Biz tips - tips for businesses SME & corporate – John Lechner Art | The Office Art Specialists

Biz tips

Why using white space (or negative space) in design matters 0 Comments

why white space negative space design matters

By Marc Brabander

Why you should design with space in mind

I hazard a guess that in general you really like your personal space.... Guess what – it’s no different for the key message in any of the flyers/brochures you design.

For designers, one of the biggest challenges is to find the best possible balance between the information that’s required to be told, the size of the document, and the space between it all. Mostly called ‘white space’, space is a precious commodity that is often overlooked by trying to cram in as much information as possible on a DL flyer.

White space (also referred to as negative space) is a vital aspect to every design – it can make a significant difference to the focal points of a design, overall look & feel of the brochure, readability, and finally understandability (if there is such a word). I guess what I am trying to say is that the design focus for a brochure should be that the content is understood, that design-wise it fits with the brand of the company/product – white space aids significantly in that.

Origins of ‘white space’

If you like your art, you might have heard about positive and negative space. Positive space  refers to the primary focus of a picture, while negative space refers to the background.  With the advent of ‘modern’ printing techniques in the mid-1400s, ‘white space’ was the term given to the area where the black print was not, and with the paper being white.

White space… not just empty words

White space is literally everywhere – in essence, it is an empty or open space around an object, or the space in between objects. Great use of white space allows you (or your eyes) to pause and breathe, taking in the importance of the object it is supporting.  It is used to great effect in a plethora of creative fields, such as interior/architectural design (particularly offices and high-end homes), fine arts, photography, music, gardening, fine dining, and of course graphic design. Our natural world knows a thing or two about that white space too – just look at flowers for example… you’ve got a bright bold stamen surrounded by ‘white space’ surrounded by foliage. 

I often say that it all happens in the space between things. When you pay attention to a conversation, often where the magic is not what is said, but what is not said.

When used creatively and smartly, the balance between white space and the text/image elements on your brochure, significantly enhances the message you are trying to get across. Much more-so that the text alone. In other words, white space is there to help define and reinforce the importance and dynamics of your message… it provides a creative balance to compositional structure.

Without considering using white space as a key element in design, a brochure will look cluttered and cramped, it would be hard to read (and understand). It’s the difference between a light fluffy chiffon cake, or a torturous dense, flat and heavy chiffon cake… I know which one I’d go for!!

Harnessing the power of white space

Now you know a little more of white space, how do you use it to your best advantage?

In this example below I have shown a simple design with no regard to white space (on right) and one where white space is embraced (shown left).

The design piece is a print sample show-casing the various paper types we have available for our poster printer.

It only consists of three elements – logos (incl. phone number), the paper type and weight, and finally a suitable image to showcase the colour range and depth of the print sample.

why white space negative space design matters

There are a few simple pointers to help you start to balance out your design with white space – one I use frequently is viewing the design by squinting my eyes.

This blurs the key elements and brings the white space to an equal footing – it gives you a quick view of how the white space is distributed.

why white space negative space design matters

Ultimately, it comes down to ‘feeling it’, more-so than following a rigid few steps, particularly considering every design piece is different. In short, something either feels good, or something feels off kilter… 

Simple pointers to keep in mind:

  • Work out and focus on your importance of the various key messages of your design piece eg. work out up-front which key messages to include, and give priority to one over the other. As an example – a poster advertising an event: a) name of the event, b) date/time of the event, c) who’s playing, d) what’s in it for the visitors, e) where to buy tickets, f) sponsors, etc.

  • Allow your most important key message to ‘breathe’ by using white space around it (this can include an image in the background – one that supports the key message).

  • Block elements together (text, images, diagram)

  • Alignment – ensure that separate elements are lined up

  • And of course, be considerate of client’s brand image

  • To check the white space and other elements on the page, I often squint so that I see all the element in a blur and end up seeing the white space more clearly.

See if you can find any brochures or advertising material that doesn’t make use of white space – love to see them!

