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IQ Spotlight: Shaun Hines, Art Director

IQ Spotlight - Shaun Hines

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 Shaun Hines and I’m an Art Director at IQ.

What was your first impression of IQ?

My first impression was that it was a smaller agency that felt very comfortable with approachable, down to earth people.

Tell me about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant so far in your career?

Working on the Coca-Cola Freestyle website during my first job in the digital agency world. The project, along with the designers I worked with, really changed my design sensibilities and also allowed me to gain some amazing friends/colleagues in the process.

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

This is actually a two-fold answer. I knew this was an area I loved when I was thirteen and I created my own fan page for my favorite shows long before blogging became popular. I taught myself Paint Shop Pro (before Photoshop) and HTML — and I just loved it. I wasn’t until my second year of college that I realized that this could be an actual career field for me and not just a hobby. So, I knew then that that was what I wanted to do.

What does “Creative Intelligence” mean to you?

To me, “Creative Intelligence” means having the skill and the taste for creativity, yet having the intelligence to decipher what the client wants and delivering work that everyone is satisfied with.

What is something you’ve learned in the last week?

I recently learned the truth about weather report percentages. When they say there’s a 40% chance of rain that means that 40% of the city will see the rain, not that there’s only a chance it might actually rain. MIND. BLOWN.

Quickfire:

Ice cream or frozen yogurt?

Ice cream.

Queso or guacamole?

Queso.

Instagram or Snapchat?

Instagram.

Manga or comic books?

Manga. No debating.

Paper & ink or tablet & computer?

Tablet & computer.

Now you know a little more about Shaun Hines!

Want to know more about IQ? Contact Us

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Coming Home: Noah Echols Rejoins IQ as Director of Strategy

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Coming Home

Noah Echols Rejoins IQ as Director of Strategy

Noah Echols Return to IQ

It’s different for everybody, but I’ve learned over the past couple years what it is that makes me happy at work.

I worked for a large agency several years ago and I got to work with some really big, exciting clients on projects that make careers. Prior to that I worked for a journalism start up that focused on the niche topic of juvenile justice. I went home each day feeling as if I was doing something beneficial for society – helping to shed light on a topic that is under covered by mainstream media outlets. And just recently I led digital marketing for a large, very stable, well-respected company. I had the privilege of having the trust of leadership to do a lot of big projects in a relatively short amount of time that separated the company from its competition in terms of its digital marketing sophistication.

While all great jobs, none of them fulfilled me professionally.

For me, it’s the people and the environment we create together that matter. I don’t mean that I just need to like the people I work with – at each of the places I’ve worked, the people have been fantastic. It’s the culture that we cultivate that matters – one where you work hard together and at the end of the day feel like you accomplished something great AND grew personally in the process.

The reason I came back to IQ is because I craved the indirect opportunities to learn and grow by just being surrounded by so many brilliant people approaching a similar problem from different perspectives. IQ is especially unique because egos are non-existent, the people are fun and friendly, and the culture is one of support and collaboration unlike anywhere I’ve ever seen. It truly is a hub of innovative thinking for our clients because we all love what we do and thoroughly enjoy doing it everyday with each other.

Want to know more about IQ? Contact Us

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At IQ #weloveATL

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The Five Roles in a Project Team

5 Roles in a Project Team

An agency is the perfect environment for big personalities to come together and create unique, insightful, performance-driven products. Most of the world sees the final, refined results, but behind the curtain is hours upon hours of teamwork. While this collaboration between roles can certainly be harmonious, it usually comes with a little friction too.

As the team works together, the project manager guides the workflow and conversation while encouraging collaboration, turning critiques into improvements and encouraging open-mindedness. The project manager works as a mediator, recognizing when people aren’t connecting and then building bridges between their ideas. So how do project managers create compromises and harmony? First, they get to know the various personalities of the team members.

