Shop Talk

Website TLC: Why Maintenance Matters and How to Do It Right

LeeAnn Grapes Article

Your website is the online face of your business, and just like any valuable asset, it requires regular care. In this post, we’ll explore the significance of website maintenance, providing practical insights and best practices to ensure your site remains secure, efficient, and up-to-date. Let’s get started on the journey to keep your most important digital asset in peak condition!

The Key Maintenance Tasks

Ongoing website maintenance involves regular updates, optimization, and fine-tuning to guarantee it stays secure, functional, and aligned with your business objectives. Here are five essential aspects of ongoing website maintenance:

(1) Software Updates and Security:

Regularly update your website’s software components, including the content management system (CMS), plugins, themes, and any other software. This safeguards your site against security vulnerabilities and cyber threats.

Actionable Steps:

  • Monthly check for available updates.
  • Keep WordPress core, themes, and plugins updated.
  • Implement security plugins.
  • Strengthen passwords and enable two-factor authentication.
  • Conduct routine malware scans and vulnerability assessments.

(2) Fresh Content:

Keeping your website’s content current and relevant is crucial. Regularly add new blog posts, update product information, and refresh images to engage users and signal an active and up-to-date site. This not only keeps visitors engaged but also boosts your site’s search engine rankings.

Actionable Steps:

  • Ensure your website is built to accommodate growth.
  • Publish fresh, relevant content regularly.
  • Update outdated information and remove broken links.

(3) SEO (Search Engine Optimization):

Optimizing your site for search engines directs potential customers to your digital doorstep. As you add content, revisit SEO by optimizing keywords, meta tags, and adhering to the latest SEO best practices to maintain visibility in search engine results.

Actionable Steps:

  • Conduct comprehensive keyword research for high-impact search terms.
  • Optimize meta descriptions, page titles, and headers with strategic keywords.
  • Prioritize mobile optimization for Google’s favor.

(4) User Experience (UX) Optimization:

Your website’s appearance and functionality are essential for creating a positive impression and retaining visitors. Regularly assess your website’s UX to ensure intuitive navigation, fast page loading, and a seamless user experience.

Actionable Steps:

  • Regularly test website loading speed and optimize for performance.
  • Conduct usability testing to identify and address user experience issues.
  • Implement responsive design for cross-device functionality.

(5) Backups and Disaster Recovery:

Prepare for the worst by having a reliable backup and disaster recovery plan in place. Regularly back up your website’s files and databases to ensure quick restoration in case of data loss, security breaches, or technical issues.

Actionable Steps:

  • Set up scheduled daily backups.
  • Establish a plan for restoring your website using backups.
  • Implement monitoring to detect website downtime before your customers do.

Your website is your business’s digital identity, and its maintenance is an ongoing commitment not to be taken lightly. Prioritize software updates, consistent content publishing, SEO optimization, UX enhancement, and a robust backup plan to secure your website’s effectiveness in attracting and retaining customers.

Website maintenance is an ongoing task and can be a bit of a daunting task to stay on top of. If you got to the end of this blog and feel good about your website maintenance plan, GREAT! 

If not, and your website needs a redesign and a dedicated team to take care of all of this for you, we’re here and ready when you are!

Give us a call or send us a message online and we’ll be happy to start a conversation.

Using Social To Your Advantage; Creating Engaging Content to Stop Their Scroll

Nicole Rasmussen Article

Have you learned the latest trending TikTok dance? Or tried the new viral Chick-fil-A ordering hack?

Don’t worry, neither have I. Social media can have a reputation for being a bit unprofessional or even adolescent, but I am here to tell you it doesn’t have to be that way. Social media is a phenomenal tool that can help your business grow in many ways. But it is important to understand how to use it and how to create engaging and diverse content that will stop users scroll on the other end of the screen!

1. Use eye-catching and on brand graphics
Eye catching graphics that are branded are a great way to switch up your feed while still maintaining a consistent look and feel. Sharing witty one liners, or explaining more about your core values are some ideas when it comes to creating social graphics. This is also a great option for those that feel they “have nothing to post”.

Tips for creating and sharing social graphics:
– Take up as much vertical real estate on the screen as possible. For example, Instagram allows posts up to 1080 x 1350 pixels, 4:5 aspect ratio. Use that to your advantage and create graphics that will Cathy heir eye and fill their screen.
– Use brand colors consistently so when followers see your colors it creates brand recognition.
– Graphics can be more than a single image. Create carousels so users have to swipe to read more, or even create a fun video that entices them to stop scrolling and watch from beginning to end.

2.  Utilize video as much as possible
With a boom in the world of video content, platforms are pushing for users and businesses to hit record instead of posting a classic picture. This may seem simple at first, until you realize what actually goes into the production behind that video you saw on TikTok or Instagram Reels. But those who put the time in and post videos will be rewarded, because they allow you to reach a larger potential audience than just a single image.

Tips for creating and sharing video content:
– All clips need to be taken vertically. Horizontal clips do not preform well and are not as eye catching because they are not filling the watcher’s screen.
– Take multiple takes from different angles so when it comes to clipping together the end result, you have options. The videos you don’t use can also be saved for a rainy day, and save you time as you build your video content.
– Take videos in a setting with good natural light and if need be bring a light source to help brighten the scene.
– Use fun audios and music that fit the video.

3. Take advantage of UGC
UGC stands for User Generated Content which is an important tool when it comes to have engaging social content. These are usually people who love your brand or had a positive experience and shared with their own followers. A modern take on “word-of-mouth” you might say. When you are able to gather UGC and post it to your own social feed, it can draw more people to want to post their own UGC for your business.

Tips for sharing or gathering UGC:
– When applicable, ask for permission to use their pictures or videos.
– Scroll through your mentions, tags, recommendations and even pictures on google from people who might have left reviews or checked in. These are great places to discover UGC.
– Use high quality content; don’t feel the need to post all UGC you’re tagged in.
– When interacting with customers in person, ask them to follow and tag you on social media.

Need help navigating the tricky overwhelming world of social and help developing a consistent social feed and presence? The Bark Firm is here to help!

Why Are Marketing Campaigns So Important?

Amanda Paxton Article

Let’s discuss successful, effective marketing campaigns and why they are important to the success of your business.

What is a marketing campaign?
To put it frankly, it’s an essential part of any business strategy. Marketing campaigns are designed to promote a brand, product, or service all while increasing revenue by attracting new customers and, of course, retaining existing ones. Campaigns can be executed in several different ways including social media, email marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click marketing (PPC), content marketing, and traditional advertising. With so many different channels available, each having its own strengths and weaknesses, it’s essential to develop a thorough strategy that utilizes a combination of tactics to achieve maximum impact.

How much does a marketing campaign cost?
Critical first steps in setting up any marketing campaign should be outlining clear goals and objectives, selecting a target audience, and choosing a designated budget. The budget should be based on the size of the audience and the channels chosen for marketing. Typically $250/month is a great starting point and can get quite a bit done! It is also important to continuously monitor and adjust the budget as needed to ensure the campaign remains on track and achieves its desired results. 

Can you track the performance of a campaign?
Of course! Marketing campaigns can be traced and tracked using various tools and techniques. The level of traceability depends on the type of marketing campaign and the tracking methods used.

Digital marketing campaigns, such as email marketing, social media advertising, and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, tracking tools like Google Analytics, Facebook Pixel, etc, can be used to track and measure various metrics, like click-through rates (CTR), conversion rates, and return on investment (ROI). Tools like these provide insights into how users are interacting with the campaign, allowing marketers to continually monitor and optimize for better performance.

Traditional marketing campaigns like TV ads, print ads, and billboards, can be more challenging to measure, however, techniques such as asking “how did you hear/find us” when answering calls, surveys, and focus groups can be used to gauge brand awareness and customer loyalty.

Are branding and marketing campaigns related?
Yes, and maybe more than most would think. We all know a brand is more than just a logo or a slogan; it’s the perception that customers have of a product or a service. Strong branding paired with a creative marketing campaign generates a positive perception and builds trust. When customers trust a brand, they are likely to purchase from it and recommend it to others. 

Why are marketing campaigns so important?
Crafting an impactful campaign can help businesses achieve goals by producing awareness around a product or a service leading to more sales and increased bottom line. A well-thought-out campaign can also help businesses distinguish themselves from competitors by breaking through the clutter and highlighting unique values and benefits. 

Overall, marketing campaigns are absolutely vital to any business’s success. They provide an opportunity to showcase a brand, differentiate a business from competitors, build customer loyalty, and ultimately increase revenue. 

So, are you looking to expand brand awareness, boost customer loyalty and increase your bottom line? The BARK Firm has an experienced and qualified team waiting to build your business’s next innovative marketing campaign.

To learn more about what we do, contact us today!

