How does a crazy idea dreamed up at a conference become a weekly video content marketing sitcom with thousands of views? Frank Conjerti says it’s all about taking creative risks. And he should know.
Today, Frank and his team at Quinlan Co. launched episode 4 of their second season of Casual Fridays, a branded video series that began as an adventurous experiment. Hundreds of people tune into Quinlan Co.’s website on Fridays to see what jokes Frank and his team will cook up next. This week, the topic is the company’s “Chili Cook-Off,” which is, unfortunately, scheduled on the same day as a team yoga class. Not a scenario you see every day in a content marketing video.
“The old adage, ask for forgiveness not permission, is a big one,” says Frank.
Experimenting with Video Content Marketing
It all started when Frank, Creative Director for the full service creative agency in Buffalo, NY, and his team came back from WistiaFest (a video marketing conference) feeling inspired to create video content that humanized the brand and added a face to the company.
“It was about positioning ourselves as experts in our field and people who are fun to work with,” says Frank.
At the same time, the company saw an influx of talent that understood content marketing and digital marketing. The team knew they could create original content to engage their audience, and demonstrate the agency’s capabilities at the same time.
“We wanted to push ourselves from a content marketing standpoint,” says Frank. “We understand how important content marketing is and we wanted to show that we can do it.”
Thus began Casual Fridays, a weekly video series covering topics for marketers, ranging from “Legendary Ads We Didn’t Know Were Ads” to “Data vs. Creativity.” In the beginning, production value was low and Frank was shy about acting in front of the team, so he would come in on the weekend to write and shoot the show alone in his office.
He started out offering tips at his desk, and used cutaways with pop culture references and quippy one liners to add a dash of humor.
For example, as Frank talks about apps to try out in the “Productivity Hacks” episode, he adds, “Now, I think I know my audience pretty well here. So Mom and Dad, you can’t use these apps on your rotary phone.”
Frank and his team used the videos to build an email list, and saw potential clients engaging with the series. They were watching the videos, signing up for the email list and showing interest in working with Quinlan Co.
“We had new projects that were directly related,” says Frank. “People called and said, ‘We saw Casual Fridays and we want to do something similar.'”
As they watched the analytics to see what worked and what didn’t, they could see drop-offs when the content was more serious and technical, and spikes when the content was funny.
“We pushed the weirdness a little bit and the numbers grew,” says Frank. “We’re starting to see data and information roll out that when you take these risks, it pays off.”
With added humor, the team saw climbing email conversions, engagement rates and shares on social media.
Putting Humor in the Spotlight
The data led Frank and his team to take a new risk. For season 2 of Casual Fridays, they decided to go full-on sitcom. The show is a priority, and several team members are recurring characters (most of the production work is still done in-house). Each episode is a scripted, 7 minute piece about something that might resonate with marketers, brand storytellers and more.
“We’re trying to make it a little more universal because our clients won’t necessarily come from marketing and advertising backgrounds,” says Frank.
The episodes are packed with jokes, and feel like Quinlan Co.’s own version of The Office. In an episode where the company tries to institute a dress code, one team member says, “I mean, we needed to do something. Some people’s outfits are completely offensive.” Then, her point is demonstrated by one of her peers…
Once again, the jokes are working. Between the company’s website and social media, thousands of people watch each new episode.
“We’ve already tripled what we did last year from week to week,” says Frank. “We see a huge spike on Fridays on our site, it’s insane.”
A Ripple Effect on Client Work
Now, the team is working on pitches for full video series for clients.
“People see that a series can work, you can do this kind of branded content,” says Frank. “We are attracting those calls about people understanding exactly what we do and wanting to do it with us.”
The series has also helped create a culture of taking creative risks in client work. The team is creating quirky content and getting positive feedback.
“We’ve just tried to push the envelope on every project we’ve had,” says Frank. “We’re seeing that it’s working.”
And for Frank and his team, the pay off is not only the climbing view counts and direct new business, it’s the satisfaction that their passion project has had real results.
“Life’s too short to spend every day working on something that you’re not proud of,” says Frank. “When you care about something that much, you put so much time and effort into it, and it shows.”