All posts by Grace Gerass

We cleaned up big at the MANNYs this year

Grace

Each year, the MCAN group meets to collaborate and discuss trends, best practices and other issues facing the advertising industry. Oh, and they hold an event called the MANNYs where they shell out some pretty neat awards. Which we won eight of (but who’s counting?).

Not familiar with the MANNYs? We’ll break it down for you.

What’s MCAN?

MCAN (Marketing Communications Agency Network) is a group of agencies dedicated to sharing ideas, resources, creative talent and thought leadership among advertising and marketing professionals. Quinlan has been a member for the past 10 years.

What are the MANNYs?

Every year, the MCAN group holds an annual conference. This year, its members met January 18 through 20 in Daytona Beach, Florida. The two-day conference featured sessions on a variety of marketing topics, including a special presentation from Daytona International Speedway President Chip Wile on developing a destination marketing campaign.

At the end of each conference, the group concludes with an award ceremony. All of the agency members were invited to submit their work from 2017 in categories including traditional, digital, video and web and their work was reviewed by independent judges in the ad industry.

“We’re thrilled to be recognized for all of the great work we accomplished this year,” Gary Miller, Quinlan’s president and CEO, says. “We’re so lucky to have the client partners who allow us to do these projects.”

Here’s what we won

  • Best B2C Quinlan
  • Television – :30 or :60 or Online Video Gold – Life Storage – Built By Us by Quinlan
  • Consumer Mailer Campaign – 2 or More Pieces Gold – Level Financial – Cornerstone Direct Mail by Quinlan
  • Website – Business-to-Business Gold – ACI Controls by Quinlan
  • Interactive Campaign (Web, Mobile, Social) Gold – Softlips – #RumpLumps Campaign by Quinlan
  • Social Silver – Softlips Social Media Campaign by Quinlan
  • Corporate Video Bronze – Sahlen’s – How to Grill a Hot Dog by Quinlan
  • Agency Self Promotion – Video, PR, Direct Mail Bronze – A Marketer’s Christmas Carol by Quinlan

Want to learn more about the cool stuff we made in 2017? Looking for an advertising agency to partner with in 2018? Tweet us at @QuinlanCompany.

3 B2B Content Marketing Myths You Need to Know the Truth About

Grace

We know what you may be thinking already: Content marketing? Blogs and social media are for those fun, energetic B2C brands (you know, the ones those crazy millennials are always talking about). There’s no place for that kind of frivolous marketing in the B2B world.

Well, we understand why you may think that — but we’re here to tell you that we’d beg to differ. As it turns out, 88 percent of B2B marketers use content marketing. Eighty-eight percent! That’s a lot. It’s okay if you need to take a second to let that number sink in.

In the meantime, let’s back up real quick and talk about what this really is. The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience—and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.

Still not convinced it’s the right move for your B2B business? It probably has something to do with the common misconceptions that’ve been thrown your way. Not to worry, though. Your favorite Buffalo content marketing agency is here to break down four B2B content marketing myths you need to know the truth about.

1. A blog won’t do anything for a B2B business.

Blogs are an integral part of any marketing strategy that drive traffic directly to a website. By blogging about specific topics, issues and trends tailored to their target audience, B2B businesses can provide valuable solutions and position themselves as industry thought leaders. Additionally, blogs serve as a great way to convert traffic into leads. Organizations can use call to actions to learn more or an offer to download additional content in exchange for names, emails and other information.

So how does this work, exactly? Well, 94 percent of B2B buyers conduct online research at some point in the buying process. What B2B content marketing experts like Quinlan do is produce content that answers a buyer’s questions and can be found easily when they use search engines like Google. Once they read your content, there’s a higher chance that they’ll trust your company’s brand and click through your site to find their specific solution. We do this by taking an SEO-based approach to our content creation (which means we’re measuring topic viability, keywords and search volume upfront to determine the best opportunity to rank in search).

