astute communications



SEO Lingo: 23 Key Terms and Phrases for 2017

Posted on: April 19th, 2017 by Ryan Stout No Comments

Like any highly specialized discipline, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) carries with it the weight of several key terms and phrases that can seem like a foreign language to those uninitiated. Here at Astute, we’ve taken the liberty of compiling a list of 23 key terms and phrases that are vital to understanding SEO. Search Engine […]

If You Build It….They Will Come. – Field Of Dreams

Posted on: March 21st, 2017 by AC Team No Comments

What exactly is it about Nashville? Why did this small, country music, boot wearin, ’honky-tonk town get so famous? Why are so many top chefs moving here to open their next hit restaurant? And are the rumors true? Did Justin Timberlake purchase 126 acres of land in a nearby tiny town called Leiper’s Fork? Did […]

Designing In a Paperless World

Posted on: March 21st, 2017 by Sam Wasserman No Comments

Printed media will always have a special place for me. There’s nothing quite like holding a freshly pressed piece or art in your hands. From the feel and texture of the paper to the smell of the ink, it can be a very intoxicating experience. But ink fades, and unless properly preserved, paper will deteriorate […]

How to Create New Business Opportunities through Content Marketing

Posted on: March 14th, 2017 by Ryan Stout No Comments

If generating quality leads through your website and social media channels seems like a pipe dream, then this is the article for you. Implementing a Content Marketing strategy is one of the most effective ways to create sales opportunities for your company. Here’s how to do it. “Plans are nothing, planning is everything.” – Dwight D. […]

Art & Politics: Artist Jose Toirac Rewrites Cuban History

Posted on: March 7th, 2017 by Phoebe Claggett No Comments

It wasn’t just his aesthetic and his craft that knocked me sideways; it was his cunning, his wit, his passionate intent to sneak around the blind corners of the Cuban government’s glaring oversight. His studio was a few cobblestone blocks away in the heart of Havana. There was no sign on the door, only a […]

3 steps to ensure on-page SEO success

3 Steps to Ensure On Page SEO Success

Posted on: February 14th, 2017 by Ryan Stout No Comments

There are many factors that determine a website or web page’s ability to rank successfully in search engines. In this article, we’ll take a look at a few tips to ensure your On Page Content is leading to higher rankings. Understanding Your Audience Before you begin writing content for your website or blog, start with […]

A Look Back: Commercial Nostalgia

Posted on: November 12th, 2016 by Phoebe Claggett No Comments

One of my first memories of successful subliminal messaging from an ad campaign was at the ripe age of 7. It was 1993, and Coca-Cola Classic was making its way through the airwaves into every American home with a working TV or radio. To this day, I can still remember the bouncy lyrics to this […]

Downtown Nashville

Establishing Your Brand Through Storytelling

Posted on: October 3rd, 2016 by Emily Fordice No Comments

Imagine you’re at a dinner party telling a close friend about the brand your company has developed. The way you speak about your company with emotion and passion is the way people should feel about your brand when they come in contact with it. Storytelling for your brand is the best way to reach customers […]

SEO Primer: Ethical Link Building – For Today and the Future

Posted on: September 24th, 2016 by Ryan Stout No Comments

One of the more surefire ways to improve ranking for your website or for a great piece of content is through link building. In theory, link building is a pretty simple concept. Just get other websites to link back to you. But as with all things SEO related, there are nuances and subtleties to consider […]

Growing Your Construction Business Through Organic Search

Posted on: August 30th, 2016 by Emily Fordice No Comments

More and more, construction companies are turning to digital marketing solutions to grow their business, capture leads, and enter the minds and hearts of potential customers. One of the most efficient digital marketing tools to achieve this is Search Engine Optimization. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a simple concept. SEO is a way to improve […]

How to Improve Your Business through Branding and Marketing

Posted on: July 28th, 2016 by Emily Fordice No Comments

A brand is a promise. It is a promise to the company, as well as to the consumer. Your brand should be your promise of the quality of service that you will provide – every time. Marketing can be an under-utilized and under-appreciated practice. A lot of companies generate new business through referrals and a […]

