Full-day workshop • June 28th This workshop will provide you with a practical, hands-on way to understand how the human brain works and apply that knowledge to User Experience and product design. Learn the psychological principles behind how our brain makes sense of the world and apply that to product and user interface design.
What you’ll learn Through a series of fun, practical exercises you’ll learn:
Psychology and interaction design.
In order to encourage web professionals to consider some of the key points of their working lives in this still nascent industry, we asked folks on Twitter and Facebook to share their best work-life balance tips that worked really well for them. We received lots of responses: most very sensible, many very insightful, some quite unexpected and a few deliberately tongue-in-cheek.
The most important thing to note when thinking about work-life balance is that it is different for everyone.
It’s Day 2 of Product Marketing Month. Today’s post is all about accelerating your marketing teams productivity with some creative new SaaS product adoption ideas. — Unbounce co-founder Oli Gardner
You don’t need a big budget or a six-week-long strategic planning session to get started with product marketing. Sure, you’ll need to do this eventually, but it shouldn’t put on hold your product adoption and awareness tasks. Educating customers and prospects about the power and utility of what you’ve worked so hard to build is easier than you think, and today I’ll show you exactly how we think about SaaS product adoption and awareness at Unbounce.
Back in 2012 we launched The Landing Page Conversion Course (LPCC for short), and as part of the rollout, I sat down and rattled off 25 quick and easy things we could do to create awareness. It took me less than ten minutes. I then grabbed Cody and Dan, and headed to a local bar to continue the session. Between the three of us, we notched it up to sixty before our first pint was done.
Getting scrappy is a great way to mobilize your team. These impromptu brainstorms not only created over 50 ideas we could implement really quickly, but it uncovered some that would become part of a larger strategic vision. Also, one of our dogs is called Scrappy, and he’s very cute.
Last week I sat down and repeated this exercise for the new products Unbounce: popups and sticky bars. Even though my focus was our own products (you can check them out via the 3 orange buttons in the nav ^^^), the majority of this list can be applied to any business, SaaS in particular.
You can create your own list like this too
I’d encourage you to repeat this exercise, starting by yourself, and then with some team members. Encourage them to come up with crazy and ridiculous ideas, as this will help expand your minds into ideas you’d typically consider off limits. After all, setting up a stall outside a conference (not your own), handing out bacon to tired hungover attendees as they arrive in the morning, might seem bizarre, but I guarantee you’ll be the favorite sponsor of the event.
Help us out by sharing your best ideas
With the collective wisdom of all of you reading this, we should easily be able to come up with 50 or 100 more ideas, so please drop them in the comments below and if they’re awesome I’ll add them to the master list with your name/company/product listed beside them.
Below are 50 ideas you can get started on today, broken into two parts, SaaS product adoption, and SaaS product awareness.
Part One: SaaS Product Adoption Tips
Click on the ideas to show the full description and instructions.
Take a first pass at it yourself, then run a brainstorm with a shared Google doc. Take a different approach from a conventional brainstorm (where you plaster a wall with sticky notes). Instead, have everyone bring their laptop to the session. Have the team verbalize their ideas, and then enter them into the shared doc. It’ll make the process much faster.
The primary technique for content marketing is to provide educational content that helps people become better at their job – in the hopes that they will eventually end up buying your product. This is great, except for when they don’t know what your product is or why they should care.
To enhance the impact of your content, try showcasing it directly in your content. This won’t apply to every business, but if you offer any kind of website tech you can try it. If you do it right, you can create an experience that is better than the content alone.
I just demoed our sticky bar product by asking for your participation.
The on-click trigger is one of many options available in Unbounce, including scroll down, scroll up, entrance, exit, and timed delay.
Brainstorm ways that you might be able to show your product in the context of your content.
If your software involves building something, a great way to help with onboarding and adoption is to drive first-time evaluators into a self-guided experience within a template. That way you can show them exactly how to use the product, inside the product! #inception
Here’s the “Builder Basics” template we created for this purpose. You can use it to get the full builder experience in less than 10 minutes or less, which is perfect for showcasing initial value and improving your Time to Value (TTV) metric.
