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Michael - 21 Nov 2012
Why small business suck at marketing

It is true most small business suck at marketing and this is all because it is more of an after thought rather than a focused and strategic goal.


Marketing of small business is often event driven and by this I mean something triggers a reaction, low sales, people walking past instead of in, you get the picture. People tend to think of marketing as a generator of instant results. Not true at all.


People are not always ready to buy all the time and they are certainly not always aware of what you have got all the time. So marketing is about making them, the clients, aware of your business and also where to look for what they want.


By treating your marketing with consistent contact to your clients you will offer them constant reminders of who you are and the useful information you have to offer them. This consistent frequency will increase traffic to your business. The rest is up to you.


How to make your marketing consistent is not difficult and takes a little time so sit down and plan it out. Here are some things that will help you plan out your marketing and I challenge you to doing this and monitor how it works for you.


  • Define your market - By looking at your customers you will be able to identify what it is hey are looking for. Their needs don`t change all that much and try to find out from customers where else do they look for these things. This will give you an idea and you will be able to start making a list of what influences different groups of customers. By doing this you wont have to scratch your head every time that media rep comes in to ask about your ad. Remember that this is a starting point and you can always develop your list.


  • Plan - Try putting together a quarterly or half yearly plan. This will allow you to add in those unexpected events and opportunities, target your markets and change tactics if required.


  • Test out the response - Today there are many different ways to measure your response, tracking systems, tally sheets you have kept, or even some software like google analytics.


  • Collateral - Have a look at what you are sending out. Has it got the same message or have all the people dealing with your advertising butchered your brand. Make sure that you have the same consistent message going out and insist on it. Start focusing on consistency of your message and you will see leads, prospects, sales and profits all start to increase.
Michael - 8 Nov 2012
Australia Post will not be beaten.

With tyhe onslaught of the digital revolution Australia Post has begun to fight back with a strategy that will see them as a major market player in Australia keeping the lines of communication open for the average Australian.


The new Digital Mailbox service will allow existing clients of Australia Post to continue delivering their services as they have developed the existing partnership with such companies as Telstra, ANZ, NAB, Westpac and the usual Government agencies that wealready deal with. All of these groups have agreed to be apart of “proof of concept trial”. Will this revolutionize the mail industry in Australia?


The development of this digital mailbox is a classic example of how we are now using the internet, websites and intranet to provide us not only with marketing tools but also provide us with a ROI (Return on investment). Australia Post plans on using this new mailbox system to keep in contact with its 30,000 employees and all this from a free service.


Read more about this service

Michael - 31 Oct 2012
Personal Brand

Is this the end of the humble business card? Over the pastthirty years I have seen numerous attacks on a better way to do the business card, small data CD\'s, cards cut in all sorts of different shapes and sizes and now Personal Branding in the form of a personalised website.

A personalbrand website will allow you the freedom and flexability to show your true character through a visual documentation of yourself. Facebook, myspace, linked in, pinterest I hear you say, Ah yes but we are all bound by the same rules of publishing. Personal branding is going to be the only way to break the mold, by creating your own look, creativity, organisation and all those other elements that make us up as individuals.

Personal Branded domain name registration start from $25 per year. There are a number of different hosting options available so the choice is yours but at Barking Toad we are always willing to give you a hand with the choices and how you can develop your personal brand.

Michael - 18 Sep 2012
Australian Social Network Statistics

Social Media Statistics Australia – August 2012

1. Facebook – 11,500,000 Australian users/accounts 13 million UAVs ( Unique Australian Visitors) according to Google Adplanner (users logging in from multiple locations – home, work, school etc).
2. YouTube – 11,000,000 UAVs (steady)
3. Blogspot – 4,000,000 (down 10,000)
4. LinkedIn – 2,200,000 (steady)
5. Twitter – 2,114,000 (new formulae, see calculation below)
6. – 1,600,000 (steady)
7. Instagram – 1,283,500 using Facebook estimate, see calculation below (475,000 UAVs)
8. Tumblr – 1,200,000 (steady)
9. TripAdvisor – 960,000 (down 100,000)
10. Flickr – 820,000 (steady)
11. Pinterest – 620,000 (steady)
12. Google Plus – approx 600,000 (see calculation below).
13. MySpace – 390,000 (steady)
14. Yelp – 192,000 (new entry – and AUS figures)
15. Reddit – 150,000 (steady)
16. StumbleUpon – 110,000 (down 20,000)
17. Digg – 77,000 (steady)
18. Foursquare – 63,000 (steady)
19. Delicious – 30,000 (down 3,000)