3 Tips to Write to Relate–and Convert.

Sarah Carper Article

We’ve all been there: whether at a party, on a date, or networking, we’ve all experienced the presence of someone who boasts their accomplishments, credentials, and interests the entire time you’re together. They tell you what they’ve got goin’ on–and belieeeeeve them, it’s a lot–and ask very little about you, or what you like, need, or want.

It’s unpleasant, self-serving, and (for lack of a better term) a huge turn-off. Right?

So… why would you expect that experience to be any different for your customer?

Gone are the days of shouting achievements and qualifications from the rooftops to show potential customers why you’re better for them than your competition. If you really want to reach them, show them how you’ll actually help them.

Not sure how to do that? Fret not, we’re here to help. Here are three quick tips to get you started:

1. Ask Questions
Want to get to know someone better? It’s as easy as asking a question! Use questions in your captions, graphics, and long-form copy to catch attention and get your customer thinking. This can also encourage engagement–which keeps your content in front of them more often.

2. Use You-First Statements
We get it, questions aren’t always appropriate! But when you must use statements, try putting your reader first rather than talking about yourself. “Your company will see benefits x and y…” is a lot more directly appealing and applicable to a potential customer than “We can do x and y…”

3. Flip the Script
Excited about the features of your newest product and having trouble talking about it in a way that doesn’t seem like a hard sell? Try flipping the script! Instead of “Our new product does x, y, and z!”, try saying, “Want to do x, y, and z? You’ll love our new product!”

There you have it! Three easy ways to be a considerate marketer that relates more directly with your customer. We encourage you to try implementing these steps in your next social posts, emails, and other marketing materials and watch the engagements and conversions grow!

Need additional help with content marketing that works? You know where to find us.


Stay The Course

Sommer Grogan Article

Marketing doesn’t stop if and when business slows down.


I know you feel it. We feel it too. What’s to come in 2023? Will there be a recession? What about inflation and interest rates! How do we prepare? The opinions are endless surrounding these topics, and all the noise creates uncertainty and fear for everyone- business owners and non-business owners alike.


We’ve been at this marketing gig for 13 years now, and for many of our team members individually, even longer than that! When uncertainty arises, a pattern emerges, and that pattern usually involves scaling back on lots of line items… but when most businesses think marketing efforts are an easy and logical place to cut, they’re actually mistaken.


If you really think about it, that should be one of the LAST efforts to scale back in uncertain times!


I know, I know… easy for us to say! But, hear this out.


When uncertain times hit, the consumer’s needs and wants don’t disappear- they just get re- prioritized. So, keeping your business positioned for recognition and keeping your brand awareness alive is more crucial than ever. 


Because consistency matters ALL the time, and when consumers step back out of “gun-shy-mode” your business will be perfectly positioned for growth.


If you stay steady and present when many others do not, your brand will prove itself to be consistent, strong, and resilient–remaining top of mind for when needs arise (and you can be sure they will). 


As you navigate through 2023, you should be evaluating your costs and asking good questions, for sure. The key is not to let fear drive your decision making. So, how about asking how your marketing efforts are best serving you. 


  • Do you have scattered efforts going every which way? 
  • Do you have a dedicated person or people that are consistently prioritizing your vision, overarching goals and strategy and pushing those forward FOR you? 
  • Do you have actual strategy in place at all, or are all your marketing efforts reactive? 
  • Do you need a plan? Do you need help? Is one person even going to cut it?


If one or several of these questions have your wheels turning a bit, reach out to us. The benefit of working with The BARK Firm is that hiring our entire team of experts is relative in cost to hiring one well-qualified internal employee. The difference? Our team has the experience, qualifications, expertise, strategy, and proactive approach that no ONE employee could ever handle by themselves. 


It could very well be the easiest, best decision you make for your business this year.


Your Guide to Hiring A Web Developer

admin Article

So, you need a new website. 

Why would you need to hire a web developer in the first place when you can hop on a website building site like Wix or Squarespace? Isn’t the idea of those services that anyone can build a website?

Yes, that is true. Most anyone can build a website, but the real questions you should be asking yourself are:

    1. Do I have the time?

      Many website builder sites will advertise that it is quick and easy to get a site up, but what they don’t talk about is the hours you’ll spend learning how to use their tool, deciding what fonts and colors to use, adding in your content and laying it out in a way you are happy with (and then probably rearranging everything the next time you log in), researching and adding add-ons or plug-ins for things like appointment scheduling, event listings, etc., navigating domain registration, hosting, and SSL certificates, and much more.

    2. Will [insert website builder site here] provide the solutions my business needs to succeed?

      This could be anything from displaying your yoga class schedule, to pulling your inventory from your Point Of Sale system so you don’t need to duplicate your efforts. Sometimes the tool you need is available through website building sites, but more often than not,  it will be for an additional fee that isn’t advertised until you have too much time invested to turn back.  Those add up and can end up being the most expensive part of your website.

If you answered no to one or both of the above questions…

The first step is to hire a designer. The designer will come up with the look of the website and create things like images, icons, etc. A pure graphic designer does not actually implement the site, instead they prepare a representation, or a road map if you will, of what the site will look like so the web developer can build it. 

There are 3 main types of web developers, the key is hiring someone, or multiple people, who will fit your needs. 

  1. Front-End Web Developer:

    Front-end developers take your designs and turn them into code. They are responsible for the look and feel of the website, including making sure that your site looks good on all devices from the largest monitor to a smartphone. They also will optimize your site for users and search engines.

  2. Back-End Web Developer:

    Back-end developers are responsible for building and maintaining the code that runs a website. This code connects the website to the server and ensures that data flows and is stored properly.

  3. Full-Stack Web Developer:

    A full-stack web developer is someone who does both front-end and back-end web development.

Each type of developer will often specialize in different technologies, so be sure to look at your short term and long term goals for the site when interviewing developers to make sure they match up.

If you’re now thinking, “You’re telling me I need to hire not one, but potentially 3 different people (designer + front-end + back-end) just to build my website?” The answer is, most likely, yes. There are some unicorns out there that can do all three jobs, but there is another, more efficient option. 

Hiring an agency like The BARK Firm can offer you all of these skill sets under one roof. Here at BARK, we have multiple designers and developers to ensure your website is custom tailored to what it is you WANT and NEED. We can also make sure your site is maintained well after launch, so you don’t have to worry about it. 

Interested in learning more, and  to see if we are a good fit for your website needs? Contact us for a free assessment.

5 Reasons to Implement Video Into Your Social Media Strategy

Sarah Carper Article

If you log in to any one of your social media accounts right now, we’re willing to bet you’ll notice video content within the first 10 seconds. Go ahead and try, we’ll wait!

…we were right, weren’t we? 😉

So why is video so prevalent on social media these days? Because it reigns king when it comes to social media growth and engagement, that’s why–and people have officially caught on.

If you’re resisting the idea of putting resources into quality video content, or wondering why you should be implementing video into your social media content strategy at all, here are 5 reasons why you absolutely should look into it (or at the very least, consider the possible return on a worthwhile investment).

Reason #1: It Gets More Exposure
With the rise of TikTok in the height of the pandemic, the O.G. social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram were quick to take notice of how effective its short, quippy videos and catchy tunes were at attracting users. Intending to help retain their users and remain competitive, they created their own version known as Reels, which has become the ticket to growth on Instagram today.

Most algorithms favor accounts that use Reels to share original video, use Reels tools like trending sounds, and customize Reels with tools like text and filters. Besides these platforms promoting adoptabiliity of their new features and tools, video content typically performs best based purely on the fact it captures a viewer’s attention for longer.

Reason #2: It Captures Attention More Quickly
Speaking of attention… did you know that a goldfish is estimated to have an attention span of 9 seconds? Did you know that researchers have found that human attention spans are now even shorter than that? Video is a key tool in capturing and keeping the attention of your followers as it’s constantly moving, informing, and entertaining the viewer.

Reason #3: It Gets More Engagement
Once they’ve captured your followers’ attention, videos are proven to garner more engagement. Not only will followers stay on your post longer in their feed to view your video than they would by briefly looking at a photo (and giving it a double-tap if you’re lucky), but according to a study by Later.com, social media videos generate 1200% more shares compared with images and text combined.

Reason #4: It is More Personable
Unlike a long-winded paragraph, video is extremely easy to consume and allows you to directly control your story. This not only makes your content more engaging, but it also increases your brand’s authenticity and trust.

Consider the different ways that the response “Okay” can be interpreted in email or over text for example. A one-word response is often misinterpreted over digital communication, but when someone says it to you directly in person, over the phone or otherwise, you can tell exactly how they mean it. In a similar way, your brand can utilize video content to show customers exactly who you are, what you stand for and what you can do for them.

Reason #5: It Appeals to a Broad Audience
It’s no secret that Gen Z is a digital generation, but even before they dawned the title “TikTok-ers”, the Millennials binged video clips on the all-but-forgotten platform Vine. They gave rise to today’s YouTube celebrities and were FAR too influenced by MTV music videos, but also grew up watching America’s Funniest Home Videos with their parents and being babysat by the same classic cartoons they grew up on when THEIR parents weren’t watching the evening news.