If you would like more information or assistance with your design project, please drop me a line - call me on (02) 4990 3230 or send an email at


Marc Brabander
BINK Creative


Are we killing staff engagement by being mediocre? 0 Comments

Staff engagement mediocre

By John Lechner

Mediocre management means poor staff engagement, low happiness at work and so much more.

Today, as managers and business owners we live in a business world that encourages us to be mediocre.  We have too many rules, regulations and red tape, so much so that instead of focusing on a great team and staff engagement we focus on the wrong things.

Instead of having amazing vision, building a great team and market leading products or services, we get stuck.

We get stuck trying to please the unpleaseable!

We waste valuable time and energy trying to make the people that matter the least to us happy. We feed their fears and anxiety while creating more problems.

Too many times has this approach meant that amazing businesses and organisations with fantastic missions, visions and goals suffer in an attempt to placate the mediocre.

I have two stories about this from my career where wonderful organisations with the best mission, vision and goals fell far too short. Each striving to help the community and the disadvantaged became mediocre because of the focus on the wrong people.

The Toxic Manager

In this case the solution was simple, this manager needed to be fired, and quickly. Instead of doing this swiftly and decisively it took over 18 months and was couched in terms of a restructure.

  • It demoralised the entire workforce, 200 plus people
  • It left irreparable damage to the culture of the organisation
  • Dozens of wonderful people were lost to the organisation
  • The cost to the organisation was easily 7 figures perhaps 8.


Simply today we have a culture that encourages us to pander to the mediocre. 

What if instead, we as managers or business owners focused our energies on helping the good become great, the excellent be awesome and most importantly. We created and fostered a culture that focused on the positive.

Focus on growth, innovation and creativity every day. Not just in the days when we are trying to repair the damage or during your "annual retreat" every single day!

Your focus as a business owner or manager should be on creating a positive culture that rewards the extraordinary rather than bowing to the fears of the mediocre.

Let me tell you the second story.

Timid Leaders

This demonstrates how timid leaders dig far bigger holes.

I was working in a great organisation, a trusted and respected brand worldwide. Early on I saw that when there was an all staff meeting called, especially when we had a day or two notice, several things happened.

People would go on sick leave, they became anxious and even just walked out of the office without explanation.

I didn't get it until someone explained it to me.

Not once but twice in the recent history of this organisation a compulsory all staff meeting was called.

During the meeting the staff were told that there would be some redundancies. Instead of informing each person individually with dignity and respect, they took the cowards option.

Staff were told that when they returned to their desks if there was an envelope on it they had lost their jobs.

They then had 10 minutes to pack up their personal items and leave or they would be escorted from the building by security.

Not a single good thing can come from actions like this. The legacy, which may still live on today decades later, is one of fear.

They instilled fear in the people they kept. The entire team was scared, all because they took the easy option for them, they bowed to their own fears.

Culture is created from the big and little things that you do.

Genuine care for your team is essential. Creating a great environment that fosters staff engagement, that encourages them to grow means not giving in to fears. Focusing on growth means trust and communication are paramount.

I am not advocating that you sack the mediocre in your team today. Though it may be necessary in time but instead.

Start by simply shifting your focus. Instead of spending your time trying to make the unpleaseable happy.

Instead focus on building the strengths of your best. ENCOURAGE GREATNESS!

Create a space where hope wins over fear and dispair.

Most importantly, create a positive culture. A culture that values innovation, creativity and growth.

If you need help to foster creativity and innovation then I would love to help. Lets sit down one on one and together we can look at the five most important strategies to create a positive culture in your organisation.

Call me on 0449 105 295 or email I can't wait to help you and your team.


John Lechner
The Office Art Specialist

Four videos that will generate new leads for your business 0 Comments

Guest Post by Dennis Noel Gomez Founder of Storydriven

Using video to generate leads

Video is one of the best tools that brands all over the world use to engage with their customers, and why wouldn’t it be? It’s a medium that’s easy to distribute, easy to consume, and becoming easier to produce.

That being said, not all videos are created equal! Below, we’ll go through several videos that work best when used at the appropriate stage of your customer’s buying journey.

