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Newsletter #1006: The “Problem Solved” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I’d Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.]

Every once in a while, a product comes along that solves an issue everyone understands in a way that no one’s thought of yet. It’s the kind of stuff that’s so simple, yet so remarkable, it makes people say, “Damn! I wish I’d thought of that!”

Here are three examples:

1. Shoe vending machines
2. A better butter knife
3. An easier way to unsubscribe
4. Check it out: Duolingo

1. Shoe vending machines

Rollasole sells flats that roll up so you can conveniently carry them as a backup when uncomfortable high heels threaten to end a night early. (I hate when that happens to me.) That’s a remarkable idea. But what’s even more remarkable is that in Las Vegas, you can buy them from vending machines outside of nightclubs.

The lesson: Being in the right place at the right time is all about knowing when your customers need you most. For Rollasole, it’s not in the mall where customers aren’t feeling the pain of stilettos — it’s at 2:00 AM on the street where their other option is carrying their heels and walking barefoot in a bar district.

Learn more: Consumerist

2. A better butter knife

The Stupendous Splendiferous ButterUp is a butter knife/grater that turns a stick of cold butter into strings that are easy to spread on a piece of bread. Why did it take so long for someone to come up with this? People forget to innovate on stuff that’s been around forever like butter knives, coolers, and electrical sockets. That’s why when someone does, it makes it all the more remarkable.

The lesson: How many people are frustrated by ruining a perfectly good piece of bread just by trying to butter it? Your customers run into little frustrations like these every day. There’s probably one you can help them out with.

Learn more: Wired

3. An easier way to unsubscribe

Email marketers have a problem: Many of their readers find it easier to mark their newsletters or email blasts as “Spam” instead of searching for the tiny “Unsubscribe” link at the bottom, checking all the right boxes, or jumping through more hoops to get off their list. So Gmail made it easier for readers to unsubscribe by adding a one-click option at the top of every email. That’s great for the reader because they get off of the company’s list faster, and it’s even better for the sender because it gives them better metrics on true unsubscribes and spam reports.

The lesson: Win-win improvements like these are always appreciated (and earn twice the word of mouth). You don’t always have to sacrifice one customer’s happiness for the other’s.

Learn more: Business Insider

4. Check it out: Duolingo lets you learn languages like Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch, and a bunch of others through gamification — and it doesn’t cost a thing. You can earn points by answering questions correctly or “lose a life” when you answer incorrectly. When you sign up, you can either start with the basics or test your current knowledge of a language to begin at a more advanced stage.

Check it out: Duolingo

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