2. Other people can’t write about our industry.

It’s true that your company produces a unique, complex product or service. However, a trained writer will be able to use a variety of resources and collaborate closely with you to make sure their content meets your business’ goals, the audience’s preferences and the right brand voice and tone.

Take us, for example. We write content that converts for O-Rings, seismic dampers and process temperature control solutions. Many of our clients are focused on the same industries such as medical, energy, food and oil and gas. We’re able to take our experience and leverage this knowledge across various business types.

3. Social media doesn’t make sense for B2B.

This one couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, 93 percent of B2B marketers report using social media content as a marketing tactic. Social media allows engineers and manufacturing professionals to search or share information with their professional contacts and stumble upon work-related articles.

Of the available social media platforms, most B2B marketers use LinkedIn (94 percent). This makes sense, since businesses can take advantage of LinkedIn is by using groups, share content, find answers to important questions, view jobs and establish themselves in the industry. Not too far behind is Twitter (87 percent) and Facebook (84 percent).

And it’s not enough just to put your content out there. Once you’ve decided you’re going to use social media, you also need to have a plan for promoting it in order to get it in the eyes of the right people (we’re talking about your past, current and potential customers).

When leveraging social media for B2B companies, our media team completes an in-depth review to determine the available audience pool based on your target. For example, we can get as granular as looking for procurement and buying professionals within the composites industry. By determining the appropriate share of voice and spend level (based on your business goals), we’re able to set specific expectations upfront so your business isn’t left in the dark.

4. We don’t have the time or budget.

You’re not alone in this one. One of the biggest issues marketers have come across is creating engaging content in high quantities. In fact, 60 percent of B2B content marketers report that they struggle to produce engaging content, 57 percent believe they can’t produce it consistently and 35 percent say there’s a lack of budget.

One way to avoid this issue is by creating long-form, quality blogs that can be repurposed into other popular forms of content. That means that all of the time put into producing one blog post, for example, could see a second (or third, or fourth) life in the form of a video, whitepaper, etc.

Currently, the CMI reports that B2B marketers are using the following tactics as part of their entire content marketing strategy:

b2b content marketing

 

By creating new titles and reusing parts of a well-performing blog to produce eBooks, infographics, whitepapers or other mediums, content creators can extend their reach and attract a new audience.  What this really comes down to is having a solid strategy in place that effectively utilizes your budget.

If you’re looking for B2B  content marketing help, make sure you’re partnering with experts who are able to take your budget and provide you with an efficient, cost- effective content strategy.

B2B content marketing right at home in Buffalo.

Are you ready to start a content marketing strategy? Still not convinced it’s the right method for your B2B business? Either way, we’d love to sit down and talk with you about how content marketing can transform your business. To set up an in-person meeting with us or to learn more about our content marketing capabilities, contact us online or tweet us at @QuinlanCompany.

How to measure creative risk: A story of Casual Fridays

Grace

Flashback to June 2016: minutes before our big premiere. For the past few months, our office had been turned upside down as conference rooms became video sets and work spaces became dressing rooms. Sure, we were pretty proud of the videos we created, but what if we were the only ones who thought we were funny? What if nobody even kind of liked them?

It’s no big deal, right? We’re only in a screening room filled with over 120 of our closest friends, family, colleagues and clients. You know, the people who matter the most to us.

See, our agency had gone through quite the transition the past few years as we went from a traditional advertising agency no one had really heard about to a digital shop that prides itself on its unique culture. As part of this transformation, we created a new video series called Casual Fridays. And we invited everyone we knew to a season two premiere to show off our work.

“We created Casual Fridays to humanize our brand,” Frank Conjerti, our creative director, says. “We wanted to reintroduce ourselves to clients and change Quinlan’s perception.”

Each Friday, we’d launch a new episode highlighting advertising topics ranging from legendary ads we didn’t know were ads, to data vs. creativity, getting the most out of the writer in your life and beyond. And we were really successful – more than half of season one’s videos had an average of 75 percent viewer engagement.

But what did that mean? Was it our creative risk that was bringing people back? Some studies have found that creative messages lead to positive attitudes about the products being marketed, but no one is really looking to see if that risk pays off (possibly because they’re afraid there may be no correlation).

