The 80/20 Rule, or Just Get on with It

13thOct. × ’09

There is ample evidence that suggest too many options delay decisions and increase dissatisfaction with the choices we make (See Barry Schwartz’s excellent book on the topic: The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less). Enter a new definition of quality, posited in a Wired Magazine article: The Good Enough Revolution: When Cheap and Simple Is Just Fine. The article leads with discussion of the cheap, and easy to use Flip Ultra camcorder. Despite the lack of features, the camera has sold like hot cakes, grabbing a 17% share of the camcorder market in just two years.

Other ‘good enough to get on with it’ products and services cited in the article include gmail and Zoho Writer, a Microsoft Word substitute with fewer bells and whistles (but most of the features you are actually likely to use). Oh yeah, and what about the advantages of a (relatively) unsophisticated, unmanned Predator aircraft vs. a $45 million F-16 (options, including pilot, may cost extra)?

Wired isn’t alone in noticing that cheap and simple solutions are often the best ones. In the upcoming sequel to Freakonomics – called Super Freakonomics – Steven Leavitt and Stephen Dubner have included a chapter chapter entitled The Fix Is In – And It’s Cheap and Simple.

I think this movement toward ‘good enough is more than effective’ is good news for agency manager perfectionists. Instead of wrestling with decisions about which expensive and complex software or web service to work with, just go with what works, and can be had for little or no money. Here’s a few favorites that insurance agency managers should be thinking about:

For video calls, and free long distance, try Skype. Depending on features you may wish to add (a traditional phone number, the ability to call out to land line or cell phones, e.g.), you may pay a few dollars a month.

And speaking of YouTube, there is no simpler way to get your video converted for streaming and to add it to your website.  We have been using YouTube for a variety of purposes at Confluency Solutions, and set up our own channel a little over a year ago.  Use YouTube videos to explain insurance coverage, the claim process, or to highlight safety issues.  Oh, and the cost – free.

Video email can be free, or you could pay as much as (gasp!) $99 a year.  Eyejot is our service of choice.  At Confluency, we use it for proposal deliveries, conference/trade show follow ups, and to set up renewal reviews.

Email management, CAN SPAM compliance, and newsletter sign ups can be facilitated by several services.  MailChimp is free, as long as your ‘subscription’ list is $500 or less.  After 500, the monthly fees are low.  (Your insurance agency might have 2,000 customers, but how many email addresses do you have?)

For web conferencing, including document and screen sharing, try DimDim.  The service is reliable, easy to use, and free for up to 20 attendees in a session.

The list could go on and on, but in my experience, these are good places for most insurance agencies to start.

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