May your troubles be less and your content be fresh

Keep Your Content Strategy Fresh

Posted on: April 9th, 2016 by AC Team No Comments

One surefire way to boost your business’ online presence is to consistently produce quality content. Doing so creates a positive feedback loop, wherein visitors enjoy the site and share it with others. This prompts search engines to rank the site’s pages higher in relevant search results, bringing in more visitors. This starts the cycle over […]

measuring results - graphs

Top Stats for Measuring Performance

Posted on: March 9th, 2016 by AC Team No Comments

Since the beginning of commerce, businesses both large and small have sought to understand their customer’s behavior. Focus groups and surveys gained popularity in the 20th century and are still a part of many company strategies today. However, the ubiquity of the internet has changed the way that businesses operate. And the field of consumer […]

Young people socializing

Opportunity with the “Other” Social Networks

Posted on: February 25th, 2016 by AC Team No Comments

Facebook used to be cool. More than a decade into its existence, the website boasts the largest active user base of any social network. But how many times have you heard someone say that they wish they could get rid of it? The rapid growth in other platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat indicates that […]

The Challenger Sale Book

Book Review: The Challenger Sale

Posted on: February 19th, 2016 by Ryan Stout No Comments

Too often, I start a promising business book with high hopes of gaining some new, valuable insight only to close the book disappointed. Maybe it’s me, but I find that it’s really important for business books to hit two criteria: present new ideas and actionable steps. Luckily, The Challenger Sale has both of these. What […]

Gwyneth Paltrow at The Antique Home and Garden Show in Nashville TN

A First Hand Account of Gwyn and Goop: A Story of Authentic Branding

Posted on: February 12th, 2016 by Emily Fordice No Comments

“Well hey, yall!” That’s the line Gwyneth Paltrow used to greet an eager packed ballroom this morning at Music City Center during Antiques & Garden Show of Nashville. Instantly warming the room it was as if everyone’s back fell comfortably in their seats right at that moment. Since I had the opportunity of a lifetime […]

Men working in coffee shop

Beyond the Blog: Creating Content that is Seen, Heard and Felt

Posted on: February 9th, 2016 by AC Team No Comments

Equipped only with a pen and his macabre imagination, Edgar Allan Poe gifted the literary world with some of the most haunting stories ever set to paper. What might he have done with a video camera, or a microphone? (Frightened the hell out of all of us, that’s what!) The pen may be mightier than […]

Closeup shot of a man writing

Cooking up Content: Tips for Getting Started with Content Writing

Posted on: February 1st, 2016 by AC Team No Comments

Content: It’s a word you’re likely to hear a hundred times a day if you work in the digital marketing industry, and with good reason. Without it, your company’s website is just a blank page with a logo and some navigational links across the header. Content is the meal you serve your customers; to keep […]

Laptop with Google Web Search homepage on its screen

Free SEO tools roundup

Posted on: January 20th, 2016 by AC Team No Comments

Every business that is online knows it needs  Search Engine Optimization to expand its web presence. After all, building user awareness is half the battle of doing business online. SEO isn’t necessarily difficult in practice, but it can be time consuming and tough to stay abreast in an ever-evolving field. For websites and businesses that […]

David Bowie Ziggy Stardust

David Bowie: Man on the Moon

Posted on: January 11th, 2016 by Ryan Stout 1 Comment

David Bowie died today and I have a confession to make: he was not my favorite musician. The fact is, I really love about 10 of his songs, but outside of that I don’t know much of his music. Bowie fans look at me the way I look at Dylan fans who love “Like a […]

Leave Your Mark by Aliza Licht

Book Review: Leave Your Mark

Posted on: January 7th, 2016 by Emily Fordice No Comments

What’s it about? Leave Your Mark is a “real talk” memoir from one of the fashion industries favorite PR gurus, Aliza Licht. As Donna Karen’s global fashion communications executive, Licht is known in the industry as a social media superstar. Licht gives an honest look inside the industry and what it took to get there, […]

Dove's "Real Beauty" Campaign

A Quick Look at ‘Real Beauty’

