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Every Brand Needs a Playbook

Creating a brand's playbook

An Evidence Based Approach

Marketing has become a very complicated game. On every play there are thousands of possible permutations and like chess you have to not only win the moment, but also make it part of the bigger strategy. It’s not easy because there are so many things to consider, from the sheer number of channels and influences, to the behavior of the independent minded, digitally savvy consumer. Trying to do it by gut, or even experience, alone is just not possible anymore. That’s why brands need an evidence-based approach to marketing planning.

First Things First

There a number of steps to developing a plan, each building on the other, but to begin you need to gather all the intelligence you can find. This includes data and insights on barriers and opportunities inside your company, the category, the competition and the target consumer. It also includes doing a health check on the brand position, reviewing the lead process, if any, the conversion process and the role of technology; internal and external. Then with, hopefully, target audience segmentation and personas in hand, you should conduct a competitive analysis, use social listening to see what your targets are talking about, and analyze search patterns to glimpse what they are actually doing.

Mind the Gaps

Normally companies already have lots of this information, as well as Attitude & Usage research, sales and geographical data and so on. The idea is to synthesize all this data into insights and direction. But first you should determine the gaps in your knowledge, where you need additional understanding, and decide how critical it is to fill those gaps. Often stakeholder interviews, across the organization, from sales to the executive suite, are a fast way to fill in knowledge gaps, identify what is important internally and as an important bonus, get buy-in for the planning process.

Journey Mapping

All this data and knowledge becomes inputs for the next phase; Journey Mapping. This critically important step is based on the Mckinsey Consumer Decision Journey model introduced in 2009. Its job is to map consumer behavior at the key steps of awareness, evaluation, conversion, post purchase and loyalty. It tells us what each segment of consumers is thinking, doing and feeling at each juncture; it also identifies barriers, distribution requirements, brand role and more. Usually conducted as a collaborative workshop, Journey Mapping brings marketers together with key stakeholders and subject matter experts, to answer the key questions of “When” and “Where” to connect with consumers, and the role and purpose of channels at the different stages of the journey. Of course it is invaluable to talk to consumers too if time and budget allow.

Mighty Messaging

Building on Journey Mapping is Content Strategy, which is focused on answering the other two key questions “What to say” and “How to say it” at each touch point. The objective is to determine the most relevant and impactful messaging that can be presented to each consumer at each interaction.  That messaging needs to be relevant to the persona and their stage of the journey, while also being designed to contribute to a cumulative brand impression. At the same time messaging must be delivered in a way that is right for the context of the interaction; a video on a phone, for example, might be perfect or completely wrong depending on where someone is likely to view it and what he or she might be doing at the time.

Making the Cut

By this stage of the process you will have identified many potential tactics that address “where, when, what and how”.  But since budgets and time are always limited, you need to make choices based on each tactic’s ability to achieve business goals. Tactics are therefore reviewed for how they are projected to deliver on business objectives within time, resource, difficulty and ROI requirements and those that make the cut go into The Playbook. This is a prioritized action plan, typically covering 12-18 months, made up of the most effective and efficient tactics that you have determined will together achieve your business goals for the period. With it you know what marketing tactics need to be executed when, what performance they are projected to deliver, over what period of time, at what cost and at what difficulty level.

Less Guesswork

The Playbook is the culmination of a comprehensive evidence-based strategic process that takes the guesswork out of this complex process and gives senior management and the marketing team the confidence they need that their marketing plans will accomplish their business goals. While experience alone might have worked in simpler times, it’s just too risky today, which is why the Playbook will give a brand a much higher chance of success vs. reacting, improvising or just going on gut.

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IQ Spotlight: Sarah Giarratana, Copywriter

IQ Spotlight Sarah G

IQ is made up of a bunch of rockstars that make incredible work for our clients everyday. We want to give you a glimpse of what it’s like to work in IQ, so every other Friday we’re going to interview an IQ-er and let you get to know them better.

For the official record, what is your name and your title at IQ?

My name is Sarah Giarratana and I’m a Copywriter.

What’s your superpower?

