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Posts Tagged "Creative"

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  • 09.29.15

IQ CEO Tony Quin interviewed in Cannes

Recently IQ CEO Tony Quin made a pilgrimage to the Cannes Lions festival, representing both the agency and the Society of Digital Agencies (SoDA) as the Chairman. While at the festival he participated in the Executive Perspectives interview series and shared his thoughts on advertising trends, the benefits of having talented, driven employees and how data drives strategy and creative to produce exceptional work at IQ.

Here are a few notable excerpts from the interview:

KR: How would you define success in your role?

TQ: The most important job that I have as CEO is to have a sense of where we need to be as an agency 24 months from now so that I can be making sure that the agency is moving toward that. That’s the most important. Because if you don’t get that right, you’re not in business.

KR: What do you do to help your team be successful and help keep them in line with your goals for the company?

TQ: My job is to make sure that I have the smartest people on the bus, and not necessarily in the right seats, and listen to them and empower them. What I’ve learned is that if you just collect really smart people who have the right character for the work, then they are going to tell you the right place to go.

KR: In a world so driven by data today, why do you think creative still matters?

TQ: Creative is the business of connecting emotionally to people. Creative is not about data. Creative itself is really not measurable. Data helps to tell you where to point creative. The strategy that comes out of data – because data itself means nothing; it produces insights and strategy – tells you how to pick the places where you want to spend your money and those places are where you’re going to apply your creative. That last mile is informed by data but it’s always takes some magic which is inspiration and an understanding of the psychology of the people. It’s really hard to make that a science.

KR: Do you feel like creative always needs to be measured?

TQ: You can measure the end result of whether something happens or not. There is some testing you can do around creative. It’s the whole Steve Jobs approach to doing new things. You can’t base it on what’s happened in the past so at some point somebody is taking a leap of faith or just having a creative idea and you just have to go with it or not. You don’t really know what’s going to happen.

KR: How do you motivate your team on a day-to-day basis?

TQ: Every company, whether it’s a big company or a small company, has to have a vision of tomorrow. It’s kind of what we’re selling to our brands. Any kind of branding is a promise for tomorrow. That promise is, in some way, “tomorrow is going to be better.” It’s the same thing with a team. The reason you’re doing this work, other than getting a paycheck, is to create some better thing and you have to define that a little bit for people and make them excited.

KR: Can you describe the attributes of one of your top performers?

TQ: What I look for is people who are self-motivated, have an entrepreneurial spirit, are not about doing the mechanics of their job. They are about achieving the goals of their job. It’s not really about how they do it; it’s about how they get there, which is very entrepreneurial. I look for people who are sufficiently confident in themselves and aren’t afraid of taking risks.

KR: How would you describe the difference between an idea and a solution?

TQ: Ideas are bigger than solutions. Solutions, you have a problem and some parameters around a problem and you want to find something that solves that problem.  An idea can be much bigger than that. An idea might solve a problem but it might have many more ramifications to it. Ideas are about what capture the imagination of people. They can drive companies. They can change the marketplace. They can create movements. Whereas a solution is just, “I’m really glad we solved that problem.”

KR: What are you looking to take away from Cannes?

TQ: I wear two hats. I have my agency, IQ, and it’s always interesting to hear what’s going on and I always get ideas. With my primary job being what’s going to happen 18 to 24 months in the future and “are we on the right path for that?”, it’s great to come to these places where people are talking about those things, about what’s next. The other hat I wear is as the founder and chairman of the board of SoDA. SoDA is a wonderful organization where I get a chance to give back to my community and to have great relationships with people who are in the same boat that I’m in, running agencies around the world, so that’s very fulfilling.

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  • 12.17.14

Head to Head:

IQ designers duke it out over “how to” or “how to not” follow a brand’s style guide.

