Do you ever feel the need to look outside your small business for a fresh source of solutions to your needs? Crowdsourcing can be used to accomplish a variety of things, from finding a freelancer to perform a task, to producing a solution to a technical problem, to performing market research.

What is crowdsourcing? This method of sourcing solutions from an active audience can be described as using the talents, ideas and expertise of a large group of people to help you solve a problem or challenge. You can also gain insight into what clients want to see from your brand.

Market research can be crucial to the success or failure of your company's offerings. How about using crowdsourcing to research your target market's reaction to your products or services? Both quickly and for a relatively low cost (costs can vary), you can poll a group of people or a community to get:

  • Feedback on your new product or service
  • Ideas on how to improve an existing product
  • Help to develop a new product
  • Access to a test market

Don't have a crowd to tap into? Find a crowdsourcing platform or website (there are many on a variety of topics), submit your request and access a crowd of experts who will submit their ideas and solutions. From these you may select the best match for your needs. You can make suggestions and add your own ideas to the entries submitted. Depending on the scenario, the winner may receive compensation for his or her work.

You may choose to do your own crowdsourcing by putting out a call on social media sites, reviewing the submissions and then announcing the option you are considering. Keep your request as simple as possible and be sure not to provide sensitive information. You could offer payment or prizes to help attract participants. Be sure to follow through with the results proposed by the crowd to assure them that their suggestions were valuable to your company.

Crowdsourcing can be a powerful tool to feel the pulse of your market. It may be closer to your fingertips than you realize.

Find out more about how to conduct market research and analysis.