Probably being empathetic? I try to be really in tune with how other people feel, and I try to live my life empathy first.

What have you learned from the people you’ve worked with at IQ?

I think learning to stop overwriting. I know that sounds so simple, but learning how to work with designers and UX-ers to optimize text has helped. When the design and the copy are balanced it makes the experience of whatever we’re creating so much better.

Tell me about the moment you knew this was the direction you wanted to pursue professionally.

I actually started out interning in project management. But I found out that I was really a terrible PM. But I found some great mentors who shared their secrets of copywriting with me. And I just kept learning and writing copy and getting better, and now I don’t think I’ll ever stop. I like the advertising industry, and I love watching how communication has changed and the role of a copywriter is becoming more of a content creation role, and that keeps me challenged and motivated.

What does “Creative Intelligence” mean to you?

The “Intelligence” is the cake itself, and “Creative” is the icing. They can exist separately, but when they come together they make a beautiful cake. And let’s face it, cake is delicious. That being said sometimes you just need a spoon and a tub full of icing. Right, my creative peeps?

Do you have a personal motto?

I think it’s tied between what I said earlier about living “Empathy first” and also “positivity is self-fulfilling.” Even when life gets hard, I find that when I choose positivity, it chooses me back.

Quickfire:

Spring or Fall?

Fall.

Comedy or Mystery?

Drama.

Freckles or Dimples?

Both.

Questions: Asking or Answering?

Asking. Definitely asking.

Picnic or Restaurant?

Restaurant.

Now you know a little more about Sarah Giarratana!

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The Time is Now: Google’s Mobile Deadline

Google's Mobile Deadline

It’s here — Google has pulled out the guillotine for mobile organic search. This time, they’re not messing around.

For many years, marketers have pondered the implication of mobile site access and mobile search ranking results. Google is generally quick to respond to advancements in mobile technology that enhance the consumer’s online experience, and this is a clear-cut example of just that.

Content, content, content.

Google has always harped on the need for quality content versus quantities of “optimized” content. Whether its the Hummingbird update, Panda, Penguin, or whatever the next animal-named-algorithm they choose is, the goal is to identify higher quality content and eliminate what they deem low quality.

The delivery of quality content through search is not defined solely by Google itself, but through over a decade of research and consumer usage data to define what happens next. This time, what happens next is critical for all marketers.

According to ComScore’s January 2015 report, we’re far past the mobile versus desktop tipping point. This should be a wake up call for all brands and marketers.

ComScore January 2015 data

SEO is fun. It’s an always evolving, never stagnant, almost “game”-like adventure for copywriters, analytics professionals, digital marketers, and data geeks in general (like me).

But for too long, marketers have been focused on keywords with little attention paid to User Experience’s impact on SEO. Google doesn’t view them as totally exclusive — in fact in most cases, SEO and UX are complementary.

The magic is where UX and SEO meet in the middle.

Yes, you want to get users to the right web page or landing page through search, but if the page is not mobile-friendly or doesn’t meet the expectation of the user, then what’s point of optimizing for search?

At IQ, we utilize the “hub and spoke” marketing model. The brand website acts as the “hub” while the “spokes” are the content and channels driving to the website. If the hub is insufficient, the spoke suffers as well. If you throw in the rise of mobile use by consumers, you’ve got another wrench in the equation.

What if your customers can’t find what they need to because you’re not there in mobile search?

In the case of Google’s update on April 21st, many brand websites will suffer greatly in mobile organic search. And we can’t blame Google.

As technology has advanced, so have consumer expectations for mobile web experiences. With that advancement in consumer expectation, marketers are expected to meet them. Designing a responsive website can solve for that need easily.

Google’s made their decision on behalf of consumers — will your website live up to expectation or will it fall off the map on mobile?

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Your Facebook Page Likes Are Shrinking!

Shrinking Page Likes

There is actually zero cause for alarm; your Facebook fans are completely safe.  But Facebook is updating how they calculate the number of likes a page receives. In the near future Facebook will be removing the “like” of any person marked as deceased or originated from a deactivated account.