If you’d like a bit more information around the customer buying journey, check out a brief explanation below.

Four videos that will generate new leads for your business

The customer buying journey starts with:

  • Awareness: This is the point between when the customer is getting an awareness that there is a problem. It may be, for example, that a business owner is beginning to realise that the current website they have is not really driving new business. This stage is followed by…
  • Consideration: Now that a customer is aware of the problem, they are searching for a potential solution. They will do their research, perhaps by searching on Google, or asking their network for reliable suppliers that can solve their problem. Finally the last stage of the journey…
  • Decision: In this stage of the journey, it’s likely your customer has already narrowed down their choice to the top contenders, and may need harder facts that can differentiate you from your competition.

Understanding the customer buying journey is essential, since each point of the journey requires different messaging - and some videos will be more effective than others.

That’s that! Now it’s time to get out there and get better engagement with your customers and prospects!

If you’d like to fast track your progress, drop us a line and we’ll be happy to help you in your video marketing journey.



Size and weight matters… when designing for print 0 Comments

Size and weight matters… when designing for print

By Marc Brabander

What is A4, A1 or 350gsm and why does it matter?

Have you ever seen a DL-size flyer in a brochure stand that is hunched over like a flower that it top-heavy and is in the wrong vase? That’s an undesired outcome for any business promoting their event/services – easily prevented…

The cause of the doubled over effect is simply that the paper is too light-weight for it to stand up – there aren’t enough paper fibres for it to hold its own.

When designing flyers, I always ask “where are you using the flyers”. If the answer is “in a DL-sized brochure stand at the Visitor Information Centre” (or on the front counter of a business) – then I know that the only solution is a stock weight of 250gsm upwards.

What does that mean?
For those interested, ‘stock’ is industry lingo for ‘paper stock’ with stock being derived from its original meaning of
“a product or type of product) usually kept in stock and thus regularly available for sale”. I guess over time it became to mean the same thing within the industry. ‘gsm’ stands for ‘grams per square metre’ and is the official weight indication of the paper.

What size is that?

In Australia the common size that is used is A4, and other A-formats like A2, A3, A5, A6, A7. One simple thing to remember is that A5 is half an A4 (A4 folded on short edge), and A3 is two A4 put side by side (on long edge). This handy reference document will provide you with an overview of the most common sizes.

Size and weight matters… when designing for print

In America they have different sizing, and if you’re used to working in Word, you’ll be familiar with ‘Letter’ size. For designing and printing in Australia, it is best if you set the artwork up as an A-size… it will save you some hassles with printers, and prevents unexpected results.

Some suggested uses for the standard paper sizes are:

A0 (840x1189mm) – Posters, plans, and signs
A1 (594x840mm) – Posters, plans, and signs
A2 (420x594mm) – Posters, plans, and signs
A3 (297x420mm) – Posters, larger newsletters (broadsheet-like), calendars, maps,
Standard document size: A4 (210x297mm) – used for standard letters, contracts, training documents, newsletters, invoices, notices, docket books, small posters, notepads, calendars and so on.
A5 (148.5x210mm) – used for flyers, postcards (scored & folded to A6), compact training handbooks, invitations, docket books, notepads
DL (99x210mm) – used for flyers, promotional cards, greeting cards, gift vouchers, invitations, small receipt/delivery docket books, notepads
A6 (105x148.5mm) – used for flyers, hand-outs, invitations, vouchers, tickets, small notepads, place cards (scored/folded)
A7 (74x105mm) – cards, promo pads, tags, product cards, bottle labels, thank you/get well cards, magnets
Business Cards (90x55mm) – cards, promo pads, tags, product cards, bottle labels, thank you/get well cards, magnets

Going rogue… (being a little different)

You can opt to be different… and I must admit, ‘different’ often gets noticed. Some businesses in the area have opted in the past to print a taller DL brochure so that it stands out in the brochure stand with all the other brochures. Still the same width of 99mm, but taller (297mm instead of the usual 210mm). But there is an additional cost to that.