This concept allows people to try your tool without needing to already have an idea they want to build and launch. You can also use it to specifically guide people to using the features you’ve identified as having the ability to create those all-important ah ha moments.
This is something we’ve wanted to do at Unbounce for years, and it finally became a reality in December. Essentially it’s a live session inside the Unbounce builder so people can get a hands-on experience without signing up.
With an interactive sandbox experience like this, the only barrier to entry is the complexity of the product or the clarity of how you communicate its use. And because we’ll be linking to ours from tens of different campaigns and contexts, we’re using entrance popups to speak directly to the message and source that led people to the demo, as well as introduce how the demo works.
Entry popups are a brilliant way of scaling this idea as we can use referrer or URL or cookie targeting to show the right message to the right people.
We gave some of the top brands that use Unbounce beta access to the popups release, which was a great way to source a high-profile testimonial, like this one from Campaign Monitor.
Not everyone likes to consume content the same way. To combat this, on our demo page we offer three lengths of video: 2 mins, 10 mins, 30 mins, and live 1-on-1 sessions.
A delightful and unexpected postcard can be a lovely touch, and if people have signed up for your product or products, you’ll most likely have their mailing address. It’s important to remember that your product marketing should be focused on your customers as much as those who are prospects. Your goal here for a single product is getting dormant accounts to adopt the product. For multiple products your goal is awareness and adoption or ones that people haven’t used yet.
Something else we’ve learned is that, beyond email onboarding, those handy product tours in app can be a great way of guiding someone through new additions to a SaaS product (or otherwise). You can try out something like Appcues to add a guided tour when you go from one product to two to ensure 1) people notice something’s new, and 2) they can discover its features in a quick, interactive way.
Largely we’ve talked about awareness in this post, but product marketing needs to go beyond this, too. It’s all about who can successfully use your product, fulfilling its initial promise of value. As legendary onboarding expert Samuel Hulick advises, you need to determine all the ah-ha moments leading up to where customers find value. I.e. in a journey, what exact tasks do people need to complete before they’ll see even the smallest amount of value you advertised?
It’s key once you outline your product’s ah ha moments that whatever they are, they’re trackable from inside your product. This ensures you can truly measure adoption and understand where people get stuck.
Taking Sam’s advice above, when we identified our ah-ha moments to product adoption, we started tracking them, made our dashboards, and then began creating educational content designed to help people over tricky steps. You can do the same for your products, too. Either via emails, or something like a skip ahead guide for product setup, similar to the one we made:
The resource above was delivered to those who started a trial within their onboarding emails. They could skip through the progress bar of ah-ha moments or must-do tasks to see value quickly.
Part Two: SaaS Product Awareness Tips
Click on the ideas to show the full description and instructions.
Get everyone on the marketing and customer success/support team to write one letter per day for 30 days. Cap the time at 15 minutes per letter. If possible take a look at how they use your product: “I loved your landing page for the blah blah” etc. (check with your boss or legal as to whether it’s okay to mention their work – in my experience as long as you’re not making it public it’s very cool).
Here’s the product marketing kicker: don’t sell or mention the product in the letter – keep it personal and thankful – but follow your signature with a fun and made up job title that mentions the new product or feature.
For example: Oli Gardner, Chief Unbounce Sticky-Bar-with-Geo-Targeting Champion
I just mentioned the new product, and one of its features. In a delightful manner.
Bonus points if you create some content (like a custom landing page) that ranks for the keywords in that job title (and has your face on it).
Side benefit bonus: your coworkers get to rewrite their own job title every day for a month.
Ask your entire company to change their email signature to promote your new products. This can gain some exposure to different segments of potential customers. For example, your developers run in different circles than marketing, so their email conversations might connect with a different functional buyer persona. This also has the benefit of mobilizing the whole company with the same message, which is beneficial in its own right. Here’s an example email that our events manager sent to the company to help increase awareness for an event we were hosting at Hubspot’s INBOUND conference.