Our point? The one thing nearly every generation on social media has in common is an affinity to consuming content through a video medium–be it music, news, tutorials, or our peers dancing in their living rooms.

We know, we know. Producing quality video content may be more time-consuming than taking a photograph, but once complete and implemented correctly, we also know that you will see your results go further, your audiences grow closer, and your following grow larger.

The bottom line is: give it a try and create some high-quality videos for all of your social platforms, whether it’s for posts, stories, or ads. If video content production and optimization makes you nervous, turns out that’s something we do and love!

Our team has a firm grasp on what makes a great video and how to share it. Contact us today.

Control Or Growth? You Choose.

Sommer Grogan Article

More and more business owners (regardless of industry or size) have decided “enough!” of trying to keep up with their own marketing, and have reached out and asked for someone (maybe even anyone!) to take it all over. ALL OF IT.

Let’s be real for a minute. Marketing is hard. It’s actually never been harder for Wyoming-ites because we not only have the digital age to contend with, but also more traditional strategies that our community and state still seem to garner sizable business from. For us, it’s “Yes” to Google, Facebook, and even Tik-Tok (we’re surprised too), as well as billboards, radio, and the occasional magazine or newspaper ad. And, it’s all ongoing, and a lot to manage.

So, why the change in perspective now, more than ever before?  Not enough time? Way too hard? A BA-JILLION platforms? It’s Google’s fault, right?!.. no one can make sense of all the noise, yet it seems to really matter.

We think it’s all of the above! But mostly, we think more and more industry leaders are understanding that in order for them to lead well in their businesses, they need to ruthlessly eliminate distractions and let some things go. Maintaining “all things marketing” happens to be one of the items on the list taking up too many resources and trying to keep control of that effort is actually preventing growth for many business owners.

For some, maybe it’s not marketing that needs to be addressed. Perhaps there are a host of other things preventing the growth you desire for your company. It could be a “blah” culture that’s holding you back, not enough autonomy, lack of structure, too much structure, or a host of other things.

The idea behind the reflection of this post is just that: Reflect.

Identify one area in your company that is postponing or halting your goals, whether it be growth or something else. And to steal one more really good line from our buddy, Craig… “The difference between where you are and where you could be lies in the next intentional decision you have been unwilling to make.”

Good luck on figuring this next piece out, and if you do decide marketing is “the thing” that needs to be adjusted within your organization, you know where to find us.

What Is Local SEO?

Alec Kirby Article


There can easily be a lot of confusion around the terms and acronyms surrounding digital marketing initiatives that businesses can undergo these days. There are plenty of times when individuals can feel overwhelmed or confused by such terms that have to deal with strategic and technical search engine optimizations. Today, we’re going to address local SEO and what that could potentially mean for your business.

Local search engine optimization (SEO) gives businesses visibility for geographically-specific searches occurring on search engines such as Google & Bing. When people search for a service or place around them, Google (and other search engines) will display businesses within the user’s locality. The user’s location is determined by their IP address for desktop searches and geolocation for mobile searches. The name of the game here is optimizing based on relevancy to the user’s search query. For example, if someone is looking for a dog groomer near them, then a dog grooming business would want to make optimizations based that search query, “dog groomer near me” or “dog groomer in city name”.

There are two primary methods that give businesses an opportunity to show up within their local market. We’ll dive into Google’s products specifically since they own a primary share of the search market.

  1. Organic search results (the website)
  2. Local packs (the Google My Business page)

The process of local search engine optimization take place using both of these methods. The business’s website is the first step. The BARK Firm works on websites by doing local keyword research and optimization of on-page content. This could be something as simple as using geo-modifiers within content or as complicated as marking up the site’s meta information to inform search engines of services areas. Following the aforementioned example of a dog groomer, this could mean building a site where the address of the business is placed in the footer of the website, the headers of the site including “Professional Dog Grooming in Casper, Wyoming”, and meta-information contains keywords such as “Dog Grooming in Casper” and “Pet Grooming in Natrona County”.

The second step is optimizing the businesses online listings (primarily the Google My Business page). A strong GMB page will increase a business’s online visibility almost instantly by making it show up in listings where it didn’t exist before. There are a handful of strategies to further optimize the listing for increased visibility such as keyword research in page descriptions, carefully choosing categories and subcategories, and posting organic content to the listing for increased indexing frequency. Again, this could look like selecting “pet grooming” as a service category, posting examples of the grooming work done, and special offers/coupons to incentivize those looking at dog groomers to come to your location.

The BARK Firm can help you with all these things and have been doing it for years! Learn more about our service offerings as well as clients we’ve helped in the past by contacting us today!

Email Marketing and Why it Works

Amanda Paxton Article

Many businesses these days are asking themselves if email marketing is really worth it, and the answer is YES! One of the top benefits of email marketing is that it has the highest ROI (return on investment) of all forms of marketing, averaging about $42 in return for every $1 spent.

But ROI isn’t the only reason why email marketing is worth your time and investment. The importance of email marketing comes down to it being a cost-effective solution that gives you the power to reach customers in a place most people visit every day — their inbox.

Unlike other marketing channels, email allows you to keep in touch with your customers on a consistent basis. Not only is each email an opportunity to connect with your subscribers, but it’s also an opportunity to further cement your unique brand identity in their minds. When done properly, email marketing can be an extension of your brand by providing a high-quality design that leads your customers through an experience, from awesome product photography to showcase your services. 

The bottom line is that you should be communicating with your customers consistently. That is just what is expected of businesses in today’s world. With email marketing, you can meet those expectations and more by creating a mutually beneficial relationship between your business and your email subscribers.

10 Fun & Helpful Email Marketing Tips:

1. Always Put the Reader First No one wants to listen to a brand talk exclusively about itself. Brands that solve problems for people, though? Those are the ones that get heard.

2. Experiment With Emojis Emojis are more than just fun illustrations. They can actually help improve opens on emails. In fact, a recent study shows that brands using emojis have seen a 56% increase in their unique open rates.

3. Use Power Words Subject lines should inspire readers to take action. So, include power words, that motivate audiences to open and click. Some examples include free, sale, new, % off, exclusive, and many more.

4. Create a Curiosity Gap Who doesn’t like a good tease? Leverage your reader’s curiosity to make them click through from an irresistible headline to the actual content.

5. Less is More Guess what the #1 reason people unsubscribe from emails is? It’s because the sender emails too often. Email frequency is something subscribers care about. A lot. So know your audience and always provide the utmost value in every email.

6. Include One CTA (But Don’t Be Afraid to Include It In Multiple Locations) – Here’s a simple tip that can help increase clicks; if one CTA doesn’t entice clicks, there’s a chance the next one might.

7. Sell Benefits, Not Features Generally speaking, customers care more about how your product or service benefits them or makes their lives better rather than what features your service or product offers. For example, a larger vacuum isn’t better because it’s larger; it’s better because it means the customer can spend less time vacuuming!

8. Avoid Generic Templates That’s all there is to this tip. Keep it fresh and just say no to generic templates.

9. Send Email at the Best Times for Most Opens and Clicks The best time to send an email will differ depending on your audience. But, there’s been plenty of research done to give us some solid starting points.

10. Keep It Brief Every word and sentence in your email should serve a clear purpose. If it doesn’t, then remove it. Don’t bore your readers with the details, less is more!

Are you looking to connect with your audience to promote your brand? Have questions about email marketing or want help with your email marketing? Visit us online at thebarkfirm.com or contact us today to learn more about our services.

Tips On Building A Company Website

Alec Kirby Article

When it comes to your company’s website, what really matters these days? There are many elements to a website that companies have to consider. Depending on your business, product, or service, the website that represents your company should be unique enough to represent your brand while maintaining a certain level of standardization that matches your customers’ wants and needs, which is a fancy way of saying… your site needs to look cool, be on brand, and give the appropriate information in the right places.

Here are a few tips to consider when building your company website:

1. Mobile. Mobile. Mobile. Build your site with priority functionality geared towards mobile users.

More users are accessing content via their smartphones than ever before. According to one study, approximately 83% of the U.S. population are mobile internet users. That is about 274 million people who are accessing the internet via mobile devices. 

2. Great user experience always WINS. Content editing, navigation usability, internal/external links testing, HTML & CSS validation, and styling/scripting minification are all parts of the user experience that play a part in your search engine optimization (SEO)

User experience is the new search engine optimization. Tricks like keyword density and backlinking (while still important) have been mostly replaced with content relevancy, sitewide performance, and user experience. Search engines are getting to the place where keywords aren’t needed to determine the subject matter.

