When I began my role as a copywriter at Creative Distillery in October of 2013, one of the first projects was blogging for Memphis Invest, a family-owned turnkey real estate investment company. Writing three posts a week, combined with less frequent, more in-depth articles, I’ve written so much about investing in real estate that I’m thinking I might be pretty good at it myself some day!
More important than my possible future as a real estate investor, however, is what I’ve learned about the value of blogging for our clients.
Ultimately, the goal of blogging is to provide readers with information that they find useful, entertaining and memorable in a way generates conversions and engages the audience. As a project, blogging is a lot like social media management — it’s ongoing and demands regular research, innovation and experimentation.
Through our use of strategic SEO integration, relevant topics and thoughtful presentation, Memphis Invest not only is seeing more blog views now than ever before, but a significant subscriber base, too.
When Creative Distillery picked up Memphis Invest as a blogging client in June 2013, the blog was receiving an average of just over 2,000 views monthly. As of October 2015, we’re averaging over 13,000 monthly views!
All this traffic isn’t for no reason. Blog posts are a vital part of the marketing funnel. Calls-to-Action are in many ways the most important part of the blog post. That’s what you want people to click on, because those people turn into conversions and customers. For the Memphis Invest blog, CTAs range from access to starter packages, subscribing to updates, signing up for events, and making contact with the company in a personal way.
One of my first blog posts, “The Myth of Hands-Off Real Estate Investment” still remains one of the most popular posts on the blog and continues to get views in 2015, despite being posted well over a year ago. Right now, it sits with over 3,000 views. It also has the most CTA clicks of any published post on the blog — nearly 200.
Our goal is to provide content and connection with real value to the reader. That, in turn, helps move them into a deeper relationship with the client’s sales process. That continuing authentic relationship through insightful content is a valuable investment.
Wanting to generate more leads for your business? Let's talk! Contact us to learn more about creative content marketing ideas for your work.
Michael Gentry came in for a logo refresh for his landscaping business, Southern Shades of Green. During our initial discovery when exploring goals for what he wanted out of the redesign, he talked about his business goals. The lawn care business is highly commoditized and competitive, and Michael really wanted to work on larger-scale projects with more creative flexibility. (That part was easy for me to relate to.)
The conversation really got into the ability of what we do to solve real problems for people. Michael’s range of skills as a certified landscape horticulturist weren’t being used to its fullest. That was leading to stagnant energy and less satisfaction with the business. Michael wanted projects where he’d be able to work with homeowner and commercial clients who’d trust him to give consultation and design advice from the beginning. We started talking about what would appeal to contractors, high-end homeowners, and commercial development clients. We kept coming back to Michael’s approach: extremely consultative, customized to each landscape and taking into account aesthetics, natural sunlight and water flow, and how the space would be used.
The answer presented itself: rather than hiding behind a business name to seem more professional, Michael should be leaning into his own name to depict himself as an expert that should be trusted with high-end projects. We decided to start working with Michael Gentry Landscape Design as a brand more suited for the type of work Michael was going after.
Here’s an early monogram we did, playing with a high-end look and plant-inspired forms.
During our research, we got really excited coming across some of these landscape design diagrams:
We incorporated those forms into a G, and started coming up with a cool, unique G:
From there, we did several rounds of tightening, checking how the logo scaled, etc. We ultimately settled on a rich, dark green that hit the right balance between luxury and organic. The background support element of the topographic lines appears on the business card and letterhead package.
Finally, we created sales materials that’ll give Michael everything he needs to spark conversations with his desired audience. It’s just the beginning of his journey, but the brand strategy sets him up to enjoy his business more and build a clientele that’ll allow his full set of skills. I’m proud of this process from start to finish: identifying the role of branding in transforming how he’ll experience his business.
One Year Update: I caught up with Michael recently, who says that the new identity has changed his business “basically overnight.” He’s getting more of the jobs he wants and expanding the construction side to build more elaborate outdoor spaces. We love hearing these types of results!
We’re proud to have designed a new website for the Jackson chapter of Parents for Public Schools. PPS Jackson engages the entire community with what’s happening in Jackson Public Schools. I’ve been to several of their Ask for More Arts performances, and it’s so cool to see what the students are able to produce and learn.
We had an inspirational intake meeting with PPS Jackson’s Executive Director Carolyn Jolivette that left me feeling personally inspired and also clear about how their site should sound. Public schools can’t be pushed to the margins, but must be a commitment for the entire community.
