Customer co-creation: driving value through collaboration

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From user-generated content to product ideation, collaborating with consumers is fueling the future of marketing. Award-winning branding expert and Founder of She Builds Brands, Kubi Springer shares her thoughts

I often say that businesses spend too much time promoting and not enough time listening. This may have sufficed 30 years ago when the role of the marketeer was to dictate a message, but now it’s increasingly important for brands to listen to their audience and co-create with them.

Building your community

I always ask my clients to describe their customer as a friend. Are they a man or a woman? How old are they? What do they like doing on the weekend? Often, brands don’t take the time to really get to know their customers as they would a friend.

Why is this important? Well, you shouldn’t think about your end-user solely as your target market or ideal customer profile - throw all of that jargon away. If you see your customer as your friend, you will look at them very differently. You will listen to them, treat them with kindness, want to learn about them and discover more about their interests. And importantly, you will start to build a relationship that’s based on reciprocity.

Say you post on social media and it attracts 250 comments: if you saw each of those comments as a friend, you would respond to those individuals differently. You may go to their page and find out more about what they do, ask their opinion and engage with them. Brands are not taking the time to do that anymore. Consumers respect when you’ve taken the time to learn about them and include them in your process - and will, therefore, trust you more. And the more they trust you, the more they will buy from you.

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Businesses spend too much time promoting and not enough time listening. Photo: credit to Georgia de Lotz, Unsplash


And when you have this type of customer relationship, you end up having people lined up in your sales pipeline before the products are even ready. After I signed a deal with my publishers for my book I Am My Brand, the first thing I did was increase my Instagram Lives. I started asking my tribe what they wanted to read and how I could provide value for them, and their questions helped inform what I needed to create. They were with me every step of the way, telling me what they wanted to consume. As a result of them feeling part of the process, we had over 1,000 people waiting to buy the book when it launched.

From consumers to advocates

The ability to have these social interactions has changed the market. The role of the marketer is no longer to simply come up with creative messages and ways of executing it. Their new role is to listen robustly to their global marketplace and find ways of co-creating - and by doing so, encouraging advocacy so your message is shared with even wider audiences. So, when defining your brand strategy, it’s increasingly important to think from a place of co-creation rather than a place of promotion.

One of the best ways for businesses to develop this relationship with their customers is through social media. If you look at something like Instagram Stories as an example, the functionality it has - such as polls and questions - enables co-creation.

Post questions as opposed to statements on your channels. Instead of writing a whole blog, start it, ask your audience how they would finish it and get them engaged in the comments section. It’s about allowing the end-user to feel part of the journey and then bringing that data, those metrics, that feedback into the organisation and asking how it fits within the framework of your business objectives, brand guidelines and overall commercial objective.


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Hero image: credit to Brooke Cagle, Unsplash
  • It’s increasingly important for brands to listen more than they promote
  • Co-creating with your consumers, when done authenticity and transparently, has the potential to result in more sales and advocacy
  • View your consumer has a friend and your customer base as a community to build trust and help create a relationship that’s based on reciprocity
  • Leverage social media tools to help develop a co-creator relationship with your audience