Crowdsourcing to the rescue!Small town marketing can be tough, particularly when you are marketing a small town within the small town.


How do you appease everyone?  How do you reach consensus?  Something as simple as a Visitor Guide cover shouldn’t be too big of a deal, but it became an issue at our Chamber board meeting recently and “Crowdsourcing” came to the rescue.


Months ago our Marketing Committee chose the background photo of our new website as the cover for our 2012 Visitor Guide.  We figured the cohesive look would help with branding.  The company that is producing the guide for us came to town to sell ads for the book.  They used what the Marketing Committee designed in their sales piece.


A Little Marketing History


In 2003 and 2007 our area suffered major forest fires.  Needless to say, everyone that lives here is nervous about fires.  The picture that we chose to be the background of our website,, is a beautiful sunset over the lake with golds and yellows.  When we first chose it the Marketing Committee discussed it to death.  We were mindful of looking like the area was on fire but also posed the question:


“Since we have had forest fires in the past, does that mean that we should never show another sunrise or sunset of the area just in case someone equates it to fires?”


As a committee we felt that the fires were not first and foremost in our visitor’s minds and to go ahead and use the photo for both the website and the Visitor’s Guide.  All systems were go…..until…


One Voice Stopped Everything


At our board meeting, again after months of things being in place, one member stated that she didn’t like the shot as someone mentioned to her it looked like we were on fire.  Another board member mentioned that she might have a point and everything ground to a halt.  To say I was frustrated is an understatement.  I went home that night mulling everything over and then the lightbulb went on.


Crowdsourcing is More than just a Buzzword


This was the perfect opportunity to use Crowdsourcing for marketing clarity.  Did our visitors still think about the fires of 2003 and 2007 or were those events of the past?  In my mind, the only way to find out for sure was to ask.  So we put up a sign in our Visitor Center asking for input on the photo – was it a good choice for the guide?  Our front desk collected data for one week and lo and behold, not one visitor mentioned that it reminded them of our fires .  The general consensus was that it was a beautiful picture of either a sunrise or sunset.  Crowdsourcing gave us our answer!  While we might still be skittish regarding fires, our visitors are not.


Armed with the Crowdsourcing Data


I called a Marketing Committee meeting after the Crowdsourcing was complete.  We discussed the outcome and voted unanimously to keep the cover as is.  Since that meeting I have met with several board members and talked about Crowdsourcing and the positive outcome it provided.  It solidified our thought that the fires were a thing of the past in our visitors minds.  The people I have spoken to totally “get” what we did and are thrilled that they now can use this new “buzzword” and once again show how “cutting edge” our Chamber is.  Gotta love it!


How have you used Crowdsourcing to your advantage or disadvantage?