(Click for full-size image)
We like to have fun with our Out Of Office email autoresponders at Unbounce. Something funny or different can be a delightful way to respond to your customers and prospects when there might be a delay in responding. From a product marketing perspective, you can use this opportunity to talk about your new products or features. Try emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org to see my current OOO autoresponder.
Try running a 5-second test using UsabilityHub.com to see what percentage of people can determine what your product(s) is in five seconds. Not only will you get a sense of how many can figure it out quickly, but you’ll get insights about how people might be misinterpreting your value prop. To turn this experiment into a product marketing effort, you can recruit free test participants via social media or an email list, effectively getting your product’s UVP in front of people.
If you look at the top of this page and scroll, you’ll see how the navigation bar sticks to the top (and gets slimmer to maximize the viewport). Our web developer made this. You can use a sticky bar to do something similar. If you click here, you’ll see a sticky bar with the same content appear, and because it was created in the Unbounce builder, a developer would never have been needed.
Note: I made it appear at the bottom because if it appeared at the top you wouldn’t really see it because it’s so similar to the header.
Add a link to your Twitter bio that leads to a product landing page. Double down by asking your employees/coworkers to change their Twitter header image for a period of time. You can’t add links in the main body of the bio, but you can add one below.
With a “Did you know that we have this product/feature?” to gauge awareness and create it at the same time. Have Yes/No/Tell me more options, with a link out to a landing page or product page if they say “Tell me more” or “No”. The product marketing gold in this one is that if they say “No”, you’ve made them aware of the product by simple virtue of asking the question. BOOM.
Offer early access to your product (or a free account) to influencers in your industry. If they get value from using it, ask for some social sharing love, and ask them for a testimonial you can use as social proof on upcoming campaigns and your website. We recently released an amazing Landing Page Analyzer and asked Rand Fishkin if he’d try it out and provide a testimonial. Here’s what he sent back to me:
As I mentioned above, we called our new products by an umbrella term “Convertables”, including in the Unbounce app sidebar. We’ve now removed that and replaced with “Popups & Sticky Bars”. Sometimes you gotta get out of your own way, and call a spade a flippin’ spade.
Note that this was a fairly simple interface change, but there is still a massive amount of code that our engineering team had built based on the previous hierarchy. That will remain for now as we run these experiments, but it was a substantial barrier in getting buy-in to make these changes.
Overall, if you’re not being 100% clear about the context of use in the naming of your products, don’t stick with a name because you came up with it, be prepared to pivot for the sake of both awareness and adoption.
Reach out to your favourite podcasts to get on them as a guest. It helps if you have an influencer on your team. Typically, most interviewers will give you at least a small window to give your product a shout out.
Position yourself as an expert (I’d say thought leader but that term is kinda gross), by hosting or giving big-time participation to a Twitter chat session. If one exists related to what you do, join in, and offer to co-host or just help out. If there isn’t one, just f#**** make one. Start something. It’s not that hard. If it fails, so what?! Try things. Try things all the time. You’ll become a better marketer if you try.
You heard me. Get a plane flying over your city writing a romantic red script-style message in the sky. This tip comes courtesy of my wife Nicole, cos she’s hilarious.
Another gem from Nicole. Clarity is the most important part of your product’s value proposition, and as you will find out if you follow my advice with a 5-second test, not everyone gets it. I can’t imagine a more fun way to get your team describing what you do. Have them all mime it, then make a video and share it with the world. I guarantee a great time, and you’ll probably also have a team more aligned on your value prop – and perhaps some ideas for a better headline.
Wistia does a great job of this (after all they are a professional video hosting company with amazing viewer analytics, HD video delivery, and marketing tools to help understand your visitors.) << See how I did some product marketing for them there? At many conferences, you’ll see some fun and useful videos in every break where they share video production tips and some light hearted comic relief.
This is something we tried at CTA Conf in 2017 and it was awesome. In the “Product” tent, we had a bunch of workstations set up with gamified tasks which exposed the best product features. Two of the best were:
Drag & Drop Match For this challenge, we had two screens: one showing a completed landing page and the other where the Unbounce app was open and you had to replicate the completed page from jumbled components. You had to match the two pages by dragging elements, changing widths, colors and page sections.