The course Introduction to Project Management from Looking Glass Development defines the roles that people naturally fall into. It’s important that a project manager recognizes how these roles come together to make a well-rounded project team.

Creator

  • Creators are natural-born leaders. They’re the brainstormers and idea people who can’t be confined to boundaries.
  • They’re always thinking about what’s new, which means they can also lose focus as the project develops.

Advancer

  • Less than 5% of people, the advancers are like coaches giving an inspiring locker room speech. They’re the motivators, charmers and sellers. The advancers can sell anyone on a new, cutting-edge idea that would seem too risky were it not for their confidence, while giving the team the drive it needs to perform well.

Refiner

  • The refiners are the detail people, the logical ones, or as a creator (the antithesis of a refiner) might say, “the dream killers.” Refiners think through what actually needs to happen to implement an idea, and they tend to balance the creator by calling out what is and isn’t feasible.
  • The grounded approach the refiner takes is essential in order to successfully create a product.

Executor

  • Executors are often the most under recognized of all roles. They’re not leaders, nor are they creative or innovative. But they get things done. No matter how challenging, they’ll finish on time, and the product will be exactly what was communicated to them.
  • They execute so well that they prefer to tackle everything completely on their own, which means they can sometimes have trouble delegating work.

Project Manager

  • Project managers take on each role, knowing when one is lacking and taking it upon themselves to restore balance. They face the most harrowing challenge by encompassing the other roles while also working to empower other team members.

It is very important to have at least one person in all of these roles on a team. Here’s why:

When concepting a new project, there always seems to be at least one person (typically a creator) with a grand, large-scale idea that they claim will solve every problem in the world. While it might be an interesting concept, it’s then time for the refiner to chime in to check the concept: is this feasible? Or maybe the executor: is this something I can actually do? Even the advancer should ask: can we get people excited about this? Once all of these questions are addressed and accounted for, that’s when a project really comes together.

As the project progresses, the executor implements the team’s idea. Though once the creator’s interest wanes, they’ll need some encouragement from the advancer to power through. The refiner thinks ahead, anticipating the team’s best plan of attack for any changes, and the project manager keeps a watchful eye on the team to maintain a healthy balance.

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  • 05.07.15

Smith & Wesson Blows up the Competition.

M&P_ExperienceStrategy and creative teamed up for IQ’s new campaign for the American icon, Smith & Wesson. The POV campaign lets consumers project themselves into the shooting experience and see how it looks and feels to have a Smith & Wesson M&P in their hands. And there’s nothing quite as fun as blowing up a watermelon.

Watch the TV spot:

See the rig that let’s the camera shoot right down the barrel during live fire:

This is one of many campaigns IQ has created for Smith & Wesson brands. IQ is an integrated agency with digital at the core. We work primarily with brands that need strong strategy, planning and integrated execution across media. Check out our Portfolio section to see more of our work.

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The SoDA Report 2015 Volume 1

As the founder and board chair of SoDA, I am again delighted to present the latest findings from our annual digital outlook study, plus insights from the cream of the digital marketing world. I am proud to say The SoDA Report has become the most widely read digital trends report in the world clocking in with over 330k views in the last issue. Click this link to the responsive site: www.sodareport.com or view on Slideshare below.

 

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The Next Big Fight Won’t Involve Boxers

Content Providers Fighting

Many people are saying the “fight of the century” between Mayweather and Pacquiao didn’t live up to the hype. But a new fight emerged in the aftermath, live video streaming apps Periscope and Meerkat versus content providers. And this fight should be highly entertaining.

It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of people watched this past weekend’s boxing match for free using these services. Sure the video quality was not HD and the audio was from whatever party was streaming it but the alternate broadcast was good enough for a lot of people. A lot of people who didn’t pay $100 a piece.

Let’s say that just three hundred thousand people worldwide watched via Periscope/Meercat. If those people had instead paid to see the fight that would have generated thirty million in revenue.  That’s ten percent of the overall fight’s purse. In a day when HBO and Showtime are still sending bounty hunters to bars to find illegal fight broadcasts, they aren’t going to leave thirty million just lying around. Even if the fight brought in revenues of at least four-hundred million.

