Gamification For Productivity

“Gamification” has become a buzzword in recent years among the tech crowd, but it has spilled over into other arenas as well. With the pervasiveness of smartphone apps and new websites popping up every day, “gamification” seems to be everywhere. At its simplest, it’s just a way of introducing elements of gaming into other tasks.

There are lots of ways to do this: common elements include earning points, gaining levels, and sometimes earning achievements, badges, or prizes. There’s gamification for working out, buying coffee, listening to music, shopping, recycling, and eating out. While retailers and marketers have been using gamification to their best advantage, gamification can also be used to increase productivity, whether in individuals or in a team.

To encourage general productivity, take a look at HabitRPG, which has a website and an iOS app. At its heart, it’s a to-do app, but “RPG” stands for Role-Playing Game, which HabitRPG uses to incentivize productivity. There are four different elements when you start out using the program: habits, dailies, to-dos, and rewards. Habits are actions that you want to either encourage or avoid, but don’t have a specific frequency. Dailies are tasks that you want to repeat on a regular basis: every day, once a week, etc. To-dos are one-off tasks like on any other to-do app. Rewards are things you can purchase by completing your tasks. You earn a certain amount of gold and a certain amount of experience points for each task. Experience points let you level up and eventually unlock different game elements. Gold allows you to buy rewards. As you level up, the game introduces a market, item drops, pets, armor, and other elements. It’s a fun way to keep all of your productivity items in one place with a dynamic and well thought-out incentive scheme.

If you like the idea of a gamified productivity app but don’t need quite as many features, Carrot is an iOS app with a mean streak. It’s a minimalist to-do app that is very user friendly and unlocks features as you gain points. Be warned, though: Carrot has a personality, and if you don’t complete your tasks, she gets angry. How many points you get and how she talks to you depend on what mood she’s in. Carrot is a quirky app that is probably the most unique of the bunch, and worth checking out if only for its surprises.

EpicWin is another RPG productivity program that gives you points and prizes for your real-world tasks. Here again, you can choose your character and level them up as you go. You can’t yet spend gold on things, but EpicWin is in the process of being developed.

If you’re looking to be more productive with a specific task or process, try SuperBetter. SuperBetter gives you tasks, quests, power-ups, and “bad guys” depending on your specific journey, like exercising more, increasing willpower, stress relief, or improving your relationships. It’s not a productivity app in itself, but improving these aspects of your life can definitely improve the rest of it.

If the area of productivity you’re struggling with is managing your finances, there are programs for that, as well. SaveUp is a program tailored to incentivize saving and making smart financial choices. It gives you credits for the choices you make, and you can cash them in to contests with real prizes, or you can cash them out. SmartyPig is a website that also focuses on saving, though a little less gamified than SaveUp. SmartyPig makes saving automatic, and it also rewards you for meeting your goals.

If you’re not so interested in using apps or websites, gamification doesn’t have to involve technology: you can use game elements on your own. The best way to go about it is to start by identifying the tasks that you have a hard time completing or that you want to incentivize. For each of those tasks, determine a point value. You may also want to assign them different categories. Maybe doing the dishes gets you two blue points, but cleaning the bathroom gets you eight red points.

From there, identify rewards, positive (but not goal-subverting) actions or items, and assign them point values as well. Then, to get your rewards, you first have to do enough tasks to afford them. Don’t stop there. When you’re defining your own system, you can get pretty creative. Find ways to allow you to “level up” or do a boss battle: what really big challenge do you have coming up, or what milestone can you celebrate passing? Give yourself constant ways to progress, and you’ll see yourself finding ways to become more productive while having a little fun on the way.

The Definition of Productivity

People commonly understand productivity as a variety of things in a variety of fields. In a business that has closest relations to it, productivity is understood in various ways according to which aspect is studied. (According to the newest report, there are about twenty business-related definitions of productivity!)

The Concepts of Productivity

Most of the concepts have a relation to productivity between input and output to the systems studied. Productivity contains variables as well as other inter-relations within the group to which it belong(machinery systems, factory, office etc).

Also it is considered as the stimulus-response model in which inputs cause outputs. Generally, for the purposes of simplicity, we can understand it as the output divided by the input. But there is still something confusing on the point of this view.

In most fields, productivity is understood as “clearly the relationship between the resources which come to an organization system for a specified time period and the outputs which are generated with the resources generated for the same time period”.