Head to Head Style Guide Design

Point: The Type-A Guide to Following Design Rules

By: Lauren Weir, Sr. Designer

Our creative team nominated me to write the point of the article — establishing why you should stick to brand guidelines and how to work creatively within them. And while I’ll give you that I’m the type of person who neatly orders my pens, keeps a daily game plan on my signature yellow notepads and may or may not be easily compared with Monica from FRIENDS, I still have fun and sometimes I show up to work in a banana suit. I just think of brand guidelines like a pair of moon shoes — sometimes kind of clunky, but they help you jump to new heights. They’re also infinitely cool.

Brand guidelines are so important to designing for a brand because they explain and uphold the values and importance of the brand for which you are designing. A strong brand will help increase recognition and brand loyalty, which is directly related to a company’s success and profitability. As Smashing Magazine points out, brands have to reach people through so many different platforms that recognition is critical. As designers, if we do not help a company clearly communicate their messages and uphold the definition of their brand then the brand will start to develop on its own through customer opinions in spaces like social — and we all know how that can go south pretty quickly.

How to stick it to the Book:

  1. Make sure you and your client have a complete understanding of the brand guidelines. Take time to go through the guidelines with your client and ask questions. By sitting down for a conversation first, you’re avoiding the future problems that could arise if the brand guide has any holes. Figure out how strict the guidelines are and what will still be considered within the guidelines if it is not explicitly stated. This will give you a clear understanding where the designs can start to move forward. You can also for a clear idea of what to measure your design successes on and give you, as a designer ground to justify the designs you have produced. You can become a design partner for your client, making recommendations for their design in the future, rather than just a production artist for what they envision for their brand.
  2. Experiment within your limits. Think mixing different martinis, rather than making a mix drink with gin, Bailey’s and Chardonnay. Creating and following parameters set by guidelines can give you the chance to try a ton of experiments on different pieces to create interesting designs that relate back to the brand. For example, within a color scheme, try combining the colors in a different way or in different proportions to create something that is different than what is expected. Sometimes the most successful designs come from a new or updated perspective on already existing guidelines.  Guidelines can help you narrow down what areas to experiment in, rather than spending all of your time looking at the endless design options. Put your design energy in the right places, rather than the places that are already defined.
  3. Measure back to the guidelines. Keep brand goals, audience needs, key messages, and brand personality central to each and every decision made in designing for the brand. It is easier to justify your design decisions because the client has already approved their guidelines. Once you can design really well and with new ideas within the limitations given by the client, you can clearly understand the best way to adapt the brand to new platforms (social, mail, web, etc). The most successful and gratifying design systems work show a strong brand voice and visual style across multiple mediums without becoming too repetitive.

There are many brands out there whose designers rely heavily on the visual guidelines and still create some badass designs. Like these:

Counterpoint: How to Design Outside the Style Guide (and not get caught)

By: Carol Montoto, Associate Creative Director

So I was nominated to write this counterpoint by my team. I guess they see me as that annoying creative who just won’t stick to a style guide. Maybe that’s slightly true, but I see a style guide as just a guide and not an end-all-be-all. It’s tough exploring creative directions to take a brand without wandering outside the style guide a bit. Rebellious design superhero, Paula Scher, talked about guidelines at the Adobe Max Conference (13:00).“Guidelines are difficult things because they’re rules that prevent bad things from happening, but they don’t really promote good things TO happen.”

It’s not that I think designers should irresponsibly blow off style guides and have a creative free-for-all. But as creative experts, it’s our job to ask questions, challenge the rules when necessary, and push our creativity beyond its limits. Personally, it’s my favorite part of the job. The key is to use brand guidelines to maintain the spirit of a brand. As long as your brand remains consistent, recognizable and the design doesn’t suffer, the guide has accomplished its goal. As John Moore from Idea Sandbox put it, “A Brand Style Guide is essentially an internal communication compass. It provides guidance on how a business should communicate the Identity, Personality, and Authenticity of a brand.”