Posted on: November 12th, 2015 by AC Team No Comments

Soap. It’s probably not something you think about much. At least until you, or someone around you, has forgone using it for a few days. It’s something you need, not something you want, and as a result soap and other personal care products like it have become commoditized. Without effective branding, there is no incentive […]

Mars Scientific illustration

NASA & The Martian Part 2: A Look Into the Agency’s Social Media Strategy

Posted on: October 15th, 2015 by Anna Stout No Comments

Last time we began discussing the marketing bonanza NASA has on its hands with the release of The Martian and their discovery of flowing water on Mars. It’s a convenient opportunity for us to take a look at NASA’s social media program, and how they’re utilizing it to push the agency’s agenda. In the first […]

Astronaut spaceman Elements of this image furnished by NASA.

Send Matt Damon a Straw. There’s Water on Mars!

Posted on: October 8th, 2015 by AC Team No Comments

If you’ve paid any attention at all to the Internet this week (and let’s face it, you have, because 2015), you’re well aware that America has once again been tasked with rescuing Hollywood’s favorite damsel in distress, Matt Damon. No knock on him, but at some point dude needs to just stay home and read […]

Floyd Money Mayweather, Marketing's Evil Genius.

Boxing’s Evil Genius Hangs ‘Em Up

Posted on: October 1st, 2015 by AC Team No Comments

Floyd Mayweather, Jr. is hanging up his gloves. Retiring undefeated at 49-0, universally recognized as the best pound-for-pound fighter of his generation, he has long been lauded as one of the sport’s most intelligent and hardest working fighters. He also happens to be a pretty unlikeable dude. A repeated domestic violence offender and all-around bigot […]

Roger Federer and Luxury Branding

A Match Made in Marketing Heaven: Luxury Branding and Roger Federer

Posted on: September 15th, 2015 by AC Team No Comments

By the time you’re reading this article, Roger Federer, the G.O.A.T. of men’s professional tennis, will have been crowned champion of the U.S. Open, or sent back to Switzerland in defeat by top-ranked Novak Djokovic. But, as I’m writing this, I know Federer has already won, because he is the darling of men’s tennis, nearly […]

Social Media Tips from the Revolutionary War

Social Media Marketing Tips from the Revolutionary War

Posted on: August 13th, 2015 by AC Team No Comments

Here’s a short lesson in American history: When Thomas Paine, one of the American revolution’s foremost political activists, published Common Sense in 1776, it quickly went viral. In a nation of only 3 million people, it sold over 150,000 copies in the first few months following its publication, making it proportionally one of the best-selling […]

Ernest Cline's Ready Player One

The Bookshelf: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Posted on: July 8th, 2015 by Ryan Stout 1 Comment

Picking a new book can be a daunting task. With no short supply of novels or nonfiction in your “recommended for you” list, it can be hard to discern which is the best choice. That’s why we’re starting The Bookshelf, a place where we give our 10 cent opinions on the books we read. We […]

Slides from Anna’s Giant Conference Talk in Charleston!

Posted on: July 6th, 2015 by Ryan Stout No Comments

Anna and I were lucky to attend Giant Conference in Charleston last week. She had been asked to speak at the conference and we jumped at the chance. Conferences are a great place to recharge the batteries, get excited about your industry again, and meet really interesting people who have a fresh perspective on emerging […]

Lost Cat sign on tree

3 Situations Where It’s Ok To Say, “I Don’t Know.”

Posted on: July 1st, 2015 by Emily Fordice No Comments

Here at Astute Communications we work as a pretty tight-knit team. In small group environments the importance of communication becomes clear right off the bat. We regularly try different methods, software or tools to help with communication, but what we always try keep in place is true face-to-face strategy sessions. During these sessions, which are […]

Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio

On Time and On Budget: How to Effectively Manage Your Next Web Project

Posted on: June 10th, 2015 by Ryan Stout No Comments

I was recently thinking of my youth league baseball coach Wayne Hobson. Coach Hobson was my coach when I was a 13-year-old playing ball in Southern Mississippi. He was the epitome of a southern baseball coach: he drove a 1950’s Chevy pick-up that he could crank with a screwdriver and he always had a baseball-sized chew of […]

Keeping Nashville… What?