Statistics supplied by

Michael - 17 Sep 2012
Bad websites include;

Below is a list of our \"pet hates\" that bad websites have.

    open email address in an unencrypted state (Do you want spam?!!)
    a browser dependent functionality i.e.. \"you must be using this browser for this site to work\"
    a website under construction notice
    Do not use click here for a hyperlink to another site
    links that will only work when JavaScript is enabled
    Old forms of coding and practices for website construction
    Poor colour scheme
    a design that only fits on particular screen sizes
    a website that is built using programs not for webdesign like Office etc
    unidentifiable links
    the link colour doens\'t change when visited
    links that are broken
    pages that take a long time to download
    home pages that have a winding circle or take too long to load and dont say anything
    Websites constructed in flash
    a dynamic menu system that doesn\'t display more info indicators
    poor page layout design we are always here to help our clients
    excess download files that are for download when we could make a page out of them.
    the use of images as text
    any large downloadable files without a size warning
    an unclear purpose of what the site is about, poor SEO
    abbreviations or acronnyms which Australians are famous for without an explanation
    Speling mistakes that remain unfixed lol
    annoying popups

Michael - 21 Aug 2012
Facebook Facial recognition technology

An American ad agency has developed an automated system that “checks you in” when you enter a business location. The system then identifies your face and associates the allocated discount deal with your facebook account.



The first step in doing this is to authorise “facedeals” via your facebook account. Once you authorize this you will go through a number of face recognition screen tests that the system stores. This is done by verifying recent face tags done on images in your facebook account.


Facial recognition

With the specialized cameras installed at business locations, when customers come into the business premises they are checked in via their facebook account. The automated system will also check their “Like” history and send them associated specials offers via smartphone notifications.



Is this an invasion of privacy? This will most definitely define the demographics and benefit those who embrace technology. It is a new form of direct marketing that we haven’t seen yet and an ideal way of targeting via data collected on individual potential customers. I’d like to hear your comments.


Facedeals is still undergoing testing at this stage but will be out in the market soon.

Michael - 17 Aug 2012
Pinterest - The New Pin on the Board

Pinterest has been moving at a great speed and is set to be the new kid on the block with unique visitation up by a staggering 155% for one month from December 2011 to January 2012. According to a company called Hitwise Pinterest is now the third most popular social network in USA behind Facebook and Twitter.


What is Pinterest

Pinterest is basically a online pinboard or corkboard were users are able to collate a series of images and videos on their own pinboard and also on other users. The basis behind this social network is that people pin things that they find of interest be it food, hobbies, travelling, home or anything at all. This social network method is to bring together everyone in the world through the things they find interesting.


Consider using Pinterest

  • 80% of visitors are female
  • Average time spent on Pinterest is 16min (facebook 12.5min)
  • Leading traffic referral site for womens lifestyle.
  • 80% of pins are repins showing that a network is really happening
  • Pinterest is great for SEO as you are able to make relevant keywords for discriptions of images and also has great backlink possibilities throughout the network. Pinterest is frequented by search engines often.


Create pinterest sites that help tell a story

The trick to this site isn’t to show your products or services but to show how they value add or fit into a lifestyle of your target market. This must be done creatively. Think of some cleaning products, now instead of having an image of your floor cleaning liquid try using a picture of a cuddly puppy seeing its reflection on the floor. The image will tell a thousand words and you are able to write the description about your product. This is a basic approach but I think you get the idea.

By engaging with customers and them pining images to their boards they are encouraged to interact with your company. Pinterest can help you appeal to your target market by showing them that the products/services that you offer are their to fill the void in their lifestyle.

Barking Toad will help you with photography and graphic design that will have your followers wanting to re-pin images from your site. Dont fall into the trap of boring old pics or uninspiring design and by all means make sure that you intergrate it with your website by adding the “pin it” button.

Michael - 26 Jul 2012
Websites are like Staff

I see too many clients get a website built by us and then regardless of the instruction that we give to them and all the advice the site is then just left to it’s own devices.

