Posts Tagged "Innovation"

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Snapchat is the New Facebook.

A quick explanation of why brands should love Snaps.

Snapchat article by Eric

As our social media channels become overrun with stagnant ads, eager parents (and grandparents), over filtered photos of food, and articles that begin with “Top ten things,” the next generation of users have found a new way of sharing their lives: Snapchat. Brands are looking, too. Snapchat is a mobile only platform that allows real time sharing of someone’s life. No filters, no editing, no “10 reasons why_____.” Just you telling a story with your phone. Casey Neistat does an amazing job explaining the rise of Snapchat in his recent video with Jerome Jarre:

Yet as this new space is emerging, few brands are taking advantage of the 30 million monthly active users, mainly because no one has really figured out the best way how.

Right now there are three ways brands are using it:

Sponsored Snapchat:

These are posts that go out to every user, from Snapchat. They are usually pretty short and generally video. Recently there was a trailer for the Dumb and Dumber movie that went out.

Sponsored Snapchatters:

This is where a company approaches a popular Snapchatter and then asks them to do a story sponsored by them. For instance Casey Neistat spent a day with Karlie Kloss for fashion week, sponsoring and advertising Vogue.com.

Point all other channels to Snapchat:

This allows companies to use their existing audience on their other social channels to follow their Snapchat. This requires them to constantly produce content to keep people involved and interested, which is time consuming and expensive.

Speaking of content, this is the second problem companies are having: quickly producing cheap, quality content. No company (that I know of) is doing that right now. But individuals are, which is exciting because there is a totally new space that is untouched by brand use.

The fact is Snapchat is here to stay. It has been quickly adopted by the next generation of social users, and the current generation is adopting it, too. Snapchat is the perfect space for a new brand to be born on, and an even better space for a current brand to own. The opportunity is ripe. You just have to reach out and take it.

Want to know more about IQ? Contact Us

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The Benefits of the Agile Process

Clients love Agile agencies

In my last post I discussed what Agile and Scrum are, how they can work at an agency, and the 4 top reasons our clients tell us they value working in an Agile way.  Today I want to dive a little deeper into an example of how Agile is flexible, and saves clients time and money.

Many agencies that have moved to Agile claim productivity increases. I’ve seen everything from 25% to 600%!  Of course, a lot depends on how dysfunctional the delivery method was in the first place.

What we do know (and have good data for) is the consistent failure of the traditional waterfall or spiral methods to achieve success, especially with complex engagements.  Since this describes practically all projects that a modern agency is called on to deliver, you can see the problem. We believe the answer is Agile.

At IQ, we had the opportunity to compare the performance of traditional and Agile methods in creating a website for a client. The first version we built using traditional methods and then sometime later we redesigned it using Agile. The results were astonishing.

Agile saved the client over 25% in cost and launched the project 2 months quicker than the previous site. Compared side by side, there was an amazing 75% improvement in both the cost and time to implement.  Equally important the client enjoyed the process and felt they were actually a true partner instead of an adversary.

Let’s take a look at a few specific elements of what happened:

1. Can you get me something earlier for my conference?

There is always something around the corner like a big dealer conference, or a meeting with your CEO.  In both instances we got the question: “Can you get me something quickly to show our progress?”

With the traditional delivery method, all we had was a series of wireframes with arrows and descriptions, plus a static image of what the home page might look like.  That was because the project team wasn’t at the design phase yet. It wasn’t very inspiring and was tough for those with little imagination.

Contrast that with Agile’s iterative method where we get a working prototype every two weeks.  We didn’t have to make anything special, because we already had something ready to go.  The presentation of the working home page drew “oohs” and “ahhs,” our client was a hero and no one questioned our progress.

Strangely, with both methods we were actually at about the same percent complete, but by changing from the assembly line method to Agile, reality really shifted.

2. I just saw this new thing and we gotta have it.

Change is inevitable in any project. At some point you want to make a change because you see something that was hard to know at the beginning.

I used to consider this dreaded “scope creep,” which always resulted in requirements meetings, reviews of the SOW, days of arguing over the scope, more meetings, lost time, hard feelings, and often three steps back to rework previous phases.

What a waste of time and money, and aggravating for a client, who just wanted to make the final product better.

Now, as an Agile agency, we look at ideas as a blessing and even encourage them. In fact, often the most difficult thing is to get our client to understand that they can come up with ideas and get them realized whenever they want.

The client in this case, for example, had the good idea, late in the game, to add some localization.  With Agile it was easy. We moved it into the very next sprint and two weeks later — there it was.   No push back, no forms, no negotiation, just delivering what the client wanted, when they wanted it.