Common Style Guide Challenges

There are some style guide challenges every designer is familiar with. An incomplete style guide is the most common. Its creator can’t predict what all the uses for it might be in the future. For example, often it is created for print, not for digital. This leaves important brand details such as color (CMYK versus RGB), and fonts (web-friendly) up for debate. The ridiculously strict, 598-page style guide is just as tough to work with. As blogger Geri Coady explains, “Guides can be so strict that it can be virtually impossible to introduce a little creativity.” If you are spending more time measuring pixels than exploring creative directions, just take a step back. The last thing you want to do is kill any amazing ideas you have because they might not exactly fit the style guide. Sometimes, the style guide looks like the ugliest pair of moon shoes you’ve ever seen. If following the style guide is forcing you to make bad design decisions, you’ll need to bend the rules a bit, for everyone’s sake. Chances are that making some small tweaks will vastly improve the design without looking off-brand. If you can pull this off while keeping the brand police happy, nice job.

How to Design Outside the Style Guide:

  1. Know the rules before you break them. Read the style guide. Thoroughly. Really get to know it. THEN you’re ready to challenge the rules. You’ll need to have a good reason for doing so, not just because you think it’s fun to break rules. (Sorry.)
  2. When in doubt, share your thoughts with your client. Even something as small as an inverted white logo on a dark background may just have never come up for a brand. Crazy, I know. If you want to challenge the style guide, why not just talk with your client? Paula Scher suggests making your client a co-conspirator with you (16:52). Be up front and explain to them why you need to deviate from the brand guidelines. You’d be surprised how effective this can be.
  3. Don’t let the style guide become a design crutch. At the end of the day, people will see the final product and NOT the style guide you are following, no matter how beautiful that guide may be. Don’t be afraid to push the creative. The brand police will rein you in if necessary.

Above all else, just remember, “I was just following the style guide” is not an excuse for bad or boring design. Have fun and rebel — responsibly.

Want to know more about IQ? Contact Us

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  • 11.07.14

IQ Spotlight: Tricia Gillentine, Art Director

IQ-er Spotlight: Tricia Gillentine

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.

Alright, let’s get this started. For the super-official record what is your name, and what is your title here at IQ?

My name is Tricia Gillentine, and I am an Art Director here at IQ.

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

I knew what I wanted to be before I knew the name for it. I knew that I wanted to do creative work. But it wasn’t until I was about to graduate from college that I realized what an Art Director actually was… I found a magazine called CMYK and discovered one of the portfolio schools here in Atlanta. So I moved to Atlanta to go to Creative Circus and now, several steps later in my career adventure, here I am.

What brings you the most joy in your day-to-day work here at IQ?

My Co-workers. Is that cheesy? I love just feeding off the energy here. Although, I have to say though I enjoy, but am also completely weirded out by the wildlife here. There have been two snake encounters, a vulture that just hangs out on our porch all day, and at least one lizard rescue.

What do you enjoy most about working with a new client?

I love the new design challenges it brings. It often sparks new ideas and teaches me about industries that otherwise wouldn’t know anything about.

What is your favorite current design trend?

I’m really loving the movement back to hand-type.

What does “Creative Intelligence” mean to you?

I think it means making work that people will stop and look at because it’s beautiful, but then they’ll have that “A-ha!” moment while looking at it, like “oh, that was really smart” or “oh yeah, that totally makes sense.” Brains and beauty.

Now it’s time for the quick-fire questions. I’m going to ask you a series of either-or questions and you give me your first response. First one: Apple or Android?

Apple.

Unicorn or Narwhal?

Oh gosh, that’s a really tough one! Hmm. Narwhal, for sure. They’re like the unicorns of the sea!

Coca-Cola or Pepsi?

Neither. I don’t participate in carbonation, actually.

Pen or pencil?

Pen. Always. Especially the really inky ones, they’re the best.

Would you rather go see live theatre or a live concert?

Theatre play!

So now you know a little bit more about Tricia Gillentine!

Want to know more about IQ? Contact Us

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  • 08.28.14

Rethinking Amazon.com

Eric Beatty Amazon.com redesign

 

A quick note from Clark Moss, IQ’s Executive Creative Director:

Every now and again at the IQ office, spontaneous discussions break out about our “dream brands,” those specific companies that we would just love to work on. It seems everyone in the office has one, from a tech giant to a local bar, a brand name clothing store to a niche-market product manufacturer. To celebrate that, we’ve challenged ourselves to write, design, blog and create ideas around these dream companies. We’ll be sharing them over the next few months on the IQ Agency blog, so please enjoy this first one by Eric Beatty, one of our wonderful Art Directors.