I always say the a website is like having staff, you constantly have to watch what it is doing, make sure you give it a list of tasks to perform, make note of when it is doing a good job and pay it on a regular basis or it will not work for you.

Here are some simple ways of measuring the effectiveness of your website or things to consider when getting one designed.

  1. Web Design

We always say at Barking Toad that “less is more”, the easier it is for a potential client to navigate around your site the better. The best way to do this is to take a tour of your site from the point of view of a visitor and find out how quick can I get to the sales page or the information that I am looking for.

At Barking Toad we call this the 3 click rule. Some sites have thousands of products and some only a few, the best way to make sure your visitors can find anything in your site is proper organisation. The key here is categorising your site that it flows naturally. Sometimes designers get too flashy in their design and forget the end user. Signpost each page so that it is clear what page the visitor is on and if required provide a search facility for products. One last important rule that I constantly see overlooked is a call to action. Every page must have a call to action or a link to a shopping cart so that clients always now where they are in the online purchasing process.


  1. Searching

It is no use having a great website if you can’t find the products or company for that fact. Go to Google , Yahoo or Bing and try to search for your site, also try searching for your products in a generic type of search and see where you appear. Remember that this also takes time and search engines are continuously changing the way they work. Of coarse everyone wants to be first but there is only one, first place.

There are two ways to approach this problem and the first is with Google Adwords. The pay per click services offered by search engines is a good way to get your site to the top of the search page. By bidding on search words and applying a daily budget you will be at the top of the page until your clicks have run out. This is a great way to get your site up there but the only downside is that you are only limited to Google and not the other search engines.

The next is what is commonly termed as SEO. This is more of a long term solution that will have to be constantly be tweaked, but is well worth the effort. It involves the content on your site and how the search engines process the words that you use. The best thing to do in this instance is that you should use an SEO specialist like Barking Toad to do a health check on your site every couple of months. This is because the search parameters change constantly with technology and demographics.


  1. Content


I can not stress how vitally essential content to a site is. I think that you would see that when you go through a number of blogs that I have written about content and keywords. It is not only the casual use of keywords but also the frequency and competitive nature of the keywords.


The downside of certain keyword tools is that they are reflective of how people have searched in the past. By that I mean they reflect how people have searched and not what is emerging. The best way to explain this I find is in my time we just laughed, now they lol. I’m sure that you understand were I am coming from with that.


If you require help with your site then don’t hesitate to contact me and the team at Barking Toad for more information on how we can help you online.

Michael - 27 Jun 2012
Email Marketing for Small Business

Today there are many types of marketing that a business must undertake and for those businesses with an online presence email marketing is an attractive one. The entry point for this is cheap and it doesn’t involve a huge amount of effort once you understand how.

The first step in all this is to develop a list of contacts and this can be a daunting task if you haven’t been collecting this information. Email marketing  has a very attractive entry point in that it comes down to initial investment in time from the business owner b8ut what often causes people to slow or stop their campaign is the content.

Email Campaigns are only as good as the content that you include in them and I will explain to you how to find that content. Turning that content into sales is the next hurdle and isn’t too hard provided that you are in touch with your database and what they want.


Content to create Sales

The content of a newsletter is very important and it isn’t rocket science. The first thing to do is to warm your database to receiving news from you by being informative  and taping into their needs . By this i mean look at how you can best suit their needs by suppling industry information, new products or the promise of free advice etc.

Finding the balance of sales messaging to content is the trick and this largely depends on your database. If your database is largely made up of existing customers then content containing more of a sales pitch will not be disregarded. However if your database is made up of voluntary listings from lets say your website then they are doing so with a purpose or perceived need to be fulfilled. This is where you need to know your database.

The messages that you use for your social media can also be closely tied into this as you are offering information to help people not just some information that you can find on Google.


Educate your clients

One way to create customer focused content is to offer information that will educate them about the products that they have purchased. This gives your clients a point of identification with you and will hold their interest.

The approach of how you tell your recipients should not be of what to do but more along the lines of how to do it. Like for a camping store an idea is to show existing customers details about the new tent pegs for putting a tent up on the beach or a retailer of fashion about new colour trends for the coming season.