The Variables of Productivity

In factories, for instance, productivity measures which are related to input factors (capital, labor, etc) are insufficient and at times could be misleading.

Input factors may not be studied while being isolated by themselves. Generally productivity improvement in a field is at the expense of the others. In addition, labor as a factor of input may be present in all stages. Moreover, management resources (another necessary factor of input) is not considered in these measures.

But the remaining of these concepts consider productivity as the relationship of input and output related to a system of production. This means that there are organizations working as physical systems with many variables as well as other inter-relations within.

The Objectives of Productivity

Experts Vrat and Sardina said that the people who will carry out measurements of productivity must have three objectives.

Firstly, potential improvements should be identified. Secondly, decisions should be made for reallocating resources. And lastly, it must present how the pre-set goals were determined.

Financial and Performance Productivity

There are some differences between two factors. Based the number of outputs produced, we can calculate performance productivity.

For instance: Company A produces 200 product units in a week, and the next week they are able to reach 220 units. That means the performance productivity has increased by 10%.

In comparison to performance productivity, financial productivity can be grouped by the value of output. Suppose Company X produces 200 product units in the one week as well as the next. And the selling price have raised from 1.00 dollar to 1.10 dollars per unit. Financial productivity has increased by 10%, however there is no increase in performance productivity.

This is sometimes misleading, too. In case the company sells products in 220 item at 1.10 dollars each, and the next week the price has fallen by 9.1%, the sale is still 220 dollars.

From a standpoint of finance, there is not any change even if there are some changes of performance point. (They produce extra 20 items)

So What the Definition of Productivity is?

Until now, managers are not able to determine what the measurements, improvements and definition of productivity. They also cannot define the measurement, improvement, concepts of performance as well.

The Sales Page to Product Secret Makes Product Creation Easy

Stumped on product creation?

Have a rough idea bouncing around in your head but not sure what information should be included?

Try this simple method for product ideas, getting through the outline process and final creation.

The way it works is when you have a general product idea in mind you sit down and create the sales letter before you make the actual product. I know you’re thinking this process is backwards from the norm, but I promise you, it’s okay!

This can really work wonders when you’re stuck at the beginning phases of creating a product and can’t find the momentum to get started.

Your sales page will help you flesh out a product as you think of the problems your new item can help solve. It will also act as a very handy product blueprint. Since you haven’t actually made the item, you are free to put in anything you believe will make it an outstanding value to your customers.

Don’t overly stress over the process. Don’t try to make it perfect.. just get things to a point where you can now start fleshing out your info product following the sales letter.

You can use each of your bullet points as topics or chapters to be expanded upon when you do the actual product creation. Remember that you will not be bound by the sales page you make. You can change the features of your product just by modifying the sales page. Your blueprint will then be ready to guide you through step by step till the end.

Here’s another tip:

Get the sales letter up with a subscription form instead of a buy button and send traffic to it from your existing list or through another source such as PPC.

Tell your visitors this particular product is pending release and if they are interested they can subscribe to an early bird alert list. To sweeten the deal offer them a special discount for signing up.

And one more powerful tip:

You may want to make the form extra informative by adding a feedback box where they can leave content ideas. A simple line such as “What information would you like to see included in this product?” can help you further refine the final deal.

If they’re truly interested they will subscribe to the notification list for the product release. If you get no interest then you’ll know not to pursue that particular project.

I wouldn’t suggest you use this for everything you do, but it does have its place. It can give you direction and very valuable feedback when needed.

There may be times when you get a small amount of signups, but not enough to warrant continuing with your idea. If this happens, do not leave those who signed up hanging in the wind. Send them a thank you email and a special gift for their time and feedback. This makes the experience a win-win deal for them and you.

Pricing Your Products

In our scramble to find a way to offer the lowest prices on the Internet, we often overlook the basic steps that we should be taking BEFORE we even offer a product for sale.

We also overlook something even more important: you don’t HAVE to have the lowest price in order to make great sales. Following are some things I do before and after determining my bottom line. I sell by having products drop-shipped for my sites, which works VERY well, but these steps should be covered no matter your distribution method.

Should you be selling this item now?

Snowboards don’t sell well in the summertime. You may have a hard time moving a pair of roller blades in January. Don’t waste your time and your site space marketing products out of season. Ask your supplier for a little historical information regarding the best time to sell their products. Believe me, to everything, there IS a season. They have the figures. If they don’t want to share this info with you, find another supplier.

