Invest in a Review Strategy or Influencer Marketing?

I know I can be overly critical – but it’s the little things that make the biggest of differences in my line of work. Even the simplest of marketing strategies require some sort of knowledge, experience and skill to execute. I mention this because a good number of business owners are often sold on limiting concepts they don’t fully understand. Whether you want to invest in a review strategy or influencer marketing, you have to acknowledge the correlation between the two.

Going all-in on any marketing ploy, without much insight, can leave a lot of money on the table.

What Do I Mean by a Review Strategy?

First and foremost, when I say reviews, I’m talking full blown testimonials. I’m not depicting these two sentence, “he was great” submissions. If you want to preview the experience (which you should), then you have to do more than asking for Google review. Garnering quality feedback, that speaks to people, requires a sound plan. There are a number of ways to go about this in the post purchase phase.

Whether you capture reviews virtually or in person, they can be optimized and used for a number of marketing initiatives. While an “average Joe” may not draw as much attention as a well-known ambassador, a multitude of testimonials may. Determining what might work best before you invest in a review strategy or influencer marketing is definitely worth looking into.

Invest in Reviews or Influencers?

Certainty is the key to adequately positioning and promoting any product or service. While a certain idea may seem advantageous, it’s never a bad idea to be sure. Paying someone to help you PreFocus a little may seem wasteful, but what if your investment doubled? With that said, let’s break down both options in five ways to help you better determine what might better benefit your brand image, long term.

1. Detail Your Ideal Target Audience.

If you haven’t already mapped out personas, developed a market mix or identified loyal buyers – do so immediately. This is important because it can be difficult to operate strategically when visibility is low. Keep in mind, you may have a certain audience you appreciate most, but it doesn’t mean they are or will be carrying the business. Take the time to fully understand who’s spending money with you and think about how you want to be perceived.

Whether you invest in a review strategy or influencer marketing, every angle of insight matters. I personally like to go as far as analyzing hidden wants and needs. Once you have a list of potential suitors, try to define their values to better understand yours. Deep down, what do different audiences really appreciate – for the most part? More importantly, what don’t they appreciate? What might be seen as spammy or even overkill to a specific demographic – or geographical area? Is the audience fairly narrow or super broad?

How Do You Know if an Endorsement Will Appeal?

Will you need to invest in multiple personalities or are you able to find an influencer that can speak to them all? Will they appreciate being told what to do? Will they listen to a popular recommendation? If they’re the type of group that likes to do their own research, will a paid plug even sway them? If you really have no way of measuring this, ask them!

A simple email that shows you value a loyal customer’s opinion can do wonders. The reliability of reviews within your industry is also something worth stewing on. Sleazy tactics by competitors can often tarnish your ability to be effective on review platforms.

2. Analyze the Volume of Business.

The number of customers you interact with on a daily basis should also play a big role in the business choices you make. If you manage a longer sales cycle, are you able to engage your audience in every phase of their decision? How much weight would a 3rd party voice really carry throughout the process? In most cases, multiple forms of encouragement and engagement are required.

Is this attainable or will the investment only cater a small corner of the market? Walking through different scenarios and putting yourself in the buyer’s shoes is the best way to really determine what makes the most sense. If you offer a click-to-buy solution, a multitude of testimonials may appeal to you. But if you live in a competitive market, a vocal endorsement could easily expand your market share.

The answers to these questions are privy to the brand. I believe every offer is unique in some way. So as long as you’re able to differentiate yourself, it’ll be a good move.

What Percentage of Your Volume is Return Customers?

Another thing worth considering is loyalty. Getting people to come back is a lot more laboring than a quick, one-time transaction. If a majority of your income is repeat business, you ought to really think things through before trying anything new. When this is the case, I’m certain there are plenty of customers willing to speak on your behalf.

Do you really need to pay an influencer or will a legion of reviews suffice? When a lot of people already support you, do you need to muddy the waters? Does a sound reputation not speak well? Is the ability to uphold equity not of great value? In my opinion, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. At the same time, most companies don’t have this luxury.

Although paying mind to customer feedback is rarely a bad idea, the right influencer can be enough to deliver. Just be mindful of the amount of people you serve before you invest in a review strategy or influencer marketing tactics.

3. Who Exactly is the Influencer?

This is pretty straight forward. If you’ve taken the time to establish brand standards or have a certain aura about your business, then it’s extremely important to find an influencer that seamlessly aligns. Any type of deviation can actually detract from your own credibility. While the voice of popular icons have the ability to move many, it doesn’t mean their plug is going to set you up for the longterm.

For the most part, influencers are short term investments. Nonetheless, their future choices can haunt you. What happens when they’re nothing like the personality they promote? What if they door a poor job with the promotion or add their own twist to it? What type of contractual details are you experienced in?

