7 Hot Apps That Will Skyrocket Your Productivity At Work

You can’t avoid new technology these days, especially from a marketing standpoint. While it can seem intimidating to stay on top of the times, it is emphatically laborious for any marketer to be on top of his game if he is not palpable to new trends.

Here are seven marketing apps that you’ll want to get acquainted with sooner rather than later.

1. Jelly

Google does a pretty good job answering all of our questions from “Why is the sky blue?” to more advanced queries like “How can I prove the ROI of inbound marketing to my boss?”

However, sometimes we are troubled by questions that don’t translate well into a traditional search engine field. Jelly app is the solution to this predicament.

I’m not talking about fruit preserves here, but rather an innovative social Q&A app derived from the creative mind of Twitter co-founder, Biz Stone.

The crowdsourcing style app allows you to query your social network contacts, and lend them a helping hand when they’re in need of an answer. Jelly doesn’t rely on just text-based questions, but it actually allows users to use pictures to probe their questions.

Let’s say, for example, you see someone in a magazine sporting a jacket you really like. Simply take a picture of the jacket, and post it alongside a question like: “Does anyone know who makes this jacket, or where I can find one like it?”

While Jelly is a promising app, the potential for marketing incorporation appears to be enthralling. Customer service, product marketing, and crowdsourcing are a handful of ways many people are making use of the Jelly app from a business standpoint.

2. Pocket

You just stumbled upon an awesome article on how to increase your conversion rates, but your next meeting starts in 2 minutes. No worries, just put it in your pocket.

Formerly known as Read It Later, Pocket is a bookmarking app that makes it easy for users to store articles and videos to queue up at their convenience. The read-later experience doesn’t rely on an internet connection, so you can revisit your findings pretty much anywhere. Sounds like a great way to increase your productivity on lengthy plane, train, or automobile rides, huh?

Best of all, Pocket will sync across all of your devices, providing users with a hassle-free way to resume reading on their preferred device.

3. Directr for Business

Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, Wolf of Wall Street, what do all of these box office hits have in common? Scorsese.

Behind every great video production is a talented director, and the Directr for Business app is aiming to be just that.

While 71% of consumers feel positively about brands that publish videos, 85% of consumers are more likely to buy after viewing product videos (Source: Inbound Marketing Agents). If bandwidth is holding your business back from producing quality video content, Directr for Business has an entire library of production templates to make it easy for just about anyone to make video content.

The templates are divided into categories that range anywhere from product announcement, to how-to tutorials, to company culture insight. Each template contains a storyboard style shot list that lays out how to approach each shot – for example the first shot in a “how-to” video prompts users to answer the question “who are you and what are you teaching?”

Aside from a prompt, each shot comes complete with directors notes, and visual suggestions that explain how to position the shot. They’ve pretty much covered it all, all that’s left for you to do is look pretty and nail your dialogue.

4. Any.Do Moment / Cal

I don’t like to think of Any.do as an app, but rather a morning ritual.

The first stop in any Monday morning grind should be this user-friendly planning tool. On paper, Any.do can best be referred to as a to do list application designed to help you plan out your busy day, but it’s really more than that.

Any.do helps you manage your life, both professional and personal, by inputting tasks into it’s sleek and simple interface. Users have the option to schedule tasks into 4 categories, (Today, Tomorrow, Upcoming, and Someday) making it fun to plan tomorrow’s blog post and someday’s vacation. Tasks can be sorted into different folders to optimize organization, and notes and contacts can be added for added clarification.

Additionally, Any.Do is highly integrated with the calendar application, Cal. So much so that one might say they’re “going steady.” You can even sign into Cal using your Any.Do account, and all of your tasks will carry over into its interactive internal calendar. Adding events to the calendar is simple, and it even gives you the option to enter a location name so that Cal can map out a route for you. Any.Do Moment and Cal provides busy marketers with a lens through which they can focus their tasks and interactions.

5. Asana

Asana is a task management tool that makes collaboration on team projects easier than ever.

Created by Facebook co-founder, Dustin Moskovitz, Asana is a free* application that provides real-time interaction through a user-friendly interface. Asana users can create tasks, assign them to team members, set due dates, add notes, attach files, create internal checklists, and communicate with others through comments. Once tasks are created, you can group them into projects, and invite team members so that they can brainstorm, assign subtasks, and work toward accomplishing their goals.

The thing that makes Asana the perfect tool for marketers is its ability to present conversations and projects side-by-side, eliminating the hassle of scattered emails and missed messages. No more digging through your inbox to find that file John sent you, and that set of images Bobby wrapped up last week. Asana keeps everything you need neatly in one place.

6. IFTTT

Pronounced like gift without the ‘G’, IFTTT is a innovative new app that stands for “if this than that.”

IFTTT provides users with a tool to mix up custom “recipes” that trigger a particular action. Sound confusing? It’s not.

