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.

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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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

4 + 3 =

6 Things New Business Owners Overlook When Launching a Brand.

Launching a business can be an exciting time. In my opinion, the process itself is what makes it fun. But keeping the ball rolling is a lot easier said than done. No matter how prepared you are, unexpected occurrences can easily pull the rug out from underneath you. This is why it’s crucial to be able to keep your focus and have a sound game plan. With that said, here are 6 things business owners overlook when developing a product or service.

1. Don’t Plan on Having Many Sick Days.

As an employee, calling in or taking a sporadic vacation isn’t uncommon. Staying in bed because you’re not motivated to get up or you don’t feel well isn’t that big of a deal. The operation still functions without you. But when you’re calling the shots, you better be able to overcome a bad day or night’s sleep. The business is going to need your attention and leadership throughout the infant stages.

Not only is it your responsibility (and what you signed up for), but your attitude is contagious. A lack of passion will most certainly influence employees, customers and any partnerships. If they’re having a rough day, you need to be able to get them going. It’s easy for frustration, doubt and discouragement to creep in. So make sure you have a way to deal with it professionally.

Vacation days aren’t a pipedream – you’re just going to have to work really hard and put a lot of stuff in place before considering a break. When new business owners overlook the minor details, it affects everyone around them. So manage your work/life balance on the front end to keep yourself in the right mindset.

2. The Passion of the People They Hire.

Employees and contractors are not going to have the same passion as you do. You’re the business owner, not them. Expecting everyone to match your energy and tackle everything with zeal is pretty ignorant. They’re not going to care about the brand, service or values like you do. On top of motivating yourself, they need to be led, nurtured and managed. Handing out autonomy without a trial can set you back big time.

Every person is different. They all have different desires, emotions and needs. So instead of forcing them to embody your “perfect representative”, find ways to encourage them to uphold your standards. If they were ambitious enough to take initiative, they’d probably start their own business. But they’re working for you. So do what you can to make them comfortable with accountability

When you understand people, it also gives you a chance to explain your passion and values so they can respect your vision. It’s all about relationships. So if you’re bad with people, start working on it.

3. You Can’t Do Everything Yourself.

One of the most common things new business owners overlook is multitasking. There is plenty of published content about this topic on the world wide web. Wearing too many hats or prideful attempts to do it all yourself can have devastating consequences. Not only can you mess something up and have to pay an expert to fix it, but errors or inconsistencies can negatively impact first impressions.

It may seem like you have everything under control in the beginning, but you can quickly become overwhelmed and inattentive to the business itself. Although it can be tough to trust people these days, it’s important that you develop a process that fills holes, plugs gaps and covers your weaknesses. This way, you can focus on value and the experience. Working harder while repeating mistakes will never fix the problem.

4. The Importance of Judging Character.

Nobody likes the extensive process of hiring. But today, you have to stay on your toes. Resumes, product descriptions and service presentations are extremely craft and sales-heavy. If you’re not a critical thinker or good at reading people, it’s going to be tough to not get burned. Unfortunately, contractors and coaches prey on start ups and hope new business owners overlook their reviews. It’s really bad in the marketing realm.

So do your due diligence before making decisions. Take time to establish brand standards, expectations and what an ideal representative looks like. Good questions provide great insight. Taking the time to find the right people allows you to build upon the foundation instead of constantly starting over. 

5. The Value of a Quality Experience.

There’s a big difference between presenting something as a qualitative option and providing a quality experience. I’ve spent a lot of time talking about this already – but the key is to be memorable from start to finish. You can have a great sales process and terrible product. You can have a great product but unappealing marketing. Both scenarios leave money on the table and hurt you from the get-go.

Unless you’re walking through every phase of the customer journey, it’s difficult to have clarity on what the problem is. So do this beforehand to make sure you’re not dropping the ball somewhere. When new business owners overlook the experience, consumers start to overlook them. Waiting for someone to leave a bad review and point out your flaws is hard to overcome. 

6. Initial Struggles and Contingencies.

If you don’t get the results you’re looking for right out the gate, what are you going to do? Are you expecting success? If so, why so? Like I said before, not everyone is going to be willing to feed off your passion. Despite your personal excitement, people may not care. How are you going to respond to overcome or bounce back if you struggle? This is where a sound contingency plan comes in handy. 

New business owners overlook this possibility because many are taught to be optimistic and positive. But the reality is, you have to expect the operation to fail. This way, if it doesn’t, you can take those vacation days.

