When businesses want to know what customers need from a product or service, they can go straight to the source using co-creation. Basically, the company brings in third-party advisers (like customers) to give insight from concept to finished product. In fact, a recent study of European companies showed that 57% said engaging customers in product development made them more innovative. But businesses aren’t the only ones who can benefit from co-creation—your organization can use it too. You can help give your community exactly what it needs while boosting citizen participation in the process.
By involving your citizens from step one, you’ll be able to fine-tune programs, construction projects and more. To get you started, we have simple tips and branded thank-you gifts that will help you get the most out of the process.
Identify impacted individuals
Co-creation works best when you engage the audience that’s most affected. For example, have the people directly affected by a road construction project weigh in. Or establish communication with potential employees and businesses that need an online job board (or in-person job fair) to help them connect.
Build discussion platforms
Once you’ve identified the appropriate stakeholders, it’s time to get them talking to you—and to each other. You can start the initial discussions through social media, website discussion groups, in-person meetings, virtual gatherings and surveys.
Part of co-creation is asking your stakeholders which platforms are right for them. For a simple way to get input, send a postcard with an online link or phone number where they can share their preferences.
Foster interactions among stakeholders
Whether you ask for input through a message board or schedule meetings to discuss your project’s details, it’s important to keep stakeholders talking. To help maintain engagement, show gratitude for their participation. A branded thank-you gift, like a screwdriver set or multitool, are sure to be appreciated. Include a note thanking them for being an important tool in your success. Offer those who go above and beyond an extra-special gift like a jacket.
Be responsive to their needs
As your stakeholders work, be sure to check in with them frequently. Ask them what they need and discuss ways to make those needs happen. Always be sure to keep them in the loop as the project moves forward. This is easy to do with emails, social media and a website dedicated to the project.
Assess the process
As the project wraps up, it’s important to look at how the co-creation process worked. Ask stakeholders questions like:
- Do you feel your voice was heard?
- Is there a better way to facilitate co-creation?
- Is the level of communication appropriate? Was it too much? Too little?
- Would another form of communication work better?
Show your appreciation for their participation with a branded thank-you gift like a lunch cooler.
Build a better community together
Co-creation makes it possible to get citizen participation from the first idea to the end result. It’s a great way to ensure your community gets what it truly needs.