How are you holding them accountable and making sure you’re not getting taken advantage of? Many influencers are fake and simply full of themselves. So you have to proceed with caution.

Who A Brand Ties Itself To Matters.

The last thing you want to deal with is questions about someone you paid a lot of money to in order to garner attention. That’s awfully difficult to come back from. This usually happens when a business owner (or decision maker) invests in someone they personally enjoy watching – or most of their customers follow. While this may seem like an sure way to get in front of easy targets, in can be risky. This is especially true if a longterm partnership is agreed upon. Things sour, guys. 

Would a bad outcome be better than a bad review? Besides, you may not even know if the people listening are in the market to buy. General interests don’t always equate sales. If you need an immediate return, an awareness campaign isn’t going to help you much. Taking the time to find an influencer that’s relevant to a problem you solve is always a good bet. A random plug can be fruitful, but it may take some time to see the results. So if you’re set on influencer marketing, take your time.

4. What Does Your Budget Look Like?

The main thing I want to cover here is desperation. Far too many brands invest in influencer outreach without much rhyme or reason at all. The past few years, there has been somewhat of an obsession over captivating millennials. Many companies feel as though they have to purchase attention or support instead of driving home an identity and culture.

My point is, if you have a tight budget and you’re struggling to make money, there may be other things to address. Do you really think pouring everything into someone’s voice will save the business? Testing the waters of advocation is a lot easier once you’ve sustained things a little bit. Is an affordable influencer really going to do you much good?

Companies with wiggle room in their budget (or a lot of capital to spare) have a better chance at locating and managing ideal influencers. So don’t let desperation drive your decisions and manage your money wisely. Focusing on customer reviews could be just what you need.

5. The Extent of the Influence.

If you’re trying to figure out if you should invest in a review strategy or influencer marketing, you have to at least consider one question. How long will the influence last and can adjustments be made? Testimonials, for the most part, are controlled and extremely authentic. If done right, early every review will speak to unique consumers in different ways.

When you’re in control of the strategy, it’s hard for anything to go wrong. When you wait for reviews to be left, you’re taking a risk. My point is, customer feedback is evergreen. As long as the review is published, the influence is permanent. Unless an influencer is making a lot of money off of you, or truly appreciates you, it’s going to be hard to stay atop their ambassador feed. Sure you can incentivize certain voices, but you’re still leaning on their effort to make you money.

It may be exciting to pay a rapper to showcase your product, but what happens after two months? Will they embody your brand or forget?

Customer Feedback Will Always Be Essential.

Are you able to take advantage of an influx in sales? Will the awareness drive loyalty or only “likes” and “follows”. What happens when your landing page or overall presentation is detouring? How will people respond if you don’t have any reviews to support a bought claim? It’s really important that you know how to leverage self expression. Since we know the impact reviews can have, we have to be certain an influencer can deliver the same or better results, right?

Final Thoughts on Reviews, Influencers.

To be honest, you really ought to have review systems in order before thinking about paying a mouthpiece to promote your brand. Capturing reviews from the customers they send your way is invaluable. Likes and shares really don’t mean a lot anymore guys. Getting people to convert and share their experience or value is what doing business is all about. If it was easy, everyone would do it. 

In my opinion, even the smallest of budgets can fund a solid idea that involves customer testimonials and a prominent plug. Who says you have to invest in a review strategy or influencer marketing? Why can’t you do both? It just takes a little effort and creativity to piece a good idea together. So don’t be so quick to jump the gun! Be purposeful with everything you do and always remember to PreFocus.

Authentic Martial Arts Videography Shoot.

In my opinion, today’s corporate landscape has really watered down the local martial arts marketplace. It’s not that quality programs have lost their muster; it’s due to the fact that national brands and franchises take over commercial centers with lower prices, newer facilities, aggressive sales and a lot more hype! Even though better options do exist, they’re not always very prevalent. This is why authentic martial arts videography is so important. The noise of the fitness realm is deafening enough as it is.

If you’re seasoned and skilled, you probably know what a results-driven gym looks like. But those looking to try jiu jitsu, karate, or taekwondo or even kickboxing for the first time have no idea. No matter the vantage, a passion for the skill is what drives member results. A successful entrepreneur or driven franchisee has nothing on an experienced, talented teacher that cares about the program and overall development of students. Martial arts takes a lot of discipline. The effectiveness of instruction and aura of the culture matters.

Fight For Visibility or Take the Punches.