Before I start I want to state that I know that Amazon.com has an amazing team of UX & digital designers, and I know they have reasoning behind each element of the page and it’s placement. The comp that I designed is a direction that I personally think improves the usability of the site.

The Problem with Amazon.com

Amazon.com recently came out with an underwhelming redesign of their homepage. Though it is better then it’s predecessor, it didn’t solve for the overall clutter that is on the homepage. Due to the clutter there is no system of hierarchy to guide the user down the page through the various sections. Instead the user comes to the page and feels overwhelmed, flooded with information and images to take in. I wanted to solve for this.

Amazon's status quo

My Solution

I wanted to get rid of the clutter and focus on the most important things on the homepage: navigation, featured content and suggested products. I also wanted to create a system of hierarchy with the content, breaking up the page with large blocks of featured content  with smaller blocks of suggested products so the user doesn’t get overwhelmed. Finally I wanted to create a space at the top that showcased Amazon’s featured products in the best way possible.

Amazon.com solution

Navigation

Amazon Nav bar redesign

I shrunk the nav, leaving only the most important items: Departments, Prime, Wish list, My Account, Cart & Search. Note that search is front and center, allowing for people to quickly and easily get to it, since this is likely the most used way to navigate the site.

Hero Slider

Amazon hero slider redesign

I made an eye catching, full width image hero slider that showcases each featured product in an emotional way. I noticed that the current hero pieces are small and feel more like ads than a featured section. I wanted to make sure this section shined because this is where Amazon gets to push select items.

Suggested Products

Amazon Suggested Products redesign

I wanted to update the “related to items you’ve viewed” with Amazon’s colors. I feel they don’t use their branded orange enough, and by popping it in every now and then we are able to reinforce the brand subtly through the site. I also gave new spacing to the products to let them breathe, and to give the eye an easier time to see each product.

Featured Products

Featured Amazon Products Redesign

I think it is important to break up the product suggestion section with hero items. This keeps the user from feeling overwhelmed looking at a mass of products. It also provides visual interest and does a nice job breaking up the page.

Note the right side bar didn’t change that much, I wanted to make sure that section remained dedicated to advertisement, that way this is a more realistic approach to the redesign.

Take a look at the project on my Behance for more information. What is your opinion of Amazon.com’s homepage?

 

Want to know more about IQ? Contact Us

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  • 05.02.14

Quick-Step Style Launch

Quick-Step Style Launch

As part of a strategy to re-invigorate the Quick-Step brand, IQ re-imagined the Quick-Step Style blog from the ground up, starting with a fully responsive, mobile-ready design. You can see more details here.

IQ created a blog with greater design flexibility, a fresh look, social integration, and updated content. A more simple layout with pops of color in the images and videos for posts make the new blog easier to navigate for users. There are now five categories of posts to choose from for consumers to tailor their experience. The blog features Quick-Steps products designer, Erinn Valencich, and was relaunched in conjunction with the first episode of NBC’s “American Dream Builders,” a design reality competition show Erinn is a contestant on.

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5 Secrets of the Super-Service Economy

5 Secrets of the Super-Service Economy

The Super-Service economy is here and brands need to adjust their thinking to the realities of consumer expectations.

1. Don’t rely on relationship

In a recent study published in the magazine “Marketing Week,” consumers thought the whole idea of having a conversation with a brand was silly. That caught my eye because so many of us in the marketing world talk about having discussions, conversations, dialogue and relationships with consumers.   Are we kidding ourselves?

According to a recent Deloitte survey of 4,047 respondents in 28 product categories and more than 350 brands, brand loyalty is declining. That’s the 3rd straight year that brand loyalty has gone down. On the surface that would seem to tell us that the relationship approach to marketing isn’t working very well.

