Have you ever heard the term, "Eat your own dog food?" It's more or less about consuming what you already have available, or for this post's context, it's an action where you would make use of existing or internal resources or tools, rather than consuming or procuring an outside asset. As someone who works for a software company, it can be common to leverage products and applications either written in house or obtained via acquisition but how can you use these products while also showcasing their abilities to a larger audience? In this post, I'll review an example or use case of that scenario that goes beyond beta dogfooding and extends into marketing.
Working in Software
If you worked for Microsoft, I'm going to assume that you'd be using Office 365. That you would be taking notes in OneNote, sharing content with your peers and customers with One Drive, and collaborating in Yammer (or better yet, MS Teams) as well as leveraging other Microsoft applications. Perhaps you would also be testing new Office 365 features and provide feedback to the product management team. While leveraging these applications, you will likely be sharing and displaying some of your created content with peers or customers who know that it's Office 365 delivering the capability.The same thing can be done for nearly any other software company. If you can't use your own solutions? How is your customer supposed to be using it? If we all sit back and wait for our amazing sales folks to get deals signed, how is that helping the company to win in the marketplace? We are in fact all in sales, whether we like it or not. You might be thinking, wait, I work for a software vendor but we create brain-games for IOS and Android. How can I eat my own dog food while also marketing for my customer? Play the games! Share them with friends, family, people you meet at the airport, at a restaurant, write a blog about it, capture in-game video, etc. All someone has to do is see how much fun you are having (or frustration) and they may take an interest.
“Eating your own dogfood,” or “dogfooding,” as it’s more commonly phrased, means using the software you make, often in beta form, to work out the kinks. The first recorded usage was in 1988, when Microsoft executive Paul Maritz was desperate for customers to try a new product and e-mailed a colleague, “We are going to have to eat our own dogfood and test the product ourselves.” They created an internal server called “\\dogfood” and sent it out to staff.
- Nora Caplan-Bricker (Dogfooding: Tech slang for working out the glitches | New Republic )
Wait - I'm Not Customer Facing
Throughout my career I've had roles that sometimes put me on the front-lines with customers. At this exact moment, I'm not as customer facing as I used to be but that doesn't mean I don't have 'customers' and opportunities to share outside of my normal connections. Sure, there are times when I am directly exposed to customers who have purchased software or services but aren't all of my peers and colleagues my customers as well? Of course they are! Don't get hung up on collaborating, sharing, and informing, if you are not always working directly with customers. Your internal peers may also benefit greatly from your contributions and they then may have opportunities to inform or showcase said 'dogfood' to their customers (aka your customers).
Getting to our use case, I'm going to briefly examine an application, part of the CA Accelerator, that thousands (and I mean THOUSANDS) of people could benefit from. It's a tool called Instant Agenda and if you host either internal meetings OR customer facing meetings, this tool may help organize your agenda, notes, actions items, and keep you on task like you couldn't imagine before. We've all been on calls where the agenda is set but the time bleeds into one topic to the next. In my case it's when people get too chatty on a specific topic... With Instant Agenda you can closely manage the meeting time and help keep people on task. Need to assign an action item to an attendee? It's fast and they receive an email with the action item information so they can set it as a task on their end. There are many features and benefits to this service. See how it works in the video below:
(right-click the video link and open in a new tab) -- Instant Agenda - How it Works on Vimeo
Run highly Productive Meetings: Download the Instant Agenda Reference Card
If you leverage Instant Agenda as a CA resource, not only are you utilizing a fantastic productivity tool to help stay on task during meetings, assign actions items, and obtain feedback in an orderly fashion, but you may also be demonstrating directly to customers how you are using this application to make your life better. And if they like what they see? They may look into buying it as well. That's it. Marketing via eating your own dog food. And this is only one app as part of the CA Accelerator. There are likely others you can leverage in the future to support sales, product management, and to benefit from yourself depending on your role or needs. Perhaps I could have said it using fewer words but I enjoyed writing this post regardless. So what do you say CA fam? Let's do a better job of eating our own dog food by starting with Instant Agenda. I know this post is readable to non-CA employees and that's ok - if that's you, you really owe it to yourself to check out Instant Agenda and signup for the free trial. Especially if you host routine meetings.
One final note. Want to begin blogging or sharing your ideas or thoughts? You don't have to make everything perfect and you'll get better at it as you go. You just have to start and share in an attempt to add value to others.
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Now, stop reading and go signup for the Instant Agenda trial!
Looking for more helpful videos on how to use Instant Agenda, goto the Vimeo channel.