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.

Request More Information:

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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..
  • Entrpreneur.com 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!

Advantages of a Brand Book for Business Endeavors.

In a nutshell, a brand book is an index or style guide that a business can reference at any time for marketing and advertising purposes. It’s most commonly used for website redesigns or other design projects. There are a number of advantages of a brand book – but biggest benefit has to be certainty. Taking the time to solidify everything on the front end is what PreFocus is all about.

A quality brand book and style guide offers an in-depth look at:

  1. Company History and Origin.
  2. Slogans and Taglines.
  3. Core Values and Promise(s).
  4. Achievements and Goals.
  5. Mission and Vision Statement.
  6. Differentiator Statements.
  7. Personality and Characters.
  8. Voice and Message Structure.
  9. Ideal Audience Analysis.
  10. Marketing Cycle Phases.
  11. Market Orientation and Outlook.
  12. Print Templates and Fonts.
  13. Online Design Standards.
  14. Typeface and Headings.
  15. Colors and Logo Variations.
  16. Image and Media Guidelines.
  17. Strategic Agendas.
  18. Ideal Partnerships.

Why a Brand Book is Advantageous.

As you can imagine, this is extremely valuable to a marketer or design team (internal and contracted). A quality brand book will help any business save money, establish immaculate cohesion, avoid conflict, prevent confusion, and (of course) work with certainty.

Here are some of the overlooked advantages of a brand book.

1. Avoid Lengthy Discovery Processes.

When you think about it, a company moves through a new discovery process every time a new campaign is established, something is designed, a promotion is created, or website is updated. It can be burdensome to go back and forth about value propositions or messaging when brand standards aren’t solidified on the front end.

Not only does a brand book save the business time and resources, but it keeps a marketer from racking up costs during the “development phase”. The more a style guide is utilized, the easier it’ll be to make confident decisions. So, one of the biggest advantages of a brand book is the ability to hit the ground running.

2. Improve Brand Equity and Morale.

In reality, many business owners struggle to differentiate themselves to external hires, vendors and even their internal culture. Knowing who you are, what you stand for, where you came from and where you’re going is attractive. It may be stressful but set boundaries, but it’s magical when everyone is heading in the same direction.

A brand book isn’t just meant to direct sales channels. Like I said in the video, it ought to be a true reference point for everything you need to know about the business. Paying a few grand to really get organized is always worth the investment. You’re literally able to hand out an answer guide for most things. People appreciate and respect this.

3. Structure, Purpose Marketing Efforts.

When you don’t have a vision or concrete foundation on paper, it’s easy to get bucketed by industry. This does you no good in the marketing space. A message that is written by an out-of-touch freelancer may be cost-friendly – but it’s going to based on commonalities in the marketplace. You can’t expect the business to stand out this way.

Leaving the first impression in the hands of someone that doesn’t understand your passion is risky. How can you communicate anything genuine? How is this any kind of strategy? You’re literally paying to be seen as an option.

Predesigned templates for emails, flyers and other formats can also eliminate your need to hire altogether. It costs a little more on the front end, but allows you to simply plug and play the new verbiage yourself.

4. Peace of Mind to Focus on Purpose.

One of the biggest advantages of a brand book is a decision makers ability to know exactly what’s needed, where it’s going, how it needs to be communicated, and when it can be done by. Implimenting a process (or multiple systems) that reference the style guide and brand standards is gamechanging.

When people that are hired don’t follow set standards or guidelines, it’s easier to redirect or move on.  Uncertainty can really get in the way of progress. Setting expectations (for the customer experience) and holding people accountable is what really separates a brand.

Over time, this drastically improves trust and recognition – allowing the business to focus more on its “reason-for-being”. This improves brand equity. I see way too many companies lose sight of their vision because they’re constantly trying to get people to see the bigger picture.

Get Going on Your Brand Book!

Any way you can build upon your brand book, not just expand your reach, you’re going to do just fine. Don’t get too caught up chasing after “likes” and general engagement. Truly invest in a PreFocus and make sure every cent of your spend is going towards something fruitful.

There are tons of advantages of a brand book and style guide. So look into it if you want to take things to the next level. Be purposeful with everything you do, guys!

Want to Talk About Branding?

For almost a decade now, I’ve been helping businesses structure their brand and restructure their mindset. Staying true to who you are is important. Your first consultation is free!