Posted on: June 3rd, 2015 by Emily Fordice No Comments

It is no secret Nashville is booming. I noticed recently that even Google is hiring in Nashville- Google! I love my daily commute. It’s a 35-40 minute gift each day when I find myself drifting through thoughts where nothing is off limits and everything is random. I was approaching my street in the 12th South neighborhood, reaching the […]

Raise Your Glass: A Final Toast to Mad Men’s Ken Cosgrove

Posted on: May 26th, 2015 by Ryan Stout No Comments

Friends, we said goodbye to a beloved T.V. character recently. No, I’m not talking about Don or Roger, not Peggy or Joan. I’m talking about one of the greatest Account Men to ever drive a riding mower through an Ad Agency on Madison Ave. That’s right, we’re talking about Ken Cosgrove. Sure, we all loved […]

A Cosmic Creation: Building an Interconnected Online Presence

Posted on: May 20th, 2015 by Ryan Stout No Comments

This blog is the result of a conversation I had with a local business owner who is now my client. This is an analogy I have used to generate passion for a well thought out online presence. Since they found it helpful, I hope you will as well. Best, Ryan “Cosmos is a Greek word […]

Websites That Inspire

Posted on: May 1st, 2015 by Ryan Stout No Comments

At Astute Communications, every project begins with one goal: to create an inspiring online presence for our clients. But in order to build things that inspire, we must be inspired ourselves – a tall task in today’s hectic world. Like most of us, I find nature inspiring. Adventure as well. As a business owner, a husband and a […]

Why I’m here…

Posted on: April 17th, 2015 by Ryan Stout No Comments

I wanted to start my career at Astute Communications by explaining why exactly I work here. The first time I read the above quote was probably 15 years ago. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was reading the truest definition of the American Dream there is. It takes creativity to have that […]

3 Important Considerations in Responsive Design

Posted on: April 8th, 2015 by Emily Fordice No Comments

You are approaching the start of your website design and you better be thinking about how your future website is going to be viewed post launch. Today, there are an endless number of ways to access the Internet and planning for a fixed width standard resolution desktop monitor is a thing of the past. There […]

Discovery to Design: Episode 5, Creating the Visual Design

Posted on: April 6th, 2015 by Anna Stout No Comments

Welcome back to “From Discovery to Design: 5 Crucial Steps for Planning Your Website.” This is the fifth and final segment of our 5-part podcast series detailing the web design process. In this segment we continue our conversations from last week between podcaster Clark Buckner and our owner, Anna Stout, about visualizing the final design […]

Don’t Leave Yourself Guessing

Posted on: April 1st, 2015 by Emily Fordice No Comments

In week four of our podcast series, From Discovery to Design, you heard all about wireframing and site architecture. This is building up to next week, when we will begin to discuss the visual design of your site. The wireframing stage is crucial for organization. You are taking the content, conversion goals, acquisition funnels that […]

Discovery to Design Podcast: Episode 4, Wireframing and Site Architecture

Posted on: March 31st, 2015 by Emily Fordice No Comments

Welcome back to “From Discovery to Design: 5 Crucial Steps for Planning Your Website.” This is the fourth segment of our 5-part series detailing the web design process. We continue our conversation from last week between podcaster Clark Buckner and our owner, Anna Stout, with a discussion about wireframing and site architecture. Last week you […]

3 Helpful Books on Content Writing

Posted on: March 25th, 2015 by Anna Stout No Comments

If you’ve been following my podcast series, From Discovery to Design: 5 Steps to Designing your Website, then you heard this week’s segment on the importance of content in a website build. In this day and age, strategic content is a challenge and is often not given the attention it deserves. There are so many […]

Discovery to Design Podcast: Episode 3, The Importance of Content

Posted on: March 23rd, 2015 by Anna Stout No Comments

Welcome back to “From Discovery to Design: 5 Crucial Steps for Planning Your Website.” This is the third segment of our 5-part series detailing the web design process. We continue our conversation from last week between podcaster Clark Buckner and our owner, Anna Stout, about the importance of content and it’s role in the web […]