People like to learn easy things so your email should be brief and always redirect the customer bacjk to your website for more information. We have all seen the “read more” links on an email. By titling the email like “ Top 5 Things......” your are engaging the client and the offer of more information is a tempting one.

Always remember that there are customers out there that are ready to purchase ad a call to action is a must or you will loose them for good.



Plan Ahead

As with any form af marketing it is a good idea to plan ahead. By knowing your database and seasonal or industry influences you will be better positioned to supply information that will help your customers. If you deal with your email marketing on a week to week basis then you will miss the flow and trends that are happening with your customers.

When planning your email marketing campaign make sure to include at least four to five items so that you have a wider reach to your customer base. The underlying key to success with your email campaign is consistency, keeping information flowing on a regular basis to your customers is essential. The frequency of this information is also very important as you don’t want to bombard your clients.

For more help with your planning of an email campaign please contact Michael at Barking Toad and we will make a time to discuss your needs.

Michael - 25 May 2012
Top 5 Keyword Tools

Clients often look at me funny when we are discussing kerywords. What are keywords and how do they work? While every business person has definite ideas about their products and knowledge of terminology this may not be the way the customer is searching.


This is not an uncommon situation and the task of keyword development in your site is an ongoing one. As sure as trends come and go or new generations evolve so too do the keywords, so here is a list of the best keyword tools available to you on the internet.


1.     Yourself

Search engines are the most common but overlooked tools to use.

I often tell my clients to put themselves in the customers shoes and try searching for your own site using different keywords. If you cant find your website using the keywords in the search engine then there is little hope for your customers finding them.


2.     Google Keywords

Google keywords offer a keyword tool for their customers for their Ad Words search engine marketing campaigns. By using this search engine tool you will be able to establish lists of words that are commonly used for searching out you product or service.

The first thing to do is to make a list of the words that you think would be used and enter those into the field provided in Google Keywords. This will show you the trends that are being used out on the net. Compile a list from those shown and start using those in your text.


3.     List of Boxes

It is not all that simple thou. The keywords that you are using from your new list must fullfill four criteria: relevance, search volume, competition and local geography.

The keywords used must be relevant to the business and the online goals of the website.

Next the target keywords must actually be used significantly for searches in your area eg  “Bike shop in Northern Rivers” will not search as well as a “bike shop in Murwillumbah” or Tweed.

Some keywords have been targeted by larger business for a long time and it is unwise for a small business to try to compete against them. This will take a long time to happen and cause you alot of work and frustration. Try variations of highly competitive words and make them more specific and localized.

Lastly, it is alot better for a small business to use keywords from your local geographic area so you are able to cater to those enquiries. There is no point in dealing with clients from Western Australia if you are a small local operator.


4.     Analytics

Once you have your list of keywords it is also recommended that you also have an analytics account to gauge the response for your keywords. This is a free service and is reasonably accurate from Google considering it is a free service.


The analylitics service will tell you how certain campaigns are impacting on your website. It will show  you a great number of trends and also how people are finding your site. Google Analytics is much more than just this and we would love to talk to you about this more.


Not to be confused with SEM ( search engine marketing) analytics tells you how people are finding you but with Adwords you are able to find out how people are trying to find you.


5.     Insights

Insights basically takes the keywords that you have been using and shows you ho2w they have evolved over time. It will also show you were in the world this terminology is most used and even down to the suburb. It will show you the evolution of the words and also rising trends of associated words.


This tool is particularly good if you are looking to develop keywords that are affected lets say by seasons or market trends. This will allow you to quickly adjust you focus to marketing trends.


While all these tools at your disposal are very handy to have, do not treat them as gospel. They certainly make SEO best practices more efficient but first you must get the fundamentals of SEO best practises down pat.

Michael - 22 May 2012
Colours and Web design

Too many times to count I have heard the words “Oh such and such has got a computer and is a really good artist”. Commercial art isn’t something that you pick up over night, it isn’t something that comes from some of these dodgy schools that pump out so called artists into an already flooded market. This type of art form is one that, if carried out correctly will invoke an emotional response by the viewer, and combine that with cleaver branding, you have a recipe for success.


Colours and layout are important tools for any website. Today, it is not just enough to place a well designed brand or logo on a web page and hope that it will make all the difference. Today’s websites need to be designed with a palette of secondary colours surrounding your message. An impulsive Red or a soothing Blue, all these messages are being transferred to your clients when they view your site.