So with that nagging question in mind, we put on our analytical hats, devised a plan to measure our creative risk and buckled up for a productive season two.

Casual Fridays Season Two: Better quality, bigger budget and more weird jokes.

 

We learned a lot about branding from season one of Casual Fridays, but we knew we had to turn it up a notch for season two. We upped our production quality, increased media spend (boosting our Facebook promotion by over 1,200 percent) and made the decision to move to a fully scripted sitcom.

“The first time around, we were really focused on injecting humor into thought leadership segments,” Frank says. “For season two, the humor took over. We reviewed the detailed video analytics from season one and that influenced our creative decisions for season two. When we took more creative risks, our viewer engagement numbers skyrocketed – that, and making a sitcom sounded a lot more fun.”

Those few months may’ve been a little hectic, but there was no doubt in our minds we were having fun. But then came the hard part: looking at the creative and performance analytics to evaluate if our creative risk actually paid off.

How the hell do you quantify creativity?

Yeah, we know. Creativity is subjective. But in order to effectively measure something, you have to put a number on it. After some thoughtful deliberation, we came to the conclusion that the best way to rank each episode was by creating an episode scale – a “scale-o’-weirdness,” if you shall.

How we did it: We came up with seven categories. These included how safe or unique our plotlines were, the structure of the scripts themselves and a number of smaller variables (think curse words, weird jokes, farts, obscure Simpsons references, etc.) and calculated how many times each variable occurred in each episode. By adding up all of the tallies, we could calculate a score. We then used that score to rank each episode in order from the least to the most creative.

Breaking down episode analytics.

Our initial plan was robust. We were testing a number of different things, including what hosting platforms worked best for the show’s overall performance. The episodes lived on our site through Wistia, but also lived independently on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

How we did it: Instead of trying to find some logical way to make sense of every bit of data we had, we thought it best to stick to the one we thought gave us the best picture overall: Facebook. Not only was the sample size much larger, but Facebook’s promotion and timing were much more consistent. Similarly to our creative scale, we were able to look at video views, post interactions, post reach and other factors to rank each episode in terms of performance.

Here’s what we came up with.

measuring creative riskThe scales may not correlate perfectly, but hey – they’re pretty damn close. As you can see, Deus Ex Frankina, Generation Gaps and Buzzwords line up perfectly. Workaholic, Dress Code and Jillian Wins an Award are only off by one and Chili Cook-Off is off by two.

While Chili Cook-Off is a bit of an anomaly (we’d line up almost exact without it), we think it’s important to note that this video went live the week after July Fourth – the chunk of time otherwise known as the most popular week for summer travel. Similarly, Dress Code, having been released the week of July 4, was another slight deviation that was affected by the travel week.

“Ideally, we try to avoid weeks with lower-than-average media performance, but we didn’t want to defer our schedule for this campaign,” Malorie Benjamin, our media director, says. “We also planned an equal spend budget for each episode, which means we didn’t spend more money on this episode to offset the holiday.”

At the end of the day, we’d say it’s fair to assume this correlation means something. The numbers are there: people watched, shared and loved the episodes with the weirdest storylines, craziest interactions and most obscure references.

What we learned from it all.

Casual Fridays was a huge step forward for Quinlan. It taught us how to push the bar and rethink creative limits for our agency, our clients and ourselves personally.

“Traditionally, there’s been this archaic assumption that self promotion isn’t important,” Franks says. “But experience really is the best teacher there is. By using ourselves as the guinea pig, we were able to experiment, learn from our mistakes and have a solid strategy in place for clients.”

It also broke the mold on how we approached branded content. Sure – a few people may have rolled their eyes at our corporate cursing and office nudity, but the overwhelming majority of our new business contacts are familiar with the series before we even meet them. And while that may not mean they’re quite ready to strip down to their tightie whities or ask their employees to be subjected to fart jokes, it has served as a way to vet which clients are a good fit for our culture.

