Jenny Quigley-Jones is CEO and Founder of Digital Voices, an agency that specialises in YouTube content campaigns.
As an alumnus of Google and someone scaling a startup, Jenny is perfectly placed to give our readers some practical advice on video and leadership.
Here’s a day in her life…
Please describe your job: What do you do?
Jenny Quigley-Jones: At Digital Voices, we build powerful YouTube creator campaigns with world leading, courageous brands.
We believe attention is the most valuable asset, so make videos that customers want to watch; not ads they want to skip. We believe YouTube is the best platform for this, as it has 2 billion monthly users and the average video view is 4 minutes.
We balance finding the right YouTube creators for every campaign using demographic data, with a creative understanding of YouTube as a platform, that means we guarantee organic views for every campaign.
We’ve been lucky to work with some tremendous clients – from the Royal Air Force, to Universal Music and the Post Office. A lot of our role is to understand which audiences they’re trying to speak to and come up with a creative and exciting way to engage them.
It’s fascinating to be part of such a rapidly changing industry, where you have the chance to balance being creative and data-driven. We’re also incredibly lucky to make videos that people are proud of and support aspiring entrepreneurs in the creative industry.
Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?
Jenny Quigley-Jones: I’m the founder and CEO of Digital Voices, so essentially report to myself!
Although I decide on my day-to-day role, there are seven of us on the team and I feel very accountable to them. We have quite a flat hierarchy, so end up spending a lot of time discussing creative ideas, pitches and campaigns as a team.
What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
Jenny Quigley-Jones: Everyone at Digital Voices has to be obsessed with YouTube. Our value as an agency lies in our specialist knowledge of the platform, so that’s clearly important.
But, running the agency requires the ability to empathise above all else. If you can listen to people – be that staff or clients – and understand their priorities, you can help them succeed. A lot of agencies don’t treat their clients particularly well – that’s something I never want to do. Success is about helping other people succeed and be the best they can.
Tell us about a typical working day…
Jenny Quigley-Jones: I wake up at about 5:30am each morning and aim to get everything I can do on my own finished before I head into the office. That way when I arrive, we can work as a team and I can help other people with any problems they may have.
After that, I walk to the office – normally with a pastry and coffee!
Then we will normally have client or agency meetings and work on developing campaign plans. When building campaigns, we spend a lot of time brainstorming about video ideas and YouTube creators as a team, to make sure we get a wide variety of perspectives. Diverse teams think better – so everyone from the Creative Strategists to Graphic Designer – is involved in campaign discussions.
Sometimes we will film our Creator Podcast, where we interview YouTube creators or influencer marketing industry experts, which is a lot of fun.
Every Thursday we have a session where the team has drinks and discusses their favourite YouTube discoveries of the week. It’s normally the highlight of the week!
We tend to leave the office at about 6pm, but sometimes have shoots or videos go live over the weekend, so everyone is a little flexible with their hours.
What do you love about your job? What sucks?
Jenny Quigley-Jones: I’m so proud of how far we’ve come so quickly. The company is 100% revenue-funded and has been profitable from the beginning. I started it with £500 of my own money and two years later, we’re a team of seven with an average age of 24, but we work with some of the world’s leading brands to solve their problems and access their target customers.
The other important thing is making sure we’re having a positive impact on the world. Everyone can make money if you’re racing to the lowest common denominator. We refuse to work with gambling or tobacco industries, as with influencer marketing you cannot limit who sees your adverts. We want to empower creators as entrepreneurs and fundamentally be proud of the work we do.
We’ve had some great moments, like arranging the first YouTube creator to ever fly with the Red Arrows! We love creating videos that show the world something they haven’t seen before or teach viewers something new. Meeting a team of pilots who fly six feet apart, sending YouTuber Tom Scott up there with them, and explaining how formation flying works, was fascinating.
Every time we see someone watching one of our videos – often it’s people watching YouTube on the train, I have to pinch myself. People are actually engaging with our videos and immersed in them, often for around 10 minutes. It’s powerful to be able to tell stories like that.
What sucks is working in an industry that’s often tainted with being exploitative or lacking substance. Many people demonize influencers and immediately envision Instagram campaigns selling diet tea or teeth whitening products. That couldn’t be further from what we do at Digital Voices.