What’s a Quality Ad Development Strategy Look Like Online & On Paper?

headline image with prefocus logo for blog about quality ad development strategy for online and print campaigns geared towards brand identification and ideal audience analysis near memphis tn

Whether a company is looking to improve print ad presentation, beginning to develop adspend, or optimizing PPC ads, an opportunistic approach is always the best option. A quality ad development strategy may seem overblown, but it always performs far better than a basic concept. From my perspective, there’s always a way to do something better, from the consumer’s vantage.

Even though I offer help interviewing prospects, I’ve always believed in sharing knowledge. There are plenty of greedy, greasy slime balls that lurk in the advertising realm. So I thought I’d break down some of my experience to possibly help you know what to look for when setting up a sound ad campaign.

Strategic Ad Development Builds Return.

When I’m working with a client to develop an advertising strategy, I like to PreFocus on three things.

  1. The Current State of Your Advertising – What is your current adspend and why? Is it effective and how do you know? Are there opportunities you’re missing? Have you ever invested in paid ads before? If you know what you’re doing then why do you need help? Is reliable management best? Who’s making the decisions and why? What do you really need before spending or wasting money?
  2. The Best ROAS Opportunity – ROAS is your return on adspend. Businesses that are new to the advertising space often do what they’re told by whoever sells them the loudest. While digital ads on Facebook may generate a decent 3:1 return, is it really the best? How do you know? Who are you relying on to make these decisions? What if a billboard drove you 10:1 over a 30 day span? What are some ways you could track something like that before chopping it up as risky? If you do chase online traffic, are you hiring the best of the best to quadruple the return? If not, why do you trust amateurs more? Who’s managing accountability?
  3. The Most Appropriate Message – Cohesion is everything. When you’re all over the place with marketing and advertising, it’s confusing and difficult to retain. While some bigger corporations like to literally use brainwashing techniques to drive remembrance, this is nonsense. The subtle things communicate more than you think. But before you start barking at people, you have to figure out what your ideal customer will appreciate the most – then work from there. Anything that surrounds your core promise to them is a great start.

Breaking Down Quality Ad Development..

If you’re just getting started with advertising, you’ve come to the right place. I’m not here to oversell you on anything or make any promises. You’re simply going to want to flesh out your options and see where your ideal customer hangs out the most (or is most reachable!) This channel could be on or off-line. Take your time, do some tests. Ask questions and survey the marketplace. Once you’re able to confidently select a quality ad development strategy, find the best people to help you piece it together. Doing it yourself is dumb when you have a business to run.

If you’re thinking about multiple channels, even better. Figure out which is your primary and what your contingency is if an unexpected channel outperforms it. Be as seamless as you can on every channel to ensure you’re able to drive recognition and trust. With that said, let’s start with the most obvious option: online advertising. 

photograph on microsoft tablet and google ads sign up page that can confuse business owners and rob them of ad spend if they don't have a sound prefocus strategy

1. Online Advertising Is a Vast Sea of Blah.

When you first think of running ads online, you’re probably going to immediately think of search or social media. Both of these outlets give brands an opportunity to get in front of the people they chose. Search engines like Bing use keyword phrases and relevant searches to populate ads. Social platforms normally leverage user behaviors, interests, demographics and location. But there is so much more to online advertising.

You could be paying $10K per month on Twitter and never realize how far that spend could take you with an in-game-ad on an app. Retargeting is also extremely valuable to service companies or in other highly competitive industries. Divvying up a budget in the beginning stages is hardly a bad idea. Until you’re certain of the best means, you have to be willing to search for the sweet spot online.

The Reality of Many Online Ad Campaigns.

Truth be told, quality businesses are far too often burned by online advertising services. Instead of a quality ad development strategy, their dollars and advertising campaigns are placed on autopilot. Templates and set services are sold and true areas of opportunity are ignored. When the foundation isn’t laid first, you’re going to have to analyze every ad yourself to ensure it meets brand standards. From experience, this is tiresome, frustrating and usually leads to errors and blame. Remember, certainty is everything. Don’t pay for a service that’s unwilling to dive into your identity and ideal audience.

Digital advertising is not cheap. You’re going to want to be sure that every promotion is relevant and catering to what consumers are actually searching for online. Force feeding persuasive-talk, force feeding keywords, ignoring search intent, and inconsistent designs can drastically impact your ROAS. Every little thing matters and an advertiser that doesn’t take this seriously is not worth your money.

The Art of Developing An Online Display Ad.

Once you establish somewhat of a niche and begin developing a strategy, an effective display ad is going to be your focal point. Although content is “king” and all – don’t be over-zealous. Remember, you want to relay a confident message that means something to your ideal target(s). Don’t be cheesy or selfish when you serve ads, look to serve people’s needs and solve their problems.

