Complete Co-creation with customers, yes, but where to find the customers and how to motivate them? (part 2)

In our prior blog regarding this matter, we stated that any Complete CoCreation project should start with a thorough market analysis as phase 1. Only then will we know 1) if our business issue is really worth co-creating on, 2) how to narrow down our business issue to a clear creation assignment, 3) who our customers really are, where to find them, and how to motivate them to co-create with us. In this blog we will discuss phase 2, development through co-creation.

Phase 2: development

In preparation of the actual concept creation phase, it is important to set the boundaries. Start with reformulating the business issue, including the key target group insights. Then make this into a clear assignment, specifying the required deliverables, but not how to get there. Finally, describe how the target group will be actively involved in solving this issue. Are they going to be engaged through crowd sourcing? Gamification? Are they going to work in existing congregations or in an ambassador club or advisory board? Are there going to be brainstorms with end-users (and who else)? A combination of these tools perhaps? (In order to help selecting co-creation tools, we designed TheCoCreators toolkit, which can be downloaded here ).

No recipe

It might be getting a little frustrating, but yet again there is no “recipe” for setting up the development phase. Complete CoCreation calls for a customized approach, as each relationship between an organization and its end-users is unique. At this point, we can only describe a possible process to help paint a picture.

So let’s assume that our not so well-known and neutrally liked organization does not (yet) have the funds to set up a crowd sourcing platform or build an interactive game. That means they should find existing congregations to help them create, build an ambassador club or advisory board and/or set up a brainstorm. Ideally, they will do all of this at the same time. None of it is expensive, but all of it requires quite some time. Should they find themselves in a time squeeze, we would advise them to start out with a brainstorm that includes end-users. Why? Because brainstorms are relatively easy to organize, don’t cost much money, allow for deep personal contact and agenda setting, (if moderated well) generate a lot of creativity, have a guaranteed output, and allow for selection of participants based on pre-set criteria.

Why do we state – as opposed to comments in this group – that brainstorms with end-users are relatively cheap? Because the only costs involved are for a) the location, b) the catering, c) the moderation, d) the stimuli, and e) the participants. Assuming that our organization has their own location, catering and moderator (the internal CoCreator or project leader) and will produce their own stimuli, they will only have to recruit and reward participants. Assuming that they did a customer insight trajectory and were smart enough to ask the participants for their info, they can invite some of those participants, thus bringing recruitment costs down to zero.


As for participant rewards, let’s assume they are dealing with teenagers. Teenagers like money, but they also like status, and being taken serious as equals. If carried out well, the organization’s fieldworkers already showed the teenagers that they would take them serious during the customer insight trajectory. They did this by being genuinely interested, e.g. “receiving” rather than “sending” in the interaction. Thus, they have created some goodwill. Now they will recruit the teenagers through the target group’s own channels, for instance through WhatsApp and Instagram, and will tell them that their voice is going to determine the project’s outcome. They will be informed that they will be brainstorming together with the CEO and other important stakeholders in the CEO’s room, where they will be fed with pizza or sushi, and that they will receive either a small attention for their time or a free sales training from the internal sales department. Further, they are informed that there are a few positions open for internships and that the organization will choose three of them for these positions, based on their input. (Also, they are being asked to invite friends to the youth Facebook group that has been formed for this organization. This will quickly grow this group for future co-creation activities, but that is a side point).

Most likely, these youth opt for the sales training, perceiving it as a valuable experience for the rest of their lives. They will feel highly valued and that will motivate them to invest a lot of effort without expecting a monetary reward. In the end, this brainstorm did not cost the organization anything in terms of money, but in terms of time it was a serious investment. However, this serious time investment comes with a serious pay-off, too! Now they not only have solved their business issue in a way that is resonates with their end-users, but at the same time they have built a pool of dedicated fans, who will engage in word-of-mouth advertising and who could be the start of an always stand-by board of advisors.
This is why we say brainstorm sessions with end-users are probably the best way to start co-creating. Along the way, other tools can be added, depending on the process.


We can’t stress this point enough: with Complete CoCreation, the exact steps to take depend on the process. There is no clear-cut route to the best result. Complete CoCreation is an adventure and should be entered as such: with an open mind, no fear, and without trying to keep control. We often see that this is scary for our clients, or outright unacceptable, and we know that it is its randomness that is by far the biggest threshold for adopting Complete CoCreation. Most organizations are built on the assumption of linear processes that can be planned and predicted in detail. Complete CoCreation, though, cannot be planned, nor predicted in detail. The only thing that is predictable is that once an organization adopts it as the way to work, it will build durable loyalty among its customers.


Authors: Stefanie Jansen & Maarten Pieters, Copyright 2014


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