3. Your site can’t just look good… it actually has to work, too. Use BEST back-end practices.

Along with building what users see (the front-end of your website), it is important to use best practices when building your back-end. This includes data storage, security, server environments, and application monitoring. 

There are a lot more nitty-gritty subjects like content accessibility, cross-browser functionality, markup validation, JavaScript error management, site migration, digital marketing, GDPR compliance, and goal setting that all play a part in building and maintaining your company website, but we’ll stop there as our goal is to be helpful and not overwhelm. 

Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be complicated nor does it have to consume your time as a business owner/manager. If you so choose, you can move all this stuff from YOUR plate to OURS. The BARK Firm has been building custom-tailored websites for our clients for over a decade! Along with front-end development, we build out a secure back-end that will keep your site performing for both users and bots alike. Keep it simple. Give us a call. We’re happy to help. 



What Social Platform Is Best For My Business?

Sarah Carper Article


First, there was MySpace. Remember MySpace? Glittery GIFs met custom backgrounds and your favorite song of the moment playing in the background as your peers rushed to your “My Top Friends” section to see if they made the cut. It was our first introduction to social media (and if you were good at it, your first introduction to basic coding!).

Now, the social media world has exploded into a plethora of platforms with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and LinkedIn all vying for the attention of business owners and consumers alike.

Oh, and 2020 brought us TikTok. How the heck are we supposed to use TikTok?!

As with many other things, more options bring more decisions to make that can lead to more confusion, especially if you are by default a traditional marketer who “just doesn’t get this social media stuff” and doesn’t dabble in it on a personal level.

So stands the question: Which platforms should I utilize for my business?

At The BARK Firm, we emphatically encourage companies to live their brands, know their audiences, and stay true to their messages. In short, know your why.

And in that lies the answer. When you take a deep dive into the message you want to convey, the brand you want to embody, and not just the product you want to sell, you will better understand your customer and know which platforms are most appropriate to reach and connect with them. Here are a few things to consider to help you do just that.

How old is your target demographic?
Here’s a social stat you may or may not have realized: as of July 2020 the average age of Facebook users is 40.5, and the age demographic of 65 years and older is the fastest-growing group to use Facebook. On the other hand, Snapchat has a much younger key demographic of 13 to 29-year olds. When you consider which social accounts to create as a tool for your business, stop and picture yourself as your ideal client or customer, including their age. Then, do a little research to find out where, on average, people their age are spending their time online.

What content resources do I have on hand?
If you have an amazing photographer on staff, show off their talents with a dynamic, beautiful Instagram account that embodies what your company has to offer. Eyecatching drone footage or informational videos? YouTube and Facebook are great contenders. Recipes and inspiring designs? Let others aspire to recreate and/or shop your items on Pinterest. Take inventory of what you have to share, and choose the best outlet for the formats you have on hand.

What is your primary reason for utilizing social media?
If you are a social media user yourself, chances are you have specific reasons you go to specific apps–whether you realize it or not. Think about it! Pinterest: aesthetic and inspiration. Instagram: lifestyle photos and updates from friends. LinkedIn: industry news and job searching. Each platform is designed to share content in a purpose-driven way, so use those purposes to your advantage when considering where to plug your business in.

Where are my competitors?
We don’t endorse the copycat game, but it only makes sense to do a little auditing to find out where your competitors are and consider adding yourself to those platforms. This not only ensures that you are reaching the audiences that they are to create a fair decision-making process for consumers, but it also allows opportunity for friendly collaboration and support between the two of you. Imagine their surprise if you were to share an industry-related post from them on LinkedIn and say something like “Congratulations to our friends at ‘ABC’ for their recent accomplishment!”

That’s what social media was originally designed for, after all: a place for people and businesses to create, share, and collaborate.

So, there you have it. These three tips and a little deep-diving on your part should help to clear up the usefulness of the various social platforms available, and help in choosing which is right for your business. If the waters are still murky, or you simply don’t have the bandwidth to learn and implement these channels, we’d love to help. Give us a call today to learn how our social experts can set up and manage the best channels for your business.

An Ode… The Twelve Months of 2020

Sommer Grogan Article

The 12 Months of 2020

In the first month of the year, January gave to me:
High hopes for 2020!

In the second month of the year, February gave to me:
A couple COVID cases, but still high hopes for 2020!

In the third month of the year, March gave to me:
Three weeks of lockdown, more COVID cases,
but still some hope for 2020!

In the fourth month of the year, April gave me:
No more airlines, three more weeks of lockdown,
more COVID cases, not feeling great about 2020!

In the fifth month of the year, May gave to me:
No more airlines, three more weeks of lockdown, more
COVID cases, I freaking hate 2020!

In the sixth month of the year, June gave to me:
Riots and looting,
no more airlines, three more weeks of lockdown,
more COVID cases, what is up with 2020!

In the seventh month of the year, July gave to me:
A few sparkly fireworks, but still riots and looting,
No more airlines, three more weeks of lockdown,
more COVID cases, what is up with 2020!

In the eighth month of the year, August gave to me:
8… thousand wildfires, probably caused by fireworks,
No more airlines, three more weeks of lockdown,
more COVID cases, give us a break 2020!

In the ninth month of the year, September gave to me:
Confusing back to school rules, 8… thousand wildfires,
probably caused by fireworks, still rioting and looting,
No more airlines, three more weeks of lockdown,
more COVID cases, are we done yet with 2020?!

In the tenth month of the year, October gave to me:
Real life zombies, confusing back to school rules, 8… thousand wildfires,
probably caused by fireworks, still rioting and looting,
No more airlines, three more weeks of lockdown,
more COVID cases, we’re almost done with 2020!

In the eleventh month of the year, November gave to me:
Do we even want to go there? It’s an election year,
real life zombies, confusing back to school rules,
8… thousand wildfires, probably caused by fireworks,
still rioting and looting,
No more airlines, three more weeks of lockdown,
more COVID cases, one more month of 2020!

In the twelfth month of the year, December gave to me:
Probably a 12 foot blizzard, do we even want to go there? It’s an election year,
real life zombies, confusing back to school rules, 8… thousand wildfires,
probably caused by fireworks, still rioting and looting,
No more airlines, three more weeks of lockdown,
more COVID cases,


Disclaimer: This is 100% satire and for comedic purposes. We understand the hardships and challenges this year has brought to so many people–us included. Out of commiseration, we also hope this brings you a chuckle or a smirk and a belief of brighter days ahead. We’re all in this together.

How Do Google Ads Help Small Business Grow?

Alec Kirby Article

The Power Of Search Intent

Today’s consumer has higher expectations on businesses and shorter attention spans than ever before. This isn’t necessarily a problem, though, as businesses everywhere are adapting to this new tech-savvy consumer.

The gap between a consumer’s problem and a business that is selling a viable solution has grown smaller over the years. This is in large part thanks to innovative technology that bridged this gap for many. Nowadays, when someone has a problem, they simply pull out their smart device and type that problem into a search engine such as Google or Bing. This is called search intent.

The intent of the user is to find a solution to the problem they are having. This could be an answer to a question, a product that fixes their issue, or a service that caters specifically to their situation.

The Power Of Relevancy

The primary reason why small businesses want to be found online is because of search intent. The strategy that plays the biggest part in this is called search relevancy. The idea is a simple one. The more relevant a small business’s products or services are to the user, the more likely that that user will be “converted” from searcher to customer.

There are a lot of considerations for the user who is searching such as price, quality, quantity, brand reputation, etc. But for the small business, the value of becoming relevant to their target consumers is significant.

Lastly, it’s important to mention the costs associated with search engine marketing. Major search networks such as Google and Bing charge based on a cost-per-click model. Which means the businesses are only paying for the traffic they receive. After the user “clicks” on the search ad, it is up to the business to have an efficient digital storefront to convert the user to a customer. It is also up to the business to have an effective strategy in place to keep that customer a loyal one and cater to their future needs.

How The Bark Firm Succeeds At Small Business Search Engine Marketing

The Bark Firm succeeds at helping small businesses get found online by taking this overarching strategy and applying our years of experience to maximize budget, generate site traffic, and convert users to customers. For a more effective and efficient search engine marketing campaign, contact The BARK Firm today!

Change The Conversation

Sommer Grogan Article

Change is neither good, nor bad. It simply is. It can be greeted with terror, or joy; a tantrum that says, ‘I want it the way it was,’ or a dance that says ‘Look, something new.’ PR people understand this, but they can never execute it. If you don’t like what is being said, change the conversation.

Don Draper, Mad Men

 He looked at me with pleading eyes as I pressed the ‘record’ button. “So,” I asked, “what do you want your story to be?”

As a client-centered marketing firm, this is usually the first question we ask when we meet a potential partner for the first time. “What do you want your story to be?”

As we’ve written before, story is key. The ‘Why’ of your company, of your brand, is the most important question you can ask yourself.

Why do you exist? More importantly, why should anyone care? Knowing your why is essential because everything surrounding that why can change on a dime.