And we’re not done just yet. We’re continuously testing as we create new things and adapting our methods to reflect the new information we find. We’ve come to value the balance between data and creativity, and our work is getting stronger with each project.

about quinlan

Want to learn more about Casual Fridays? Wondering how to measure creative risk for your brand? We could seriously talk about this all day. Tweet us @QuinlanCompany.

Get the Scoop on Quinlan’s 4 New Outstanding Interns

Grace

In case you haven’t seen our Instagram feed lately, we’ve been infiltrated by interns. In fact, these newbies now account for 15 percent of our office.

We’re pretty proud of the young talent our creative, content marketing and account service teams have brought in and we’re ready to show them off.

So now, without further ado, here are Quinlan’s four summer interns:

Graphic Design: Samantha Manns

sam

After spending four years at Villa Maria College, Sam graduated in May with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in design and a minor in photography. Once we learned about her experience as a marketing intern at the University at Buffalo and freelance designer, we knew she’d be a great fit. In her first few weeks, Sam has worked on a variety of Casual Fridays promotional materials.

Quinlan: Where do you ultimately want to end up after graduation?
Sam: I would love to work in the design field and travel occasionally to photograph different cities and scenery.

What’s your favorite TV show?
I’m currently obsessed with The Walking Dead, but I’m also catching up on Parks & Rec.

Who’s your celeb spirit animal?
My celeb spirit animal would have to be Nick Offerman’s character, Ron Swanson, because we basically share the same opinions on salad, America and breakfast food.

What would be your dream superpower?
My dream superpower would be flying.

What song best describes you?
I relate to pretty much any song written by Needtobreathe.

What’s something fun/unique we don’t know about you?
I have a huge passion for typography and hand lettering and I love spending my weekends hiking with my camera in the Great Outdoors.

 

Video and Animation: Dave Seifert

dave

Dave is a senior at Hilbert College, where he’s working on a bachelor’s degree in digital media and communications (or DMaC) with a concentration in film and visual effects. Previously, Dave was an intern with our pals down at dPost (where he came highly recommended) and was also the president of Hilbert’s Communication Club. This summer, he’ll be helping out with season two of Casual Fridays and will also create a demo reel for himself.

Oh, and he got his internship through Twitter. Pretty cool, eh?

Quinlan: Where do you ultimately want to end up after graduation:

Dave: In terms of location, I’ve considered moving out west or to a big city just like everyone else. I’d love to check out Portland, Oregon or Seattle. Honestly, I really like the resurgence that’s been happening in Buffalo. I’ve lived here all my life and would love to find a career here that would allow me to stay here. Video production is definitely what I am most interested in and I think I’d like to work with a small group of creative people who have the same passion.

What’s your favorite TV show?

This changes constantly and really depends on what I’m watching on Netflix/Hulu. Currently, I’m finishing up season four of Arrow. The last two seasons are kinda meh, but I still enjoy it. Overall though I’d have to say Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. Hopefully no one in the office judges me. I really enjoy food.

Who’s your celeb spirit animal?

This is a tough one. I want to say it’s a toss up between Jeff Goldblum and Guy Fieri. Last Halloween I went to a costume party as Guy Fieri. There’s a photo of it on my Instagram.

What would be your dream superpower?

Not burning my mouth on hot foods or beverages. This seems more practical than something like running really fast or being invisible.

What song best describes you?

This is probably the hardest question on the list. I took like three online quizzes and didn’t like the answers I got. I think I’m going to go with “Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins. It’s been stuck in my head for the last week and it’s a great song.

What is something unique about you?

In the first grade, I won the Zaner Bloser statewide handwriting contest (because that’s a thing). I was on like the fourth page of The Buffalo News where they said my name is Daniel Seifert, not David Seifert. I guess that can be my cool alter ego. Fast forward to today and you probably can’t make out a word I write down.

 

Content Marketing: Hailey Wageman

Hailey, a senior at SUNY Cortland, is working towards a degree in communication with a concentration in public relations and advertising (not to mention a minor in Spanish). Before coming to Quinlan, she interned at Cortland’s alumni house and wrote for the campus newspaper. So far, Hailey has been assisting the content marketing team with social media and research for blogs.