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

Unique Blog Ideas for DIY Influencers That Believe in High Value Content.

Let me start off this article by saying this: blogging is not an easy task. It’s even more grueling when passion, knowledge and/or skill is lacking. No offense; but consumers deserve better. Any ethical venture requires a consistent foundation. If you disagree, you don’t have to keep reading. The fact of the matter is, most people underestimate the concept of high value content and quality readership. It’s easier to cover popular culture and collect affirmation than think outside the box. But it’s so wasteful. Coming up with unique blog ideas and developing original content is far more rewarding.

Choosing Between Qualitative & Quantitative Marketing.

If you’ve been blinded by this, be honest. Believe it or not, you’re not alone. Some of the most genuine, creative voices are never heard because they try to stand out in a crowd that’s wearing the same thing. There’s no reason you have to follow suit. Three quality pieces of content will easily outperform fifteen trendy topics every single time. When the value is higher and the competition is lower; it’s a lot easier to be found. Focusing on high volume keywords or publishing a high volume of blogs (quantitative) won’t get you much traction.

Not many “marketing” (sales) agencies will tell you this, but modern content strategies are rarely original. Despite premium pricing, cheap contractors are usually hired to duplicate popular articles. This eliminates the need for a creative process (most important element of writing) and keeps costs low. Paying for unique blog ideas is risky if you’re the expert. So I thought I’d highlight the DIY industry to better explain the benefits of originality.

Why DIY Pros Could Use a HQ Content Boost.

Those of you that are passionate about teaching people how to do something have to be willing and able to stand out in a valuable-sort-of-way. Even with knowledge and skill, you’re not going to captivate anyone by doing what’s already been done – especially if you’re just getting started. Even with a market share, discussing trends and news stories that have nothing to do with your value is obsolete. This is selfishness disguised as information in order to stay in front of your followers (which defeats the purpose of your influence).

When you have consumer attention, it’s imperative you buckle down and find where the real opportunities lie. Many of you just need a little help getting in front of the right audience. Studying who you might serve best is a great way to kindle momentum. Give yourself some credit and set aside time to think. There are tons of things you know or see differently that are worth putting into perspective. Jumping on the bandwagon of popular (high volume) search phrases only distracts you from your element of appreciation.

How High Value Content Aids DIY Bloggers.

Unique blog ideas generate far more awareness, build confidence and elicit trust while improving search engine rankings. High value content like this may not immediately place you in front of thousands of searches, but it’ll grab the attention of ideal viewers that want to share your stuff. This is a lot more difficult when you’re an option. A quality first impression also makes it easier to keep people engaged and supportive. Wide-net approaches only lengthen your journey.

Understanding this will help you become more than common and intentional with other areas of your life. It’ll also help you formulate a sensible brand identity.

Take this topic for example. At first glance, it may seem like I’m targeting bloggers and influencers with ambition. I might come off as a “rah rah” kind of guy. But the fact of the matter is, they’re not my ideal audience. Truth be told, I don’t think many of them would hire me anyways. DIY stuff is normally produced by hobbyists with a FT job and minimal budget. Earnings tend to be reinvested. Helping this group find their footing is a great way to explain my value and potentially change someone’s life!

This is also a topic lazy marketers wouldn’t dare copy haha.

Examples of Unique Content for DIY Influencers.

In case you haven’t yet picked up on what I’m laying down – content marketing efforts don’t always have to be about the “ask”. Investing in quality will breed certainty that grows over time. To many of you, the long game will be worth it because it’ll better equip you. So ignore the finger-crossing-activities that place you into a bucket of options and start building a foundation of high value content. In the meantime, here are some unique blog ideas that should spark your creative juices.

1. Content Ideas for Gardening Blogs.

When it comes to planting and growing things, there are so many different approaches and methods. Even though you’ll never cover them all, it’s good to be open minded. You never know what you might discover and be able to share. For example: Those of you with no-till gardens could try tilling a patch of soil and comparing the results. You could plant a few fruit trees, try something tropical, or talk about prep for a Christmas Tree lot. Even ideas can be valuable. A few hours a week on something new will give you tons of content. Just make sure you write it all down!

