​With new channels like social media, companies have discovered they can solicit ideas from customers to inspire foolproof product launches.

​In the office, a creative might ask colleagues for advice on how to improve a client’s marketing strategy or logo, and the collaborative effort often produces a wildly better result. Over the past five years, the same has begun to take place in the wider business landscape, as companies reach out to their customers for insights on how to innovate new products and services with end-users in mind. A new GfK white paper, “Bringing Innovation to Life,” describes this shift in marketing research as a way to bring truly unique ideas to fruition.

GfK’s Head of the Market Opportunity and Innovation Richard Matthews writes in the white paper that consulting consumers can give a value proposition or product launch the greatest odds of success. He notes, “By engaging your consumers in this way and letting the market feed additional inspiration and guidance into product development from the very beginning, you can initiate an iterative process that lowers risk and ensures consumers buy-in.”

Brafton recently reported on two name-brands already engaging in this type of experiential marketing: Volvo and Ben & Jerry’s. The two organizations have readily embraced social media marketing as a way to test strategic ideas before they influence vaster campaigns. In many instances, each company has seen the social media content drive engagement higher than previous efforts, supporting the notion that social media does play an important role in lead generation and website conversions.

However, Matthews does admit marketers still face obstacles. “Even if the underlying proposition is strong and relevant, a poor verbal or visual articulation and expression can ruin its chances of progressing successfully through the innovation process.”

Marketers who evaluate the overall state of their unique business sectors through social listening and research will discover a lot more – often the ideas that have yet to be spoken or brought to the table.

Innovative marketers see the value of crowdsourcing ideas, but they must also be able to dive further into the details and read between the lines. Asking prospects for feedback can build one aspect of a value proposition, but not the entire skeleton of a potential release. Marketers who evaluate the overall state of their unique business sectors through social listening and research will discover a lot more – often the ideas that have yet to be spoken or brought to the table.

Pairing the ideas provided by consumers via social – or or any other channel – with concepts developed through social monitoring can bring true innovation to light and drive thought leadership even in the most niche industries.

Ted Karczewski is an Executive Communications Associate at Brafton. He works to develop his own voice and apply his passions to the evolving world of SEO and content marketing, but he doesn't shy away from writing for fun. After graduating from Suffolk University, Ted used his Communications degree to test out Sports Journalism before Marketing at Brafton.