At the end of the day, waiting for consumers to figure this out on their own can be costly. They deserve better. Trying a less-than-stellar class (in-general) can be detouring in a number of ways. So, when I got the call to work on an original production project for a local Taekwondo academy, I was more than eager to get to work. Authentic martial arts videography gives the market a chance to physically see and feel the function, engagement, talent and value of any program (as long as these things exist).

Taekwondo University definitely has a culture worth sharing with Desoto County, Mississippi. Just down the street from my office, the family-run-business has held onto a strong corner of the marketshare throughout the Memphis area. They’ve done so by adapting to shifts without sacrificing their values. But they were starting fall behind in the digital arena. When ownership told me they wanted to truly capture the essence of their people and students, I knew I was the right person for the job.

I Got a Kick Out of This Martial Arts Academy.

After many years training and living with purpose, Master Brumley has a lot to share with his students and the community. Taekwondo is a big part of who he is and he even wrote a book that encompasses why. Him and his wife have done a lot for their students and instructors since 2020 and really ought to be a pillar in Olive Branch. I usually try to be as critical as I can with clients and I was pleasantly surprised by the competence and character within their operation. It’s rare these days and really drew me in.

It was an honor to help them showcase the experience they’re committed to providing. They knew exactly what they wanted to say and knew they needed a little creative direction for their authentic martial arts videography shoot. This was a breath of fresh air. They offer programs for 6 year olds all the way up to adult. Every level was a lot of fun to watch. I even signed my kids up. I’ve been looking for a place like this since moving to the Midsouth next year. Like I always say, the people driving the business are the one’s that truly define quality the value.

The Martial Arts Videography Project.

I produced 6 total videos for Master Brumley and his wife. Each depicted a different Taekwondo class or after school program. Voiceover was recorded at my office and 6 hours of footage gave us plenty to work with. Since I took multiple pictures while filming, the client now has a solid media library of photo and video content for future use.

I’m looking forward to finding ways to capture the authenticity of other Martial Arts programs throughout the Midsouth. No matter what you offer, if you’ve got a story worth telling, I’m looking to share it! There’s always an angle for value. Here are a few screenshots from my favorite clips. 

Someone’s looking for you – so be purposeful with everything you do and always remember to PreFocus.

17 Memphis Locations I Can’t Wait to Shoot Video At.

When it comes to video services, quality isn’t measured by a videographer’s ability to use a camera. High end producers know how to plan, think outside the box, manage people and place them in proper settings in order to communicate something. With that said, I thought it would be a good idea to identify a handful of Memphis locations to eventually shoot video at.

Some my clients know where they want to shoot and how they want to go about things. Others need a little direction. This is why I like to be prepared with a list of local spots and landmarks that present people with options. Scoping out some of these places gave me some really good production ideas that I hope to be able to use some day.

1. Memphis Central Station.

One of the Memphis locations I’m most eager to shoot video at is definitely the City’s Central Station. After driving by a few months back, I immediately thought of Union Station in Indianapolis, where I grew up. It was right next to City Market and we loved going there as kids. The old bricks, signage and rich history of so many travelers definitely appeals to me.

The variety of spaces, indoor and out, present endless perspectives and auras. A packed lobby would be great for a busy scene, traveling focus or even general B-roll footage. An empty building would bode well for presenters, artists or intimate settings. Nearly every square foot of the Memphis Central Station can be purposed for some sort of theme.

2. The Crystal Shrine Grotto.

I’m not sure if I’d have to garner approval to shoot video at the cemetery, but I’m definitely looking forward to capturing this Memphis landmark! In my opinion, video content here would suit nearly any type of personality or business. It’s sprinkled with tranquil settings and offers unique, but highly recognizable backgrounds (that tend to perform better than standard studio productions).

Getting out, walking around, and showing you’re in the community is a great way to engage people online. The days of talking heads and basic content are gone. You have to find ways to think outside of the box. Needless to say, the changes of scenery and backdrops at the Crystal Shrine Grotto would provide me with a ton of options.  

The hollowed trees, hedges, pathways, bridges and colorful vegetation tell more of a story than the remaining Memphis locations. The landscape I appreciate most is definitely the stone structures by the water. I can think of a number of ways to involve the hand craftsmanship, shadows and reflections. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get my drone in there. I don’t see many aerial photos online. 

3. Wolf River Greenway.

Not many residents in the surrounding areas appreciate the little green pockets of Memphis. When we first moved to Olive Branch, I was under the impression that food and entertainment was all Bluff City had to offer. The negative elements seemed to overshadow anything leisure. But the 36 miles of forrest-wrapped trails near this wetland section of the Mississippi River is definitely worth a look.

In this urban escape, the landscape and natural bodies of water are peaceful and refreshing. I could see myself setting up nearly anywhere with minimal distractions. Even recording organic sounds for future production projects would be rewarding. A tranquil setting like this really works to my advantage as a videographer. Clients are often more comfortable and confident. This helps them be themselves. 

