This is the first post in our on new “Why We” series. GeniusRocket is a fundamentally new type of creative company. We are not a contest site, nor are we a traditional ad agency—we just look at the advertising world a little differently. In order to explain how and why we approach certain aspects of advertising and creative work differently, we created the “Why We” series of posts. In upcoming “Why We” posts we’ll talk about why we vet our community, why we work so closely with agencies, why we pay our creatives what we do, why we left the contest world, and more.
In this first “Why We” post I wanted to address the issue of size, specifically the size of our creative community. We chose our community as our first topic simply because our community is our most important feature. Clients are always asking why we decided to leave the old contest version of GeniusRocket and the near 20,000 person amateur community behind. Many assume that if a community has 20,000 or 30,000 members then the quality must increase as the community does. We have found the opposite to be true and plan to continually sharpen our focus on substance over size. Here is why.
More is only better if you don’t know what you want, and you have a great deal of time to sort through massive numbers of submissions. Be it videos, logos, or any other kind of creative content, sorting through submissions takes time, especially if you don’t quite know what you’re looking for. In contrast, if you have someone who has vetted the providers, quality will always increase. It’s a classic case of quality over quantity. That alone is the fundamental idea behind the GeniusRocket creative community.
We have made a pointed choice to open our community not to just anyone and everyone, but to only experienced production teams that can deliver the high quality our clients deserve. When GeniusRocket was a contest site, we – like every other contest site – bragged about the tens of thousands of members we had in our community. We spent great amounts of effort recruiting a larger and larger community. That ever-growing crowd meant increasing numbers of submissions to contests, which of course seemed like a good thing. Yet there are two big secrets behind our old model (and that of our former contest competitors) that hold that model back.
First, the best talent almost always leaves after a few unsuccessful swings at the bat. They are, after all, the best. Because of that they often find jobs that don’t require them to work on spec. When you ask people to work for free, asking them to create content with no guarantee of payment, you will always see talented people grow weary of the risk.
Secondly, the size of the community is never what it seems. I’ll spend more time talking about this in detail when we talk about leaving the contest model in future posts, but the point is that contest sites never tell you about “active” members, they only tell you who has registered on their site. This is less of an issue for logo and graphic design sites that are automated communities, but with video production and higher price points, clients want to know that they will receive a diversity of ideas. The best ways to communicate those ideas are to show off your best artists (active or not) and show them how many members you have.
Our goal at GeniusRocket is not create a social community for artists. It is to create great ads.
We were spending far too much time recruiting artists that were then expected to be creating one of 40 or 50 ads for the client to choose (at best) less than a handfull of. With our vetted community we don’t need to constantly recruit, simply because we are only recruiting a select group of top-tier talent and we’re actually paying them for their work.
From day one, our curated model started paying off, as established production companies have signed up in rapid succession. And these aren’t mom and pop production shops, these are companies with experience creating national TV spots and, and with few exceptions, have never participated on contest sites. Yet another sign the model is working is that when teams pitch a concept and are not selected (and they know that idea remains their property), they still show enthusiasm for more projects in the future under the GeniusRocket model.
How Big Will the GeniusRocket Community Grow?
There is no question that even with our model some production companies will graduate to much higher rates or simply not have the time to pitch for work. After all, these are the same production companies that are being hired by larger agencies and if they continue to master their craft they will be in high demand. So we will continue to grow our community and recruit new copywriters and production companies. As we grow we will continue to segment them based on their skills and experience. Why segment? So that when a dog food client comes to us asking for live action, viral-style, TV spot we can give them the copywriters who have written TV spots for pet products and production companies that have worked with animals and specialize in live action TV ads.
We think this model simply makes the most sense. We learned a lot of hard lessons by running a contest site. The two biggest lessons were, first, that clients wanted more control and secondly, that professional creatives didn’t like working for free in a cattle-call environment. We learned from day one of our new model, to paraphrase a well known tag line, “happy creatives made great videos!”