What colours do I use for my website?

When a well presented brand stands out it is because it is simple in design and the combination of colours used in the design.


The most common colours are primary colours and these are mostly made up of reds, oranges, yellows, greens and blues. This is because they are the most popular colours used and don’t tend to go out of fashion.


The colours used to design your website should be centred on the colours used for your brand. These colours are to complement and strengthen your branding instead of fight against it. At Barking Toad our Art Director Toni Zuschke uses this philosophy and has done so for the past 25 years.


Designing a website is all about painting a clear story for the viewer; it means backing up the story of what your offline brand is saying also. It is about having a consistent story and not creating confusion and ultimately doubt. The design of a website should always backup the positioning of a brand. Too many colours and the site will look like you designed it at home.


Sometimes it may be necessary to look at your logo and update it if it is not going to work online. The colours maybe wrong for the time or it does not reflect the current positioning of your brand.


If you need some help with designing a new site or redesigning an existing site then don’t hesitate to call Barking Toad on 02 66726399 and ask for Toni Zuschke.

Michael - 15 May 2012
Does Pay Per Click give you ROI

I am getting more and more enquiries as to the benefits of Pay Per Click advertising on the net. This indicates to me that people are still struggling as to the potential for return on investment that this provides. A recent study of 500 online advertising businesses found that only 18% of them believed that Adwords was delivering a return for their investment.


Although you might think that these numbers are alarming it is in fact an indication of the lack of experience in online marketing. Business owners, looking to get on the net are facing an uphill battle with lack of time and resources to successfully tackle the world of online marketing and therefore it often falls by the wayside. I cannot stress to you how important it is to include adwords and effective targeted marketing  to your marketing strategy.


Here are some good reasons why you should consider Adwords campaigns to your marketing mix;


  1. Adwords will give you a competitive advantage over other online businesses. Google is one of the largest networks and will therefore allow you to get a far better targeted response eventually reducing the cost per click.
  2. Pay Per Click directs thousands of people to your website and with added tools like Google Global Market Finder you are able to search for new market segments and expand operations.
  3. Adwords will dramatically help with the development of your Brand. As time goes by this will be evident because you will not have to do as much search marketing for segments to get traffic to your site.


If you are a small business and don’t have the time or resources to delve into the world of online marketing then Barking Toad will be able to help with a planned approach to your online goals.

Michael - 14 May 2012
Top 10 Email marketing content ideas

I sit back and look at the smile disappear from my clients faces as they realize that their wishes to have a CRM (Customer Relations Management) embedded into their website hits reality. Now it is time to write something to your clients or potential customers. The look of confusion sets in and I quickly interject with the following.


Email marketing should not be a mine field and with some careful planning you should be able to reach your clients more importantly capture and actively interact with them. This will depend on the subjects that you are sending out. Here are our top ten suggestions to you and they are not in any order of preference.


  1. Problem and solution articles this is mainly for industry related problems and should not be focused on products and or brands.
  2. Interviews with industry leaders, testimonials, or even staff members
  3. Events that you are attending and outcomes that are discussed.
  4. Tips and tricks related to the application of products/services tutorials that continuously reinforce your product
  5. Some behind the scenes type information
  6. Always try to invoke some sort of interaction to let you maintain interest and plan new articles. Feedback from followers is invaluable and should always be treated with respect.
  7. Share in case studies and or unfortunate industry events.
  8. Showcase a partner company and or complimentary services.
  9. Pass on industry news that you may get sent to you.
  10. Make sure to include entertaining and informative reviews.

Most importantly make sure to mix it up and keep a record of what you are sending out. If you are using Google analytics and make note of what online activities you are undertaking then you will be able to monitor the success of certain topics. Remember to be consistent with your emails but don’t bombard them.

Michael - 11 May 2012
5 Ways to help Promote your Website

So you have just gone through the struggle of getting a website done that you are happy with, and it looks great, it pops off the page and has got your attention straight away. Problem is that it wont help your business if no one knows it is availabl on the web. Here are some tips to help you with your quest.


The first thing that I constantly tell people when they come to me is make the domain name simple and easy to remember. Make sure that it is representative of the business name or an abbreviation of that name so that people will be able to find you on the net. People searching the net seem to favour short or to the point discriptions.