Place yourself in the shoes of a consumer searching for the solution, want or need you provide. If you really want to improve conversion rates, branded imagery (adhering to set guidelines) does wonders. An actual employee, customer or business leader speaks far louder than a stock image of a random model.

  • Creative Thoughts – Visual appeal is only one element of high click through rates. Designers need to understand the business and your definitive vision. This keeps them from stepping outside brand standards with their own creative ideas. Sometimes, a simple question with a dash of branding is enough.
  • Display Ad Construction – The ad itself needs to be congruent with the campaign. Take the time to research competition and see where their ad experience is lagging. Sometimes an informative video on a landing page with a form is all you need. Remember, this is a first impression, so make every click count.

Far too many display ads aren’t targeted properly. A quality ad development strategy always communicates exactly what the consumer desires. This takes work and talent, guys. If you’re making decisions based on humor or attention, you’re leaving money on the table. Here are some display ads I’ve done:

original image of boxing model holding gloves over shoulder with red wraps on and black fitness tracking watch shadow lighting for quality display ad design strategy
patient values are a part of our core display ad production project with healthy fruit apple a day keeps doctor away creative advertising ideas capture audience attention medical practice memphis tennessee
info graphic display advertising strategy memphis tn creative director for kickboxing gym asking questions to combat fitness misconceptions and acquire new gym members original imagery
softball player high school bending down with gear pink cleats green fitness watch colorful custom expression personal display ad designs specific target athlete memphis tn creative services

The Digital Ad Itself isn’t the Only Online Element.

If you’re going to immerse yourself in advertising development, a cute design isn’t going to be good enough. The strategy that follows the messaging of your campaign is just as important. How are you tracking ads, reporting conversions or tabulating calls? Are you recording calls? Would it be valuable to find a reporting service that includes this? Who’s able to manage results and organization on the back end? How are you holding internal and external teams accountable? These are all questions that need to be answered in order to drive maximum efficiency on spend.

However, the most important determination is going to be where you’re sending online “clicks”. A digital campaign that sends potential customers to a homepage (or social media page) may survive, but a tailored landing page is far more effective. Building these things takes time, resources and a little bit of change. But it’s advantageous for conversion rates and tracking. Just remember, none of this matters if you’re not zeroed in on a quality ad development strategy. You can have all the bells and whistles and still sound like an average option with a typical mouthpiece.

Some of the Typical Online Ad Strategies I Work On:

  1. Social Media Advertising – Like I mentioned before, you’re going to want to determine where your ideal target audience is available the most. Facebook is popular, but it’s not for everyone. Serving ads on irrelevant channels can cause you to waste your budget. Facebook, for example, basically shotguns your ad and charges you to get in front of random people. Something like LinkedIn or even Next-Door could be far more rewarding if you take the time to look. Another thing you’ll want to focus on is the time of time your ads run. If your ideal audience is at work 9-5, don’t waste your money then! Also, use original imagery any time you can!
  2. Pay-Per-Click Search Ads – PPC can help you pinpoint specific searches in order to execute purposeful reach. In the past, it was a lot easier to target exact keywords. Nowadays, Google can pretty much waste your ad on any relevant phrase. For example, “catnip” can also include “nipping cat” or even “getting rid of a nipping cat”. Now why would you want to serve an ad for cat food to someone who doesn’t want their cat anymore? So you have to be careful and ensure you’re working with someone that can keep an eye on these things. I used to love working with long tail keywords and intent, but those days are pretty much over.
  3. Video and Commercial Ads – Promoting or boosting video content can be quite expensive and extremely quantitative. When I’m working with a client on a video campaign, we have to really take into consideration the content we’re aligning ourselves with. Youtube ads can be very difficult to control when a quality ad development strategy isn’t involved. Blocking or targeting certain videos, channels, influencers, interests and categories is the key to a high return. This takes a lot of time and know-how. One ad in front of the wrong audience can cause quite the stir these days. So be cautious. When it comes to writing the production itself, I really enjoy digging into the identity and personality of the business in order to convey something unique, inspiring and meaningful with the audience. Most creative directors focus on entertainment – but I aim to engage with something authentic.

different prominent magazines that cost a lot of money to advertise in spread out on white table at office for ideal customers but aren't only means of offline ad development strategies

2. Print Advertising Is Not As Complicated.

Unlike digital ads, print is pretty straight forward. Most brands know what they want or need and order it. This could be a sign, banner, car wrap, flyers, business cards, marketing materials, t-shirts and whatever else you can physically hold with a logo on it. But when you really think of stuff like company swag, it can be extremely wasteful. A quality ad development strategy is still absolutely necessary. What’s the point of ordering 1,000 shirts nobody even likes wearing because they’re itchy, a bad color, straight up ugly, or your company stinks?

