KEC MediaWorks Intro: Make Your Message Sizzle!

Well, here at Stuart Jones Media, we've been busy!  So busy, in fact, that I haven't been able to update the project blog with the plethora of new projects that have been consuming all of my time!  It's a good problem, but a problem nonetheless. goal for this week is to catch up!  I am going to publish one new blog post every day this week, each one featuring some of my work over the past couple months.  

So to get us started, check out this new video I just produced for the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center's Mediaworks Demo Day--it's sure to get you pumped for a week full of blogging!

(Special thanks to Nick Hollensbe for adding the incredible 3D Motion Graphics and Compositing to this video.)

I was fortunate enough this summer to be invited to attend Knoxville Tennessee's first digital media start-up incubator program, called MediaWorks.  MediaWorks is a 3 month intensive at the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center (KEC) where entrepreneurs with start-up ideas--specifically in the field of digital media--receive training from seasoned professionals, mentorship from industry leaders, and exposure potential investors.  It was an incredible opportunity.

The grand finale of this 3 month sprint is called "Demo Day."  It's the evening where all the entrepreneurs present their ideas, on-stage, to a room full of investors and other super savvy entrepreneurial-minded individuals from all over East Tennessee.  Yep, no pressure.  

Preparing to present that night was intense enough, but to make things even more exciting, I was commissioned to produce this video to kick the night off with a bang.  Ultimately, the goal was two-fold:  to powerfully show off some facts and figures related to Knoxville's little-known worldwide digital media presence, and to get everybody in the room completely pumped up for the night.  If you were there that night, you know--it accomplished both!  

Take a look at the video and see for yourself--this is how you make your message sizzle!

Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Occidental Missionaries - A Home for Missionaries Around the World




It's rare that you get to work on a project as exciting as Occidental Missionaries.  

First off, it's going to be an AWESOME resource for "mission-minded" Christians living in the West (known as the "Occident"…as opposed to the "Orient"…neat huh?).  Occidental Missionaries is going to be a place for mission-minded Christians living in the West to share stories and encourage one another.  LOVE IT.  

But secondly, I got to work with an incredible friend, Iain Cook to build this site.  Iain, as you can tell from the photo, is no joke.  I mean just look at him!  Hailing from South Africa, Iain went to school in Canada, then moved to the States, and on any given day, may spontaneously contact me from India, Nepal, Hawaii, or the room next door.  He's spent a good deal of time abroad with a variety of missions groups, and is always bubbling with new crazy stories to tell.  He's a hard man to keep track of--and that makes his perspective on missionary living very unique and insightful.  Plus he's just awesome in general.

But lastly, I got to help develop the brand identity for this site, which is always fun.  I created a really simple, recognizable logo for Occidental:


I was very happy with this logo for two reasons--one, because several elements of the logo highlight the contrast between East and West--Orient and Occident--such as the divided dot on the "i".  This website is meant to speak towards the tension of desiring to be "mission-minded" yet living a relatively "non-missionary" life here in the West.  I think the logo does a good job of subtly conveying this tension.

Secondly, the logo can be simplified to its most basic form and transformed into a very clean, modern, recognizable "icon" image.  This simplified version of the logo could easily become the "mark" of Occidental Missionaries (like the golden arches are to McDonald's, or the concentric circles are to Target).  I could see this mark on T-shirts, coffee mugs, even golf balls!  And don't you know, if it can go on a golf ball, it's a good logo.  

So take a look at the site, Occidental Missionaries, and check back often, as Iain is continuing to add content frequently.  

And lastly, a huge shout out to Brit Fray Photography for letting us use some of her phenomenal photos in the design of this site.  They rule, she rules, end of story.

StereoRadio Band Website - Knowing When It's Time to Get Legit



Get ready to hear more from these guys.  

StereoRadio are a group of up and coming Knoxville based synth rockers whose previous online presence fell WAAAAY short of the glory of their polished and mature sound.  For the past year, they've been (borderline) embarrassed to send people to their website because of how lame it was.  EMBARRASSED I tell you!!  

Here's why:

The old front page

The old "about" page

The old "about" page

The new front page.

The new "about" page.