Controlling the User Experience to Maximize Conversions

Posted on: March 18th, 2015 by Emily Fordice No Comments

How can I turn visitors into customers and clicks into conversions? How do the goals that I have for my website align with the goals of my potential customers? How can I make this the best experience for the user? Knowing your audience is crucial for user experience. So what does user experience actually cover? […]

Discovery to Design Podcast: Episode 2, Build an Acquisition Funnel

Posted on: March 16th, 2015 by Anna Stout No Comments

Welcome back to “From Discovery to Design: 5 Crucial Steps for Planning Your Website.” This is the second segment of our 5-part series detailing the web design process. We continue our conversation from last week between podcaster Clark Buckner and our owner, Anna Stout, about the creation of a user acquisition funnel and how this […]

3 Tips for Effective Whiteboarding with A Team

Posted on: March 11th, 2015 by Emily Fordice No Comments

“Whiteboarding” refers to having a large non-permanent space in your office used for the main purpose of throwing around ideas and structuring for an upcoming project. It is incredibly valuable in the initial planning stage when brainstorming is key. Whether you are working with your internal team or a larger client group, whiteboarding is a […]

Discovery to Design Podcast: Episode 1, Wireframing and User Flow

Posted on: March 9th, 2015 by Anna Stout No Comments

Welcome to our 5 part podcast series elaborating on 5 crucial steps for planning a new website project. With the help of my friend and talented podcaster, Clark Buckner, we were able to touch on points to get you through the entire process from discovery to design. If you are a business owner, company representative, or anyone […]

An Evening with Jessica Hische

Posted on: February 11th, 2015 by Anna Stout No Comments

Before renowned letterer and illustrator Jessica Hische took the podium, Dan Brawner, the chair of the Graphic Design Department at Watkins College of Art, Design and Film, introduced her with a laundry list of the notable clients she has worked with – including a few you may have heard of: Target, Nike, Wes Anderson, Penguin […]

Guest Review- Jessica Hische by Emily Fordice, Social Media Manager at Astute Communications

Posted on: January 28th, 2015 by Emily Fordice No Comments

Inspiration is a funny thing. It usually happens unexpectedly, and stems from unexpected events. It might seem obvious that inspiration would strike during a speech from one of the most creative trailblazers of our generation, but maybe not to me. I was once on the creative path, majoring in Interior Design my freshman year of […]

content marketing tools

10 Exceptional Content Marketing Tools

Posted on: January 20th, 2015 by AC Team No Comments

Content Marketing is a marketing requirement for most businesses, of all sizes and industries. However, most business owners and leaders are not content marketing specialists. Luckily, content marketing tools are flooding the market to assist professionals with their content marketing initiatives in 2015. If you are looking for ways to elevate your content marketing strategies […]

web design quotes

Quotes To Inspire Your Web Design

Posted on: January 13th, 2015 by AC Team No Comments

Web design requires an enormous amount of inspiration, knowledge, and technical skill. In addition, the best web designers also rely on the wisdom of other talented designers to guide their path, and avoid challenges that others have already overcome.  Get inspiration from the design quotes below to ensure that your website design and development process is smooth and […]

storytelling agency

4 Ways To Use Storytelling To Build Your Brand

Posted on: January 6th, 2015 by AC Team No Comments

Imagine you are launching an innovative washing machine business; your revolutionary washing machines are small enough that even renters can easily utilize your product. Since renters are not accustomed to investing in their homes, you have the tough job of convincing young consumers to make the splurge on your expensive appliance. What do you do? While data and specs will be […]

web copy that converts

How-To Write Web Copy That Converts

Posted on: December 31st, 2014 by AC Team No Comments

For most businesses, the company website is the most visited storefront and has the potential to be the company’s most persuasive salesperson. In addition to design, layout, and search engine rankings, the success of your website is also heavily dependent on the copy. The copy on your website needs to do more than simply describe […]

website seo

10 SEO Tips For Beginners (Updated for 2017)

Posted on: December 17th, 2014 by AC Team No Comments

Search engine optimization, also known as SEO, has historically been defined as the process of optimizing a website’s structure and copy for the purpose of ranking high on search engine queries that relate to the purpose of the site. Today, that definition for SEO is still true however it has expanded to also include the […]

typography letterpress stock photo

A Cheat Sheet for the Novice Typographer

Posted on: December 10th, 2014 by Anna Stout No Comments

When discussing typography for web and print designs, technical terminology often is required for accurate communication. Below is a short list of typographic terms to get you started, as well as a few general design terms. This brief primer to the typographer’s vocabulary can help you navigate any conversation about the typography used in your […]

that is a good book which is opened with expectation and closed with profit

The 4 Best Business and Marketing Books I’ve Read This Year (Plus Two Extras)

