How to practice co-creation with customers in an Innovation Contest
Using your customers' ideas for innovations brings you many advantages. If you choose an Innovation Contest as a format for your co-creation with customers, you can also give your brand an innovative image. Read in this blog post how you can integrate your customers into the idea generation process with an innovation and at the same time polish your brand.
Co-Creation offers five advantages
No one knows the needs of your target group better than the customer himself. Nothing is closer, therefore, to ask him for his input if you want to develop something new. Co-creation with customers essentially offers you five advantages:
- Customers view your company from a different perspective than employees. That's why they not only get more ideas, but also more diverse ideas.
- From the customer's ideas you can easily identify the actual needs of your target group.
- If you deal with the ideas of the customers, you can also deepen your knowledge of your market and new technologies.
- When you ask your customers for input for your innovation activities, a relationship of trust develops. With a co-creation project, you can increase customer loyalty to your company.
- If you ask the same group of people to come up with ideas for new products or services that they want to buy later, you reduce the risk of flops. After all, customers who have helped develop an innovation will want to buy it.
Co-Creation with customers can also go into their pants
There are many types and forms of co-creation. These range from workshops and crowd sourcing to user-generated content. All these approaches are also dangerous. Many an incorrectly implemented open innovation project turned out to be an expensive and image-damaging flop. Pril, which tastes delicious like chicken, is just one example of this.
Innovation Contest gives Open Innovation a clear structure
If you use certain formats, such as the Innovation Contest, to implement an open innovation project, you can protect yourself from such risks. Such formats impose a strict structure. This keeps you in control of the project.
To put it simply, the Innovation Contest is a pitch for the best ideas of your employees. This enables you to improve your company's innovation culture in a short period of time.
You can also involve your customers in an innovation contest. The four-step process is a little different than if you only enter your idea pitch internally.
1. collect ideas from your customers
Before you can open your Innovation Contest to the public, you have to do a lot of groundwork:
- Define clearly which solutions you are looking for or which topics you want to address in your Innovation Contest.
- Think carefully about who you want new ideas from. You must define the customer group that you want to address with your Innovation Contest.
- Set a prize for the winner who is attractive to the targeted audience. Prizes in kind or cash prizes may be desirable. But it would be better if you promised to make at least one pilot of the winning idea. In this way, you give the creators of ideas the chance to make their innovations stand out.
- Select the media channels that are relevant to this group. As a manufacturer of windows, for example, craftsmen will be among your direct customers. The best way to reach them is via the German handicraft magazine, or similar specialized titles.
- Set up a media plan. Here you define exactly when you want to communicate which content in which media. In an innovation contest in which you involve your customers, the public plays a very important role. Your information strategy should therefore be planned down to the smallest detail.
- We recommend that you have your own website, blog or at least a microsite for the Innovation Contest. This provides you with a communication channel through which you can report permanently on your Innovation Contest and which serves as a central contact point for all interested parties.
- Once you've made your decision, you can go public with your Innovation Contest. You should communicate this generously in the previously selected media.
- Collect the ideas and select the ones you find interesting. But take a closer look at the ideas behind them. You may find people whose participation can make the entire competition more attractive because they can develop or present ideas particularly well. Ideas competitions of this kind are also suitable as a recruiting tool because they put you in touch with people who want to make a difference and are interested in your company.
2. offer applicants workshops to further develop their ideas
Organize your own workshops for the participants selected in the first step. Applicants can refine and further develop their ideas with professional support. However, the aim of these workshops can also be to formulate new ideas. Creativity techniques can help participants to break out of old ways of thinking.
Think of the public at this stage as well. Publish articles about the progress and other events in the workshops. You can give participants the opportunity to report on the Innovation Contest via their own Facebook presence or on your website.
3. prepare the candidates for the presentation
Which concept wins depends very much on the business plan and the presentation. For both skills you should offer the participants a mentoring program. In phase 3 you prepare all applicants for the final pitch. You should inform the public about this. Through your website anyway, but also actively, for example with social media postings or article series in trade journals or on TV and radio.
4. turn the finale into a real celebration
You should involve the public as much as possible in the final. Invite journalists, influencers, celebrities and decision-makers. These are the people who, as communicative amplifiers, carry the story of your Innovation Contest even further. Leave it to the guests to choose the winner. In this way, you automatically turn the majority of your guests into sponsors of the winning innovation concept.
Valeo is not only looking for ideas, but also high potentials
The French automotive supplier Valeo and its Innovation Challenge show how to use an innovation contest to generate ideas. The company has chosen students from all over the world as its target group. The Innovation Challenge not only serves to collect new ideas and present the Valeo brand as particularly innovative. The competition brings the company into contact with high potentials from all over the world. This makes the event a powerful weapon in the battle for the best brains in the world. The interest in the pitch is enormous: 1627 teams from 748 universities from 80 countries take part. From India alone, 865 teams are competing for the two prizes of $100,000 each.
Conclusion: How to co-create with customers in an Innovation Contest
With the help of an innovation contest, which you use for co-creation with customers, you will not only get lots of ideas and concepts. You also succeed in ensuring that the public associates your brand with innovation. In addition, they give your brand a positive appeal. This is a sign that you take the needs and suggestions of your customers seriously. And many companies and their brands still do not convey this feeling today.
Born in Lower Austria. As COO and Head of Innovation she focuses on agile innovation management via SCRUM.