These are just two examples from one project, and there were many more on this project alone. They demonstrate that Agile is flexible, and saves time and money as a result.

Interestingly, however, I have found that it’s the removal of stress, and the shift from an adversarial client/agency relationship, to one of true partnership, that clients notice and value most.

For more insights into how Agile can work for your brand feel free to email with your questions at steve.bevilacqua@iqagency.com.

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4 Reasons Brands Need Agile Agencies

Is your agency Agile? IQ is.

Agile is the latest buzzword in the agency world. It was created as a software development method to solve huge failures in the way people were working.

For example, a study by McKinsey came to this staggering conclusion: “On average, large IT projects run 45 percent over budget and 7 percent over time, while delivering 56 percent less value than predicted”

Agile was designed to stop the bleeding in software creation, but quickly people began to see that it would work on more than just big IT projects. That’s why forward thinking agencies, especially those that do digital, began to replace their old waterfall methodologies with agile across the spectrum of their work.

The advantages for brands of working with agile agencies are many, but can be boiled down to the four benefits outlined below. They sum up how agile works and why it makes sense to have a partner which knows how to do it.

The 4 biggest benefits that agencies using Agile bring to brands:

1. Saves time

All agile projects finish on time.  No hype here, this is absolutely true.  At IQ for example, we use the popular agile methodology called Scrum, which uses time blocks called sprints.  Say each sprint is two weeks. Within each of these two-week sprints, you and your team decide what is going to be completed.  At the end of each sprint you have a working prototype.  It has only a subset of your requirements, but it is a true working model or draft of the end product — not just wires or comps.

This process reduces a lot of time-consuming processes that traditional methods require. Change orders are also completely eliminated, as change control becomes part of the overall process.

2. Saves money

The agile process gives a client a clear and accurate understanding of cost. The team knows how many “stories,” as agile Scrum requirements are called, can be completed in each sprint, and since each sprint is time boxed, you know what each sprint costs.   The team then puts all your stories into sprints, which results in a complete cost and timeline. Gone are cost over-runs and being nickel and dime’d to death with change orders.  Estimation is part of the agile process — not something extra and apart from it. Eliminating all that process and overhead also often allows the agile agency to cost less.

3. No more surprises

At the end of each sprint, you get to see a working model— called a Minimal Viable Product (MVP). The magic here is that you are no longer forced to imagine the final product from a treatment or wireframes. By being able to see a tangible deliverable at regular intervals, you can easily identify problems and enhancements you want to make early on. Gone are the days of waiting eight weeks to finally get your first look, and then having to fight with your agency about what was or wasn’t “in scope”.

4. Greater flexibility

How many times have you had a great idea, or come up with the perfect addition after your project was finished or far along? Try bringing ideas late in the process to a traditional non-agile agency, and get ready to be bombarded with change orders, fees, delays or the inevitable “Let’s do that in phase two” response.  With the agile method, however, your last-minute ideas are welcome. The team simply adds another story, gets you to prioritize it and includes it in the next sprint.

First, agile revolutionized the way software is created, now it’s revolutionizing the way work is delivered in the agency world. For both digital and traditional projects (from websites to print ads), the savings in time and dollars, the flexibility, and the continuous insight you get into a project’s progress have made Agile a game changer for how brands and their agencies work.

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  • 02.25.14

YouTube: The Next Big Thing Is Already Here

Originally presented at the social media conference SoCon14, this deck from IQ’s Assoc. Director of Strategy Noah Echols and Assoc. Director of UX Rachel Peters will show you how to prioritize YouTube in an effective way to leverage active communities to get serious results — something your competition probably isn’t doing.









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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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9 Ways to Win at Warp Speed

Winning at Warp Speed

I just read an article in the New York Times in which an engineer talks about how technology now allows us to embrace complexity instead of run from it, and how the process from having an idea to testing it can now happen in hours or days versus the years it took in the past. This allows companies to test many more ideas, measure their potential and quickly weed the good ones from the bad.

The result is more good ideas found much faster. Of course, this is how all innovation happens. The difference today is the velocity.

This concept of the velocity of ideas makes me think of two conversations that are very active in my agency and the industry. The first is about data. Everywhere I read about “big data” but I have begun to just think of it as just data, and more specifically as analytics.

Our ability to measure everything we do in real-time is not only holding marketing accountable, but more importantly allows us to really understand what’s working and what’s not.

The second is the conversation about agile marketing, an evolution from the agile development approach used in technology. The essential idea of agile is to move faster with less developed work in order to discover problems and opportunities sooner. Some have called it being in a perpetual state of beta.

