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VOL. 127 | NO. 41 | Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Bigfish Finds Bigger Pond in Midtown

By Sarah Baker

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Editor’s Note: Per Bigfish’s request, this entire interview was done via Twitter. Certain words and phrases of Tim Nicholson’s responses will appear in parentheses, due to slang used during the course of the interview given the medium through which it was conducted.

Bigfish LLC will soon relocate its office to a larger space inside Minglewood Plaza, a move that the local website development and marketing company hopes will better enhance the creative process.

Bigfish, which will turn 10 later this year, is housed in a 1,200-square-foot space near Memphis International Airport. The firm set up shop at 2200 Democrat Road seven years ago due to its proximity to a “small telephony remarketer” client – a company Bigfish is presently in the process of helping to reinvent.

But by March 12, the firm will move across town to a 2,200-square-foot space at 1555 Madison Ave., joining anchor Minglewood Hall, as well as tenants Oasis Hookah Lounge & Café, Revive Energy Bar and Inked Tattoo Experience.

“We were looking for a more creative environment both from the standpoint of workspace and community,” said Tim Nicholson, founder and owner of Bigfish. “We eat and play in Midtown. We find inspiration there. Especially in the (Cooper-Young) area just around the corner. And a music venue? Come on.”

Bigfish will be leasing from The DeHart Group – the company that renovated and reopened Minglewood Plaza in early 2009 as a mid-size, mixed-use entertainment venue after pumping $5 million into the facility. Built in 1938, past users of the 63,750-square-foot space include Strings & Things and Tastee Bread Co.

Nicholson stumbled upon the available space through his friends at Christ City Church.

The church, led by pastor Jonathan McIntosh, began leasing space in Minglewood in September 2010, believing it to be the culture-forming heart of the city for 20- to 40-somethings.

Nicholson hopes Bigfish’s relocation will achieve a similar goal of better linking its following.

“The move to Midtown is an investment in our ability to help our clients create meaningful connections with their audience,” Nicholson said. “My aim is … our clients and their customers, members and patients.”

Bigfish’s Memphis payroll currently includes 10 full-time employees, and the agency is looking to add another art director.

Bigfish also employs two in Nashville, a venture it started two years ago to collaborate with its Memphis office.

Bigfish creates websites, develops brand strategies, designs logos and implements marketing communications that enable its clients to win new business, communicate with their members, manage customer relationships, expand their fraternity or sorority, and evangelize their brand message.

Chi Omega Fraternity was Bigfish’s first client and remains the firm’s oldest client today. Other organizations Bigfish has been involved with include Zeta Tau Alpha Fraternity, and most recently, the firm has started a new young alumni and foundation campaign at Delta State University.

“We’ve really connected (with) the fraternity sorority community at the national level,” Nicholson said. “We believe in their value proposition.”

That work has taught Bigfish “a lot about connecting with women,” which in turn led the firm into the health care sector. Recent projects include the website Baptist100.org, in celebration of Baptist Memorial Health Care Corp.’s centennial this year, as well as the branding and website for NEA Baptist Memorial Hospital in Jonesboro, Ark.

Bigfish is also the creator of the “Stuff Memphians Say” video, which has already surpassed 35,000 views on YouTube in the less than two weeks since it was posted.

“The ‘Stuff’ video was just our guys having fun,” Nicholson said. “They just happen to work here. No agency polish on it. Done just for the love of the game.”

A big believer in social media, particularly up-and-coming platforms like Pinterest, Nicholson has one recommendation for those who might be intimidated by the novelty: transparency.

“Adopting (social media) is proof that you understand that there’s been a cultural shift,” Nicholson said. “It’s great practice for what’s expected in-person.”

Nicholson’s advice for any user on networking sites, especially smaller, mom-and-pop businesses, is to have a plan but keep it simple.

“Start with knowing what your audience values. Then, give that away,” Nicholson said. “Don’t have time? Someone does.”

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