Some of the simplest of things, like how you start seedlings, can elicit tons of unique blog ideas. Where do you buy seeds? What has failed in the past? What type of lighting do you use? Do you start all of your seeds indoors? Are they under lights, in a greenhouse or straight in the ground? Do you have a different process for each plant or are they all nurtured the same? If you don’t use fertilizers, explain why. People love a story that means something. Have you tried natural remedies on any plants? Do you treat the soil? Why do you do what you do or what have you done that gives you confidence in your methods?

Every Gardening Task is Worth Explaining.

No matter what topic you focus on, do your best to maximize every inch of detail. From the soil composition to post harvest activities. Make an outline of everything you do and brainstorm with people who know gardening – and those that do not. Get feedback and organize questions so you can answer them in story form. Be vulnerable and talk about stereotypes, misconceptions or common failures. Be willing to learn about terrains and climates outside of your region to reach new audiences and educate your current one. Even the discussion of environmental factors, like flooding, will improve your credibility.

Last but not least, find ways to talk about yourself. Why do you enjoy gardening and what sparked the interest. How did a passion for it transpire? How has it been beneficial in your life and who have you been able to help or vice versa. Personalizing your channel or blogspot is the best way to establish trust and a relationship with viewers. Most will be able to relate to something you share – so don’t be shy!

2. Unique Homeschooling Blog Ideas.

This is something that I’ve seen explode over the past few years. Since many parents are partaking in homeschool for the first time, information is in high demand. But after researching quite a few channels, there aren’t many influencers talking about the psychological side of things. A majority of the chatter surrounds program reviews, the entertainment of kids, organization and finding “mom time”. Anybody that’s willing to cover tension in-the-home, personality testing (to assess learning capacity), discipline and progress reports (for parents and kids).

I think it’s safe to assume there are millions of parents overwhelmed right now. If they’re reaching a breaking point or their marriage is suffering, they don’t need to know how to be more fun and engaging. They need to learn how to manage the transition and the set of emotions that come with it. While it’s tempting to focus on what the student needs, most parents are not trained teachers. They have to put the oxygen mask on first – so to speak.

You Never Know the Real Impact You May Have.

Daring to bring up real things that people are avoiding will most certainly draw dialogue. It’ll also encourage families to talk about problems and know they’re not flawed for having them. All it takes is one person shedding light on a shadow. Doing so will open up new conversations, giving you plenty of unique ideas for your DIY blog.

Reminding parents that every child is unique by exploring personality traits and learning styles is also a good place to start. There are tons of ways to  At the end of the day, you only know what you know. So if you’re going to be helping people with homeschooling, you better have vast knowledge of the whole spectrum. Education is far more than choice curriculum, personal planning and home decor.

3. Unique Topics for DIY Home Decor.

This is another space of content explosion over the past couple of years. With so many people banking on real estate and remodeling, everyone wants a piece of the pie. While some DIYers have plenty of experience and skill to warrant quality readership – others simply know how to captivate an audience. Either way, the competition is extra thick in every category. So I’m going to tailor these unique blog ideas to the hobbyist that has a decent social media following. Interior design is a whole different art.

First and foremost, with so much information out there already, you need to pay attention to what’s been written as well as the author. Working hard on an article you’ll never rank for is ignorant. This is why creativity and thought matters. (Ie: ‘DIY decorating vs Interior Design’ hasn’t been written but ‘Interior Design vs Interior Decorator’ is very competitive by major sources) Looking for opportunities instead of inspiration will help you come up with unique blog ideas and avoid duplicating high value content.

The Value of Creating Homes Spaces on Your Own.

After my wife showed me a few DIY decorators the other night, I couldn’t help but notice many of them were simply trying something for the first time – like floating shelves for example. These accounts are popular because they show women they can do things themselves. So if you’re looking for unique ways to generate a audience, be vulnerable with your achievements. Shed more light on the process. It’s the whole purpose of DIY, right?

The little wins you’ve accumulated over the years have obviously given you enough confidence to start blogging about it. How has it affected you? Have you overcome anything? Did you struggle with anything before? Did decor give you an outlet? What are some of the benefits of decorating your own home? Organize your thoughts and garner feedback to help you establish a definitive list that can dominate the search category. Be detailed about the different reasons homeowners try DIY. What are some of the tools, apps, guides, plans, materials, finishes or simple tips that make home decorating easier?

Differentiating Yourself With Thoughtful Insight.