But what happens when Periscope opens up an API? This situation is going to explode. Imagine a high quality GoPro camera live streaming a Taylor Swift concert via Periscope from the front row. Access and then monetization. A scalper gets their hands on a premium ticket and now it’s not about reselling it to the highest bidder, it’s about making money from live streaming from that ultra-exclusive location.

Twitter has a lot of friends in entertainment; friends that spend a lot of money within Twitter. And Hollywood uses/needs Twitter to make a lot of money for their TV shows, records, movies, and events. It’s going to be fun to watch both sides maneuver but the winners will be the artists and entertainers who figure out how to adapt and use the new technology to their advantage and elevate the user experience.

If you have questions about how to enhance your content using emerging technologies contact IQ.

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At IQ #weloveATL

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At IQ #weloveATL

IQ #weloveatl

Atlanta is moving on up! We’ve got television shows like The Walking Dead, movies like The Hunger Games and musical legends like Outkast. Aside from this, we’re also home to countless neighborhoods of unique cuisine and street art that paints the city. It’s no secret that Atlanta is becoming a major cultural hub, and not just in the south but across the nation.

So with all this thriving culture, it’s no wonder our city inspires us to make great work with a talented group driven by creative intelligence. That’s why this month, we’re focusing on the city IQ is proud to call home.

We’ll be sharing some of the things we love about Atlanta with the #weloveATL tag on the blog and in our social media channels, and we encourage you to share yours too.

Here’s to you, Atlanta. Let’s keep it awesome.

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The New Brass Ring: Trusted Knowledge Source

Brass Ring

In this digitally enabled world consumers have been trained by search and the internet to think they can make the best, most balanced choice for every purchase every time. However, as all of us know, it is not so easy and there lies the opportunity for brands.

The problem with selling stuff is getting people to buy on your schedule vs. theirs. As a business you need sales sooner, not later, so the solution has always been discounts and promotions to motivate people to act now.  Discounts and promotions, however, assume the consumer is already sold. They pre-suppose that the only thing standing in the way of the sale is timing and cost. But what if the prospect is actually in tire-kicking mode? I’ve heard that the rule of thumb is that only 1-2% of prospects are ready-to-buy at any particular moment. If true, and it seems reasonable, that would mean that 98-99% of the target audience you are going after, are not actively interested in buying.

I am amazed how many times brands are still hunting for that 1-2% of ready-to-buy people and hoping that the sales they get make up for the inefficiency of wasted exposure to the rest.  It used to be that the sales generated justified the cost, and the silent majority didn’t matter.  But the silent majority of consumers today, while perhaps not ready to buy, are far from idle. They are doing their due diligence, digital style, and ads, as we have learned, may not be the best way to approach them.

Trusted Knowledge Sources

Search has trained us to presume we can gather all the knowledge we need to always make the best buying decisions online. And according to the Nielsen Trust in Advertising Report, people get a lot of that knowledge from brand websites because they trust them second only to recommendations from friends. This underscores the importance of a good website at the heart of a smart marketing ecosystem. But what it really reveals is that consumers are looking for trusted knowledge sources that will help make the process of getting to that perfect decision easier, faster and more reliable.

If you think about your own online research, invariably it’s hard to find a credible, apparently objective source of information. In most categories there are sites that purport to offer objective reviews, but are really just shills for paid sponsors.  Then there is a plethora of articles and opinions, social and otherwise, that pop up in a general search. Poring through them all on a quest for fast and easy truth can be frustrating and time-consuming. The result is a wide divergence between what the web actually delivers and consumer expectations of being able to make the perfect choice every time. As Barry Schwartz described in “the Paradox of Choice” lots of choices overwhelm people quickly, and since we all want to make the best, most informed choice, it’s never as easy as we want it to be.  This lays bare the opportunity for brands to leverage the goodwill that consumers already feel for them even further, by becoming the go-to trusted knowledge source in their category.