Like other Memphis locations, the bridge architecture here is pretty cool too. The wood slats, cable suspension and fabricated designs are definitely something I look forward to filming. Even the details of pathways, barriers and seating options are unique. You can tell everything was mapped out with flooding in mind. It kind of gives the Wolf River Greenway an aura you can feel. 

4. The Peabody Hotel & Rooftop.

I’m sure I would have to get some permission to shoot inside this immaculate display of architecture, but it would be worth it. There is so much history throughout The Peabody. From the grand entrance to the enormous fountain, balconies, fixtures and ceilings – this place is the real deal. The rooftop signage is something I wouldn’t be able to ignore. Honestly, I’d like to help them redo all of the media on their site. I don’t think it does the place justice!

In order to develop a purposeful video here, it’d take some serious focus and creative direction. But I’d be up for the challenge – even if I had to book a room or two to make it work! It would be a blast to set up a shoot for a wedding, event or simple promo at The Peabody Hotel. Neighboring buildings would also provide me with some amazing perspectives that highlight Memphis in general.

5. Fire Museum of Memphis.

Although it’s barely in my top 5, this Museum is one of my favorite Memphis locations. Built in 1910, the preservation of the building and everything in it is impressive. If you get a chance to drive by, the sign is one of the best in the city. I’m not sure if the property itself can be filmed on or in (for profit), but there is certainly enough worth capturing outside. 

The building is exactly what a classic firehouse should look like. The entrance can be captured from multiple vantage points and the gated courtyard is decorated with bricks and a wall monument you can’t ignore. I love everything about the space and hope to shoot video there soon.

6. Big River Crossing.

Out of this entire list, this is the only spot with open space along the bank of the Mississippi. Aside from the view and room to stretch our legs at, the surrounding parks each offer something unique. The architecture hardscape is a little more modern at Tom Lee while the pathways of Ashburn-Coppock and Martyrs Park offer a more scenic view. E.H. Crump Park is a little more densely wooded and Chickasaw Heritage has more stuff for the kids to do.

The crossing itself is what I’m really excited about filming. Whether I’m driving across, walking in front of a subject, or flying the drone, it’s an amazing view. I could see myself setting up anything from an informative video to a Mississippi spotlight reel that highlights the coastal parks. At some point, I’ll make my way over there and spend a half day at Big River Crossing.

7. Rhodes College Campus.

Since moving to the Midsouth, I’ve been meaning to stop by a few college campuses to interview students about the different ways certain events make them feel. I haven’t finished writing the questions yet, but I did get a chance to notice how beautiful the campus at Rhodes College was. The elegant display of buildings and upkeep of the property is unlike any university I’ve ever been to.

From the layout to the courtyards, monuments and fountains – everything seems cohesive and in order. The atmosphere the institution provides has been recognized on several occasions throughout the years – which makes it one of the top Memphis locations, in general.

8. The Famous Beale Street.

I think one of the main reasons I’m excited to film here is the ability to capture crowds. There are always a lot of good reactions and candid moments that can really turn out a solid reel. From business interactions and laughter to iconic storefronts and live shows – there’s a lot of content to be had at Beale Street

Since there tends to be a lot of foot traffic, it’s probably not the best place for an informative video. But if you’re a business on the row, you might benefit from some testimonials and live footage on a busy day. Showcasing the culture or atmosphere of any joint is a good way to stand out on a competitive strip. It’s the little features that 

I’d really like to get some rainy day footage of the signage, monuments, and roads and sidewalks. I can already envision a soaked neon glow and water flowing over the bricks and into drainage. Once the sun comes out, I’d like to see how long it takes for the streets to be full. Whether it be a time lapse or compiled B-rolls, I think the transition would be cool to watch.

9. South Main Arts District.

I think this one is pretty straightforward. Although South Main is a little bit more edgy than Summer Avenue, it’s honestly what I like most about it. It really makes the slew of artistic designs pop. The classic buildings, cultural value and level of creative expression really embodies the city of Memphis. But unlike most of these Memphis locations, this setting typically only suits a specific type of clientele.

Not everyone is going to make sense (or feel comfortable) in front of worn down mortar, colorful statements, or a graffiti’d wall. But don’t write it off before you PreFocus on the possibilities. With a little trust and creativity, we can always make something worth. Once I familiarize myself with the district and stay on top of artistic updates, it’ll be a great spot to reference.

