in a new product idea!
When you've created a product that has been co-created with your customers, a lot of the marketing has already been done for you.
Your biggest fan base has asked you for the product. Then they helped your business create it. Once you offer the product, they start feeling a sort of pride and responsibility for their part in its creation.
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What do people do when they're proud of something? They show it off to the people around them. And when people are recommending a product from someone they know and trust, they're more likely to buy it.
Boom! Free marketing.
Because customers are engaged in co-creating with your brand, they are providing you with a lot of support. They will feel like they're part of your team. And become even more invested with you and your products or services because it's partly their own creation.
There's no obligation for them to back and support your brand, it's something they'll want to do.
Inspiration and Motivation
Interacting and engaging with your customers in such an intimate way as involving them in the creation process of your products or services can be incredibly inspiring.
You are allowing them a seat at your table and recognizing them as an equal partner in the process. This is a hugely successful customer engagement plan and is highly motivating for your brand as much as it is for the customer.
Not to mention all the free community-generated content that becomes available, from inspiring photos to heart-felt quotes, as your customers embark on their co-creative journeys with your brand. This all becomes a treasure trove of marketing content that your marketing and social media teams can use as well.
Instead of guessing, assuming, and taking shots in the dark at what you think your customers might want, you are hearing directly from them about what they want.
This saves you a lot of time and money because you are not going through the trial-and-error of creating a relevant product.
Two Types of Co-Creation
Brands must have a good understanding of their customers and the values and characteristics that they bring to the table if they want co-creation to be a success.
There are two ways for a company to approach co-creation. One is company-led co-creation and the other is customer-led co-creation.
Here, the company takes it upon itself to create a community, application, or some other space where its customers are able to inject directly into the ideation process. The company is then able to sort through all these ideas and choose the best ones to build on.
The resulting products or services are well received because your customers had some part in creating them.
For this other approach, the company seeks out the communities where its customers are already engaging in co-creation. The company can then observe what people are talking about, engage with customers, and gather ideas that the community has already created.
That information and all those ideas can then be poured into the company's ideation and production cycle to create something that you know your customers already want.
The Best Customer Engagement Plan
Hopefully, you feel equipped enough to implement this customer engagement plan because we know first-hand how effective it can be for creating a stronger relationship between your brand and your customers.
We can help you create the best customer engagement strategy using innovation and co-creation.
Request a demo from us to really get the good stuff, and download our "Marketer's Guide to Customer Participation and Co-creation" below.