Posted on: December 5th, 2014 by Anna Stout No Comments

I believe that reading should be a huge priority for professional and personal development. For this reason, I don’t just read for pleasure when I feel like it. One of my new years resolutions every year is based around reading – generally a book count. As I near that time of the year again – […]

logo design

Intro to Professional Logo Design

Posted on: November 26th, 2014 by AC Team No Comments

Although relatively simple, and usually small in size compared to the other visual elements of branding materials, a logo is monumental in importance for brand identity. A logo can take a variety of forms, such as a custom font as demonstrated by Coca-Cola, or a singular, seemingly elementary shape, such as the Nike swoosh. However, […]

stock image for content

10 Steps to Launching a Content Marketing Plan

Posted on: November 19th, 2014 by AC Team No Comments

Content marketing is a marketing strategy focused on the consistent creation, and sharing of original and interesting content as a means to building a community of loyal fans who regularly interact with a brand. Interaction generates more leads, which is the ultimate goal of all content marketing campaigns. According to The Content Council, companies with […]

people ignore design that ignores people

Why A/B Testing is Important for Website Design

Posted on: November 12th, 2014 by AC Team No Comments

Design is where science and art break even. – Robin Mathew What is A/B testing? In the world of website design, A/B testing is the methodical assessment of design elements to ensure that a website has the appropriate impact on visitors. A/B testing can help you create a website that inspires visitors to complete one […]

stock photo site

10 Awesome Stock Photo And Video Sites

Posted on: November 5th, 2014 by AC Team 2 Comments

Visuals can make or break a design. If you don’t have a professional photographer or videographer on staff, or if you need imagery that is difficult to capture, consider using high-quality stock photography or video to enhance your designs. Included below are 10 incredible sites where you can download beautiful stock photos and videos. Where To […]

BCN14 – Rethinking How We Design For The Responsive Web

Posted on: October 22nd, 2014 by Anna Stout No Comments

On October 18, I gave a presentation at BarCamp Nashville called “Rethinking How We Design for the Responsive Web.” Below, you will find my slides as well as a draft of my presentation. “Rethinking How We Design for the Responsive Web” In his 2010 “A List Apart” article, Ethan Marcotte identified Responsive Web Design as […]

Astute Design Studio featured on

Posted on: October 17th, 2013 by Anna Stout No Comments

I’m so pleased to announce that The Founding Moms ® has featured an interview with me on their “crib sheets” blog series. The Founding Moms site has been featured in the New York Times and was voted one of the top 10 Best Websites for Woman Entrepreneurs, 2013 by Forbes. I am proud to be […]

Currently Reading: Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

Posted on: August 12th, 2013 by Anna Stout No Comments

People are finally paying attention to us women-folk. I’m seeing it everywhere I couldn’t be more pleased. As a female entrepreneur, or worse, a *cringe* “mompreneur”, I’m learning that I can drop the qualifier and just be an entrepreneur – and Sheryl Sandberg is helping. Long before I read the first word of Sandberg’s book, […]

Why Your Website Isn’t Working–Even If You Think It Is

Posted on: July 12th, 2013 by Anna Stout No Comments

Simply having a website isn’t enough. I speak to countless business owners who think that because they have a website, their internet marketing needs are “all taken care of.” I don’t intend to get into the importance of other internet marketing tools right now – each one could easily be an entire blog series itself. […]

What Do Diapers Have To Do With Web Design?

Posted on: June 1st, 2013 by Anna Stout No Comments

When I entered the Graphic Design program at Watkins College of Art, Design and Film, I had no intentions of pursuing web design as a career. I went in to my first web class with my arms crossed shaking my head – I was there because I had to be. You have to understand, I […]