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Hey there HQties, I’m here to talk about the phenomenon that’s taking the world by storm: HQ Trivia, and what it can teach us about marketing.

Millions of people stop what they’re doing once, and sometimes even twice, every single day, to play this live trivia game show app, where players answer questions to win cash.

With new features, new hosts, and bigger pots of money up for grabs each week, the HQ Train has only been running for less than a year, but shows no signs of slowing.

In recent memory, there hasn’t been a day that’s gone by where I haven’t found myself talking about HQ. I’m increasingly impressed with this game-changing product and believe it’s not only fun (so. much. fun.), but from a communications and marketing perspective, there are also some industry lessons you can glean from HQ Trivia.

It’s time to get down to the nitty gritty. Let’s get this show on the road.

HQ Trivia App Scott Rogowsky

Here are 5 lessons HQ Trivia can teach you about marketing:

1. Make your audience feel special and involved  

There’s the old adage: “if you try to market to everyone, you reach no one.”

Making your audience feel like the message they’re getting is specifically tailored for them, is impactful.

That can be as simple as, for example, adding a “Hey Edmonton” before a line of copy in a Facebook ad selling something happening in Edmonton. Your attention is grabbed because, hey, you live in Edmonton, this post must be relevant for you. You’re paying attention.

When the Quizmaster, host Scott Rogowsky, specifically shouts out to names and cities during the game, you’re excited. You’re listening. You feel a little special. You’re just a teensy bit more invested. When the game ends and there’s a quick spotlight on all the winners showing their profile pictures and usernames, it adds to players’ excitement.

In terms of involving your audience, the game is now giving people the option to send their friends notifications that HQ is about to begin. How powerful is that? To have your friend, sister, cousin, husband, be the one notifying you to play HQ?

Making your audience feel like they have a say is impactful.

2. There’s power in doing it live, as long as you promote it in advance

Yes, there will inevitably be mistakes when sharing something in a live environment, but there is also something quite thrilling in knowing that you’re engaged in something that over a million other people are too. There’s something thrilling about seeing how many people live and, in that moment, chose the same answer as you. There’s something thrilling about seeing how many people are out at Question 2 because they didn’t know 2 lbs of feathers is heavier than 1 lb of bricks. There’s even something thrilling about seeing the host flub his words a little bit too—it’s not a perfectly choregraphed show.

HQ Trivia reinforces the notion that live content is highly engaging.  

But you’ve got to promote your live content for it to be a success.

From constant push notifications, regular social media posts, 2-minute (or oftentimes, for larger games, longer) live countdowns, next game starts at X time reminders if you just happen to log in before a game begins, and being very clear in all of its messaging that you can play / win one, sometimes two or three times a day at this time or that time, HQ does an excellent job promoting their live product.

So, plan something live and in the moment for your next campaign.

Promote the heck out of it.

Keep at it and see what happens.

3. Repetition works

There’s a comforting quality to repeating words or phrases in the work you’re creating.

When I first started playing HQ Trivia, I hated when host Scott Rogowsky called himself Quiz Khalifa. Who does this guy think he is? I thought.

It didn’t take long for me to change my mind; when I started looking forward to hearing Scott do his little spiel. It didn’t take long for people in the office to shout out “Qumero Numero Uno!” in unison with Scott, or shout “SAVAGE QUESTION!” when more than half of the live participants got the question wrong.

And who doesn’t smile when the Host with the Most calls you an HQtie?

Weaving little repetitive nuggets into your work will stick with audiences, and ultimately lead to bigger brand awareness and association.

There are certainly words and phrases millions of people around the world now associate with HQ.

4. Carefully consider the ‘face’ of your brand

The charming Scott Rogowsky IS the HQ Trivia brand.

You can hear the groans when an alternate host is filling in for him.

Dozens of “Where’s Scott?” is posted in the chat section in a matter of seconds.

You simply cannot talk about HQ without talking about Scott.

That’s both a good and bad thing.

Scott Rogoswky

You need to carefully consider whether your brand should have a face, a spokesperson, someone audiences can immediately associate with your product, service, or campaign.

It might really work for you. It personalizes. It adds a human touch. It makes your brand more relatable. People may love the face of your brand, but what happens if that person is no longer with you? What happens to HQ if Scott quits tomorrow?

Is HQ only HQ because of Scott?

5. Phased approaches can be effective

When HQ first started, it was only available on iOS, attracted just a few thousand players and offered a total prize pot of just $150.

Now it boasts over a million followers per game, is available on both iOS and Android, with prizes that have exceeded $300,000.

As its audience grew, so did the amount of money up for grabs, but it took HQ a long time before they started introducing features that millions of players have now become accustomed to—game sponsors, celebrity guest hosts, alternate hosts, different games at different times, themed games, the functionality of adding friends and seeing what answers they picked. And who knows what’s next.

But the point is, they took their time.

My guess is they had this ‘let’s-take-it-slow’ strategy from the start. 

That gave them time to grow their audience, work out their kinks, and build a pretty compelling case for why advertisers, movie studios, sports leagues and more—should partner with them (throw money at them). Which is exactly what is happening now.

We’ve done campaigns with staggered media buys, launched experiential activations at different stages of the campaign, enlisted influencers and stakeholders during Week 3 instead of Week 1, even released updated creative part-way through a campaign to keep messaging fresh.

It’s a great reminder to consider whether a phased approach, if time and budget allow, could be an effective strategy for your campaign. You don’t need to go ‘all in’ all at once.

There you have it—5 marketing lessons learned from HQ Trivia.

HQ Trivia App Scott Rogowsky

In case you’re wondering, three Calder Bateman staffers have won HQ Trivia:
– Digital Coordinator James Lo – 3x
– Graphic Designer Jacki Wan – 1x
– Associate Creative Director Jon Manning – 1x

I’ve never won.

But that’s what I’m going to try and do right now.

Wish me luck.

And add me on HQ @lindorkyeg.

Interested in learning more about digital/social or campaign strategy? Send Digital Strategist Linda Hoang an email at lhoang@calderbateman.com

About the author

Linda Hoang

Linda can navigate the complex, rapidly evolving world of social media and digital strategy like no one else. With sharp insights, she ensures every client makes real connections with their audience in real time  and she does it all with an infectious laugh.


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