The Brand Building Brands
Melissa and Derek Lushbaugh are the cofounders of South Made Marketing, a boutique firm of six. They also have three small children. But “big” describes the impact they’ve made in the Knoxville area, including taking home Cityview’s top award in the website designer category.
“It feels humbling to hear we won,” Melissa says. “There are a ton of amazing web and marketing teams in this area, so we are honored to be nominated, not to mention win.”
The Lushbaughs came here from Maryland five years ago.
“We love Knoxville,” Melissa says. “We consider this home, for sure. It’s where the kids were born and where they’ll grow up. We’ll live here forever. I love the small town feel of our ‘big city’. We love how local-friendly everything is in Knoxville and the shop-local emphasis. That’s what we’re really passionate about.”
Their clients come from every section of the local market, including hair salons, nonprofit organizations, food trucks, and dentists. Helping these businesses grow is their specialty.
“We love working with local businesses,” Melissa says, “and the Shop Small initiative is so important to us, promoting local business over big box shops, supporting people’s dreams.
“We try to really focus on customer experience and building relationships,” she notes. “We want the businesses we work with to feel like they added us to their team, not that they outsourced any given task. We do everything to help a brand market themselves, grow and expand, including initial conception, logo design, branding and strategy, web design, social media marketing, email marketing, SEO, pay-per-click, print material, photo shoots and video.”
Derek says that most businesses are so busy doing the day-to-day things that it’s easy not to focus on Instagram or whether their technology is up-to-date. It’s one area of business that often takes a back seat.
“They’re so busy running a business that their brand message gets pushed to the back burner,” he says. “We work with clients to get a clear picture of what their brand is and how to get that out to the local market. We focus on out-of-the-box thinking. We like to be challenged and get creative with ways for our clients to get noticed and generate buzz.”
Digital media is even more crucial now than it was two years ago, Melissa says, adding that people often look to social media before they do an online search. For example, a woman who wants to redo her kitchen would probably go to Instagram or Pinterest to look at pictures before she searches for local kitchen renovators.
“We sit down with our clients to determine which platform is most advantageous for them to spend time and energy on,” she explains. We decide what platforms best suite our client’s demographic, what will be the most beneficial avenue to promote the brand’s message and ideas. “Everything we create is done in-house,” Derek adds, “from the website and graphic design to photography and copywriting.”
“We really value the importance of client satisfaction and quality,” Melissa says. “We are truly passionate about helping the businesses we work with, representing them to the highest level possible and making their lives easier.”