Pumping out an idea because it has the potential to make yourself some money is lazy and ignorant. Not everyone is going to want to buy from you because you’re you. So before you start pouring a lot of capital into print designs, think it through. Do you really need the huge, large format sign at the entrance? Is the wall mural going to drive you more business? Do you really need the glow in the dark cards? What do your customers really appreciate – and most importantly, what are they going to hang onto? Get a second opinion on those fridge magnet with a terrible design and zero value. There are plenty of ways to stand out with print media.

Better Understanding Print Advertising.

In the past, I’ve spent a lot of time analyzing the messaging of print ads. Online, things can be changed or updated quickly. Once you hang up a billboard, signage, or a magazine spread – it’s permanent. This is usually at least 30 days. So companies really need to take their time when it comes to this stuff. So many of you could be doing so much better with your adspend. After hundreds of conversations, I’ve found most decision-makers to feel helpless and limited when determining where to spend their money. “Standard” pricing formats often force them to choose options that fit their budget best.

Magazine subscriptions, directories, and other sources of media often monopolize the market with their high prices. They do this with “guaranteed” views. But this doesn’t mean you’re actually getting in front of who they say you are. It’s all based on magazine purchase and projection. Like I’ve said before (and a lot), quantitative methods aren’t always fruitful. Just because a magazine is for families, it doesn’t mean your ideal family reads it. 10% of views could be gold, but then, how many people call a magazine ad? Don’t they normally look for solutions elsewhere?

Are You Really Pumping Up the Volume with Ads?

Many print strategies are simply brand awareness campaigns. Advertisers are simply crossing their fingers that the consumer remembers them when the need arises. At the same time, there are ways to be remembered. Presentations and print media at trade shows, events or on company vehicles can certainly catch the eye in a good way. Nonetheless, the key to effective print advertising is finding opportunities and attacking them with cohesive, purposeful messaging and imagery that speaks well. It’s the best you can do.

white background photography studio product display ads for website and online marketing mobile device fitness tracking strategy consultations with prefocus solutions near memphis tennessee

Although volume marketing isn’t always a bad strategy, there are better ways for low-budget brands to experience a positive return. Sure, most of your customers subscribe to a specific publication – but we can promise you, they aren’t spending a majority of their time sourcing it. Allow us to show you how our print advertising services help you reap the benefits of an ROAS.

If You’re Looking for Print Advertising Guidance..

For many business owners, it’s frustrating to decipher attribution when publishing print ads. If you’re cross examining your options, you have to be able to ensure a return is there. You can’t assume data will fly. Don’t let a sales team talk you into advertising in their publication without first thinking through all possibilities. Take your time and develop a quarterly plan that includes your goals, anticipated return on adspend, and expectations. You can even reach out to companies that advertise with them to get a ballpark idea of the ROAS.

The best way to measure leads is to purchase a unique phone number, landing page, QR code or link that points to the campaign. If you don’t put tools or systems in place, you won’t be able to determine what works! Repeating what you’ve done in the past can become habitual even if it’s not the best route. So don’t leave money on the table. Sometimes, a little consultation can go a long way!

2 Things to Remember With Print Advertising.

  1. Analyze Your Attempts – The ways in which you reach your audience and how they portray your brand is important. Oftentimes, advertising campaigns aren’t looked at from the proper perspective prior to launch. The business owner or office secretary thinks it looks OK as is. You don’t have a quality ad development strategy if decisions aren’t taken seriously. Analyzing past investments, systems and overseers can help you avoid costly mistakes in the future. If there’s no kinks in the chain, but you’re spewing the same message – maybe it’s time to change things up a little. Constantly assess what you’re doing and the purpose of your ads or you’re wasting spend.
  2. Consider Print Ad Development – One of the easiest things to do as a business owner is invest in a brand book. This type of tool is filled with all of the brand standards, message preferences, catch phrases, design elements, templates, typography, logo variations and more. Having something like this handy makes any print project a lot easier. When designers have a resource, they don’t ask as many questions and the process becomes a lot more seamless. If you’re ordering a lot of print media, this may even help you save money. As aforementioned, there’s always a way to do something better!

happy medical professional treating patient at home with mobile services online and print advertising consultation near memphis tennessee for industry doctors looking to improve digital presence with original imagery

Concluding My Insight on Quality Advertising.