Stories and visions change. People change. Goals change. Change is inevitable. This is especially true in current times, as a global pandemic has forced countless businesses to change tactics and pivot from what their original plan was. Pandemics aside, however, change can happen at the drop of a hat. It’s not only inevitable; in some cases, it’s necessary. Sometimes change happens to a business, and sometimes change is personal.

Recently, I sat down with a client that had been going through a lot of changes, both personally and professionally. We can call them growing pains or trials and tribulations or something else entirely. Whatever we call them, the important thing is that they were affecting their business.

This conversation has stuck with me because it seamlessly transitioned from an apology to a pledge. This client knew that mistakes had been made. They acknowledged them and apologized for them, but also knew that they weren’t what defined the company. We just needed to change the conversation.

 “If you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation.” That is what Don Draper tells a client in the hit AMC show, Mad Men. While the show is fictional, many of the ideas, suggestions and strategies are still viable, even by today’s standards. The “change the conversation” line has always been one of my favorites (it may have even snuck its way into a campaign of our own). I like it because it speaks to the power of proper marketing. With the right firm, and the right strategy, you can say whatever you want. You dictate the story that you want to tell.

Maybe your company is a new one, full of bright lights and big ideas. You want to take those ideas to the next level but you might not be quite sure how. These clients are usually our favorites, because they are full of potential. The story hasn’t been written yet, so we get to partner with the client to dictate exactly how the story is going to go, piece by piece, chapter by chapter.

It’s not always like that, though. Sometimes we partner with clients who have been around for a while. They’ve been in the game for however long and they are looking to brand, or rebrand, themselves. They’ve probably seen success- they wouldn’t still be around if they hadn’t. But they want to go to the next level. They want to be thought of first and foremost.

That’s where we come in.

Finding that story, and properly conveying it to appeal to your audience is what we’re best at. We do that in a number of ways, across a variety of mediums, all with the intent of making the conversation what you want it to be.

Does this sound interesting? If so, shut the door and take a seat. Let’s have a conversation

Company Culture/Shift

Dustin Neal Article

Everyone talks about company culture but what is it really and why should I care?


Here is the basic idea. Your company’s culture is a reflection of your shared values, attitude, and behavior.
These attributes are not only pushed by the company, but they are embraced by the employees and are reinforced by the decisions the company makes as a whole. The culture spans over the work environment, the way work is done, and is reflected in the goals of the company. Strong company culture guides employees to actively participate in the company’s goals, and lets them become brand ambassadors of the company.

Ok, that’s cool but I’m waiting to hear the part where it increases my bottom line… right?
Company culture doesn’t just start with buy-in from its employees. It is the stances that the company takes FOR its employees. Companies with great culture focus on their employees first and their customers second. I know that might sound backward, but it’s true. If you take great care of your employees, they, in turn, will take even better care of your customers.

Wait… why would I put my employees before my customers?

Employees who see their values and needs reflected by their employers are more likely to enjoy their work and will work better with like-minded co-workers. This makes your team more satisfied, efficient, and driven to complete the goals ahead. This basically means, you do better work for your clients, and your team is all about it. Strange huh?

Well that all sounds great, but what if my company doesn’t seem to have a culture?

The good news is it’s not too late to create a culture for your company. Right now the COVID-19 pandemic has forced our society to go through a culture shift. People are working from home, becoming educators to their children, and finding new ways to innovate and keep their businesses going on day-to-day.

This shift is forcing us to reevaluate our mission, values, communication, and our WHY behind everything that we do. Now is the time to optimize. Let your employees know this is who we are, what we believe, and how we do things. Then give them the mic and get out of the way. Let them be heard. Celebrate accomplished goals.

Recognize employees’ work anniversaries, embrace what drives them in their lives outside of the office. Create ways for everyone to communicate, easily, and often. Ask your team how they want to solve challenges. Strengthen relationships between your employees and give them the power to work in this new world. Don’t put up barriers, remove them. Don’t create a sense of fear, create positivity, and act with courage. Don’t be the boss that was afraid to change and lost your best employees. Because as easy as it is to stuff it in the closet and never speak of it again, trust me, those employees will be sharing that story again and again with all their friends, families, and random dinner parties they attend.

If you take this time to shift your company and develop your culture you will find that not only did your business survive the pandemic, but you and your team came out stronger on the other side.

Company culture is a hot topic and thankfully, it isn’t going away. If you have a great company culture then share your successes with others. If your company culture is in trouble, or if you’re like many business owners, and you don’t even really know where to start, reach out. We’d be happy to chat about your own company culture shift.

Creativity During COVID-19

Corin Knowles Article

Working as a CREATIVE during COVID-19

How can nothing and practically everything change so much since November 2019? We have a few reflections we’d like to share from the past few months on how we’ve been working as a Creative Team and as a Marketing Agency.

  1. Brainstorming remotely

    This is not our first rodeo, working from home is what we do…but we miss each other. There’s something about getting a small group of creative minds together to really get some ideas flowing.
    How we’re adjusting: Bring the coffee, bring the energy and use video conferencing. Good things will come from just seeing someone’s face.

  2. Being creative when there are more distractions (dogs/kids/spouses)

    The BARK Firm has been working remotely since it began a decade ago. We know how to do it, and we pretty much NAIL it. But when you add in changes to kid/daycare schedules and your spouse trying to work in the same space as you, things get complicated.
    How we’re adjusting: Blocking out stretches of time whenever and wherever to let the creative juices flow, and keep flowing. Sometimes taking a walk can help clear your headspace and good ideas come.

  3. Being Positive

    Creativity in a doom and gloom world starts with attitude. It’s hard to kickstart creativity when you are upset, worried, confused, scared, or anxious.
    How we’re adjusting: You have to sit down and get in a positive mental space for it to get going. Do something in the morning that makes you happy, hug your family, hug your dog, and maybe put reading the news off for a few hours


Adapting the WORK WE DO to the current climate

We’ve had to adapt our creative in response to the COVID-19 pandemic – and we plan to make similar alterations as the crisis continues to unfold.

What we’ve done:

Guidelines to social distancing, mass gatherings, public spaces, business closures, mask-wearing, and more are changing and evolving. Communicating that on behalf of our clients has to be communicated quickly–sometimes within hours. We’ve been creatively thinking of ways to craft and rework messaging, and being flexible and available to put the message out fast. We’ve had to rely heavily on all our digital platforms to do this effectively.

We’ve had to adjust and sometimes scrap entire campaign materials to adjust to the current climate:

  • Provide essential and useful information.
  • Acknowledge we are in a different time, display empathy, and focus more on how to be helpful rather than pricing and selling.
  • Avoid certain lifestyle imagery. (Large gatherings, spring break, etc.)

Hitting the Pause Button. 

It felt as though the entire world hit pause when Coronavirus erupted this winter, and it was a weird feeling for all of us. When work slowed or halted for some, we saw people channeling their creative energy into all sorts of things; hobbies like gardening or cooking, getting more active outside and exploring nature, or learning a new language keeping their minds and bodies engaged.

One thing we know is that it’s difficult for any creative mind to simply stop creating things… and we’re thankful we’ve been able to keep our creative energy flowing here at the BARK Firm.

What Does Your Digital Storefront Say About Your Small Business?  

Alec Kirby Article


In such a chaotic time, operating your small business may seem almost impossible. With so many physical spaces either shutdown or under regulation, it can make doing business in-person difficult. This is especially true for small businesses that have a storefront where customers regularly engage to conduct transactions. Though this can cause headaches for many, it also presents a unique opportunity for many small businesses to start doing business online. All this begs the questions: What do your customers think about your business when they visit your digital storefront? Is your small business website optimized for discoverability? Is the content organized in such a way that it can be easily maneuvered by humans and machines alike? Does it clearly represent your business and give people ample opportunity to engage with your business? These are just some of the questions that will need to be answered if you plan on doing viable business online.

Though times are hectic, it has never been better to take another look at your website and ask yourself the aforementioned questions. The cherry on top is the fact that search engines — the most common way people find and discover businesses online — take all this into account when ranking and organizing your website.

As search engines get smarter about the organization and discoverability of the internet, it isn’t just important to have a website that is easy to maneuver but also organized in such a way that it can be easily indexed and found. Because search engines live on relevancy to the online user, what experience is your digital storefront giving your customer?

For years, optimizing your site for search engines meant keywords and overall speed. Now, the story is quite a bit different. Search engines can identify what kind of experience users are having on your site regardless of keywords and speed. Google can even recognize and index your site content without specific keywords or phrases being mentioned.

Though speed has a part to play, the overall user experience on your site is more heavily weighted in the balance. According to Google, “Great page experiences enable people to get more done and engage more deeply; in contrast, a bad page experience could stand in the way of a person being able to find the valuable information on a page.”