Both analytics and agile marketing support this concept of increasing velocity. At its core is the fundamental notion that we just don’t know if our ideas will work until we try them, and the more ideas we try the more likely we are to hit something really big.

The number of industries that use this approach is remarkable; financial services, movie studios, toy manufacturers, big food companies, all take a portfolio approach. In essence, they are admitting, that despite their knowledge and experience, they just don’t know what’s going to work, so they are hoping that probabilities will do the trick (and the truth is most times they do).

Movie studios, for example, produce a slate of movies knowing that some will be disasters, most will barely break-even and one or two will become hits. Those last two pay for all the others and then some.

Faced with a much more complex marketplace thanks to digital channels, it’s time for brands and their agencies to take up this velocity approach. With nearly real-time analytics at our side, we should produce and test many more ideas, evaluate them quickly, dump the dogs and move on with the winners.

This approach requires, however, a change in how we do business.

It means we need to rethink how we develop ideas. Instead of working toward the launch of a single idea, we need to develop and test many ideas simultaneously. And not just test them with research, but put them out in the real world where we can see the real consumer dynamics.

With this data in hand, either real winners will reveal themselves, or we will discover clear insights that tell us how to craft a winner. Then imagine doing it over and over again.

As I think about many of the brand and agency organizations I have worked with over the years trying this, the challenges are many, but not insurmountable.

First, you need a culture that from the top encourages risk-taking and embraces the value of appropriate failure. It’s why Google wants to hire entrepreneurs who have a history of trying and failing. They want people who are comfortable with tactical failure and don’t give up. It’s the way of science where famously inventors and scientists are encouraged to try and fail hundreds of times only then to find the prize.

I believe we are rapidly moving back to a marketplace where ideas instead of technology and process will drive success. That’s why I think it’s time for our marketing world to embrace the velocity of ideas approach. It will take changing old cultures, but for the brands that pull it off the results will be spectacular.

9 Ways to Win at Warp Speed:

  1. Ideas drive success, not technology or process.
  2. Rethink how you develop ideas.
  3. More ideas means more chances for the big win.
  4. Don’t launch a single idea. Develop and test many ideas simultaneously.
  5. Move faster with less developed work in order to discover problems and opportunities sooner.
  6. Measuring performance in real-time allows you to know what’s working
  7. Try many ideas, measure and quickly weed the good from bad.
  8. Publish in the real world with real consumer dynamics.
  9. Rinse and repeat

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How to Clone Your Best Salesperson

How to Clone Your Best Salesperson

Imagine this: sales people that never get tired, never need vacations and happily work 24/7; they don’t need commissions and you always know where they are and what they’re doing. Best of all, every one of them is as good as your best salesperson.

Believe it or not, that is exactly what your company website can and should be.

Too often, brand or company websites are just glorified brochures or worse, repositories for tens of thousands of documents. Enormous amounts of time and money go into expensive content management systems and complex technology that make these sites function, but nobody really seems to answer the most important question: how is our website going to drive sales?

First, you should recognize that your website has become pretty important to your prospects. As the 2013 “Trust in Advertising” study from Nielsen revealed, brand websites are now the second most trusted form of advertising, second only to personal recommendations. This is important because it means that brand sites have become the preferred way that prospects explore a purchase. It’s where they form opinions about your company and about the only place (short of a face-to-face pitch) where you can completely control the story that you tell.

That’s why your website is where your one-on-one sales process should start. The idea is not for the website to replace your salespeople, but rather for it to qualify the opportunities and lay the groundwork for the close.

Today’s technology allows a modern website to simulate a great deal of what a salesperson does. As in a face-to-face pitch, the ideas is to quickly find out what’s important to the prospect and adapt the pitch to be as personally relevant as possible.

Unlike any other marketing medium, a website is uniquely able to become relevant by adapting instantly to a viewer’s choices, responses to questions or behavior, all while keeping them engaged. The result can be a site that tells a story that is personally relevant to each viewer, keeps a dialogue going, and then identifies people ready and qualified to talk to a real salesperson at the right moment.

It’s time to see your website not only as a valuable marketing tool, but equally important as a valuable sales tool. When prospects arrive at your site, they should discover an experience that is as persuasive as your best salesperson.

This experience should be exciting and engaging, presenting your story step-by step, and adapting it to fit the interests and needs of each prospect just as you would if you could have a salesperson there every time. Then when prospects are clearly ready and qualified, it should deliver them to sales for the close.

Today’s technology and design make websites capable of this kind of smart, personalized selling experience. It doesn’t replace sales, but instead leverages technology to let you scale your story and maximize your sales potential.