At the end of the day, all ad strategies need to involve all of the following:

  • MARKET DISCOVERY: Who does your audience consist of? What behaviors are relevant? Why are they ideal? Where are you going to be heard best? How can you speak directly to them?
  • MESSAGE CONSIDERATION: If you’re not promoting something that’s simple, sound and straight forward, you can easily miss your target. Avoid cramming everything into an ad and use print resources or online landing pages to cover details (once they’re interested). 
  • PLATFORM CAUTION: Don’t buy into every sales pitch and find a way to understand every possibility. Compare results, ask for further evidence, question everything and select platforms that make sense. Giving yourself time to identify value will help you avoid negligent spending and unecessary setbacks.
  • BUDGET AND SCHEDULING: Every dollar spent needs a purpose. You should know why your budget is what it is, how you plan on spending it, and how much you expect in return. You can’t gloss over this or you’ll get taken advantage of. Take the time to develop your adspend and control where it’s going.

I hope you’re able to walk away from this article better equipped to handle the rigors of advertising. If you need help with a quality ad development strategy, I’d be more than happy to help. The first consultation is free. If you live in the Memphis, TN area, I’m always up for a bite to eat in Germantown or Southaven!

Invest in Quality Advertising

I’m not interested in selling you on a pigeon-holed method of chance. I’m passionate about understanding a business and the customers that appreciate it the most.

6 Ways to Enhance Trust for a Personal Brand.

jt trask walking down back country road in florida discussing 6 ways to enhance trust with personal branding efforts that resonate with people and strengthen relationships and overall value

A lot of people think they have to force feed trust in order to gain credibility. But this just isn’t true – nor is it marketing or even close to brand clarity. The fact of the matter is, persuasion does not have to involve pressure or crafty measure. If you really want to enhance trust, target consumers need to know who you really are and why. If you’re looking to fool people, go ahead and click the back button.

Nonetheless, here are 6 ways to establish a first impression that lasts (watch the full video below).

1. Inquire, Observe and Take Note.

First and foremost, you have to be able to ask genuine questions and then listen. You can’t just tell people in general what their pain is and expect them to believe in what you’re selling. Even if you’re playing a quantitative game, trying to get in front of as many people as you can – you’re decreasing your odds by wasting connections. Invest time in certain interactions and you’ll be pleasantly surprised who gives you a shot. Pigeon-holing people as “out of your league” or “not good enough” is ignorant. Bias or prejudice never helps enhance trust.

2. Understand Personal Expectations.

Before you’re talking to anyone as a personal brand, you have to be willing and able to preview the experience. Those that are overly focused on selling, or trying to get somebody to like them, are missing an opportunity to establish a meaningful connection. How can anyone reassure their value this way? Seriously. Working off a sales script only buckets yourself as a selfish entrepreneur that really could care less about the pain points or needs of their customers – let alone the hidden wants and needs.

3. Walk Out Every Customer Phase.

Aside from painting expectations, you need to find a way to differentiate the process if you want to enhance trust for your personal brand. An ability to walk a potential customer down a certain set of deliverables, system or process gives them an opportunity to compare other options or their current experience. Discussing every step helps people understand what they can anticipate differently or better. Doing so even opens the door for feedback. Any good leader welcomes critique.

4. Build Your Credibility Organically.

How can you expand or educate on your knowledge? I see this all the time – people are trying to persuade target consumers, or even society in general, that they’re some sort of expert. But in reality, they’re not able to back it up and don’t know much outside of the sales pitch. I know I’m not the only one that avoids smooth-talkers. Either way, an open mind and a genuine conversation is all you really need. When people are comfortable with you as an individual, business talk happens naturally. If you really are an expert, most people will be able to tell.

5. Show Passion for Solving Problems.

If you want to impress people and enhance trust, do your best to confirm understanding and not just assume control. One of the best ways to do this is bring up past questions your customers have had and find ways to answer them differently and as honestly as you can. Some customers are going to value a different solvent, if that makes sense. You want people to be able to feel your excitement about overcoming misconceptions or initial skepticism of your business. You may live in a sketchy industry – so how are you really combatting perception?

6. Avoid Pressure–Filled Sales Tactics.

Last but not least, if you want to enhance trust, give people a chance to choose you. In other words, give them space to think about it and make their own decision. Don’t force the deal, I don’t care what society says.. Don’t oversell them for a quick buck. When the customer is allowed to buy into the process, they’re making a personal investment. When you convince them, they’re not truly bought in. In most cases, they’re still on the fence, waiting for something to go wrong. So wait for them to choose confidently.  People may have to go through a bad, cheap experience before announcing their loyalty to you.

Learn More About My PreFocus Process

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