There's a million technical ways we've improved the site--it's easier to navigate, it's more social, it portrays more personality, it makes better use of screen space, it's branded better, and the list could go on.  (Check out the mobile version and you'll see about 30 more reasons.)  But technical improvements aside, it just makes a better impression--on fans, on interested labels, whoever.  For StereoRadio, it was time to get legit.

So this begs the question…when is it time to get legit? 

A musician myself, I know the dilemma all too well.  I get it.  You're a band.  You want to invest your time and your money in your sound.  A band is about the music, not a flashy image or a fancy website.  And plus, money is tight enough as a musician…if there's a few extra bucks laying around, you'd rather invest in some new drum heads or a mic that actually works than a serious website.  

For real, I know the feeling.  And for some of you, you're right.  When you're just getting started, you may need to put all your eggs in the proverbial "music basket" for a while.  You need to actually put the rubber to the road and write some good songs before you worry about nailing down your online presence.  But that's not what I'm talking about.  

I'm talking about the bands out there with a few crowd favorites in their roster.  You're booking a few shows besides your high school talent show.  Who knows, you may even have a label checking you out from afar, WHO KNOWS?  The point is this--if you're ready to get serious about this band stuff and really turn some heads, it's time for a better website.

StereoRadio was one of those bands.  They booked over 100 shows last year and they're on pace to beat that in 2014.  They're working on a project with acclaimed Nashville producers.  They've got a couple week stint in Europe this summer for heaven sakes!  For these guys, it was time.  Honestly, it was past time.  The website was no longer a peripheral novelty; it was actually holding them back.  It was portraying a less-than-realistic and less-than-flattering picture of an otherwise stellar rising name.  

If you're a band and you know it's time to get legit--drop me a line!

Small Business Video Promos - 3 Different Approaches

Over the past little bit, I've had the incredible honor to work with a few Knoxville-based small businesses to help jump start their digital media presence.  I love taking the complex stories and the passions of local business owners and translating them into simple, powerful, messages in video form.  It's what I do.

Since I haven't had the chance to share those videos on my blog yet, I want to take this opportunity (as in...RIGHT NOW!) to share three different approaches to video production for small businesses.   

1.) The Personalized Business Introduction - 

Traditionally, standard company promo videos are very straightforward and very unemotional.  As in, "Hello.  This is who we are.  This is what we do.  Thank you for your time."  While this is good and all, in today's uber-social world, the traditional "cookie-cutter" intro video is a bit…well…boring.  And that's why we at Stuart Jones Media have coined the "Personalized" Business Intro!  I love to take the traditional, direct intro and add a little of your flavor and passion to it.  We like to highlight the "why" behind the "what"--to highlight your passion for what you do.  Your audience is definitely interested in your credibility, but we like to throw in a little personality too--a sure way to stand out from the crowd.

Here's a sample Personalized Business Intro that I created for local designer/contractor, Heritage Homes and Designs.  (I also built their website!! :) 

2.) The Real-Life Story - 

We've all seen a million "testimonial" videos in our lifetime, and we've hardly ever been impressed--so what does it take to make a testimony stand out from the crowd?  The general tendency with testimonials is to shout a bunch of facts and figures at your audience.  To rattle off as much information as possible to try to logically convince the viewer to bite.  But often they are so concerned with information that they forget to identify with the audience.  

You've got to get personal.  You sell your audience more than just a product or service, don't you?  Of course, you sell them peace of mind.  Confidence that you will help them solve a stressful problem, obtain their dreams, or overcome their fears.  So when I tell a client's story, I focus on drawing attention to the emotion of the experience:  "How did it feel to move to a new city where you didn't know anyone?  What fears did you face trying to find a new, safe home in a place you knew nothing about?"  Highlight those questions and you suddenly struck a chord with every person who has ever moved to a new city and bought a home.  Then all you have to do is tell them how your business will walk them through that process and give them peace of mind, and you've won.  This is how you tell a story.