Identify your costs

Profit isn’t just the difference between wholesale and retail. You have other costs to consider. Think about every penny you spend in order to get that product to the customer’s door, and plan accordingly. For example, your merchant account probably costs you about 2.2% plus 30 cents per transaction. On an item you’ll sell for $20, that’s 74 cents. Don’t forget that calculation when pricing the item. Are you warehousing the item? How much is that space costing you per item per month? Did you spend money stocking up on shipping materials? How much per unit? What about advertising? Monthly hosting costs? You may need to project some estimated sales in order to arrive at some of these figures.

This may seem very complicated, but it’s really not. Just take the figures one at a time, and you’ll arrive at a wholesale cost plus an amount that, when added together, becomes your initial ESTIMATE of “cost of goods sold”. Identifying all your costs is critical if you want to price your products properly.

Check out the competition

Search on the item you plan to sell. Check out the competitors’ prices. But DON’T get caught up trying to beat the wrong competitor. You need to stay within your “venue”.

My stores are built in Yahoo Shopping (http://store.yahoo.com). 90% of my traffic comes from there. When I seek out my competitors, I look for other businesses like mine ONLY in Yahoo Shopping. Then I compare.

If I’m thinking about selling a product, and I get 1,500 hits in 400 stores on that item in Yahoo Shopping, forget it. If I get a hundred hits in 20 to 40 stores, I’ll look into it further.

So check out the competition, narrow down your product list, make a note of the five lowest prices you find, and then ask yourself another question:

Is anybody going to buy this thing?

This doesn’t have much to do with pricing, but it should be said.

When considering products, there’s unique, and then there’s too unique. Yak Cheese may sound like something that nobody else has for sale on the ‘Net. There’s a reason for that. If you sell more than 3 boxes a year, I’ll EAT some.

Unique is Rain Barrels made in Maine. It’s Exotic Cheeses imported from Italy. Silk Parisian Lingerie. Things you don’t see every day, but would be proud to give as a gift.

Then there’s “common”. Everybody and their grandmothers are selling Alabaster Figurines on the Internet. Do they sell? Sure, in a limited fashion. Do you want to sell them? Not if you want to make any real money.

In my experience, unique products, like Rain Barrels and Parisian Lingerie, DO sell. So do Coleman Sleeping Bags, and Conair Hair Dryers. BRAND NAMES sell. Look at your potential product, and ask yourself honestly if YOU would buy it on the ‘Net.

Set your price

Take the five lowest prices you collected on a product in your list that has survived the above. Calculate your estimated cost, then subtract that from the lowest price. If you don’t see at LEAST 15% profit, don’t bother.

If you do, there are a couple of ways to proceed. You can undercut the lowest price in your “venue” by a bit, and hope to “kick off” the product and get yourself noticed. Chances are, though, that the following week you’ll find that someone has undercut YOUR price by just a bit. That becomes a losing game.

I generally set up a couple of “loss leaders”. These are desirable items (in my general product line) that I sell dirt cheap just to bring in customers. Then I price the rest of my products at the second or third lowest price in my venue. The customers come in for the loss leaders, and then I can market everything else to them via email. I spend a lot of time making my site look better and easier to navigate, and pay a great deal of attention to my customers.

That makes me more reputable in the eyes of the customer. You’ll find that people don’t mind paying just a little more if they feel comfortable in your store. They don’t like to worry that they’re buying from a “hack” who may not deliver. Nothing says “hack” like a cluttered, confusing storefront.

Follow up

After you’ve sold an item for a month or two, revise that “cost of goods sold”. Measuring past performance is just as important as setting the correct price to begin with. If sales drop, recheck your competition. If that’s not it, drop the product, or shelve it until the “season” comes back around. Don’t get sentimental about your products, and NEVER just let your store sit there in limbo once it starts to make money. This is a dynamic business; stay on top of it!

A last word (or three)

Retail pricing on the Internet is so fraught with permutations that it would be impossible to cover everything here, even if I KNEW everything. The steps above are just the basics of a process that works for me. Hopefully something here will strike a chord and work for you as well. Patience and persistence are the keys to a successful Internet business, so hang in there, and don’t quit the day job for at least a couple of weeks. ;o)

I hope this helps in your future marketing decisions.