Innovation, Life Hacks

What’s the best way to learn about new products?

photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/globevisions/
photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/globevisions/

The last time you needed to buy a vacuum, a car, or a coffeemaker, what did you do? If you’re like me you probably asked your family, friends, and neighbors for a recommendation. Maybe you even asked your friends on Facebook. And what was the response? Probably a mishmash of “this is the best COFFEEMAKER evah!” and some technical writing on merits of the perfect boiling temperature at which to make pour-over coffee in the best Blue Bottle coffee style. What was missing from this result? Some great feedback from people like you who are interested in finding great products. So how do you find great products?

Finding Great Products is Hard

There are a lot of options for almost any product and product category. The folks at Yabbly are trying to solve this problem. Yabbly – which I’ve been beta testing for the past few months – helps people find good advice on what products to buy. Yabbly bridges the world of very exact people (you’ll know them as avid readers of Ars Technica and specific answers of detailed questions on Quora threads) and the friends you have on Facebook who are well-meaning and will recommend whatever brand of coffeemaker they bought last.

Advice is Cheap

Why is this problem hard? It’s hard to get advice from people like you who are considering making similar purchases. It’s easy to get any advice, and Yabbly helps you get better advice. Yabbly does this by adding the concept of Karma to posts (if it works for StackOverflow, it should work here, right?) and giving answer recipients the opportunity to reward great answers. Yet Yabbly does this without feeling stuffy, without feeling exclusive, and while helping guide you to the right answer as measured by the people who are reading and answering your question.

Why does Yabbly Work to Find Products?

Yabbly works because it’s friendly, offering both mobile and web access and hiding the details of the game mechanics and offering instead a seemingly simple question and answer format. Yabbly is more interesting for me than other services because it’s focused on the soft aspects of why people buy, instead of only comparing the features offered by each product. “How does the TV display the darkest darks of a movie in a sunny room” is a subjective question – you can study the manufacturer’s suggested specs for as long as you like, and you usually need to go see the TV in the showroom to get a better look. Yabbly helps shortcut that process by helping you to get real answers from real people about real products. Check it out!

Agile, Marketing Strategy, Productivity

Perfect is the enemy of done

Photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/pagedooley/

This is the 12th in a series of posts on Agile Marketing – the working definition of which is to “Create, communicate and deliver unique value to an always-changing consumer (or business) in an always-changing market with an always-changing product.”

“When in doubt, punt rather than wait”

Change is a fact of life, and especially in Agile marketing. Getting used to that change and the pace of change allows you to practice continuous improvement (or continuous pivoting) to match product and market needs.

Perfect is the enemy of done – one of the tenets of the Cult of Done is a great way to think about your role as an Agile marketer within a big or a small company. You can always find more work, and you will be measured on both how well you get things done, and by how many things you can do. So if you try to get more things done faster, you’ll at the very least have more chances to do those things well?

So, how can I put this into practice?

What are some of the ways that you can get more done and declare things done rather than perfect? This is not a comprehensive list, but rather a grab-bag of things you can do today to get started.

Here are a few ideas borrowed from many disciplines:

  • get much better at guarding your time – You can “time-box” your work by declaring a unit of time that you’ll devote to the task and try to get as much out of it as possible. Then, at the end of the time period, be done. If it’s a collaborative project, make sure that you share with your co-workers a few sentences (like 3) on what you did, where you need help, and what you think is next (and by when do you need their work completed.) Jason Womack’s blog and book Your Best Just Got Better is only one of a number of resources that can help you manage your time (especially if you remember that you only get 96 blocks of 15 minutes of time in a day, and you ought to be using 28-32 of those for sleep.)
  • make all of your meetings go away or get shorter – whenever anyone asks you for a meeting, set the minimum time possible for the meeting (try 20-30 minutes, and see how you do.) It can help to identify pre-work so that your meeting time can be maximized
  • get smarter at things you do a lot – get better (maniacally so) at mass customizing the things that you do that take a lot of time if done otherwise. Learn how to write a 3 sentence email; batch your email; take better notes using Evernote; and be present so that the time you spend on your tasks is worthwhile. If at all possible, don’t multitask (yes, it feels near-impossible some days). If you must do a lot of small tasks, try to lump them together into a batch
  • take some time offthis is essential – and whether time off to you means spending time with your kids or significant other, taking a walk in the middle of the day, working out, or whatever counts for you – make sure you do some of that every day and every week. It’s far too easy to burn out and time is short – so enjoy it more.
  • do good for other people – talk to people inside your discipline and outside, and make some time every day to help someone (just because.) Whether you call it “Customer Wow” or just doing a favor for a friend in need, it’s good for your brain, will open you to new ideas, and will help you make more connections – which will help you get more done faster.

How do you know when you’re done?

It may seem like a paradox, but you’re both immediately done and … never done. So get started today and make sure the things you are doing get done faster. Write them down and take some time every so often to reflect on what you did. And keep pushing.

On Writing, Productivity

Where’s your idea box?

Just Full Of Ideas

Where do you get your ideas? If you’re like me, you get ideas from what you read, who you meet, and from the experiences that make up your day. And sometimes, that idea box is hard to find. Or just plain empty.

Enter Wylio. Introduced to me by my friend Shane Mac, Wylio allows you to search through thousands (millions?) of Creative Commons licensed images until you find the muse for your idea box.

Blogging (or writing in general) shouldn’t be hard, and Wylio helps you break down barriers to posting (I don’t have good content to post with my idea … or I don’t even have an idea). It’s a great idea and I look forward to using it in the future.

So don’t spend your time worrying about what to write.  Use Wylio, give your ideas a vision, and take it from there.  Spend more time writing and less time searching.