The average IFTTT recipe contains the following elements:

Channels: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Evernote, iOS photos, Weather, Dropbox, Email, Feedly, iOS Reminders, LinkedIn and 70 more.
Triggers: “I upload a photo to Instagram”, “I’m tagged in a photo on Facebook”, “I set an iOS reminder”
Actions: “Send me a text message”, “Add it to my Dropbox”, “Post to Facebook”
Let’s say you want to keep your branding consistent across the board, and you want your Twitter avatar to match your Facebook profile photo. Simply use this “recipe”:

If my Facebook profile pictures changes, then update my Twitter profile picture.

A lot of the time when I am working on a “how-to” blog post I reference screenshots from my phone. Oh, you do too? Use this recipe:

If I take a screenshot on iOS, then save it to my Evernote notebook.

With seemingly endless combinations, IFTTT provides busy marketers with a way to automate simple tasks that save a lot of time.

7. LIfe Graphy

Life Graphy presents users with a totally unique approach to the average productivity app concept.

The colorful app breaks your tasks down into mini pie charts that can contain up to ten segments (1 segment per task). As you complete tasks, the individual sections within the chart begin to fill up. A completed circle is something to smile about.

Life Graphy offers users 3 views: Day, Month, and Year. By switching between the 3 views, you can get a good visual idea of how much you have accomplished.

While the functionality of the app is enough reason to try it out, it’s the interface that really does it for me.

Committing to a task-based planning app is easier said than done, but Life Graphy makes you want to keep trucking along because its fun!

New technology isn’t going to slow down anytime soon. As the pace for innovation quickens, we can expect that there will be a whole lot of new advances coming our way whether we think we’re ready for them or not.

It isn’t possible to know everything, but if you equip your team with the right tools, you’ll notice how much easier it is for your business to remain relevant and increase productivity.


Critical Thinking Drills Influence Hiring Decisions

If you had to build a 150-story building, how would you go about doing it?

How many gas stations are there in the United States?

Why are manhole covers round?

How would you design a coffee machine for an automobile?

You’ve probably heard of some of these legendary interview questions asked at many high-tech companies — questions that baffle an interviewee as to how manhole covers possibly relate to a job as a developer, marketing manager, or a financial controller. On the surface, these seem like highly peculiar and illogical questions for an interviewer to be asking. It’s not necessarily the answer that the interviewer is looking for, but the thought process the interviewee uses to come up with the answer.

What is an interviewer looking for when asking how you would design a coffee machine for an automobile? When I do interviews I look for several things:

  • Creativity - What unique and innovative ideas you apply to a problem.
  • Critical thinking - How quickly you think on your feet and what assumptions you make to analyze problems and develop solution alternatives.
  • Grace under pressure - How you respond when put under pressure.

In one interview I conducted, the interviewee had a good resume and did great with answering technical questions. I was feeling pretty good about the interviewee and was leaning toward hiring him. Then I asked him how he would build a 150-story building. This is where things fell apart. He simply wasn’t able to show critical thinking or creativity in his thought process and stammered through an answer. I ended up declining the candidate because, while I thought he had the technical skills to do the job, he didn’t demonstrate some of the core attributes that my company looked for in its employees.

When you’re being interviewed, here are some techniques to keep in mind when faced with “manhole cover” questions:

  • Verbalize your thought process - These types of questions are meant to assess your thought process. Don’t be afraid to verbalize your thoughts so your interviewer can follow how you think through problems. You won’t get any points for working something out in your head and blurting out an answer.
  • Allow your creativity to show through – From my perspective, the more creative and innovative the thought process and answer, the more I am impressed with an interviewee. Don’t be afraid to color outside the lines on your answer.
  • Feel free to sketch something out - Don’t be afraid to step up to a whiteboard or pull out a sheet of paper and sketch something out. Again, how you think through problems is the most important thing to demonstrate, so if sketching something out helps your thought process, by all means do so.
  • Use assumptions to estimate your answer - Interviewers like to see how you use assumptions to estimate an answer. For instance, if answering the question of how many gas stations there are in the United States, using the number of people in the United States and making assumptions on number of people per gas station would be one means of estimating the number of gas stations.
  • Stay concise and avoid babbling – Verbalizing your thought process is good, but try to keep things concise and avoid babbling or random verbalizing. If you need to stop for a few seconds to collect your thoughts, do so.
  • Don’t panic – If you get one of these questions, don’t panic. Take a deep breath, think about it for a few seconds, and have fun with your answer. Yes, you’re being interviewed for a job that you’d really like, but in the big scheme of things it’s just a job. Keep calm and let your creative juices flow.
  • Don’t insult the interviewer – During one interview I asked an interviewee how he would go about testing a toaster. The interviewee asked what relevance the question had to the job and told me that it was a dumb question. The interviewee’s response told me everything I needed to know and made my hiring decision very easy. Insulting the interviewer will only demonstrate arrogance on your part. Don’t do it.

Expect that you’ll be asked oddball questions. Remember that they are intended to see how you think, how creative you are, and how you respond under pressure. Just stay calm, verbalize your thought process, show some creativity, and have fun with your answer. You’ll get your point across to your interviewer and will make a positive impression that can mean the difference between being hired and being passed over. Oh and for the answer to “Why are manhole covers round?”, it’s the only shape that won’t fall through the hole when tilted.