When a website becomes part of an integrated digital selling system, it enables you to connect, cultivate and convert consumers with more predictability than ever before. This new model replaces the old, simple funnel model and recognizes that today’s journey to buy anything is really complex. It’s a journey that needs a new model.

For a more comprehensive look at the “Connect, Cultivate, Convert” model, view the 3C’s presentation.

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A Level Playing Field: How Small Brands Can Win with Digital

david and goliath malcolm gladwell

The marketing playing field is a lot more level than it ever used to be thanks to how digital has changed things. As a result, small brands now have the chance to fight and sometimes even beat big brands.

The David & Goliath legend would have us believe that beating powerful opponents is about luck or divine providence.

The true story of David and Goliath, as told by Malcolm Gladwell in his new book, tells us that Goliath, despite his size and apparent power, was actually slow, and suffered from double vision as a result of the medical condition that had turned him into a giant. David, on the other hand, also contrary to appearances, was not just some shepherd boy.

He was actually a highly trained slinger, the marksman of his age, who could let fly a projectile traveling as fast as a .45 caliber bullet, with sufficient accuracy to bring down a bird in flight.

So what appeared on the surface to be one situation was in fact something else entirely. David used intelligence, insight, strategy and speed to beat the unbeatable giant. He used his advantages while turning his opponents disadvantages against him.

Digital channels offer similar opportunities for smaller brands.

In the pre-digital days, brands had little choice but a head to head battle. Usually the brand that could put up more media money, usually in broadcast and print, won. While the originality of creative could have a multiplier effect, as it always does, the key was always the weight of paid media a brand could bring to bear.

Jump to today and a marketing environment in which paid media has become much less influential as owned and earned media have gained power. Now brands have the opportunity to use intelligence, insight, strategy and speed, just like David, to run rings around the giants. Of course many of the giants have figured out their weaknesses and are not quite as lumbering as they used to be. But at the very least the battle is now one of wits, not just about size.

This presents smaller brands with the opportunity to punch way above their weight if they take advantage of the digital opportunities in front of them. These mostly revolve around smart search optimization, content creation, social media, brand websites and mobile experiences.

If a brand’s digital ecosystem is imagined and managed with insight and creativity, David can hold his own against Goliath – and sometimes even beat him.

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Presentation: 10 Key Ingredients of a Modern Brand Website

At the center of an integrated marketing ecosystem (I hate that word too, but it works) is the brand website. But it still amazes me how many brands don’t get what it has to do. This deck tells the story.










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Delayed Gratification and the Fear of the Future

Delayed Gratification and the Fear of the Future

We’ve all heard of the experiment that was done in the 60’s where kids were promised big treats, but only if they didn’t eat the yummy marshmallow sitting in front of them. The researchers were testing the degree to which kids could delay gratification in order to receive a greater reward in the future.

The kids didn’t do very well, and since then our increasingly instant gratification world has left many with the impression that perhaps our culture suffers from a lack of self-control.

An article in the New York Times last Sunday outlined recent studies that seem to point to a different reason why people opt for short-term rewards vs. the promise in the future. The research points to our uncertainty of the future as a key influence in decision-making.

The basic idea is a bird in the hand is real, but who knows what could happen if you go for the two in the bush. This reflects our universal experience of the unpredictability and uncertainty of the future.

For example, if you arrive at a train platform and it is packed with people, do you assume that the train is likely to arrive soon or that it has been delayed? Without more data, many would be influenced by the unpredictability of life and some might opt for a cab rather than an undefined wait. On the other hand, a simple clock showing when the next train was due would take all the uncertainty out of the situation.

In another version of the marshmallow experiment, two groups of kids were promised a reward from a researcher for not eating the marshmallow. In one group, before the experiment started the researcher demonstrated behavior that showed he was unreliable, in the other group the researcher showed himself to be completely reliable. The kids with the unreliable researcher waited 3 minutes before eating the marshmallow, the kids with the reliable researcher waited 12 minutes.

All of this got me thinking about behaviors brands ask of consumers such as filling out forms, watching videos and so on. In so many instances we require a consumer to do something based on the promise of something that will (or more likely may) happen in the future.

All too often, consumers do not know when it will happen, how long they will have to wait, or what will happen while they are waiting.  I can easily see this feeding that fundamental sense of future uncertainty that the researchers talk about.

So, how as marketers can we bring a sense of certainty to these interactions?

One answer is to tell people how long things are going to take. We can also tell them exactly what is going to happen while they are waiting.

It’s clear that before consumers invest time in an action or an activity they go through a risk or reward calculation. If the uncertainty of the future is a part of their calculation, it’s up to us to come up with ways to minimize its effect.

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

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