Thankfully, you don’t have to go it alone. The BARK Firm was founded on finding creative solutions to small businesses’ digital marketing problems. Contact us to get a no-pressure, free brand evaluation today!

Communication In (Or Not In) Crisis

Sarah Carper Article

By Sarah Carper, BARK Social Media Manager + Designer

I’ll never forget my first experience with crisis community management as a marketer.

Fresh out of college, I woke up on a Saturday morning away for the weekend with friends to my social media notifications full of a growing number of red pings for a Facebook page I managed at the time.

Apparently, none the wiser to me or anyone else involved in the public-facing presence of the organization that wasn’t physically there, an incident had occurred at an event they were hosting the night before that made a lot of attendees understandably upset. When they tried to get answers, they were left unanswered for a number of hours, growing angrier and angrier as they were feeling ignored.

I dove in and started responding to the best of my ability, forwarding questions I couldn’t answer to the owners of the organization.

While I got crickets from the leadership, I was getting roars from our followers.

I learned more than a few things from this experience which, thankfully, occurred while I was still in the earliest stages of learning marketing best practices and in the earliest stages of businesses using Facebook as a marketing tool. Fast forward through immediately developing a personal plan for things like this JUST IN CASE, gaining a lot more experience, and serving as a community manager for consumer brands like Pyrex and Corelle, where reviews and brand affinity can make or break your sales, and I was lucky enough to learn skills and successful strategies for communication in crisis to avoid ever again being woken up by social media pings and a wave of panic.

The BARK Firm is committed to helping put our clients’ best branding and marketing feet forward, including in times of crisis like COVID-19 and whatever other PR crises’ you can think of. As an agency, we have our own structure of internal hierarchy that allows us to best handle situations for our clients, and we encourage them to work with us closely to keep things flowing seamlessly.

We think it’s important for every organization, small business or corporation to have a plan, and due to recent events we wanted to share a simple list of tips that can help brands stay cool, calm, collected, and customer-oriented in (or not in) times of crisis.

When scandal or situations strike, oftentimes it is human nature to hole up, zip up, and keep things under wraps until it all blows over. Here’s the thing: people already know something has happened or is happening, and they want answers. To the point that you can protect your company’s operational integrity while still sharing as much information as you can, it is imperative to be honest and transparent with customers to retain trust and relatability–as well as with internal team members (see the crickets comment above). Think about it, if someone upset you then lied to you about it or ran circles around giving you answers, how would you feel? That’s exactly how your customers and followers will feel. Brand transparency = brand affinity.

Helen Keller once said “Optimism is the force that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” Rather than emphasizing negativity in situations, keep spirits high, and be a brand that brings your followers good news with a level of optimism in all of your communications. People want to be reassured, and crisis gives you as a company an opportunity to go above and beyond to provide that for them.

While this relates to transparency, it takes it to the next level by emphasizing the importance of interacting with your audience directly. This can be done especially well using social media and customer service, where customers count on being able to interact with their favorite companies directly. It’s a gift we’ve been given in modern times, whereas businesses in the past had to rely on print, radio and tv media alone for one-sided announcements. Take advantage of the opportunity to directly answer any questions and address any rumors directly in the comments.

People are people, and they have real human feelings that are affected by the events around them and the way they personally react to news and interactions. Put yourself in their shoes when you read any comments, reviews, or otherwise, and respond as you would a friend, or a way that you’d like to be responded to if you were them. It’s true that some people enjoy stirring up reactions on social media and other channels, but putting forth the effort to resolve a situation and understand another’s perspective at least shows others you care.

Anyone who has experienced crisis communication is familiar with how every piece starts moving a lot more quickly, all at once. This can create the temptation to throw up information as quickly as possible, no matter how it looks, no matter what it says. While it’s important to be transparent, be optimistic, be responsive, and be empathetic as explained above, it is also equally important to live your brand and stay consistent in your identity. This further establishes your professionalism and dependability, showing a sense of collected stability to anyone who feels emotionally tied to your brand. So, for our sake and yours, leave the early 2000’s memes and all caps captions in the past where they belong and keep your messaging, color schemes, and other brand elements consistent. You’ll thank us, and so will your audiences.

If marketing through recent events was a bit too much for you to handle, or you want some assistance with these five tips and other areas of your marketing, we’d love to help. Visit us online at thebarkfirm.com or contact us today to learn more about our services.

Now is the Time to Optimize

Dustin Neal Article
  1. make the best or most effective use of (a situation, opportunity, or resource).
We don’t need to tell you things have changed. Right now businesses need to take a proactive approach to move forward in an effort to come out stronger on the other side. What we see is an opportunity for businesses to optimize. As marketers, it is our job to help our clients in many aspects of their business. We effectively communicate brand messages and engage their audiences. We promote products and services and most importantly we share the stories behind what makes them great. But, what do you do when the COVID-19 outbreak has affected all aspects of our lives, including marketing?
We optimize.
So what does that mean? It means right now businesses can focus some time internally on much-needed areas of their business that get forgotten about in the day to day hustle. It means you can take this time to be proactive and work on your business and your marketing to come out of this stronger. There are plenty of online articles on how to position yourself to market through COVID-19 but what we are talking about today is some things you can do right now, internally, to enhance your business.


  1. Update your digital records. Collect all your email addresses and create a newly updated email list of your customers.
  2. Update the information on your website.
  3. Update all your social media accounts and give them all a fresh once over.
  4. Do your digital filing and organize your computers. If your desktop has over 20 icons on it then start there.
  1. Examine a piece of your business that isn’t functioning as smoothly as it should and fix it.
  2. Ask your team members what kinks do they have and work together to find solutions.
  3. Get team feedback on what other skills they can bring to the table you might not know about.
  4. Evaluate the way you communicate internally and see if there are better solutions out there.
  1. Chaotic times require calm leaders. Don’t become reactionary and act out of fear.
  2. Remember why you got into business. Reconnect with that passion.
  3. Your business IS ESSENTIAL. No matter what it is you do. It is essential to the people you employ, their families, the people you serve, and the community as a whole.
  4. Revisit your marketing message. Now is a great time to make sure your marketing message is still accurate and on point. As people change through this you may need to work with your marketing to make sure that the message adapts appropriately as necessary.
Tackling these items while you have time now will position your brand to come out of this stronger. Optimize. Start now.
Contact us if you need some help optimizing your marketing.

Say Something Real

Sommer Grogan Article

Story Matters. Especially Right Now…

In the midst of the absolute chaos our entire world is trying to wade through right now, the last thing anyone wants to see, read, or engage with is empty content. 

This post is literally a public service announcement of sorts from our team to yours. We believe (with every fragment that creates the backbone of our company) that STORY is POWER. 

In a time when almost everything feels uncertain, there are very few guarantees, and everyone is trying to find their place in society’s current state of affairs, remembering your WHY and your PURPOSE is more important than ever.

What is it that you actually care about? How are you being intentional as a company? What is the message you really want to put out right now? How would you say it? And WHY should people care?

There are many of us who have probably had our purpose shaken a bit in the last several weeks, and perhaps your WHY is on unsteady ground right now.  That’s OK. Us too! That just means purpose can shift. It can adapt and change with circumstance, but it should always reflect back to who you are as a company, a business owner, an employer, a team member, an individual. 

Like it or not, this time in history is part of our story. And oftentimes,  it is the hard, tumultuous periods we walk through that refine us, stretch us, push us to the point of near breaking…and then, a shift happens. We find new strength. We find new hope. We are somehow BETTER than we were before. And with these shifts as an organization and as people, the tone of our story changes with us! Our messaging has upgraded as well. It is grounded in something different and speaks from a place that is wiser and more experienced-just like us.

We are simply here to encourage our community of business minded people to remember the power of story. Remember that we all have influence. Remember to pause and say something real in your emails, social platforms, messaging and communications to all your people. Remember your WHY, ground yourself in your purpose and values as a company, talk about it internally, and share it with others!


Speaking of sharing with others… we’ve started a communal mission with #wearewychallenge for EVERYONE in Wyoming (business owners, employees, moms, dads, friends, family…you get the gist) to share how they are staying positive, creating impact, making social distancing (kind of) fun, and serving others!

It is in the beginning stages, so if you feel like joining the movement and spreading some joy and inspiration, share something encouraging, fun, or Wyoming-inspired on social and use #wearewychallenge. Tag a friend or two to spread the word and encourage them to do the same. Let’s show the world how Wyoming pulls together, even when we’re apart. 

Cheers To A Decade! BARK Brand Refresh

Sommer Grogan Article

Why Now?
Because after 10 years of being The BARK Firm (YES! It really has been 10 years), it’s time for a refresh that reflects the “US” we are now. So, who are we now, exactly?

First, we are a team that is humbled and thankful to have made it a decade! And, incredibly grateful for the vast and varied clients that have made that possible over an entire 10 years.