2. Conditional Love or none at all

The shift in power from brands to consumers has meant brands have had to come up with a new way to woo buyers. In this 1:1 vs. one to many age, it seemed only logical that the approach should be to make consumers our friends. The thinking went that we could use email, social media, and the rest of the digital toolbox, to simulate a personal, real time relationship. In the end our brand would become a trusted friend and knowledge source, and loyalty would lead to easier and cheaper sales.

Unfortunately it hasn’t quite worked out that way. Consumers have really taken their empowerment to heart and like a pretty girl surrounded by admirers, are enjoying all the attention. Consequently, their minimum expectations of brand performance have only risen as they have experienced brands with the Super-Service approach.

Now with many brands delivering the valuable content, great user experiences and terrific customer service that characterize Super-Service, consumer loyalty has surprisingly become even more flighty and conditional.

3. The table stakes just got higher

The Super-Service model, which until recently set only a few brands apart, is now quickly becoming table-stakes.

So how do brands differentiate themselves in a Super-Service world? How do they win when everyone is delivering a consistent, top-notch experience?

That depends on what kind of brand you have. For many the answer is product innovation, for others creative differentiation, even data can be a route to differentiation and loyalty.

For example, Hyundai already had great prices and a terrific consumer experience in every part of the customer cycle, but it wasn’t enough. So they focused on developing a product that would set them apart, in their case unexpectedly in the higher end segment.  This not only delighted customers, but also redefined the brand.

Amazon built its business on low prices and service, but as its model and competition has matured, it has turned to building loyalty based on data ownership and insights, from Amazon Prime to product recommendations. Banks and financial companies have also started to see data as a route to loyalty, because customers are averse to leaving organizations that hold data that they need.

4. Reciprocity buys less

Wins with the fickle consumer can be very short lived in a “what have you done for me lately” world. The reciprocity that brands used to rely on in building loyalty now has a much shorter echo, with the result that consumers want something new more often. That’s why Hyundai went on to develop innovative, integrated mobile technology and Amazon seems to have a new innovation every day drone delivery It’s also why the blush is fading slightly on Apple, as its products age, its competition strengthens and its customers grow impatient. Unfortunately resting on your laurels today, for even a moment, is risky.

Many brands, however, don’t lend themselves to product innovation like an Apple and Hyundai, or data innovation like Amazon. While a beer can that tells me when it’s cold is cool, it doesn’t change the essential experience of the brand in the same way as introducing the iPhone can.

So instead of trying to create new product attributes, those categories need to focus on attaching new emotional attributes to the brand. Old Spice has famously committed itself to this kind of creative differentiation.

The product doesn’t change, the value doesn’t change, but the story, however, is always changing (the latest: Old Spice). But this takes a really a big commitment to feeding the beast, because, like Chinese food, the fickle audience is hungry again twenty minutes later.

5. Customer experience is the foundation

The foundation for success in the Super-Service economy is the customer experience. Even more so since social media has connected all the parts of the customer cycle, from pre-sale to post-sale, with the result that the customer experience has also become very influential on the acquisition process.  Being a customer and being a prospect used to be two fairly separate states. Of course there was a bit of word of mouth between the two, but nothing like the organized deluge today.

Now, other than the performance of the product or service itself, the experience of being a customer of your brand has become your most important marketing asset or liability.  Which is why it’s amazing to me how so many companies still treat their customers so poorly, putting at risk not only customer loyalty, but also their reputation.

Cable providers and Direct-TV, for example, are notorious. How often do they do anything for their customers except jack up the rates? But for prospects, there’s always a new deal, a new benefit, a new offer, virtually every day.

The good news is that this marketplace is navigable despite its complexity and demanding consumers. With the right modeling and process (3Cs) it can be broken down, understood and managed. This starts with carefully mapping all the connections that make up the consumer journey, and the surrounding influence eco-system. Then the game becomes to decide where you want your brand to sit on the continuum, between product innovation on one end and creative innovation on the other.

However, no matter where you end up, in the Super-Service economy you have to start by making sure that customer expectations, online and offline, are always met and exceeded.