Lock Box There was a locked box with sweet sweet swag inside, and to get the combination, you had to trigger a popup or sticky bar using all of the available triggering settings: click, entrance, exit, scroll down, scroll up, and timed delay. Each one had a number on it that made up the combination for the lock.
We also had some quiz questions that people could answer to get more tokens. It’s a wonderful way of marketing your products while also giving people some cool swag to remind them of you often. Your swag does need to be legit, otherwise people won’t really care enough to participate.
This is really simple and obvious, yet hardly anyone does it. Take the content you write for your blog and repurpose it in as many other formats and places as possible. For Medium write a more personal and transparent version, for LinkedIn create a shorter version and link back to the main article. Stick some slides containing visual highlights on Slideshare.
Have you talking to the camera and/or showing the coolest features of the product – and tailor them for specific search terms. For instance, we have a feature called Dynamic Text Replacement, that allows you to pass keywords from your AdWords campaigns to your landing page, increasing the relevance and often your Quality Score too. So for that we’d want to create a video called “How to use Dynamic Text Replacement to increase AdWords Quality Score”, and another called “How to use Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI) to increase AdWords Quality Score”, as that’s an industry term for the same thing. And always have a CTA at the end of the video, driving people to a landing page.
If you have any email drip campaigns running, add a p.s. at the bottom of each email with a mention of your new product. As always, send it to a dedicated landing page if you can.
Update your Twitter profile header image, and include a text bit.ly link (or similar). This will let you track its impact. You can see mine here.
If you have any content or tools that are in Google Sheets you can add a Google Analytics event pixel to know how many times it’s opened and which tabs are being viewed. This could help you understand what’s drawing people’s attention.
Here’s how to do it. Choose (and protect) a cell somewhere in your sheet(s), and paste this code into it:
Obviously replace the xxxxxxxx with your GA account ID, and the doc and sheet names.
When customers are on our free plan, there is a small “Built with Unbounce” strip at the bottom of the page. Link this to your best product demo.
Here’s what mine looks like currently. It talks directly about Product Marketing Month, and this now appears at the end of the 300 blog posts I’ve written!
If you put on events (meetups or a conference), bring out your inner child and write & sketch cute product references on the sidewalks around the event location. Pro tip: the curb beside a crosswalk traffic light is the best spot as people have to stand and wait. It really works, after all, the “Look Right” paint that we’re all use to seeing was created because British wartime prime minister Sir Winston Churchill was visiting New York City and got smoked by a cab because he was looking the wrong way (cars drive on the left in the UK).
If you segment your customer list by those who have adopted your product, a simple thank you card is a lovely surprise. Make sure you include a link to a landing page to ask them for feedback or a testimonial. You should always be sourcing fresh commentary to add to your marketing collateral. A bonus for this approach could be that you might get some love on social media which helps spread the word through your customer’s networks.
On mother’s day record videos of your coworkers’ moms describing what your product does. Gold, Jerry, gold. Dads for father’s day. A robot text-to-speech audio generator for cyber Monday. Spread that golden poop on social.
Look at Google Analytics for your top 20 highest traffic blog posts, then comb through them for opportunities to add a contextual explicit ask of the reader. Such as: “You can create a blah blah, like that blah blah in the photo, by using blah blah, click here to see it in action.” Pro tip: try to put this in the first two paragraphs, as older blog posts, even with high traffic, can often be bounce traps where people run at the slightest hint of a bygone expiry date.
Following on from the last one, if you show an old date, many people will leave. Remove it, and some people spend their time wondering when it was published. It’s a constant dilemma for marketing teams.
No harm in experimentation though, so throw in a single line of CSS to set the ID or class of the meta info (date etc.) to hidden. .blogMetaEtc: display:none !important; will most likely work.
Replace .blogMetaEtc with the actual class or ID. Then after a week/month (depending on traffic levels), look in GA to see if the bounce rate or time on page is different.