PPSJ has incorporated the African philosophy of Ubuntu, “I am because we are,” into its work and it has in turn been adopted by all of Jackson Public Schools. It’s a beautiful concept that builds in the organization’s call to all of Metro Jackson to become engaged in what happens in Jackson’s schools. We wove that language in through every page, and included multiple ways for site readers to get involved whether they’re a parent, an educator, or a citizen.
We let the information drive the design on this project. It helped us make decisions about visual hierarchy, how pages should be organized, things like that. The big color bands instantly communicate kids and learning without feeling childish. The typography is bold & confident to proudly declare support for public schools in Jackson.
PPS Jackson has great photos of the students and parents who get involved. Many of the photos are not taken by professionals, but they feel 100% real and that works well in this case. The site also looks great on smartphones with a fully responsive design.
We’re really proud to work with such a great organization and excited to help them amplify their voice to the community.
Whether you're a nonprofit or a business we can create branding work that captures your message and engages your audience. Contact us to get started.
We were honored to be chosen by the Mississippi Museum of Art to develop a new website. The MMA brings national-quality exhibits to Mississippi (they just wrapped an exhibit with a Van Gogh self-portrait!), has an incredibly diverse and free to view permanent collection, and hosts countless cultural happy hours and fun events. The website design process was very involved, using equal parts design, problem-solving, and workflow solutions. Here’s a look at how it’s come together.
The first step in this website was discovery, gathering input from the Museum about what they’d like to see in the website. There were some internal things like usability, browser compatibility, and other things of that nature that needed to be addressed to make the site more useful for staff. We also looked at other museums around the country so that locals and visitors alike would feel that the Mississippi Museum of Art’s website is comparable to the standard.
As regular visitors to the Museum, we were immediately struck by how important events are to the Museum. While art and exhibitions are always the soul of the MS Museum of Art’s identity, there are so many other functions that take place there. The MMA regularly hosts happy hours, outdoor movies, musical performances, and food tastings. These frequent events make the MMA a beacon of culture for both locals and visitors, and needed prominent billing on the website.
The MMA is fortunate to have a strong brand (which predates our work) through its logo, typography, and color palette. We didn’t look to reinvent the wheel here. For the website, we looked at bringing in the Museum’s print look to the site. Innovations like webfonts, which didn’t exist when the old site was designed, allow for a much more consistent brand across print and web.
The design really came together when our designer Rob put together a button design with a box and border underneath (see above image). I immediately felt that this looked Museum-y and we expanded the design to the submenu navigation and other treatments throughout. Coupled with a tight grid layout and lots of white space to properly show off the artwork, the site’s design came together as a smooth extension of the MMA brand.
Those events get a nice spot on the home page, and also are broken into categories that go to the appropriate areas. So, if a site visitor is looking at the current art exhibitions, they’d be interested to know that there’s a day of activities for homeschoolers about the current featured exhibit. We try throughout the site to link visitors among related content.
The Museum has a large staff that is going to be making the primary updates to the website, so usability is an ongoing concern. As of this writing, we’re still working with the staff to tighten small things up according to their workflow. When we design a custom CMS website for clients, we want to adapt the workflow into their existing structures as best as possible.
There is a sweet spot to hit between templating and complexity in the different page design templates. The template must be simple enough for them to use, but visual enough to be interesting, on-brand, and not look like a stock template that a site visitor has seen somewhere else. I think we’ve hit that mark, with some cool features like custom top-left logos for some of the MMA’s sub-brands like the Palette Cafe.
First off, it’s simply a best practice to design new websites responsively, in a way that the content resizes to fit devices from smartphones to our office’s 27” monitors. For the Mississippi Museum of Art, it’s been especially important because so many of the website’s visitors are visitors to the Jackson area. These visitors might be at a next door to the Museum at the Jackson Convention Center and want to know what’s going on at MMA. The Museum is now better equipped to attract those visitors with a smooth viewing experience on smartphones.
One reason we call ourselves Creative Distillery is our ability to take complex problems and break them down into powerful, branded pieces. Contact us to begin your website design process.
We were thrilled to receive a Gold ADDY at the 2013 Jackson Ad Federation awards, held at The South in downtown Jackson. Creative Distillery was represented by our graphic design team, me and Rob Toombs.