Next Add your website details to as many search engines as possible. This can be done by going lets say to Google and typing in the search bar “add url”. You will notice a number of options coming up that will allow you to add for free and it is all done in a few clicks. Some excellent programs are available out there that will do this for you for a small fee and they are also very good to consider. All this will help you be placed in a better position when subject or category searches are done on your site.


Another good way and simple thing to do is to add your website details to your promotional material. Just because you now have a website that doesn’t mean that you start to neglect the traditional forms of marketing that you have done in the past. A website is purely an important additive to the marketing mix of your business. This may mean that you will have to reprint business cards, letterheads, brochures and flyers but with the new mix don’t you think it is time to make some changes and perhaps reinvent. At Barking Toad we have done just that and alot of our clients are learning to work on their businesses also. Don’t forget QR Codes.


A good idea or place to start with getting your website out there is to let your existing clients know about it and special offers etc that maybe achieved only via the website. Simple things like adding a signature on your emails, reflecting the website with perhaps a hyperlink to the site always helps to drive traffic to your site. Direct mail might also be an option . We have done a simple postcard for clients to mail out and with great results which were measured through analytics.


Next consider starting to develop that circle of sites that all have something in common, your site. This is done most commonly by starting networking sites and social media sites to all point and link to your website. This can also be done if your are part of a network or chain of shops. Backlinks are all important and the collaboration between associated business and service providers is important.


Promoting your website is an ongoing job and just because you have got a website developed doesn’t mean that it is all over. It will require hours on the computer. Ingenuity and innovation, be creative to try and attract potential customers. Dont forget it is all part of your marketing mix and if you do it right the rewards will be great.


For more help with your website contact Mike at Barking Toad

Michael - 10 May 2012
Slow websites are like.....

If this happens in Murwillumbah Northern NSW you will be waiting for quite some time.

Michael - 8 May 2012
Website design for Tablets/iPads and smartphones

Creating a website that is tablet friendly.

Oh yeah you have got yourself a phone or tablet, but what about the website that I got built 6 months ago. It is something that I come across quite often from new clients that say, “I had my friend do this website for me......” Well now you have the new age of slim design tablet and your site looks like it has to lose 20kg just to fit the screen of those skinny jeans.

Without going into the facts and figures the simple fact is that the iPad is very quickly becoming the most popular platform for the way we are doing day to day life. This means that your website has to be iPad friendly; the bad news for you is that there is no other option. This is how it is and will move for the foreseeable future.

We as designers are facing a very uphill chase when it comes to designing websites that are compatible on all platforms. Smartphone’s, tablets and iPad make it a very difficult task to create a site that is compatible and operates on all different platforms in a user friendly way, Here are some tips that will help when you are going to give that brief to your designer.

The Mouse trap

The first thing to do is get the mouse out of your mind. Because the point of a mouse is allot smaller than your finger, to design the site for functionality you have to ditch the mouse. All too often we try to put everything into a page or site and things start to get squashed on a page. This means that the end user will have to zoom in and out just to navigate through pages. This will not happen for long as people will become impatient and travel away from your site.

Catch and Release

Since we are all using different platforms to surf the net alot of designers are not designing with one thing in mind and that is “The Catch”. The area known as above the fold is the most important part of your website. It is the area that captures your audience and invites them in. For the designers of websites it is their religious duty to make sure that the message is conveyed. With designing for tablets in mind this is very important for the success of your website.

Testing Testing

Web designers must always conduct a number of tests on a site to make sure that it functions well on all sorts of platforms. Test emails from tablets, checking forms and generally checking the function of the site is every designers responsibility. At Barking Toad we use a site for our testing and interaction with the clients. An important part of this testing is also the switch between portrait and landscape mode and the resizing of the site and functionality


Try to make a website containing flash work on an iDevice and you will soon find that some things are impossible. These devices do not support flash or downloadable additional pluggins so using something simple as HTML5 or CSS is the best way to go. This will ensure that your site also works quickly and is not too heavy with tricks that don’t actually work.

Tablets do not give you a great scope for creativity but for the designer they do give you an important lesson in simplicity. So take a look at your site and strip away any of the clutter that may not work on any other platform than your desktop.