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How to Calculate ROI for Customer Experience

How to Calculate ROI for Customer Experience

If you’re a marketer, you hear the term customer experience a lot. It’s a convenient catch phrase for all the experiences that a consumer has with a brand from awareness to advocacy and it’s the product of user experience design (UX) work, which focuses on creating superior customer experiences.

While many people intuitively understand that customer experience is pretty important, however, they don’t always see the value of user experience design. Value is the keyword here because at some point you are probably going to have to justify an investment in UX.

For example, the ROI (return on investment) of the user experience for a website has been a comparatively easy to figure out in the digital world. You can value and compare the conversion rate before you redesign a website using UX and also afterwards. Improvements in simplicity and relevance invariably deliver better results, which can be easily measured. The calculation gets harder, however, when a brand has to consider investing in a unified customer experience strategy and execution.

Since people hop from channel to channel so quickly and frequently today, a brand can’t have a good experience in one place and a lousy experience in another, especially when all it takes is one difficult, inconsistent experience to damage all your good work.

A friend recently went into Home Depot looking for a sawhorse. After looking in vain and not finding anyone to help him, he went to Lowe’s and used a prominently displayed Product Finder to quickly find it. He then posted to Facebook that he was done with Home Depot and Lowes was now his vendor of choice. He has over 200 friends, so what’s the cost of that customer experience faux pas?

As Forrester says:

“A good user experience builds brand equity with every interaction, but a bad one can completely erode that equity on all levels. Worse, it can cause a customer to leave you for a competitor, never to return again.”

What brands clearly need is a unified experience that reflects an in-depth understanding of what the consumer is trying to accomplish, while at the same time differentiating the brand. The good news is that consumers still want relationships with brands; the bad news is that consumer standards are so much higher than ever before, and they no longer have patience for brands that don’t do their homework.

The work of user experience results in the design of all the interactions that a brand has with consumers. That includes interactions on websites, mobile apps, social channels, the telephone or in the store. Its purpose is to ensure that interactions not only succeed in their purpose, but reinforce the brand promise and identity. UX design must therefore be based on a comprehensive understanding of the consumer, the context and the category. That means starting with research, journey mapping, competitive analysis, content strategy and all the other foundational work that informs UX design.

It’s not cheap and it’s tempting to skip it, but according to numerous studies it costs 50-100 times the original investment to fix an experience that’s not working, to say nothing of the cost of repairing a broken brand perception.

Many would argue that the field of battle between brands now is not technology or even creative, but customer experience. However for many seeing the connection between a better customer experience and the UX work required to get there isn’t always clear.

A few of the numerous benefits great UX delivers includes more consumer engagement through increased conversion rates, ease of use, higher satisfaction and higher comprehension, better ROI from larger transactions, more lead identification, improved brand equity, higher customer retention, reduced costs from fewer redesigns, fewer errors, less maintenance, and less support.

Of course it would be terrific to have an easy ROI calculation that makes the business case for investments in UX. Some organizations claim that every dollar invested in UX delivers a return of 2-100 times, but in the end it is a very difficult calculation.

It’s akin to asking the value of a great advertising campaign versus one that’s just OK. We all know intuitively it can be huge, but how do you measure the value of originality in advance? Some might also point to the cultural orientation of a company as an indicator as to whether UX will be recognized as a value or not. Companies that have internalized a marketing culture, which are few, are more likely to see value vs. manufacturing and distribution oriented companies that often have a deep mistrust of marketing.

The bottom line is that in a world where consumers rule, great customer experience is table stakes for any serious player. That means taking a serious, systematic, scientific approach to getting there, which requires great UX.

What do you think? Tell us in the comment section below!

Want to know more about IQ? Contact Us

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7 Questions for Your 2014 Marketing Plan

2014 marketing plan

Most marketers are well into planning their 2014 budgets–an arduous process that runs the gauntlet of budget approvals. And even though it’s invariably about the numbers, at some point you know someone will be asking you, “What did you accomplish?”

With that in mind, here are a few questions to ask yourself about your 2014 marketing plan to ensure you have a great story to tell this time next year.