10. Mud Island River Park.  

Just down the river from Big River Crossing is this gem of a good time. The Mud Island River Park is well-maintained, full of smiles, not too packed – and the tributaries would look great from the air. As a videographer, you never know when a spot like this is going to come in handy. So I’m glad I have it in my back pocket for that special client that needs to communicate something specific. A setting that elicits playfulness and personality is never a bad idea. It’s definitely not one of those basic point-and-shoot locations and would give me a chance to get really creative with the production.

11. The Lorraine Motel.

Anyone looking to promote Memphis roots ought to consider this historic location. Also known as the National Civil Rights Museum, The Lorraine Motel offers an array of placements that can communicate a number of things. Videography here reiterates the impact of standing for something bigger than ourselves, collectively. I already have tons of ideas flowing through my head to pay homage.

Looking up at a subject as they walk passed the legendary sign would be simple, yet meaningful. A slow motion camera rolling by a person in awe (and consideration) of the moment-in-time could be powerful. If someone hired me to shoot video in front of this significant landmark, I wouldn’t take the creative direction lightly. Taking advantage of a classic setting is selfish.

If we’re not creating a video that pays homage to those that stood for something bigger than themselves, then what are we really doing? In other words, I’d only be interested in capturing footage at this Memphis location with the right client. It would only be an honor to help someone depict the scene in a classy, responsible manner. 

12. Confederate Park and its Bridge.

It might seem a bit odd to follow up the Civil Rights Museum with a confederate landmark, but history is history. Every man and woman had a rhyme or reason for their fight. It’s our duty to understand their stories in order to protect the future of ours. Simply put, there are just too many props and creative visuals to be ignored at Confederate Park in northeast Memphis, Tennessee. 

A lot has changed on the plot of land over the years, but most of the original architecture has remained. Like other buildings on this list, the landscape would add a little edge to a production. The hills, stone walls, flowers and canons offer a little bit more. As you can tell by my list, I kind of have an affinity for bridges. But I’m really excited about some of the angles I can film on the pedestrian bridge at this location.

13. Dixon Gallery & Gardens.

If I’m not filming at the Grotto, the next best spot has got to be the Dixon Gallery and Gardens. It’s one of the few Memphis locations that offer a ton of natural backdrops in one place. Every event and exhibit offers something different, drawing in all kinds of crowds. I could see myself shooting video for anything from a birthday party to a personal branding promotion. The elegant display isn’t too distracting and the layout, ideation and creative display is unmatched in Bluff City.

14. I Am A Man Plaza.

When I first stumbled across this location, I didn’t think it had a lot worth capturing. I’m sure the huge, “I Am a Man” monument is often used for the wrong reasons. But once I saw the building and its stained glass, I realized this place had some gnarly vantage points. Although it’s a small area, the building architecture is stunning. The design of the black wall of names, and how it slopes down, gave me tons of ideas.

The plaza is a space that could work for a number of production projects – with respect to the workers of course. But I’m really looking forward to flying my drone here. Scaling the stones and steeple with hand controls before descending into the grassy area would create some really good aerial videography. A slight turn would enhance the curves of the hardscape.

15. Beale Street Landing.

This is another one of those Memphis locations that offers something a little different by the water. In contrast to Big River, this area has a wide variety of backdrops and seating options in close proximity. The vast amount of steps, sleek architecture and lighting offers something a little bit different. I could see Beale Street Landing working out well for about videos, personal branding or even product demonstrations.

I’ll have to swing by during dusk to check it out. I hear some of the events here are pretty cool. Whether I’m getting paid or not, community gatherings are always fun to film. I also heard that the Hu. Hotel is solid location to set up a video shoot. Apparently, the views from the rooftop are pretty stellar. Since it’s just up the street, I’ll include it here. 

16. Overton Park Amphitheater. 

After listing all of these parks, I was hesitant to add another. But it’s always good to have a variety of options in mind for different types of clients. Although the natural landscape at Overton Park isn’t overly appealing, the custom created amphitheater (or shell) offers a unique background you won’t find elsewhere.

Filming the sloped rows, bleacher angles, on-stage perspectives and dashes of culture can really make a simple production stand out! The city actually does a great job with maintenance and the Veterans Plaza is pleasantly surprising.

17. Memphis Riverboats.

The last of my Memphis locations to film would have to be one of the most prominent docks in the city. For more than 150 years, this place has been running riverboats, amongst other things. The history itself is worth capturing. I also wouldn’t mind shooting some video for a private charter. If you’re paying around $7K to book the boat for an event, you might as well capture all the fun!

I should ask Mr. Lozier if they company is working with a media company to offer this type of service. While it’s not at the top of my list, it’s certainly one of those local spots that communicate more than visuals. For the right client, this cool be a great location for filming video.