Then, we are the team that continues to “Brand Wyoming” with cutting edge design, calculated strategy, proven campaigns with real results and the story-telling messaging that “nails it” whenever possible.

Self-reflection is key in personal growth and business is no different. As we embark on our 10-year anniversary, it’s an amazing opportunity to refine our own brand, our own strategy, and our own purpose!  Our new logo is bolder, more sophisticated, and more refined, just like US!

What’s Changed?
A lot. But, in a nut-shell… our wheels are oiled, our processes are better than ever, and the impact we create for our clients is ever-increasing.

Big change can’t happen without great people. BARK has grown from a team of 3 to a solid team of 9 leading into 2020. And with a solid team, comes solid work!

We are most excited about the level of creativity, quality, and customer care we can accommodate as this fantastic team of 9; each bringing their own unique talents, earned skill sets, and incredible strengths to the collective BARK table.

What Hasn’t Changed?
Our commitment to being the leading creative firm in our neck of the woods, our commitment to continued self-reflection and a willingness to “pivot” whenever the project or client needs require it, and our commitment to do ALL those things while maintaining a healthy work/life balance for our team.

Cheers to a decade, and hopefully several more decades to come!
From All of US at The BARK Firm

Digital Strategy In Small Business Matters

Sommer Grogan Article

The buzzword “digital marketing” has evolved quite a bit in recent years. Though there may be some confusion around the term & how it is applied to small businesses, the fact remains that it is not going away & is growing year-over-year.

The number of users who now have access to the internet is growing exponentially. In the U.S., 87.27% of people already have access to the internet. That is about 293 million individuals! And more than half of these online users are accessing information via a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet.

The power of digital marketing comes from the low barrier to entry & the attribution models that give advertisers the ability to better determine what is working for their business.

Consider this, 84% of Americans are shopping for something at any given time, in up to six different categories. And in nearly one-quarter of shopping occasions, shoppers say they turn to their smartphone first.

By leveraging big data, any small business can tap into advertising inventory that has a similar reach to traditional marketing (such as television); along with performance that can usually outperform traditional marketing when leveraged correctly.

The question that remains is, “how do I add a strong digital marketing strategy to my small business?”

Whether it’s leveraging the power of user-intent through networks such as Google Search or finding a brand’s voice amongst social media or online video advertising, digital marketing offers a unique solution to small businesses.

Even with a small budget, a business can begin to build awareness of its brand through digital marketing tactics. It doesn’t even need to be that complicated to start.

Begin with the question, Where is my target audience spending their time online?”  Then follow up with, What action or actions (like click-through, pick up the phone, etc.) do I want my target audience to take that is valuable to my business?”.

By answering these two simple questions, anyone can begin to get an idea of what digital marketing strategies may work for their business. 

Then, start with a small budget and begin testing on various platforms to see what works and what doesn’t.

If the thought of diving in is too overwhelming or you just simply don’t have the bandwidth to conquer this on your own, you don’t have to! We have digital marketing specialists who can easily assess the best strategy & tactics to getting your business found online.

If this is something you’d like to hear more about, hit us up! We’d love to chat.

Cut Your Marketing Slack

Sommer Grogan Article

As professionals, we all have to “take inventory” from time to time and evaluate the areas of our company that may need a little streamlining. We have found, that all too often, marketing is definitely one of those areas. 

Here at BARK, we define “marketing slack” as any marketing effort that absorbs time and resources but creates little to no value for your company.

For example, maybe you find yourself right smack dab in the middle of lots of marketing efforts, but you have no idea which ones are actually working. You may be asking yourself: Which efforts are producing real value for my company? Which ones are a waste of time and effort? And for heaven’s sake… how many social platforms do I have to maintain in order to have a presence that works? And Google. Seriously. Ain’t nobody got time to try and figure that out. Figure out what the SLACK IS, and cut it!

Another form of slack? How about the giant missed opportunities between when you have a good idea to make something happen, and the time it takes to revisit it 5 times and actually execute it. Ever happen to you? CUT THE SLACK.

And how about the cost of all these efforts and knowing what’s necessary and what’s not. CUT THE SLACK.

What about the marketing meetings that go nowhere? The efforts that have no tracking associated with them? All the little, seemingly insignificant decisions (that really do add up and cost you time) on whether or not to do this one thing over here, or that other thing over there to generate some business? CUT THE SLACK.

Here’s the thing. There’s no secret behind successful marketing. Just approach. And the truth is it all matters. All the stuff. Most of it has a place somewhere. And if it doesn’t, you need to know why it doesn’t fit. It’s knowing where, when, and why you need “all the stuff” that most business owners struggle with. That part is what we refer to as “strategy,” and that’s the most crucial part of any marketing effort. 

The most important ingredient to successful marketing is a CONSISTENT APPROACH. You have to market when business is good (which we usually forget to do) and you also market when things aren’t so great, and this is usually when we get real reactive, forget the vision behind what we’re doing and make the kinds of decisions that have lost perspective and aren’t sustainable for the long term. 

So, our suggestion? Take a little time to evaluate where you are at on your marketing approach. We aim to be helpful, and we like to give out some free advice that steers you in the right direction. If you need more than that, give us a call. The strategy is our strong suit, and branding is what we do best. We love helping businesses streamline their marketing efforts and finding a way to creatively tell your story is what gives us purpose. We’d love to help. 

Humor Me! Why being funny works in marketing.

Corin Knowles Article

Can you remember your favorite commercials of all time? Or maybe a billboard that made you say “HaHA! That was clever!” Well humor has been used in advertising for a long time, and it’s not changing anytime soon. 


We buy from people we like, and humor is the easiest and fastest way to get there. Using humor makes you more likable, approachable, and more human. According to a 1993 Journal of Marketing study that examined multinational effects of humor on advertising concluded that ‘humor is more likely to enhance recall, evaluation, and purchase intention when the humorous message coincides with ad objectives, is well-integrated with those objectives, and is viewed as appropriate for the product category. Under such circumstances, humorous advertising is more likely to secure audience attention, increase memorability, overcome sales resistance, and enhance message persuasiveness.’


It’s true that humorous advertisements helps you stand out. But is there a downside? So you have a winning idea, and you launch your campaign with roaring success (and laughter). Let’s talk about the aptly, though weirdly named “vampire effect”. The term was coined after a study conducted by MediaAnalyzer Software & Research, which results concluded that “titillating content was sucking attention away from what the ad was actually trying to say”. So while distracting people with hilarious one-liners might be side-splitting, your audience might not remember what you’re selling. Now for a fun recall knowledge test, can you guess which companies were represented in these famous Super Bowl commercials? Answers below.


  1. “Wassup”
  2. “The Talking Baby”
  3. “Where’s the Beef”
  4. “Happier than a Camel on Hump Day”


So how do you overcome this vampire effect? This and more things to consider when creating your campaign:


  • Is your product/brand present but not too present? Let’s go back to grade school, you want to raise your hand during roll call and answer a reasonable amount of questions so you get your participation points, but no one likes the kid who always is raising their hand. Don’t be that guy. Research of failed campaigns s hows that having your product or brand in there too much will drive some people away. So make sure it’s sprinkled-in, but don’t go heavy-handed with the logos and product placement.
  • Different things are funny to different people. Try going through a list of favorite funny movies with your spouse, and you’ll likely see what I mean. The target market should always be considered, and receiving feedback from focus groups can be beneficial.
  • Variety is key. You’re going to get a lot more out of any campaign if you have variety. People may respond well to your first idea, but if they see it again in a slightly different way they may like it even more. Take for example the 100’s of iterations with the gecko from Geico Insurance.
  • Size doesn’t matter. Whether you’re a big company, or a small one with a modest budget, you can get noticed. Your audience doesn’t necessarily care about how many employees you have, or how much money you spent, if you made them laugh–that’s what matters.
  • Make it relevant, or not. Though funny ads may not have anything to do with what their selling (which is the whole point of the joke in some cases) it can be helpful to make it relevant to what your selling. Say for example, Misheard Lyrics campaign for Wyoming Otolaryngology, the campaign itself is based on what people were able to hear when listening to popular songs. This ties in perfectly with the company’s mission to help people with hearing impairments. 
  • Go ahead, take a risk.  You’re going to have people who love it, others who hate it, and then a group of people that just don’t get it at all. If you are safe, your results will be average. It pays off to be a bit edgy. So go ahead, take a chance and see what happens.

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Real Advice On Social Media Strategy From The BARK Firm (And It’s Free)

Sarah Carper Article

Ahhh, the world of social media. The ever-evolving, ever-addicting, ever-confusing world of best selves, algorithms, and love-hate relationships intermixed with strategy and great content. 

It’s also an endless bank of consumers that want to know you, and your product, directly. 

There are a lot of factors to a good social strategy between all the hashtags, social contests, and paid advertising, but there is one thing that all brands can do as a baseline–and it’s free: consistency. 