For a brochure, to be different, you could print 210mm square (instead of A4). Works well, particularly if printed on a heavier stock of 210gsm artboard with matt celloglaze finish. With the smaller size than A4, you lose some space, cost-wise it should be similar to a standard A4 size document.

Time to weigh things up…

As mentioned in the introduction, it’s important to get the paper weight right.

Most brochures you see in the DL brochure holders are printed on 150gsm weight stock. This is fine for a 6-page DL brochure (an A4 folded into three); however, it falls short – literally! – when it is only a single DL panel. If that single DL needs to be able to stand up, you need to go 250gsm.

Business cards tend to be 350gsm artboard. These days the trend is moving to a thicker card stock, of 400-450gsm.

For simple flyers that are sitting on a reception desk or coffee table, or are handed out, you can use anywhere from 100gsm to 170gsm. There isn’t a huge difference in cost, however, printers tend to buy the 150gsm weight paper in larger quantities and as such it often tends to be the cheaper alternative. When you are handing out flyers like this, ‘feel’ comes into play… your audience/customers will feel the flyer and subconsciously associate what they feel in their hands with your business. I often recommend printing flyers on 170gsm satin artpaper for this reason, particularly the DL, A5 and A4 size flyers.

For most business documents that are printed ‘in-house’ by people the paper is predominantly 80gsm laser bond. For documents that will be hole-punched and inserted into binder, we recommend using 90 or 100gsm smooth uncoated laser stock like Colortech+ Uncoated. It is more resistant to tearing when flipped repeatedly in the binder.

For posters that are going in windows, I’d recommend going with a heavier card – like a 250gsm artboard – as it maintains it shape better. I recently printed a poster up for my upcoming exhibition Local Artist Uncovered at the Cessnock Regional Art Gallery.

I found that the 170gsm satin artpaper was affected by condensation, temperature fluctuations and full heat of the afternoon sun. If you are interested in the art exhibition follow the link: Local Artist Uncovered.

If in doubt, specify to your designer/printer what your intended use of your printed items will be and ask for a recommendation.

Going green…

There are so many options available when it comes to paper. One thing that is becoming more prevalent (and relevant) is access to FCS* certified papers, carbon neutral papers, and recycled papers. General recommendation is FCS at least (or the equivalent, PEFC), or a mix of recycled/FCS.

*FCS stands for Forestry Stewardship Council – it is an international network, which promotes responsible management of the world’s forests. A similar such management program is represented as PEFC, which stands for the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification.


There are other accreditations of course… ECF – Elementally chlorine-free, TCF – Totally chlorine-free, EMAS (the EU Eco-Management and Audit Scheme), ISO 14001 (International Environmental Management Standard), Nordic Swan.

The long and short of it…

And that’s about the basics of it. My suggestion is: take the time up front to work out where you are going to use your printed document. Think it through. Talk to your printer.

I love to hear your experiences with paper – the good and the bad… what worked, what didn’t. And if I can be of any assistance, please drop me a line too - call me on (02) 4990 3230 or send an email at

Happy designing/printing!


Marc Brabander
BINK Creative



9 Types of Videos You Can Create For Your Business 0 Comments

9 Types of Videos You Can Create For Your Business

By Melissa Groom

How to create a never ending list of videos for your business

10 Types of videos you can create for your business.

1. How to Videos
2. Share Stories
3. Share Your Lessons
4. Client Success Stories
5. Promote Events
6. Series of Interviews
7. Your Signature Program
8. Free E-Course
9. Introduction Video

Melissa Groom
The Visibility Mentor

10 Office Decorating Ideas Your Boss Will Love You For! 0 Comments

Office Decorating Ideas Your Boss Will Love You For

How to impress the boss with ideas to get your office looking, feeling and smelling great

These are some great office interior design hacks you can implement without spending thousands on an interior designer to create some new office style for your business.

1. First Impressions Count

Having a great print or artwork in your reception that people see the moment they walk in the door is important. You only get one chance to make a great first impression.

Try this, walk outside your office, go for a quick walk to clear your head and then walk in as if it is your first time.