Why Social Media Design Elements Matter.


jordan trask prefocus solutions standing outside in striped collared shirt talking about designs for social media posts and importance or content cohesion and brand consistency consultant near memphis tennessee

One of the first videos I ever published was about social media design elements. I remember thinking: what kind of advice can I offer that most business owners rarely ever consider? Color combinations and contrast have a lot to do with value perception. An unattractive presentation is essentially unprofessional. In my opinion, it’s also unacceptable. Social media design elements matter.

If a business owner is really trying to drive new acquisition (and not just “likes” from family and friends), they’re not going to impress many with popular memes and a low quality display. Designers and creative strategists are paid off of talent and experience for a reason. You get what you pay for – and you pay for what you don’t know. At the end of the day, any brand should want to enhance the way they’re perceived.

What Do I Mean By Design Elements for Online Content?

First and foremost, when you don’t pay attention to the cohesion of your designs, consumer trust tends to suffer. At the end of the day, you want your content to be recognizable. You want people to see one of your posts or campaigns and immediately think of the product or service you provide.

Over time, you want people to start remembering a core value or promise when they stumble across your content. Even image guidelines improve brand recognition. When everything looks the same on social media, advertisements and web pages – the perceived value (level of quality perceived) drastically increases.

It’s hard not to create a good first impression when consistency is at play. Constancy (constantly consistent) is what I like to call it. You don’t have to be an expert designer or extremely talented individual to develop sound designs and concepts for on and off-line marketing efforts. But you have to understand what not to do. So let’s take a look at a few “No-No’s” when it comes to social media designs elements.

What to Avoid When Designing Social Media Posts:

If you’re looking to publish some designed content online, consider:

  1. The background,
  2. Your typography.
  3. The contrast of colors.

If you’re using a white background, use a darker font. If you’re using a dark background, worth with a lighter colored font. For example: green, orange, purple or blue is not going to look good on red. Yellow, orange, pink or lime typography is not ideal on white. A social media display shouldn’t draw away from the inevitable purpose of the post. Why wouldn’t you want it to be easy on the eyes?

Like I mentioned before, quality content gives consumers a chance to trust your brand and click through (to read more) with confidence.

Why Should You Avoid Poorly Designed Content?

If web surfers can barely read a post, or it’s frustrating to figure out, you’re working backwards. Once you ruin the first impression, it’s awfully hard to reverse their perception. If you don’t have an eye for design, you shouldn’t be approving or assigning them. It can be a lot more costly than you think.

It’s not that big of a deal to pay a few hundred dollars for assistance (or even invest in a brand book). It’s going to maximize your returns every time. Pursuing a true element of creativity that highlights your brand identity is also extremely favorable.

One Bad Social Post Ruins Many First Impressions.

Some business owners don’t even know that social media users can unfollow and even block company pages when they see something that disinterests them. If social media design elements are the least of your concerns, you can still be wasteful. An offensive or misunderstood message (or image) can easily detour potential customers – or even cost you loyal fans.

If you don’t want to be seen as an average option, don’t look like one. Take the time to understand why blue font on a pink background is a terrible idea.

How I Can Help at PreFocus.

Those of you needing help mapping things out, your first consultation is always free. It’s only $125/session after that. 90 minutes of value could be all your brand needs to get over the hump and really make an impact in the marketplace. I also offer media services in the Memphis, Tennessee area.

Be purposeful with everything you do guys, and always remember to PreFocus.

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Branding Workshop Host, Guest Speaker Near Memphis, Tennessee.

prefocus solutions midsouth branding expert for speaking engagements near memphis tennessee to help businesses establish themselves in the marketplace with effective marketing and advertising strategies

Now that I’m situated quite well just south of Memphis, I’d like to start talking about the effort I’ve put into my branding workshop. Helping business owners enhance the way they present and position themselves is an absolute passion of mine. Since 2007, I’ve been banging the table over authenticity. The problem is, many business owners just don’t understand the value of seamless brand identity. They simply want to hire an aggressive marketer that can drive immediate sales. But a long term return is far more rewarding.

Not only does a quality developmental process improve company certainty, but also the way the brand is perceived. Consistency and intention speak louder than sales pitches, So, if you’re in the market for a guest speaker or a detailed branding workshop, I’d love to help! Although I’m hesitant to share the details of my process, I’m hoping this outline inspires other marketers to be more creative with their clients. At the end of the day, I’m tired of fixing low quality campaigns and concepts. Business owners deserve better.

No matter who I’m presenting to, we have to go over the basics. If you have any questions or comments, please shoot me an email!

What is Branding, Exactly?

  • Business Dictionary says..
  • says..
  • To me, branding is every identifying element of the business – How it looks, acts, communicates and responds to the market/consumers and makes them feel.

What are the Four Keys to Quality Branding?