Note that both of those metrics can be a bit shady if it’s the only page they visit on your site, as GA can only produce a real number if you visit more than one page. But you might spot something. If you DO find that people spend more time on the “no date” version, you can focus on getting more product mentions on those posts.
Mind blown, amiright?! Might seem basic, but how often does your team Tweet about new products or product features, or customer case studies etc.
Probably very rarely.
So just ask them! But don’t waste people’s time with a long-winded and generic, “Can you Tweet this?” email.
That shit drives me bonkers, it’s total amateur hour.
Send them a three-line email that says, “Hey team, it would really help if you could give our new product launch/feature some love on social.
Here’s a Click-to-Tweet ready to go, and here’s one for LinkedIn.” etc. etc. for the social channels that matter for you.
Include a p.s. “p.s. I would like to bug you to help like this once per month, so expect emails with that frequency. Thank you!” << letting them know it’s a regular thing will A) make you do it regularly, which you should be, and B) stop you from having to grovel every time you send an email like that.
You can even have a consistent “Product Marketing Tweet Request #23” in the subject line. Super clear, super simple, super respectful of people’s time.
Grab 20 people from your office and go do a dance outside the local art gallery. Choose some awesome 80s music and wear company t-shirts underneath a plain white/white/green one. Rip ‘em off and dance like tomorrow is a great day for signups.
If you didn’t get a chance to read the first post in Product Marketing Month, you might not know that the blog design you’re looking at was a very rapid overhaul for this category only. It took one of our developers a days work to set up a different WordPress template that is way more product focused.
Start by doing a Google image search for your brand, company, products, founders, and see what shows up. I guarantee you’ll see a bunch of old logos and old product screenshots, not to mention some old hair (on the founders) Find those images and update them.
Wistia has shown that the default image on your videos is critical to optimizing for more plays. If your product marketing involves videos, then you need people to press play or what’s the point? This post has some great ideas.
This doesn’t have to be your core product. It can be anything that you’re releasing. We launched the Landing Page Analyzer there and managed to get to the #2 spot for the day, earning us a place in the PH newsletter.
Similar to how some ecommerce stores have a small notification appear when “Ashley from Minnesota just bought the Hawaiian Luau Shirt in Blue”, you too can share feedback from your customers and funnel this positive feedback directly onto your site via sticky bars designed to look like small push-style notifications.
In SaaS, for example, you can use a Hotjar poll to collect 2-month onboarding feedback, and then use sticky bars to funnel a the positive feedback onto your site using the on-scroll trigger. This can help address purchase anxiety by helping current prospects see who’s already starting trials and providing terrific feedback about their onboarding experience.
If you’ve got proper app security, it’s likely that your customers are automatically logged out after a given period, and will often see the login screen. This is a perfect opportunity to showcase your new products or even old ones that need a bit of love. This was a big learning for us, as we were only starting to use a portion of it (but look at all that space!!).
In Unbounce, one of the buttons you push most often is to “create”. People are very used to hitting this button, making it the perfect place to add an interstitial notification.
An interstitial is just a fancy way of saying a gateway experience that you pass through.
Something along the lines of “Did you know that you can also create website popups and sticky bars with Unbounce?” We haven’t done this yet, but the idea came from the product team during a brainstorm.
Personally, I think it’s genius.
If you have a login link on your website (don’t we all?), check Google Analytics to see how many people are clicking on it. It’s very common behaviour for people to come to your homepage every time they want to log in, which in and of itself is critical info as you should be filtering it from your website traffic.
Like the in-app “Create” button, this is a brilliant way to present an interstitial popup to tell returning customers about your latest and greatest, with a simple button to continue on their way.
Phewf! That was a lot of tips. I hope they help you get more people seeing and using your products. Let’s open this puppy up! Share your own tips below and if they rock, I’ll add ’em to the post (with attribution).