Ask yourself these questions:

    • What is the smell I get the moment I open the door?
    • What sounds can I hear?
    • What do I see?
    • Is it inviting?
    • Are there live plants?
Having asked yourself these questions, now the question is
      • What would you change?
      • Should you have great smelling flowers, live plants a great big print from the beach behind reception?
      • How do I make it more inviting…?

2. Encourage Creativity in shared spaces

Art inspires creativity, did you know at CERN (the home of the large hadron collider), they value Creativity and Entrepreneurship as cornerstone values. This has got to be one of the nerdiest, most serious organisations in the world, really it is a place filled with the best minds in physics, other sciences and engineering.

Creativity is key to new learning, open new ideas and opportunity. They have two key things in their common spaces including the walkways, break out spaces, tea rooms etc.

Those two things are whiteboards, so that if two or more people should chance upon an idea, they can explore it on the whiteboard. The other is art on the walls, being in the presence of art unlocks your own creativity.

3. Waterfalls

Either a water feature, you can buy some really cool ones these days or a print featuring a waterfall can bring peace, relaxation and calm into a workspace.

The sound of running water is one of the most relaxing sounds you can hear. Some people may find it distracting, then the key is visualisation. Having a waterfall print on the wall is the next best thing. Watch this video with the sound up.


4. Inspire your boss

Know your boss is an avid skier or is aching to head to New York for a holiday of a lifetime. Then perhaps having a great print from a place that inspires them is a great way to help them make it happen.

Office Decorating Ideas Your Boss Will Love You For!

5. Sunrises

Every day the sun rises, it brings new possibilities, renewal and life. They are a great way to breath life into a workspace, especially as an artwork or print. They inspire, give energy and they are the next best thing to experiencing a great sunrise yourself. Best of all you don't need to get out of bed at 4am to experience them.

Office Decorating Ideas Your Boss Will Love You For!

6. Live plants

Have you got live plants in your office? Maybe a really cool hanging terrarium is the way to go? There are so many options, even for those without a green thumb, perhaps succulents. Live plants clean the air, remind us of the outdoors and link us to nature.

Office Decorating Ideas Your Boss Will Love You For!

7. Inspire travel

We all have travel dreams, whether of our favourite childhood camping spot or that bucket list trip to Iceland. Having great travel pics on the wall can help to inspire more travel, remind you of your why.

Why do you work? You don’t do it just to pay bills and tick off the days but to live your life, chase your dreams and be inspired.

Office Decorating Ideas Your Boss Will Love You For!

8. Go cruising

Yeah really you can go cruising in your office with glass portholes, these portholes can take you around the world, to the beach at sunset or to a place of complete zen. Bring a porthole into your office.

Office Decorating Ideas Your Boss Will Love You For!

9. Greens of the rainforest

Green calms, reminds us of nature, grounds us to the things we love most. Bring the rainforest into the office with a combination of live plants and a rainforest print.

Office Decorating Ideas Your Boss Will Love You For!

10. Timeless classics

Black and white prints are a great way to add timelessness to any space.

Office Decorating Ideas Your Boss Will Love You For

Want more help?

Check out our Free Profitable and Productive Office Guide. You can download your copy today free. Click on the image below to get instant access.

Download your free profitable and productive office guide

      7 common design mistakes in print, and how to avoid them 0 Comments

      common design mistakes in print, and how to avoid them

      By Marc Brabander

      How to avoid the most common design mistakes for printed marketing material

      One of the most common mistakes in print is the humble spelling error. One tiny little mistake - a comma in the wrong place, a missing number in your phone number. It doesn’t stop there though – there are plenty of pitfalls when designing for print to be aware of. When a mistakes makes it through to print it not only brings embarrassment, it actually could end up being a costly exercise and plain inconvenient.

      A few years ago Myer, one of Australia’s leading department stores, managed to miss a blatant grammatical error on 7-storey high banners which were erected in their stores Australia-wide. It was ridiculed on social media and mentioned on prime-time news – the error in question being a Boxing Day Sale slogan “Early bird get’s the right size” (in case you missed it, the apostrophe in ‘gets’ is not required). In that instance, it was both embarrassing and a costly exercise to replace the banners.