Driven by the two consumer objectives of “making the best choice” and “making it easy”, the true battle is to be among the handful of brands that get a trusted source spot on the consumer’s mental shelf, which is the modern version of Reis & Trout’s Positioning. These are brands that can be relied upon to not only deliver content that is relevant and valuable, but also to operate with perceived transparency and objectivity. This is not something that brands can fake, and has to be a commitment to actually deliver on consumer expectations.

Simplify the Process

Most consumers don’t know much about many of the product categories they explore, like buying light bulbs or a digital camera, and in their quest to make quick, informed decisions, they jump to search. This usually starts with wading through the body of knowledge associated with the category that has built up over time, across many companies, and is sitting in the archives of lots of brand websites. Invariably it’s an overwhelming, complex mountain of knowledge, hard to sift through and often impossible to find what you are looking for.  Making this process easy is clearly the first opportunity that brands should be looking for in their category. The objective is to simplify the process of evaluating and buying, by doing the heavy lifting for the consumer. That means developing tools and systems to make the buying process easy and intuitive, delivering exactly the right information at the right time, and answering questions. For those consumers who have an interest in the category beyond just getting a purchase made, it also means developing content to feed those interests.

Many people may have an active interest or passion in a category long before, they become ready-to-buy or even start their digital due diligence. Figuring out what the associated interests and passions of a category are, however, can be tricky. If you are lucky enough to be in a category like pet food, for example, the passions are easy to see. But what if you sell generators?  A brand might assume there are no passions and give up on staying connected to prospects through content. But that’s when you have to dig, talk to consumers and maybe get a little creative. We actually went through the generator exercise and came up with intense interest in the relationship of weather patterns to power outages, which led to an idea for a service to help predict outages. If we could keep an open, regular line of communication to cultivate qualified prospects, the thinking went, we would be top of mind when they became ready-to-buy, without the cost of finding them again through advertising.

The digitally empowered consumer has made the cultivation part of the sales cycle more important than it ever was. As a result figuring out what content it’s going to take to keep them connected has become critical. But even with the right content strategy and compelling content, the challenge is how to keep your brand front and center until prospects become ready-to-buy.  Of course you could go old school and just buy non-stop paid advertising, but the better way is to let your content work for you with SEO, SEM and social, with a little email thrown in for good measure. There is still nothing better than having a qualified prospect in an email database.

Good old-fashioned email is still a golden goose that’s worth its weight. Despite the ever-growing volume of spam, permission email has lost none of its luster. It’s the perfect channel when done right; cheap, personal and two-way. The problem comes in what brands tend to do with it. All too often people sign up to get something that’s important to them, and end up being given something that’s important to the brand. Unfortunately because it’s so cheap and misunderstood, brands often end up spamming their best prospects, sending too many offers too frequently, and not investing in content.  As a result the people they worked so hard to get to sign up in the first place, stop opening their emails, and the cost of acquiring them, and the opportunity to cultivate them, goes down the drain.

How to win hearts and minds varies in each category, but it takes a commitment to the unfamiliar and very different business of creating engaging, valuable content and using it to carefully cultivate consumers, while resisting the urge to badger them for sales. Most companies, by now, are at least paying lip service to this idea, but few really get it. The result is a lot of noise that neither differentiates nor positions brands.  Becoming a trusted knowledge source doesn’t just happen, and consumers armed with their digital devices and high expectations will anoint only the few that genuinely serve them.

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How Facebook’s New Algorithm Impacts Brands

Brand impacts of new fb algorithm

On Tuesday, Facebook announced changes to their News Feed algorithm. We’ll overview how these changes affect marketers and brands and what they can do to be successful, but first: the changes from Facebook.

“Previously, we had rules in place to prevent you from seeing multiple posts from the same source in a row. With this update, we are relaxing this rule.”