Word association: Content marketing. You’re thinking ‘blog post,’ ‘infographic,’ maybe ‘video,’ ‘white paper.’ That kind of thing. Right? Not FAQs, 404 pages, About Us… The thing is, those pages are content too. Visitors read them to learn, understand and make decisions. FAQs are one of the most underused content marketing opportunities out there. About Us pages? They’re an incredible opportunity to tell your brand’s story. Put like that, it seems obvious – yet they’re often a lifeless formality. It’s the same with 404s, out of stock pages and thank you pages: in each case, you have a visitor’s attention when…
Human interactions are incredibly fascinating if you take a close look at them — the social awkwardness, the communication styles, the way knowledge is transferred, the way stories are told and trust is built. But what happens when a machine evokes the same response?
Conversational interfaces have become the new hotness in UX design. Google is about to release a new virtual assistant chatbot; Facebook has already launched the updated Messenger platform with chatbots; and Microsoft went as far as to claim that the operating system of the future isn’t Windows, but “conversation as a platform.”
Working at Unbounce has its perks. But the best perk by far is working with some of the most talented, friendly people dogs.
There’s Darwin, Gonzo, Winnie, Tribble, Stella, Luna, Billy, Kiki, Carter, Izu, Mango, Leo, Ted, Bruno, Molly, Captain, Falcon, Timmy, Hambone and Lola… just to name a few.
Now you might think the life of an Unbounce office dog is all fun and games, but they’re expected to hit their targets just like the rest of us. In fact, they’ve been working tirelessly on a holiday campaign just for you.
So if you’re running campaigns and need to get a hold of us during the holidays, we’re offering email support during our office closure! Simply shoot an email to email@example.com and the lovely peeps in Customer Success will get back to you. Check out our hours below:
8AM – 6PM PST / 11AM – 9PM EST
December 26 – December 30
8AM – 9PM PST / 11AM – MIDNIGHT EST
8AM – 8PM PST / 11AM – 11PM EST
9AM – 9PM PST / NOON – MIDNIGHT EST
5AM – MIDNIGHT PST / 8AM – 3AM EST
December 25 & January 1
And while we love delighting you all year long, we’re taking a little break from our regular publishing schedule to spend some time with our loved ones. But don’t fret, we’ll be back in action come the New Year.
So happy holidays, from our family to yours! And may you be blessed with conversions galore this holiday season!
I’m big on modular design. I’ve long been sold on dividing websites into components, not pages, and amalgamating those components dynamically into interfaces. Flexibility, efficiency and maintainability abound.
But I don’t want my design to look like it’s made out of unrelated things. I’m making an interface, not a surrealist photomontage. As luck would have it, there is already a technology, called CSS, which is designed specifically to solve this problem. Using CSS, I can propagate styles that cross the borders of my HTML components, ensuring a consistent design with minimal effort.
To go to the office every Monday to Friday, use a particular set of skills, sit at the same desk, talk to the same team members, eat at the same lunch spot…
While routine can be a stabilizing force, it can also lead to stagnation and a lack of inspiration (a worrisome situation for any marketer).
Companies take great care to put structures in place to improve productivity and efficiency, but too often de-prioritize creativity. And yet, creativity is essential to driving innovation and competition—two vital components of business growth.
At WiderFunnel, we believe in the Zen Marketing mindset. This mindset recognizes that there is an intuitive, inspired, exploratory side to marketing that imagines potential insights, as well as a qualitative, logical, data-driven side that proves whether the insights really work.
In order to come up with the very best ideas to test, you must have room to get creative.
So, how can you make creativity a priority at your company?
Last month, the WiderFunnel team set out to answer that question for ourselves. We went on a retreat to one of British Columbia’s most beautiful islands, with the goal of learning how to better tap into and harness our creativity, as individuals and as a team.
We spent three days trying to unleash our creative sides, and the tactics we brought back to the office have had exciting effects! In this post, I’m going to share four strategies that we have put into practice at WiderFunnel to help our team get creative, that you can replicate in your company today.
As Jack London said,
You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.
An introduction to creativity
There are many ways to think about creativity, but for our purposes, let’s consider the two types of creativity: technical creativity and artistic creativity. The former refers to the creation of new theories, new technologies, and new ideas. The latter revolves around skills, technique, and self-expression.