As Facebook points out; ”Removing inactive Facebook accounts from Page audience data gives businesses up-to-date insights on the people who actively follow their Page and makes it easier for businesses to find people like their followers through tools like lookalike audiences.”  This is a welcome change and one that will benefit your page in the long term. Additionally, you’ll save budget and time knowing you are only targeting correct audiences.  But with an improvement comes a little bit of short term pain. Due to this shift you will see a slight dip in the overall number of page likes.

Not that you should be focusing too much on page likes anyway. After all, the page like is likely dead. With organic reach being slashed to typically 1%; the page like has been reduced to a vanity metric. What matters is the content you are producing and the audiences you are targeting in your boosted posts.

Let us know how IQ can help you deliver better content to highly targeted social audiences.

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The End of Words?

End of Words -TQ

While the essence of a brand still involves a logo, a look, hopefully a differentiated position, and maybe even an enduring idea, it has become so much more thanks to technology and the new consumer. But while so much has changed, the fundamentals of the way people emotionally connect to other people, ideas, products and solutions are unchanged as they have been for eons. This is important to remember as we fight to stay connected to an always fast-evolving consumer. People haven’t changed. Our behavior may be new, but our motivations are ancient.

Simon Sinek talks about how brands need to answer the overarching question of why they do what they do. As he eloquently explains, money as an answer is not good enough. While “what” a brands does and “how” it does it is very important, according to Sinek, it is the brands that have a defining mission of some sort that have lasting resonance.

In the past much of this brand focus has been translated into the words a brand used in its adverting and communications. Words were the keys to a brand finding its place in the word. That’s why a positioning statement that could define a brand’s relative position in the consumer’s mind was considered so important for so long.  This focus on words was a reflection of the way companies distilled their ideas into communications and translated that in advertising. Of course sound and imagery was important too, but with fewer, simpler channels, words most often led the charge.

Fast forward to today and the electronic age in all its digital glory has ushered in a visual experience that has overwhelmed words. Screens surround the modern consumer, and screens scream out for images. Unlike words, and similar to music, images don’t need to be translated into meaning in the same way language does. We can look at an image or see a video and without any words feel the meaning. This direct consumption uses parts of our brain that are far older and more elemental than our higher thinking capabilities. Our immediate responses to imagery are, as a friend recently described, “reptilian,” appealing to elemental motivations of fear, desire, love and so on.

Now as I see more and more brands resort to imagery vs. words to communicate, the imagery being used naturally leans towards those that evoke emotional triggers. At the same time the digital camera has flooded the world with our own images of every second of our lives from cradle to grave. The result is a visual tsunami is already immersing us in a more sensory world. How it changes the marketers mission to influence consumers remains to be seen. Man has not led with images since the middle ages, before the advent of the printing press, and it will be one of the more important new dynamics for marketers to understand as we move beyond these early days of the new age of pictures.

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Part museum. Part zoo. All fun.

IQ team members earned bronze at the Adobe Creative Jam in Atlanta.

IQ entry Adobe Creative Jam

Two IQ team members, ACD Carol Montoto and Designer Aleena Khan, represented IQ at the Adobe Creative Jam last Thursday in Atlanta. The ‘Jam invited designers, illustrators and students from around Atlanta to go head-to-head in a competition to make something amazing using Adobe products. It also gathered a crowd of enthusiastic spectators who enjoyed snacks, drinks and speakers while the teamed worked.

Four speakers took the stage, including Aleena who shared some of her work done for the Museum of Design Atlanta. Guests were also invited to watch the teams as they worked in an open space. With floor-length glass windows, spectators could walk by and watch the teams work. Carol described the process as something between a zoo and a museum, in the funniest and best way.

To learn a little more about the experience, we sat down with Carol and Aleena with a few questions.

What was your favorite part of the ‘Jam?

ALEENA: Probably the peanut M&M’s. Also, meeting Adobe evangelists Paul Trani and Terry White, both of who create awesome and in-depth tutorials on Adobe products. (Everything I know I about InDesign I learned from Terry.)

You ended up designing a hilarious banana-themed wallpaper. Why?