      Not everything warrants reprinting, and can either be handled with a block-out over-sticker, or just left as is – it really depends on the severity of the mistake or print error.

      So, what are the 7 common design mistakes in print, and how do you avoid them?

      1. Spelling errors

      As I pointed out in the example in the introduction, mistake do happen and it doesn’t just apply to small business – it happens everywhere, including large corporates. I classify spelling errors at the top of common design mistakes.

      Examples of spelling errors:
      The obvious: misspelled words, missing number in phone number, incorrect website URL or email address.
      The not so obvious/harder to spot: grammar - sentences that just don’t make sense, food items you might not be familiar with, industry specific information, technical information.

      Why does it happen? Simple. The design piece wasn’t proof-read and spell-checked. And it’s easy to blame the designer or printer, and to some extent it might warrant it; however, it only goes so far. Ultimately it comes down to the project owner’s responsibility to ensure the information is correct.

      So, how do you avoid spelling errors?

      • Use spell-checkers, but don’t rely on them. I find it handy to copy/paste text into Word, as they highlight misspelled words with a red squiggly line underneath and suggest a replacement word.
      • Ensure you work with a designer that you trust and that you know uses procedures that include checking spelling – a designer that is engaged and read what they design
        Ensure that your designer informs you of any changes they may have made, or suggestions they may have with regards to text.
      • Have a handy checklist beside you, to ensure you don’t miss anything. Download this FREE Checklist now.
      • Get someone else to read it over, preferably someone not involved with the project and someone that has a keen eye for detail.

      2. Using the wrong file type of images

      People often use images from the web. I am not going into the legal issues when sourcing images that have copyright associated with it – let’s just keep it to “you could be held liable for using images without the proper clearances.”

      Sometimes people use images that have a clear watermark, indicating the images are a) very low in resolution (the lower the resolution the lower the quality); and, b) have not been paid for, and thus don’t have the proper licensing for use in print or online.

      If you are sourcing images online, please use images sourced through stock image libraries such as or and ensure you license/pay for their use.

      We can get all technical when it comes to ensuring you’ve use good quality images, and bamboozle you with pixel dimensions, dots-per-inch (dpi) and whatever, but seriously, who has got time for that? Just ensure your image file size are above 1MB and use JPG files or TIF files. Photos from your camera tend to be in JPG format, and if you have them set to high quality (or highest) then you should be fine. If you want to take great photos yourself, please check-out DOWNLOAD John Lechner’s free photography guide.

      If you’ve been caught using unlicensed images, please seek advice from your lawyer or talk to our friends at Tranter Lawyers.

      3. No bleed

      “Bleed” - sounds bloody awful. Simply put, the word describes artwork that extends beyond document boundaries. It is only applicable to print-related artwork. Bleed is necessary because when the printed document is trimmed (guillotined) to the correct size you don’t end up getting white edges where there should be an image.

      Where possible, give all your artwork a 3mm bleed all the way around – the image below explains it in a visual way.

      common design mistakes in print, and how to avoid them

      4. Black colour set to overprint

      So you have a nice image, and place a 100% black box on it that partially overlaps the photo.  Great design technique…. until it comes to print. Below is an example of what is likely to happen, and please check for the subtle spelling error too ;-):

      common design mistakes in print, and how to avoid them

      One the left side, you can clearly see the image filter through the black box – an unintended and disruptive side effect of when black is set to overprint. One reason for this occurring is that design programs usually have 100% black set to automatically overprint. You can prevent this ‘overprint’ by making the black box (or black text that sits over an image) a “rich black”. A rich black simply means that you change the colour black by adding a little cyan or magenta to the 100% black – generally 40% cyan or magenta does the trick.

      5. Text on black background too small

      A common design mistake is to have very small text on a black background (also called “reversed block”) – certainly looks good and it’s a great design tool to break the layout up.