Here's a video illustrating this point, created recently for the Kings of Real Estate:  

3.) The Shared Values Approach

There was a time when marketing ultimately amounted to yelling as loud and as often as possible at your audience.  Billboards!  Magazine Ads!  THE YELLOW PAGES!!  But any marketing professional will tell you, for most smaller brands, those "name recognition" days are on the way out.  Today's media landscape is so overly saturated that you need something more than just a bright blinking neon sign to get people in the door.  You need something of more substance--you need a value system.  And more specifically, a shared value system.  In a nut-shell, you need to prove to people that you truly are in the business to serve.  Your audience wants to know that at the end of the day, you aren't in it just for the money (although money is great and all) but that you are actually committed to your clients' well-being.  Once you win their trust, you win their business.  

A local business that is truly committed to their clients' well-being is Visual Communication Interpreting.  Here's a video I made to show off the level of trust and confidentiality with which they treat their clients.  

So what is the moral of the story??  Now it's time for a serious moment of introspection…it means we really--actually--need to be in our business to serve others.  That's right, it's about more than just figuring out how to get your audience to think you have values--it's about ACTUALLY having values.  Let's be diligent to be people of value in the marketplace and be careful never to grow so short-sighted that our only goal is to gain monetary success! 

Thanks for reading!  

4 Ninja Tactics to Make Your Message Compelling

I'm bout to give you some ninja marketing SKILLZ!

No matter who we are, what our business, craft, or cause, we can all agree on one thing.  We want our message to be compelling.  In other words, we want our message to work.  That's what I want to talk about in this post. 

In marketing terms, a compelling message is one that captures the attention of, and evokes a desired response from the recipient of that message.  It's a message that sells your product, generates a donation, or conveys an emotion.  For all of us, however, our goal is the same--to compel our listener to respond in some way.

In my line of work, I've picked up a few little golden nuggets in this area, and I want to share them with you!  Here's 4 ninja keys to presenting a compelling message.  

1.) Check Your Motives - Before you do anything else, you've got to get real with yourself.  And I mean for REAL for real.  Check yo self fo you wreck yo self.  At the end of the day, are you in this to succeed, or are you in this to serve?  And I don't just mean that you can statistically prove that there is a need for your product--but really, at your deepest heart level, are YOU truly doing what you're doing because you want to serve others?  Because you really believe in the power of what you're selling?  Not only because in today's world, your audience can smell a fake a mile off, but also because it's just RIGHT.

2.) Identify Your Target Audience -  This is Marketing 101.  The first step in presenting ANY--and I do mean ANY--message, is to KNOW your target audience.  You've got to get so close to your target audience that you can see them, hear them, smell them…ok…getting a little creepy.  But you get what I mean.  Who are you DESPERATE to get your message to?  If you could only pick ONE person in the ENTIRE world to share your message with, who would it be?  Figure that out, then talk straight to that person, and don't worry too much about appealing to everyone else in the entire world.  It just makes sense to focus the most time, energy, and resources on the people who will be the most interested in your message. 

Can you sense the ninja powers?

3.) Create Context - This one's huge.  You can't just start yapping away about pickled tuna from Zambia and expect people to buy it.  You've got to start by creating context.  Start by highlighting a common problem that your target audience will relate to, which your product will solve.  Or tell a story about someone whose life was on the brink of disaster, which your ministry helped to restore.  Hard as it is to swallow, most people don't walk around all day lamenting their lack of pickled Zambian tuna.  However, when you begin to highlight the nutrients most Americans lack without seafood in their diet, and when you tell them how toxic most local fish farms are, suddenly the wonders of natural fish oils imported from across the globe make a lot more sense.   You've got to present the problems BEFORE you try to sell the solution. 

4.) Make it Practical - Last but certainly not least, you need to leave people feeling confident that they have the road map to move forward.  How many times have you heard a message, and after being truly moved by it, you had no idea where to go next.  You thought, "Man, I'd love to know more about this," or "They make a good point, how can I get involved?" but the next practical step was either confusing or unclear.  Create an imperative, or a crossroads, where you tell them exactly what to do, and how to do it.  More than just providing an avenue to pursue a relationship with you further, you're actually helping them inwardly solidify the commitment in their mind that they have made a decision, and they are going to follow through.  

Here's a couple videos I've produced that followed these 4 principles.  See if you can identify all four in each of them!