Don’t just talk about colors and shades and design. Obviously these things are important – but is it really your forte? Is the goal to inspire people to create their own space or to duplicate your inspiration? (I’d say that’s a major difference between designers and DIYers) Either way, topics (with questions) that help homeowners determine the look and feel of every room would definitely help you stand out. There are endless personalities, behaviors, interests and preferences in the home worth talking about.

Watching you hang a floating shelf for the first time is definitely inspiring – but don’t simply settle for the kudos. Explain how the shelf can be used and modified. Find out who likes this style the best and talk about why. Maximizing your content helps you take a proud moment and add a little value.

4. DIY Workout Content Topics.

Since I rambled a lot in the first three categories, I’m going to keep this one simple. When it comes to high quality fitness content, consumers want to follow someone with a personal fitness journey and loads of education (or personal evidence). These two things are pretty much a prerequisite. From here, you’re going to want to figure out some sort of specialty that has to do with your experience and strengths. For example, if you’re more quick than fast, stick to agility over speed training.

What types of muscles, ligaments, joints, tendons and bones play a role in one’s agility, burst and acceleration. How important of a role does the core play? What kind of cardio, maintenance (stretching, treatment, recovery, etc) and weight training exercises will benefit every component? There’s 30-40 unique blog ideas right there. Taking the time to detail one area of the body (as much as your education allows) only adds value to your ability to plan workouts. Keep it simple. One little fact every day will draw people in.

5. DIY Epoxy Table Blog Ideas.

This is another little hobby that a lot of people are trying. The thing is, it’s really expensive – and not a lot of table makers (or woodworkers) are being transparent about it. Although it is a fairly simple process (with the right tools), educating people on the risks, potential problems and consequences would be a good idea. I know it can be difficult to promote mistakes, but this actually builds trust. Everybody knows craftsman make mistakes time to time. Teaching people how to avoid what you did is the definition of selfless consideration.

Influencers that have had a lot of success building epoxy tables usually produce content that’s creative. It shows their work and how they did it. I think I’ve seen every which way these things are put together now. But very few talk about the little details of the project. What types of frames are you using and why? Is your decision based on price, stability, convenience or trial and error? How might the average joe go about making a decision that’s best for him? Do certain materials work better for bigger tables? What are some of the issues or advantages of each material?

Prove The Handiwork Takes Knowledge and Skill.

What are the misconceptions of the project and what have you learned personally? Have you tried anything new that’s worked better than something you used to believe in? What should enthusiasts know about working with epoxy? Why is it so expensive and what dangers does it pose? How important is the mixing process and how much time do you have to make the pour? Is it OK to “eyeball” measurements? If you overfill the slabs, is it that big of a deal? Are there any tips or tricks for cleanup or to make things less messy? How long should you really let it cure and how can you go about cutting it?

Although it’s tempting to generate a following that gawks at your skill, don’t be afraid to prove your worth. Even if you have to give away a few secrets, you have to know that most people aren’t able to do what you do. There are tons of questions surrounding epoxy tables just waiting to be answered. Jump on Quora and see for yourself. I’m going to go ahead and assume you’ve spent a lot of time trying, failing and trying again. So use some of your experience and certainty so you can stand by the price of your tables.

6. Unique Blog Topics for DIY Photography.

This form of art is nothing new and there’s advice all over the internet for both amateur and professional photographers. From styles, to shades, equipment and lighting – opinions are certainly not lacking. But no matter the amount of information available, creativity cannot be bound. It’s why I’ve always enjoyed helping my wife build her photography business. There are so many elements that go into a quality product. Every single time you freeze the frame, there is an opportunity to learn something new. So talk about it! It’s that simple.

Personalize Your Vantage Point and Build Off Ideas.

Explaining how your style or approach has evolved and who has influenced you over the years is another great place to start. Let your passion, reasoning and drive shine through. At the end of the day, every experience you have as a photographer is different than another’s. Discussing sessions, placements, obstacles, interactions, locations and sporadic ideas will showcase your attention to detail and build rapport. What you do when there’s cloud cover, direct sunlight, rain, or the wind blows a certain way is always worth sharing.

Over the years, I’ve spent a lot of time developing unique blog ideas for Danielle. We’ve talked about our top spots in different sub-cities, DIY lighting, managing events, taking photos for your business and even creating recipes. Helping people take good pictures isn’t just about the camera, subject and settings. Knowing how to work with people, get them to smile and feel comfortable is just as important. It’s easy to publish your work and talk about it – but it becomes valuable when people are able to take something away.