“The second update tries to ensure that content posted directly by the friends you care about…will be higher up in News Feed so you are less likely to miss it.”

“Lastly, many people have told us they don’t enjoy seeing stories about their friends liking or commenting on a post. This update will make these stories appear lower down in News Feed or not at all…”

How will these changes affect brand page reach?

More posts from friends and more posts from the same source mean less room for brands. Additionally, brand pages will see less activity generated from users engaging with brands because that content will be served up less often to users.

Facebook tries to keep brands from freaking out by saying:

“If you like to read news or interact with posts from pages you care about, you will still see that content in News Feed.”

But we know what this really means.

The window of opportunity for brand content to be served in the News Feed just got more competitive and more expensive.

“The impact of these changes on your page’s distribution will vary considerably depending on the composition of your audience and your posting activity. In some cases, post reach and referral traffic could potentially decline.”

If that sounds vague, it’s because it is.

Will your reach go up, down, or sideways? For the reasons we outlined above, you can go ahead and bet the farm on declined brand reach.

So, what should we do? Two things:

1) Only publish truly engaging content. 

Does it create an emotional response? Meaning, is the post relevant, funny, clever, beautiful, interesting, or create desire or action? Facebook even reminds us in their announcement to post “things that people find meaningful.” Commercialized content has no place in the News Feed.

2) Increase your Facebook budget.

Facebook’s CPM in Q2 of 2014 was $1.08. By the end of 2014 it was a staggering $4.40 and will only rise. Impressions will continue to decline with these algorithm changes and with more brands entering the space.

Facebook was never intended to be a free advertising channel. The glory days of free and bountiful organic reach are long gone. If you want your brand content to be seen you have to pay to play; just like display. Don’t get discouraged by Facebook’s changes. Instead embrace the idea of delivering meaningful content to a highly targeted audience supported with a smart budget. The results will be better than ever!

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

 

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IQ Spotlight: Corrie Smith, Sr. Account Director

Corrie IQ Spotlight

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 Corrie Smith and I am the Sr. Account Director at IQ.

What gets you the most excited in your life, aside from your work at IQ?

My family gets me the most excited. So I spend a lot of time doing things with my husband, we actually golf a lot. I also love to play with my dogs, we have two boston terriers, Vern and Sadie, they’re the best! And my FitBit! I am obsessed with my FitBit!

What was your first job?

My very first job was at Outback Steakhouse, I started out as a hostess at 16 and worked there through college over 9 years and made my way to manager. And my first job after college was in medical sales. I actually stayed in the medical area for a while because it was so interesting to me, even the agency I was with prior to IQ was a boutique medical agency.

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

When I was in medical sales I was eventually managing a team of 14 sales people and I really started paying attention to the collateral and materials you need to build rapport and make a sale. So I started getting more interested in the marketing side of sales, and creating collateral that was targeted to both doctors and to patients so they could be better informed advocates of their health. So then I started working with a boutique medical agency that was focused on patient advocacy work. And to keep growing I knew I needed to move to an agency with a multi-industry clientele.

What does “Creative Intelligence” mean to you?

To me, “Creative Intelligence” means that when a client comes to us with a need that they get the strategy that IQ focuses on with consumer decision journeys and research, to guide the creative so that it’s not just pretty, it’s powerful and backed in research and can be proved with ROI results.

At what age do you feel like you finally became an adult?

I think the time I felt the most confident and knowing who I am and being comfortable with it was probably at 34. But if you ask me this tomorrow I might say that I still haven’t figured it out.

Quickfire:

Pudding or Jello?

Pudding.

Beach or pool?

Pool.

Crushed ice or cubed ice?

Crushed.

Kindle or paperback?

Both! It depends on how quickly I want a book or if it’s a favorite I like to reread in an old paperback.

Bright colors or neutral colors?

Neutral.

Now you know a little more about Corrie Smith!

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