  1. Authenticity – who you truly are, your values, competencies and promise.
  2. Relevancy – making sure what’s important to customers is visible to them.
  3. Consistency – staying true to your identity on all channels so you’re recognizable.
  4. Commitment – keeping promise(s) by training & enforcing standards for employees.

Why it’s Important to Understand Ideal Customers.

  • Branding is responsible for speaking to your target audience in every way.
  • It’s easier to develop (a) promise(s) when you know how customers think, feel and desire.
  • Branding is meant to streamline your marketing efforts with cohesion in mind.
  • If you want a loyal following, you must know how to garner their trust.
  • Reaching outside of your audience is wasteful and impacts perceived value.

How To Get Started on Customer Personas:

  • What are the stated wants and needs of your target audience?
    • How do you plan on serving them?
    • How is competition addressing these?
  • What are the hidden wants and needs of potential customers?
    • How do you plan on serving them?
    • Is any other company leveraging these?
  • Identify demographic, geographic, behavioral and attitudinal characteristics.
    • Create 3-5 specific personalities that you’d like to target.
    • Create 3-5 specific personalities that might be interested in you
    • No matter what you do as a brand, cater to these ideal personas.

How to Define Your Branded Culture:

  • What exactly does culture mean? Harvard has an interesting take.
  • (?) What does brand culture mean to you? 
  • How do I see brand culture in today’s marketplace?
  • Determine the answers to these questions:
    • (?) How do you define and describe leadership? Stakeholders?
      • What qualities and characteristics are you looking for to lead your brand?
    • Who are your ideal partners or charitable organizations and why?
    • (?) What types of employees are you looking to target and why?
    • (?) What does a “moldable” employee look like to you?
    • How will you communicate brand standards (Ie: on-boarding and every touch point)? 
    • How might you implement and enforce new standards in an outdated culture?
    • Who can you identify to monitor brand standards (champion, advocate, cheerleader)?
    • (?) What could you achieve with a precise hiring process, shared vision and purposeful culture?

The Actual Elements of a Brand.

  • (?) What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of branding?
  • (?) What do you think are the key elements of a brand? Most important?
    1. Brand Values and Drivers.
      • Why you started statement? Your purpose and origin story.
      • What event actually caused you to get started?
      • What are you looking to uphold? What’s your true intention?
      • What do you plan on doing differently? How’s it benefit the customer?
      • What is your core promise to the market?
        • (?) How do you know if the “promise” you’re making is the right one?
          1. Case studies
          2. Market research or complaints by competitors
          3. Where does opportunity exist and why?
          4. Questionnaires/poles
          5. Post purchase surveys
      • This section comprises your company overview, vision and mission statements.
    2. Brand Identity or Company Personality.
      • Human-like characteristics that define value and provide clarity.
      • Something original and authentic that direct consumers can relate to.
      • Ask yourself if you’re branding an expertise or a definitive value?
      • (?) Try to give your business 3-5 unique adjectives. Do you know?
        • Sincerity, ruggedness, excitement, competence, and sophistication.
      • (?) Does your brand persona makes sense or align with provisions?
        • Making sense (or meaning something) to you doesn’t always resonate.
      • Good Example: Michael Kors.
        • Upper class, glamorous, and trendy.
        • Promotes products at aspirational events, landmarks or moments
      • Bad Example: Uber
        • No connection with users and only drove home a need.
        • The face of the brand was a jerk – like they’re Pacman logo suggested.. Eek!
      • Why is a Brand Identity or Persona Important?
        • It keeps all marketing and sales channels cohesive – saves money.
        • Creates clarity and allows people to identify with a business.
        • Many people will support you subconsciously because they can relate.
        • An identifying persona enhances recognition (talk about that shortly).
        • Knowing who you are streamlines design elements and messaging.
    3. Making a Brand Name for Yourself. 
      • Reflect values and purpose
      • Create association with the brand persona
      • Easy to say and understand
      • Unique and memorable
      • Before solidifying, communicate name with associated value and purpose.
      • Ask for feedback 
    4. How to Create Tag-lines and Slogans.
      • What is your definitive value proposition or best promise?
      • How can you formulate it in a unique and simple way with clarity?
      • What type of jingle, verbiage or tempo would intrigue an ideal customer?
      • Think it through as most brands don’t solidify these right away.
    5. Understanding a Brand Style Guide.
      • Everything discovered above should be considered.
        • Ie: Sincerity, ruggedness, excitement, competence, and sophistication.
      • Color Palette
        • Featured color, secondary color, etc..
        • Visual combinations.
      • Typography
        • Which fonts communicate your brand personality best?
        • Accessibility for designers and web developers.
      • Logo Design
        • Consider what the brand stands for.
        • Even if it’s meaningful to you, it needs to make sense to customers.
        • If ever in doubt, ask for feedback and keep it simple.
        • Determine specifications, uses, lockups and save all files.
      • Unique Characteristics, Icons and Additional Identifiers (abbreviations).
      • Writing Style and Tone of Voice.
        • Informative, educational, authoritative, encouraging, direct, etc..
        • What is the main purpose of content (end goal)?
          • Will you use different voices for different purposes?
        • Who would narrate a commercial or radio ad and why?
        • What are common words you’ll use throughout communication?
        • Good and bad examples.
      • Imagery and Illustration Guidelines.
        • Editing style (black and white, high contrast, colorful, etc).
        • Perspective (panoramic, 1st person, etc).
        • Image graphics and colors (placement and sizing).
      • Print Design Layouts or Templates.
        • First impressions like business card designs.
        • Brochure/flier guidelines, letterheads and marketing materials.
        • Large format printing and banners.
      • Digital Design Elements.
        • Website design, purpose and functionalities.
        • Email templates
        • Social media style guides
        • Media guidelines, titles and graphics
      • Product Packaging
        • Functional role
        • Messaging and reasons to believe
        • Personality embodiment 
      • Employee Wardrobe and Presentation.
        • ID’s and branded attire.
        • Dress code or boundaries for wardrobe liberties?
        • Are you looking for strict cohesion or individuality?
      • Store Design and Customer Experience.
        • Flow of the experience and outdoor specifications.
        • Ideal features, possible concepts and customer input.
        • Consider every touch point, even the online experience.
        • (?) What can you do differently to establish a memory?