Just as we all would want a good friend to be, consumers rely on their favorite brands to remain intriguing, transparent, engaging, and consistent to keep their attention. Here are a few tips to maintain a consistent brand presence on social media that will help to keep your audience hooked and growing organically:

Create High-Quality Content

No, this doesn’t mean you need to rent out a studio to shoot a trendy pic of your morning coffee. Do, however, stay away from your boss’s old flip phone and the bad office or warehouse lighting. Cell phone cameras have improved a lot over the years, and flat-lays on a modern background with soft lighting can go a long way. Plus, they can be done in the office or in your kitchen–work with what you’ve got, and create beautiful, large images that will resonate with your audience. 

Establish a Look and Feel

Speaking of that old warehouse lighting… if you must use it, then USE it. Whatever your brand’s tone, own it from the beginning with intentional styling and stick with it. The best brands on social media create an aesthetic that matches their brand, which can be done with lighting, filters, intentional personality, and even color palettes to edit your photos to match your logo, brand elements, etc. Curate a look and feel for each and every post that makes your home feed look like one gorgeous, cohesive unit–then watch the followers build.

Maintain a Posting Schedule

Imagine having someone in your life who claimed they wanted to be your best friend calling you every day for two weeks, then dropping off the map for a month only to pick up calling you every day again like nothing ever happened. It would be hard to know when to plan on them being around, right? Or it would be annoying to not hear from them at all, then to have them open up on you like a firehouse, no? Same goes for your followers. 

Keep a cadence going, whether that’s one post a week, three posts a week, or once a day (but please, please don’t overshare with your audience by posting 4-5 times per day. There is such a thing as too much content–see firehose comment made above…) Protip: establish a calendar with which posts you’ll share on which days to keep everything in check and organized.  

Be Transparent

In a past blog post, we emphasized the importance of finding your WHY. Hold onto that throughout your social media journey, and let your brand’s personality and honest consideration of your customers shine through. If you make mistakes, own up and apologize instead of ignoring negative comments. If you earn praise from your followers, jump in and thank them for their support and stewardship. A little extra effort to build that relationship doesn’t go unnoticed–your followers are real people, after all, and your brand is also run by real people who probably can relate to them.

Never before have brands had the opportunity to directly communicate with consumers all across the spectrum, from those who are potentially interested to those who have purchased product and are now loyal ambassadors. 

Never before have they had direct, free marketing opportunities at their fingertips through word of mouth that actually results in amazing, high-quality content created by their very own clients and customers. 

But to build these quality and valuable relationships, you have to get into the hearts and minds of your followers and create a relationship-worthy brand. A great start is to establish a beautiful, friendly brand that people will love to follow and engage with, then to share it with the world in an honest, consistent, and well thought-out way.

Need some help creating a brand people will love to follow on social media? We’d be happy to show you how we’ve helped some of our clients and give you a consultation.

You’re Not An Artist; You Solve Problems

admin Article

“If we were making a movie or a play, we’d be embarrassed to do this,” Peggy Olson complains to her boss, Don Draper in an episode of Mad Men. Peggy is a copywriter for an ad agency, and she’s hesitant to work on a campaign for a client because, in her mind, it leaves very little room for ‘artistic creativity.’

Perpetually annoyed with just about everybody, Draper doesn’t hesitate to let Peggy know, in no uncertain terms, what her job actually is.

“You’re not an artist…you solve problems.”

And therein lies some of the best advice that a client-focused, brand-forward marketing firm could ever apply to their own agency.

At The BARK Firm, we’re not (just) artists; we’re problem solvers. 

Make no mistake, our team is made up of some of the most creative people in Wyoming and beyond. We are musicians and writers and designers and painters and photographers. But, for you and your company, we don’t just want to make ‘art.’ We want to solve your marketing problems.

Companies face a myriad of challenges every week, every day, every minute. Determining those challenges, addressing them, and solving them is the most important aspect of any business, at least according to Forbes.

“We believe, to do well in the future, companies must resolve that problem solving is the key to business, then develop a robust problem-solving capability at all levels,” a Forbes article once stated.

Those problems or challenges are vast and varied. They range from personal and corporate integrity, hiring the right staff, cash flow, competition and more. Keeping the customers that you have while simultaneously gaining new ones is, arguably, the biggest challenge that businesses face.

The best way to get new customers while maintaining current ones is to have a strong marketing brand, and that’s where we come in. 


We’re interested in telling your story, in developing your brand and in helping you stand out amongst your competition. We do that in a variety of ways, with some simple, and some not-so-simple techniques, all of which are effective in producing real, tangible results.

If we are able to tell the story of your business in a creative way, we will be thrilled. But our main priority is not to show Wyoming and beyond that we’re the best at what we do (even though we totally are). Our priority is showing them that you are the best at what you do.


So our challenge to you is this: think of the brand challenges that your business is facing, and let us help you find the solutions. Hopefully, you’ve already asked yourself WHY it is you do what you do. Now ask yourself the rest.

Who is your brand marketed to?

What is your purpose?

Where are you now and where do you want to be in 5 years?

When do you want to create ‘art with a purpose’ and take your company brand to the next level?

How can we help?

We want to tell your story, market your brand and make your customers feel.

The BARK Firm develops creative communication that sends a message and solves a problem and that, well, that is the art of advertising.

An Idea Alone is Not Enough

Dustin Neal Article

We may like the notion that our business, brand, product, service, or idea is so great that it can stand alone, but the truth is that none of these things can develop, grow, or be successful by themselves.

You need people. Partners, collaborators, builders, relationships, and connections. Every successful brand/business rallies behind their people. It takes designers to make your product or service come to life. It takes workers to make sure it is delivered to the market and that it lives up to its promise. It takes customers to buy it and give their feedback to you so you can further improve upon it. It takes a team of passionate people who are committed to the project to make an idea happen. No one man can execute an idea to its fullest potential solely.

Welcome to the ocean. We’re all in it. Big fish, small fish, all together in one eco-system. In an ocean where collaboration and creation co-function, who we work with and rely on can determine how far our ideas can go.

So what have we learned?
Well, being a Wyoming marketing firm, we can tell you working closely and partnering with businesses has taught us much about developing successful brands. Here’s some insight into what we know.

We know you have to clearly and simply communicate your brand’s values both in words and in vision.
Your team must define your idea, it’s values, its goals, and its story together before it sees the light of day. How does your product/service impact peoples lives? Does it enrich their lives out of necessity or is it a luxury? And why should people care? With so many options in today’s market, you must be authentic and cut through the noise about who you are, and how you fit into peoples lives. It takes more than one man to accomplish this.

We know that good design sells.
In 2005 a group called The Design Council studied 63 portfolios of companies that traded Financial Times Stock Exchange over the course of a decade. What they learned is that the companies that put their focus on great design did better than the ones that didn’t. The companies that brought on staff for design or hired that part out as a collaboration increased their team and saw direct benefits from it. It takes more than the product/service itself to push the idea.

We know you must appeal to the right market.
In some cases, you may have started a business that reaches out to a demographic that you are not. How could you possibly know anything about the Millennials when you are yourself not one? You couldn’t possibly understand their need for co-op workspaces, beanbag chairs, and an insatiable need to consume products that not only define them but make a difference in the world while also being low impact on the environment. I’m teasing of course, but seriously if your business is going to flourish you better get yourself a team of collaborators to help you develop your idea for this demographic. By enlisting the help of good people who also understand the market you want to be in and are able to further develop your idea and help you grow.

We know that the go-it-alone strategy will only produce a very narrow vision of what the initial idea could have been. Reaching out to other businesses and forming partnerships fosters growth and development for everyone involved. If ideas have the power to change us, shape our societies, and the way we live, then any idea that goes unfulfilled or unexecuted at it’s highest potential is a loss to us all.


Ask Yourself Why

Sommer Grogan Article

Very few companies can clearly tell people WHY they do WHAT they do. And when we’re talking about WHY that doesn’t mean “for money.” That’s a result. By WHY we mean what is the PURPOSE of your company? WHY do you exist? What drives you? What is it that makes you tirelessly work for your company each and every day? You must believe in something. What is it? And WHY should anyone care?

Good questions, right? We think so. And most of that we stole like an artist from our friend, Simon. But, we believe in the WHY. And at BARK, our WHY is helping you tell the story of yours. If you’re like most companies, you know the heart behind your WHY but the words are hard to come by. It‘s hard telling your story in a clear, concise, and impactful way.

The good news is we’re pretty good at that. We love finding the great stories behind WHY our clients do what they do. And, more importantly, we love TELLING them.

If you need help crafting the words and the story behind your WHY, reach out to us. We’d love to help. But to get you started on your own reason WHY here’s some food for thought.

  • How does your company help people or make an impact?
  • How do you measure your success (aside from money)?
  • What about your business keeps you up at night?
  • And, if you could tell someone one thing that sets your company apart, what would it be?


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