Quinlan: Where do you ultimately want to end up after graduation?
Hailey: I would love to work for an ad agency in a major city like New York or Chicago. However, with Buffalo being so up-and-coming, there seems to be a lot to look forward to staying in the area.

What’s your favorite TV show?
Hate to admit it, but Keeping Up With the Kardashians is my current guilty pleasure.

Who’s your celeb spirit animal?
Crazy Beyonce fan-girl is an understatement.

What would be your dream superpower?
Fly, so I can travel the world for free.

What song best describes you?
Any Beyonce song.

What’s something fun/unique we don’t know about you?
I’ve been a vegetarian all of my life!

 

Account Services: Elizabeth Nolan

elizbaeth

Elizabeth is going into her senior year at Canisius College, where she will be finishing up her bachelor’s degree in marketing and entrepreneurship. Formerly a marketing intern for Hylan Asset Management and research assistant for her college professor, Elizabeth comes to us with a solid background in research, planning, execution and analysis. This summer, she’ll continue to build upon those skills as she helps the account service team develop proposals for our clients.

Quinlan: Where do you ultimately want to end up after graduation?
Elizabeth: I am terribly unsure of what I want to do with my life after graduation. However, I know that ultimately down the line I would like to live somewhere on the East Coast – mainly to stick close to family. Aside from this and the fact that I most definitely plan on owning a few dogs, I’ll just have to wait and see where life takes me!

What’s your favorite TV show?
A very tough question, but I think I’ll have to go with Parks and Rec.

Who’s your celeb spirit animal?
Chris Pratt is a pretty excellent guy – I’m not sure if he’s my celeb spirit animal exactly but I do love him so I guess he’ll have to do!

What would be your dream superpower?
My answer for this question is always changing – but I think teleportation would be a pretty cool and convenient power to have, especially because I seem to be constantly driving back and forth between Syracuse (hometown) and Buffalo.

What song best describes you?
At least during the school year I am very often stressed out about class and work, so I guess I’ll have to go with Stressed Out – Twenty One Pilots (It’s not as depressing as it seems, the song is really very up beat so it’s actually a very positive, happy kind of stress I promise!)

What’s something fun/unique we don’t know about you?
I have a ridiculous love of dogs and the fact that I will be able to get a dog of my own once I’m done with school and have a decent job is probably one of the top reasons I am most excited to graduate at the moment!

 

Need tips on how to be a kick-ass mentor? Want to find out more about our rockstar interns? Tweet us at @QuinlanCompany.

Welcome to the Workplace: How to be the Gen Z Expert

Grace

Move over, millennials–there’s about to be a new kid in the office.

Welcome, Gen Z. Loosely defined as the second wave of millennials, born between 1998 and 2012, Gen Z makes up a quarter of the U.S. population. While its members currently only represent 7 percent of the workforce, that number will rise to 30 million by 2019.

Since the oldest members of the group are just coming of age and the youngest are barely past their toddler years, researchers are beginning to put more time and energy into learning what makes this next influential group of young adults tick. Here’s what we know so far:

  • Their parents are Gen Xers. Gen X is a jaded group born post-Watergate and post-Vietnam that wants to give their children the safe and secure childhood they never had.
  • They’re the first generation born into the digital world. Never knowing a world without smartphones, 77 percent prefer to work with technology to help them accomplish their goals.
  • They’re the most diverse generation. Gen Z is 55 percent Caucasian, 24 percent Hispanic, 14 percent African-American, 4 percent Asian and 4 percent mixed race or other.
  • They live in multigenerational households. They’ve been raised in homes with retired grandparents and boomerang millennial siblings who have moved back in with mom and dad.
  • They take information in bite-sizes. Their attention span is only 8 seconds (down from 12 seconds in 2003). Researchers believe their brains have evolved to process more information at faster speeds.
  • They’re concerned about the world. Seventy-eight percent worry about world hunger, 77 fear children will die of preventable diseases and 76 percent are concerned about our impact on the planet.