1. Does Your Plan Reflect The Way Your Target Audience Engages With Media?
You would be surprised by how many marketing plans still start with traditional media and then add digital. That doesn’t mirror the importance of digital media to your consumers, which is why it’s time for a digital-first plan. That doesn’t mean you cut out traditional marketing–it just means you start with digital at the center of your plan. Consumers form their buying decisions through digital influences so much that to approach consumers in any other way is foolhardy.

2. Have You Done Your Strategic Homework?
The path to purchase is now so complex that you have to map it as the Consumer Decision Journey. This is a channel-agnostic process, which maps the journey for each of your target audience segments so you can see where the critical interaction points are. When combined with other audience research and competitive analysis, you get an accurate picture of when and where it’s most effective to influence your prospects.

3. Do You Have A Content Plan?
How you communicate with prospects when they are exploring your category is different than when they are evaluating options. So whether it’s the copy in an ad or a video on your Web site, you have to know exactly what to say to each audience segment, at every stage in the journey. The only way to know for sure is by doing the work of a content strategy, which acts as the messaging guide for all of your communications.

4. Does Your Plan Prioritize Owned, Earned, And Paid Media Intelligently?
The good news is many opportunities for exposure exist today that do not require you to buy media. This exposure saves you money, but has more influence on consumers than paid advertising. Therefore, your plan should start with owned and earned media before jumping to paid media. If your agency suggests otherwise, then it’s probably making money by spending yours.

5. Do You Have An Integrated Measurement Plan?
Marketers have correctly come to expect detailed metrics and analytics for everything they do. This not only allows you to optimize as you go, but also to measure your performance against goals and plan ahead. In order to really get the value of all this data, you need to plan with clear goals and KPIs, an integrated view of data from all media (both digital and traditional), and a really good analyst to tell you what it all means.

6. Is Your Digital Infrastructure In Place?
The basic idea of an integrated marketing plan is to tie together your marketing touch points into one unified system across all forms of media. This requires some basic pieces of digital infrastructure, which you can’t do without.

This includes probably the most important piece: a mobile-friendly Web site. According to Nielsen, consumers trust brand Web sites more than any other marketing, so your Web site has to be designed for mobile devices.

But technology is not enough.

The Web site is where you must cultivate that trust and convert general interest into sales. This requires state-of-the-art strategy and user experience design. Remember, it’s up to your site to convert interest into action, so make sure yours is best-in-class. Other areas that are often part of digital marketing infrastructure are your social presence across social touch points, search engine optimization (SEO), and search engine marketing (SEM), email, ratings and reviews, mobile Web sites or apps, and marketing automation.

7. Is Content A Priority?
Perhaps the biggest problem with most plans is a lack of focus on content. The word “content,” of course, is a catch-all that includes everything from banner ads and TV spots to videos and interactive tools. All of your planning, media, and infrastructure are there to deliver content. That’s because content is the part of the equation that influences the consumer.

Brands that commit to creating an ongoing stream of high quality, original, compelling content in all forms win hearts and minds. Brands that don’t, regardless of the rest of their marketing investment, cannot win.


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  • 09.17.13

UX Design: My Favorite Features Aren’t Features

User Experience blog

“The design of your product is only as good as its smallest part.” –Dan Saffer, Microinteractions: Designing with Details

The other night I was browsing the Zappos iPhone app for a new pair of boots. I found a pair I liked and added it to my favorites…and that’s when a kitty cat surrounded by hearts flew across my screen.

Seriously.

Zappos "favorites" kitty.

Yes, that’s a kitty dropping a pair of boots into my favorites list, slowing her descent with a heart-be-speckled umbrella. (Don’t you want to download the Zappos app and try it now?)

What’s the connection between a cat and boots? Maybe Puss in Boots, maybe not.

But really, who cares? The interaction clearly told me the item had been added to my favorites, and it made me laugh. Now that’s delighting your users!

Introducing…microinteractions.

In his book Microinteractions, Saffer provides the example that if a feature is a video player, a microinteraction is the volume control. These interactions are often a single task: a setting, an on/off switch, or similar. They’re tiny and often go unnoticed…until they fail or delight.