CAROL: We were asked to use a Dr. Seuss quote about standing out as inspiration. From the quote about fitting in we saw people walking in the same direction, something redundant, like clones, like a pattern. So we thought, what has a pattern? Immediately, wallpaper came to mind. It wasn’t interesting to us to do a design without a function, so we decided to give it a function and made wallpaper. That spiraled and we took it one step further and just stuck it in ad for IKEA.

You were one of two teams who ended up with an advertisement. What’s the logic behind that?

ALEENA: We’re in advertising! And it only makes sense to do what we do best. We loved the idea of creating something useful, and a product for designers seemed like a great way to do that. Also we did whatever we had to do to incorporate bananas because why the hell not?

What team’s work did you admire most?

CAROL: The Moxie team that won did an amazing job with their illustrations. I was really impressed.

ALEENA: 22squared really put something amazing together, and it was clear they were both very talented at creating conceptual photo manipulations. The team was made up of Louie Zuniga and Mark Damiano.

How would you like to see Adobe’s Creative Jams grow?

ALEENA: To be honest, host it in the morning! When we’re all fresh.

CAROL: I would love to see them actually include writers. Even though they’re not using Photoshop, their work isn’t really possible without the Adobe products. They always work with a designer and art director. Aleena and I brainstormed a lot and it would have been wonderful to have a copywriter in brainstorm, because that’s not exclusive to just designers. It would have been fun to see how clever the stuff could have been. Pushing it beyond just the visual approach. Or for a different visual approach, they could invite photographers and retouchers. Really, it’s just great to see people from different fields get involved in the creative process.

 

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Simplify your life with #IQtoolbox web tools

Kicking off #IQtoolbox

This month at IQ we’re thinking about some of our favorite ways to use the internet to make our lives simpler, in and out of the office. Whether it’s a tool that gives you cool ambient sound to keep you focused on the task at hand or a better way to organize your office or home to-do lists, online tools can do so much for you. So this month we’re sharing tools IQ-ers use everyday, tools that make up the #IQtoolbox.

We will be sharing original articles here and in our other social media channels (TwitterFacebookTumblr, and LinkedIn). We’ll also be sharing other articles and links that inspire us and engage our minds in a playful way.

So keep an eye out for the #IQtoolbox hashtag as we share our favorite tools. And maybe you can share your favorites with us, too!

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IQ Spotlight: Courtney Kelly, Project Manager

IQ Spotlight Courtney

IQ is made up of a bunch of rockstars that make incredible work for our clients everyday. We want to give you a glimpse of what it’s like to work in IQ, so every other Friday we’re going to interview an IQ-er and let you get to know them better.

For the official record, what is your name and your title at IQ?

My name is Courtney Kelly and I’m a Project Manager.

What is your favorite thing about working with a new client?

I really like the initial “getting to know you” phase. Everyone is so enthusiastic about what you’re going to be doing, and both sides are really open to all the possibilities, and it’s just an exciting time.

What is your favorite project you’ve worked on or managed?

I would say the Hot Spring Spas site redesign. It was my first time working on a full website redesign and the team was really excited to be working on it. It was just a fun experience that ended with some amazing work.

What does “Creative Intelligence” mean to you?

The result of bringing research and collaboration together to deliver an end product that’s impactful and easy for people to take in–something that has a nice, friendly, unassuming exterior, but also has depth and purpose behind every single element.

Tell me about the moment you knew this was the direction you wanted to pursue professionally.

I majored in Mass Communication with a concentration in Advertising, because even then Advertising was where I saw myself going. I had heard really great things about the culture and atmosphere in agencies, so I was set on wanting to work in one. I wanted to be involved in the creative process somehow, but I didn’t really want to go back to school, and the more I learned about Project Management, the more it seemed like a great fit. So I got a PM internship, and then I was a Project Coordinator, and now I’m a PM here at IQ.

Describe your approach or process to a new project.

I like to list out absolutely everything I know about a project. What the client wants, where the files are stored, who’s on the team, just anything and everything. Because as a PM, you’re the only person between the client and the resources, so if the resources don’t know the expectations or where to find something, they won’t do it—they’re not mind readers. So I like to get all of that together first, and then I can move onto next steps.