We saw a real gap in the market for long-form and engaging content on YouTube – making videos that say something of substance. Agencies and platforms struggle to optimise for YouTube as a platform. Videos are longer, influencers need to be more creative and inauthenticity is much easier for viewers to detect. YouTube is far more difficult to scale than Instagram, so platforms struggle to offer clients the degree of control they need from YouTube.
YouTube offers an opportunity for so many more brands to explain their products or values in videos that are watched with the sound on. We spend a lot of time educating clients and agencies on the potential of the platform and breaking down their stereotypes of influencer marketing.
What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?
Jenny Quigley-Jones: Our goal this year is to work hard!
We’ve had a pretty exciting 2019 so far – we launched our Creator Podcast, where we talk to creators about their stories, motivations and the videos they make. The team has expanded from three to seven people. We’ve won some brilliant clients – including Post Office, Universal Music Group and building agency partnerships. Things are going very well.
As I mentioned, Digital Voices is entirely revenue-funded so far and things are going very well. However, I’d like to learn the most from the experience of running a start-up and bring on a board of experts, so we’re launching our first raise this month. We’re in the very fortunate position of not needing the money – so I’m being quite picky about the investors we accept. I want the right minds on our team.
Regarding revenue, we have a target of £1m for FY 2019 and we’re on track to hit it so far, with some exciting campaigns in the pipeline.
What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?
Jenny Quigley-Jones: We’ve started building more processes internally as the team has grown. Using Capsule CRM for tracking sales and Asana for task management. However, it’s basic, but the most useful thing has been to have whiteboards in the office!
There is no substitute for actually speaking with people and taking time to check in with your team. They are the people who know your business best and often have great suggestions for brand building, content or communicating your message
How did you end up starting your own agency, and where might you go from here?
Jenny Quigley-Jones: I was very lucky to be part of two of the world’s most renowned brands – Harvard and Google. After learning a lot about culture from these large organizations, I really wanted the opportunity to define my own path. Often it feels like you can’t really fail in their protective structures, so I wanted to test myself.
I also noticed no one else was doing things exactly as I envisioned. At Digital Voices, we work very closely with our clients to solve their problems and help them access their target customers. YouTube is a great way of helping brands to access young or more disparate group of people, who often are not engaged with adverts.
The next step is to scale Digital Voices in the UK and build it internationally. There is a vast opportunity now and we need to take advantage of the gap in the market.
Which creative has impressed you lately?
Jenny Quigley-Jones: We’ve run a lot of exciting campaigns recently – like sending ClickforTaz alone to two countries in 24 hours with a £100 budget to promote Post Office’s Travel Money Card.
However, my personal favourite has been working to promote music releases in interesting ways that people haven’t considered before. To help launch Sigrid’s track “Don’t Feel Like Crying” with Island Records, we partnered with a Sims YouTube creator who made Sigrid in Sims and created a Sims Spotify playlist. Her video gained over 1 million views and we quadrupled our viewing guarantee for the campaign.
In terms of what I’ve seen lately though, the Dove and Getty Images partnership was really interesting. Trust in advertising is at an all time low, with only 25% of people viewing ads favourably. Dove and Getty are trying to work together to transform images used in advertising, so that they represent the diversity of consumers and empower viewers. It’s the type of transformational thinking we need in the advertising industry.
What advice would you give a marketer starting out in 2019?
Jenny Quigley-Jones: When starting Digital Voices, I was initially not bold enough and tried to spread myself and our product offering too thinly. My advice is to start a business by choosing a problem you want to solve or product you want to build; then go for it whole-heartedly. I like to say that people should “run at walls”. Set yourself an ambitious target and run – literally sprint – straight at it. The worst that can happen is you smack into the wall, fall on your arse, then pick yourself up and pivot onto the next problem.
Failure shouldn’t be something that embarrasses or scares you. Believe me, the only people sad enough to watch and point if you fail, are sitting at home and too scared to take risks themselves. You’ve only got yourself to be accountable to. Yes, it’s cheesy – but the biggest failure is justifying to yourself why you didn’t ever try. When it comes down to it, you need to be able to look at yourself in the mirror every morning and feel as though you’re trying, learning, growing – doing something. That can be in your personal or professional life. But don’t waste life being scared of what other people might say if you fail.