Brand Awareness and Driving Recognition.

Before diving into a marketing strategy for an established brand, we have to understand every phase of the customer cycle.

    1. General Awareness
    2. Needs Recognition
    3. Informational Search
    4. Evaluating Alternatives
    5. Purchase 
    6. Post Purchase

From here, we can start to uncover the ideal position. But first, let’s talk a little bit about promotability. You can’t just assume every consumer will salivate over your business.

What is Brand Recognition?

  • Being known or recognizable through a design, voice, jingle, imagery, icon, character, etc..
  • Example: “Nationwide is on your side.” Nike can be any color combination. Pillsbury Dough Boy.
  • Brands can also be known for quality, reputation, reliability, consistency, good time, etc.

The Benefits of Brand Recognition:

  1. Peace of Purchase – people buy from a known/trusted source. Price isn’t as important.
  2. Known for Value – consumers understand who you are and why you are. Clarity.
  3. Recruiting Talent – people are drawn to a household name. Better options.
  4. Lower Turnover – employees tend to want to be a part of a recognized entity.
  5. Support Esteem – easier to attract partners/sponsors. Sought after more.
  6. Lower Spending – loyal customers don’t need to be marketed to as much.

How to Communicate Your Brand Promise(s).

  • Now that everything is solidified, you must determine how to market the brand.
    • Why do you want to communicate?
      • Make an announcement or recap
      • Discuss about features or benefits
      • Promote something in the future
      • Expand on or reinforce brand promises
      • Build tactful awareness by stating facts or promoting data.
    • What Are Your Brand Drivers?
      • Functional – The basic job the brand does.
      • Emotional – How the brand can make people feel.
      • Economical – How the brand saves time or money.
      • Self Expressive – How the brand makes users appear to others.
      • Societal/Environmental – How the brand impacts both.
    • What Does Your Positioning Strategy Look Like? 
      • Short term is more tactful with clear value propositions.
      • Long term is more strategic towards awareness and loyalty.

Rebranding Preview

  • Normally takes care of all the steps you’ve initially missed.
  • Many specialists do this for design elements despite a deeper rooted issue.
  • Rebranding is more difficult, frustrating and expensive..
    • Re-implementing standards for clients and employees.
    • Updating designs and reprinting – wasted spend.
    • Reconfiguring the workplace, implementing new standards or procedures.
    • If perception and image are ruined already, will a makeover even work?
      • Most designers will not be honest about this.
    • If you’re investing in a rebrand for the wrong reasons, the cycle will ensure.
      • Start from the ground up and it’ll all come together in confident fashion.

Quality Branding Workshop and Training Events.

Since I launched my business back in 2016, I’ve been passionately trying to educate business owners on the perks of a sound strategy. No matter how you look at it, perceived value always depends on a sensible brand identity. Building one takes a lot of work. But for those of you that are committed to the process, and essentially your customers, it’s well worth it in the end. Just remember, clarity and certainty are everything.

If you ever want to spitball about your brand and it’s position in the marketplace, let me know! I’m always up for a good conversation and your first consultation is always free! Best of luck in the longterm!