Quickfire:

Sun or Moon?

Sun.

Wine or Whiskey?

Whiskey.

Ninjas or Pirates?

Pirates.

Waffles or Pancakes?

Pancakes.

Ocean or Pool?

Pool.

Now you know a little more about Courtney Kelly!

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Inspiring an Atmosphere of #IntelligenceAtPlay in my Projects

Marica #IntelligenceAtPlay

Wikipedia defines creative problem-solving as “… the mental process of searching for a new and novel creative solution to a problem…”, however; Noller’s Symbolic Formula for Understanding creativity states “Creativity is the function of Knowledge, Imagination, and Evaluation, reflecting an interpersonal attitude toward the beneficial and positive use of creativity (C = fa (K, I, E).”

Both are true and made me realize how one encourages creative problem solving is dependent upon their understanding of creative problem-solving AND that individual’s personality.

I consider myself to be laid back, fun-loving, and good spirited, so my encouragement for creative problem-solving is likely expressed in four ways:

I am humorous.

Working in an agency requires daily creative thinking and problem-solving, it often demands rigidity due to tight budgets or timelines and not true creativity.

I love sharing stories about my children with my team during downtime. Children have less knowledge, but more imagination than adults.  These stories may or may not contribute to better creative problem-solving, but making each other laugh not only tightens the bond of the team but relaxes you and opens your mind to new ideas.

I am supportive.

It takes a lot of courage to tell others your ideas, so I like to encourage expressing ideas, and respond enthusiastically and never make someone offering an idea feel foolish. This gives even the most apparently outlandish of ideas a chance to be aired and can sometimes lead to a breakthrough.

I am easygoing.

I believe a relaxed and flexible work environment increases productivity and further encourages team members to work together own their own without requiring me to micromanage.  This gives the impressions that I trust that their solutions are supported by one another.

I encourage breaks.

Having a break from the day to day grind and 50 hr. weeks is critical to remaining fresh for continued creative problem-solving. We all need R&R for a healthy work/life balance.  If not we don’t produce our highest quality work and it’s as simple as that.

Resources referenced: Wikipedia: Creative Problem Solving, Marketing Donut: 10 ways to encourage creative problem solving, Forbes: 6 ideas to promote innovation in your workplace this year, CreativeProblemSolving.orghttp://www.sagepub.com/upm-data/32693_Chapter1.pdf (page 5).

 

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  • 02.18.15

How IQ built a culture of #IntelligenceAtPlay

IQ Culture

“Culture cannot be created – it forms organically.” This statement is true in many respects however, the manner in which an agency fosters this organic formation is key. At IQ we take many opportunities to foster a healthy agency culture but it’s not all about Ping-Pong tables and Beer Fridays.

IQ Waffle Friday menu

Waffle menu from IQ’s monthly Waffle Friday.

In order to foster a best-in-class agency culture, you must first start with a collaborative environment. Having the ability to ideate in real time with likeminded colleagues is crucial to culture. In our offices, many times you may walk into a room and think that A Beautiful Mind was filmed here. The sheer amount of mind-mapping on the walls can be seen as a direct corollary to the creative and intelligent output of the agency. Having ample collaborative work spaces, war rooms and think tanks is key to developing great work; which is in turn key to having a great culture.

IQ Collaboration

One of IQ’s collaborative brainstorming spaces.

Secondly, the way in which we work shapes culture. People tackle work and challenges differently. Giving employees the freedom and flexibility to do their jobs in a manner which is suitable to their strengths and personality, without fear of micromanagement, creates a positive agency culture. When employees feel empowered and have a sense of ownership in their work, the end result is boost for the agency and in turn, the culture.

IQ Culture Fun

Foosball and Nerf fun at an IQ Rockstar’s desk.

Lastly, the final piece to agency culture is allowing ourselves to have fun. One of the main differentiators between the ad industry and others is the playful nature of the creative environment. Whether it’s having regular group outings, pot-luck lunches in the office or just winding down with a coworker at the end of a long day over a game of darts and a beer, fostering a fun and laidback workplace is a must have for a great agency culture.

 

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