As a company, we were focused on tapping into technical creativity on our retreat. One of the main elements of technical creativity is lateral thinking.
Your brain recognizes patterns: faces, language, handwriting. This is beneficial in that you can recognize an object or a situation very quickly (you see a can of Coke and you know exactly what it is without having to analyze it).
But, we can get stuck in our patterns. We think within patterns. We problem-solve within patterns. Often, the solutions we come up with are based on solutions we’ve already come up with to similar problems. And we do this without really knowing that our solutions belong to other patterns.
Lateral thinking techniques can help you bust out of this…well…pattern.
While structured, disciplined thinking is vital to making your products and services better, lateral thinking can help you come up with completely new concepts and unexpected solutions.
The following 4 tactics will help you think laterally at work, to find truly original solutions to problems.
1. Put on a different (thinking) hat
One of our first activities on the island was to break into groups and tackle an internal company challenge with the six thinking hats. Developed by Edward de Bono, the “six thinking hats” is a tool for group discussion and individual thinking.
The idea behind the six hats is that our brains think in distinct ways that we can deliberately challenge. Each hat represents a direction in which the brain can be challenged. When you ‘put on a different hat’, your brain will identify and bring into conscious thought certain aspects of the problem you’re trying to solve, according to your hat.
None of these hats represent completely natural ways of thinking, but rather how some of us already represent the results of our thinking.
In our exercise, we began a discussion each wearing one of the six hats. As the conversation progressed, we were forced to switch hats and continue our discussion from entirely different perspectives. It was uncomfortable and challenging, but the different hats forced each of us to explore the problem in a way that was totally alien.
The outcome was exciting: people who are normally quiet were forced to manage a discussion, people who are normally incredulous were forced to be optimistic, people who are normally dreamers were forced to ask for facts…it opened up totally new doors within the discussion.
In WiderFunnel’s main meeting room, there are six cards that represent each of the six hats. Whenever I find myself stuck, dealing with a challenge I can’t seem to solve, I wander into that meeting room and try to tackle the problem ‘wearing each hat’. Disrupting my normal thinking patterns often leads to ‘A-ha!’ moments.
To encourage lateral thinking, you could: create something physical and tangible (cards, hats, etc.) that your team can utilize when they are stuck to challenge the ‘normal’ ways in which they think.
2. Solve puzzles (literally)
A man jumps out of a window of a 30-story building. He falls all the way to the ground and lands on solid concrete with nothing to cushion his fall, yet he is completely uninjured. How is this possible?
There are 20 birds on a fence. A woman shoots one of the birds. How many birds are left?
There is an egg carton holding a dozen eggs on a table. Twelve people take one egg each, but there is still one egg left in the carton. How?
During our retreat, we spent some time solving word problems just like these, in order to disrupt our day-to-day thinking patterns.
Riddles like these challenge our brains because they are difficult to think through using straightforward logic. Instead, you have to think outside of the content within the puzzle and use your knowledge of language and experience to solve it.
Puzzles require you to use reasoning that is not immediately obvious, and involve ideas that you may not arrive at using traditional step-by-step logic.
When you are faced with a puzzle like one of the riddles above, your mind is forced to think critically about something you might otherwise dismiss or fail to understand completely.
The thinking involved in solving puzzles can be characterized as a blend of imaginative association and memory. It is this blend…that leads us to literally see the pattern or twist that a puzzle conceals. It is a kind of “clairvoyance” that typically provokes an Aha! effect.
To encourage creative, critical thinking, you could: incorporate puzzles into your day-to-day. Email your team a word problem every morning, or set up a physical puzzle somewhere in your office, so that people can take puzzle breaks!
3. Unpack your assumptions
Often, when we are faced with a question or problem, we have already classified that question or problem by its perceived limitations or rules. For example, you have assumptions about your users (most likely backed by data!) about what they want and need, what their pain points are, etc.