 

gen z

But how will employers (who have spent significant  time and extensive resources learning how to effectively integrate and manage millennials) adapt their workplace to meet the needs of these new Gen Z interns and entry-level workers?

“Generations are increasingly separated along narrower age bands, requiring managers to juggle the needs and preferences of four or even five distinct generations working side by side,” said Jim Link, Chief Human Resource Officer, Randstad North America.

Luckily for you, we did a little research. Here is what you need to know to motivate, manage and communicate with Gen Z:

They have an entrepreneurial essence.

gen z entrepreneur

Born in a viral age of YouTube stars and app startups, Gen Z is surrounded by innovation and creativity. This is a generation that wants to build their own company — between 50 percent and 72 percent want to run their own startup.

“From the day you start recruiting them, you should be looking at retention,” says Paul McDonald, senior executive director of Robert Half. “These professionals appreciate stability, but they also want to make their marks, and if they feel like they have hit a roadblock on the learning curve, they’re going to look around for something better.”

To engage Zers, tap into their startup spirit by creating a culture that offers crucial training and connects the line between their contributions and the company’s success.

They value face-to-face communication.

gen z communication

According to a new study from the Pew Research Center, 92 percent of teens report going online daily — and 24 percent say they’re online “almost constantly.”

Contrary to this obsession with digital communication, a majority of Zers say they prefer in-person communications with managers (51 percent), as opposed to emailing (16 percent) or instant messaging (11 percent). Unexpected, perhaps, but it’s not just communication–Zers value transparency. Fifty-two percent believe that honesty is the most important quality of being a good leader.

Gen Z sees leadership as a privilege, signifying that  supervisors and managers must work to prove their honesty and integrity before they can win over any Gen Z hires.

They’re blurring the lines between work and play.

gen z at work

Zers reject the traditional nine-to-five work day more than any generation that came before them. In fact, allowance for flexible schedules is one of the top five attributes Gen Z will look for in a job.

Why? Well, it’s pretty simple. This group has never known a world where they couldn’t create valuable work at any time from a device stored right in their pocket–which means that they don’t understand the need to sit at a desk for eight hours straight.

While it’s pretty likely you aren’t ready to ditch the traditional workday all together, your office may benefit from releasing a few restrictions. Consider offering employees opportunities to work from home, lifting bans on social media sites and allowing for a more casual dress code.

They’ve been served a healthy dose of reality.

gen z work ethic

Born during the war on terror and the recession, Gen Zers are growing up in a time of fear and destruction. They’ve been bombarded with stories about unemployed college grads and warned about the dangers of drowning in student debt.

“Since Gen Z has seen how much Gen Y has struggled in the recession,” says Dan Schawbel, author of Promote Yourself. “They come to the workplace well-prepared, less entitled and more equipped to succeed.”

Seventy-seven percent believe they will need to work harder compared to those in past generations to have a satisfying and fulfilling professional life–and they’re starting that journey early. For the first time, nearly half of high school students are participating in internships for the purpose of advancing themselves professionally.

While they may be young, don’t be quick to write them off. Offer them a reasonable amount of responsibility, and be sure to keep them motivated by offering regular feedback and recognition.

It’s not all about the money.

gen z values

Gen Z understands the state of the world and feels the burden to change it– 66 percent believe that having an impact on the world is important to them in their jobs (compared to only 39 percent of millennials who were asked the same questions in that age range) and roughly a quarter are already involved in volunteering.

In fact, 30 percent would take a 10 to 20 percent pay cut to work at place that has a mission they care about. That’s huge, considering how much this group fears economic insufficiency.

In order to attract top hires, you’ll need to sell your company’s values and appeal to Gen Z’s altruistic nature. If your organization doesn’t align with their beliefs, they’ll find one that does.

 

At Quinlan, we’re all about welcoming young creatives to the ad world. Want to chat? Tweet me at @QuinlanCompany or @Grace_Gerass.