If you are like me, you know what you like when you see it but you have no way to create it yourself. For that reason I’ve always outsourced design work. Whenever I’m starting a project one of the first things I do after establishing a business plan is get a logo designed. Design work, however, goes well beyond logos, it also goes into things like blog posts, ebooks, and physical books.
99designs is a site I’ve used a fair amount for design projects. In fact, the original MarketingProfessor.com logo was birthed from that site. The number one reason I like it is your design work is launched into the community as an interactive contest complete with back and forth, commenting, rating, etc.
Recently I’ve seen it used in a clever way to absolutely know what your market wants. It’s a 3 step process.
In order to utilize this strategy, you must have a fair sampling of people in your social networks or preferably your email marketing list that will respond to your communications. If that isn’t something you have just yet, see our Budget Conscience Guide to Getting Traffic for some ideas of how to get around that.
1 – Post Project and Engage
First thing you are responsible for is understanding the purpose of your design, your target market, and even concepts or ideas that you’ve run across and can share in your design spec. These aspects go a long way to helping designers understand what you are after and it encourages more engagement.
When posting the project, whatever service you use, I recommend using the visibility enhancements for your design project so that it is found easily by designers resulting in a decent number of submissions. In the case of 99designs they have changed their model over the years. They currently have 4 levels of service, Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum. When faced with options like this I generally select one of the middle options, do what makes sense for you and your budget.
Engage. Designers will take time to build and submit something, and they are often left waiting for feedback for too long. It’s important to be there quickly to provide feedback on these submissions. It creates more buzz and excitement around the project for everyone involved and will move you close to a great end result.
Note: No matter what the project, your level of responsiveness on outsourcing websites is proportional to the quality of the end result you receive. [Tweet That]
2 – Message Your Network for Design Feedback
Once the design is seasoned on the site with several good designs to choose from, it’s time to involve your network.
Send and email or a social status update including a link to the page where they can vote for designs. This is huge. If indeed your network consists of your target market of buyers of the product the project is being designed for, it is a great way to build anticipation with your network.
When clicking through I ended up on a landing page showing me several designs to vote on. Here is a partial screenshot.
With 99Designs they give voters the option to be notified when the winning design is selected. Smart feature on their part to complete the circle and extend the reach of their valuable web service.
3 – Share Winning Design and Offer Call to Action
Upon awarding the design, take the time to communicate back to your network the outcome. 99designs will do this for those who had opted in, but you should also leverage this as an opportunity to build relationship with your subscribers and social connections. I recommend shooting a video, thanking them for their involvement, and inviting those interested to get on the notification list when the product becomes available.
This is a solid way to build a small hot list of potential buyers who will likely provide product feedback when you release a “charter customer” opportunity to them. The information and feedback received in this small launch will allow you to further improve the product for subsequent larger launches.
Result of his contest is here.
In the end getting solid output for the investment has never been so easy. By creating a good spec, engaging contest participants while also driving targeted traffic from your list and other sources to the contest for input, you will get a solid outcome. Chime in below, what design services have you used to get great work done? What do you like and what can they improve?