But, these assumptions, even if they are correct, can sometimes blind you to other possibilities. Unpacking your assumptions involves examining all of your assumptions, and then flipping them upside down. This can be tough because our assumptions are often deeply ingrained.
On the island, WiderFunnel-ers listed out all of our assumptions about what our clients want. At the top of that list was an assumption about what every marketer wants: to increase ROI. When we flipped that assumption, however, we were left with a hypothetical situation in which our clients don’t care at all about ROI.
All of a sudden, we were asking questions about what we might be able to offer our clients that has nothing to do with increasing ROI. While this hypothetical is an extreme, it forced us to examine all of the other areas where we might be able to help our clients.
To encourage creative problem-solving, you could: advise your team to list out all of their assumptions about a problem, flip ‘em, and then look for the middle ground.
4. Think of the dumbest idea you possibly can
The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.
– Sylvia Plath
To wrap up day 1 of our retreat, we did an activity called Dumbest Idea First. We walked around in a circle in the sunshine, shouting out the dumbest ideas we could think of about how to encourage more creativity at WiderFunnel.
The circle was quiet at first. Because being dumb, sounding dumb, looking dumb is scary. But, after a few people yelled out some really, really dumb ideas, everyone got into it. We were all moving, and making ridiculous suggestions, and in the midst of it all, one person would shout out a gem of an idea.
For instance, someone suggested a ‘brainstorm bubble’: a safe space within the office where you can go when you’re stuck, and your co-workers can see you and join you in the bubble to help you brainstorm.
(We have since started doing this at the office and it has been awesome!)
I don’t know about you, but I sometimes limit myself during a brainstorm—I find myself trying to be creative while still being pragmatic.
But, when you give yourself permission to be dumb, all of a sudden the possibilities are endless. And I guarantee you will surprise yourself with the great ideas you stumble upon.
Encourage creativity by allowing yourself and your team time and space to be unapologetically dumb.
What are some of the strategies you use to keep things creative at your company? Have you tried or improved upon any of the aforementioned strategies? Let us know in the comments!
Using a style guide to drive development is a practice that is gaining a lot of traction in front-end development — and for good reason. Developers will start in the style guide by adding new code or updating existing code, thereby contributing to a modular UI system that is later integrated in the application. But in order to implement a modular UI system, we must approach design in a modular way.
Modular design encourages us to think and design a UI and UX in patterns. For example, instead of designing a series of pages or views to enable a user to accomplish a task, we would start the design process by understanding how the UI system is structured and how its components can be used to create the user flow.
When you think of Unbounce, a few key things probably come to mind: landing pages, A/B testing, #CTAConf, exceptionally good looking people (okay, maybe not that one). But what about — dun, dun, dun — Canadian?
Yep, Unbounce is proudly Canadian, with headquarters in Vancouver, British Columbia and a satellite office in Montreal, Quebec. Move over, Silicon Valley, there’s a new tech hub in town… Icicle, err, Mountain Range. (Excuse the dad joke.)
In addition to wishing you a happy, high-converting holiday, we’re here to dispel and reinforce some Canadian stereotypes, including:
We are cold. Like, all the time.
We don’t live in igloos. I mean, that would be super cool, but where would we charge our smartphones?
We do wear an obscene amount of plaid. It is fashionable after all.
We don’t drink maple syrup. Because that would result in another Canadian stereotype: We all have diabetes.
But there’s more! So without further ado…
If you’re running campaigns and need to get a hold of us during the holidays; we’re offering email support during our office closure! Simply shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and the lovely peeps in Customer Success will get back to you. Check out our hours below:
December 26 – December 27
9AM – 9PM PST / NOON – MIDNIGHT EST
December 28 – December 31
8AM – 9PM PST / 11AM – MIDNIGHT EST
January 2 – January 3
9AM – 9PM PST / NOON – MIDNIGHT EST
December 25 & January 1
And while we love delighting you all year long, we’re taking a little break from our regular publishing schedule to spend some time with our loved ones. But don’t fret, we’ll be back in action come the New Year.
So happy holidays, from the Great White North! And may you be blessed with conversions galore this holiday season!