Zappos’ cat is fairly whimsical, but consider the slightly more serious profile editor for Myspace. After you’ve set up your account the first time and you return to your profile, only the content you filled in displays. When you hover over this content, the borders of a field show up so you know you can edit it.

myspace - 1 myspace - 2

In-line editing is not that new of an idea, but Myspace takes it a step further. When you click to edit the content, the rest of the profile fields (the ones you didn’t complete last time) display so you can see the entire form. Clever!

myspace - 3

Several microinteractions work together to make up this feature (the editor). The user’s content is given highest priority, while the other potential content (i.e. the blank fields) is only provided when the user requests to change their profile content.

The design doesn’t outshine the content. It enhances the experience of filling in that content. It’s only a profile editor, and a standard form design would work just as well. But would it seem as cool or fun?

Don’t forget the details

Microinteractions are tiny, but they can create a big impact on the overall user experience. So don’t forget to spend time on them even if they aren’t the shiny feature every digital agency or UX’er wants to work on.

You may also like:

Strategic Marketing: We’re All Data Points

The Big Data Bamboozle

7 Steps for a Better Voice & Tone

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How to Utilize the YouTube Partner Program

YouTube Partner Program

If you’ve been following my series on YouTube, you’ve already heard me harp on the importance of creating content specifically for the YouTube community rather than just re-purposing ads created for TV. With Google’s announcement at Cannes Lions that it’s expanding its partner program to include advertisers, it is reinforcing that imperative.

The YouTube Partner Program has been for quite some time a way for content creators to improve production value, reach more people, and monetize their content on a huge platform. So, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to allow advertisers in unless Google is trying to encourage the production of higher quality, YouTube-centric content.

Anthony Ha at TechCrunch writes:

“…Google seems to be encouraging businesses to create advertising that’s designed specifically for the video site, rather than just repackaging existing TV ads and video content. Those kinds of custom campaigns could potentially be more lucrative for YouTube and its content partners.”

So, what exactly does this YouTube-centric content look like? Let’s take a look at a few great examples:

Display Ads Can Be Entertaining

First (and probably one of my favorites despite its age), is the Desperados Experience: Breakthrough. Although it isn’t live anymore, you can see how deeply interactive the ad was, inviting the user to participate directly in the ad.

What is interesting about this ad is that it is really just a flash ad like any other banner ad you find around the Web. But it is more interesting because it was made for a specific channel and gave users an entertaining way to interact with the brand instead of simply pushing its message on users.

Invest in Useful Content

Another great use of YouTube is BBQGuys.com, a company that sells grills and other outdoor products. On its YouTube channel, the company provides quick tips for grilling success, content that apparently thousands of people find useful. Here’s just one example:

This is an example of a company that is investing in content as its primary marketing strategy. It provides useful information for its target audience and puts that content where it knows they will be searching.

Understand Consumer Culture

We all know that when ads resonate with consumers, they do well. Typically that means understanding what is going on with them culturally. Last summer, AARP created a response video to the season’s number 1 hit, “Call Me Maybe.”

Not only was this a smart play for AARP for gaining awareness because of the popularity of the song, it was also smart because music is a major driver of a large percentage of YouTube views. The video hit both popular culture and YouTube culture right where they meet.

Leverage Influencers

YouTube is full of regular people who have risen to stardom by creating entertaining videos. In fact, it has been reported that some of the top YouTube stars are making six-figure salaries just by posting videos each week.

As they amass huge followings, it makes sense that brands would partner with them to promote their products. Not only does this ensure that your product gets in front of their fans, it is received well by consumers because the brand is borrowing the influencer’s legitimacy to earn their trust.

Whew! You made it through that video. I’ll admit, it isn’t something I find entertaining (I stopped watching at 2 minutes), but it has been viewed over 7 million times. That’s great news for Kraft who recognized the enormous popularity of the SMOSH Brothers.

This is the third and final part of our series on YouTube advertising.

Check out the rest of the series here:

Why YouTube Should Matter to Brands in 2013

Before You Start: YouTube for Brands