      The issue with small text on a black background then your text will possibly bleed in on the thinner bits of text (the technical print term is called “dot-gain” – it might look good on-screen, but when printed the black will soak into the paper, and thus bleed a little. In other words, if it were a dot then in print the dot would be a little bigger, hence the term dot-gain). The text might also come out a little fuzzy, particularly if the black is made up out of the cyan, magenta, yellow and black instead of only black.

      How to avoid this? The general rule is that you don’t go below 8 points in font size. But really, best way is to check on a print-out (at actual size) and look yourself. You might find that you can actually drop the text a font-size or two smaller, particularly when you are using a non-serif font like Arial or Helvetica. Another trick is to increase the letter-spacing. (I’ll go into fonts in a later blog – fonts are fascinating and provide design with character!)

      6. Photo mirrored or stretched

      I admit, I freak-out a little when I see that designers have mirrored or stretched an image they’ve used in artwork, and missed that there is a logo, or a sign with words, or a number plate in the photo. Yikes!

      My feeling is that the designed/printed piece reflects the company and what it stands for, and a mirrored or stretched photo generally doesn’t match a company’s images or values. True, most people probably don’t notice, or probably don’t even care, but it’s a pet hate of mine.

      How to prevent this? Rule number one: don’t ever mirror, or stretch photos. Rule number two: repeat rule number one.

      7. Using RGB images instead of CMYK.

      These days PDF standards tend to convert RGB to CMYK automatically, but regardless, the impact on the appearance on your image colour-wise can still be dramatic.

      First-up, ensure that your images look OK on screen – if they are too dark, too red, too stark etc. you’ll definitely need to adjust them. For basic editing of photos you can use (free) programs like Adobe Photoshop Express, Paint.NET, Photo Pos Pro, Pixlr Editor, Photoscape, Google NIK Collection, Picasa, GIMP, IrfanView.  Or contact a professional.

      My general rule is that for artwork that gets printed on a digital press is that you go the “what-you-see-is-what-you-get” (WYSIWYG) route. Print it out on your printer, and better still get your printer to provide a proof printed on the actual digital press.  For artwork that is going to be printed on an offset press, you’ll need convert images to CMYK. Use a photo editing software that has the capability to convert RGB images into CMYK. If you’re concerned about how a photo looks, either on your screen, on your print-out (or both), please check with a professional designer and/or printer.

      RGB? CMYK? …..HUH??

      Yep, that’s industry lingo for you. RGB is a colour palette – it stands for Red, Green, and Blue. These colours are mixed with (white) light to produce the colours you see in on your computer screen.

      CMYK is a colour palette too and is used on a printing press (ink-based), and in digital printers (toner-based). These inks are mixed and then applied to the substrate (paper most commonly).

      So, there you have it! Get your checks and balances in place and be assured that you don’t get nasty surprises when your printed brochures or other items are delivered to your door. As always, contact me with any specific questions or comments, I’d love to hear from you – call me on (02) 4990 3230 or send an email at

      Happy designing!


      Marc Brabander
      BINK Creative

      WHS (Workplace Health and Safety) isn't a dirty word 0 Comments

      WHS (Workplace Health and Safety) isn't a dirty word

      By Monica Toews Brown

      Celebrating Safety

      For far too long, safety has been associated negatively and with people getting into trouble. Someone watching over your shoulder to make sure you are following the rules. Just waiting for any chance to catch you out.

      This has often been referred to as the policeman mentality. It has also assisted in giving safety professionals, like myself, a bad reputation. Apparently we can’t wait for someone to get hurt so we can say “I told you so. That is why we need all this paper work. It must have been your fault.” Certainly, there are the strong whip, policing type that reinforce the stereotype that safety professionals are there to catch you out.

      However, most safety professionals (most of them that I know, that is) are here to help and assist the workers and the Management teams establish a positive and proactive safety culture. There is nothing worse than finding out that one of the workers has been injured. Even if it is a slight injury. And even worse, when the worker is immediately blamed.

      Every now and then, we need to snap out of the old thinking and Celebrate Safety. Not by simply bunging on a BBQ because the LTIFR (Lost Time Frequency Rate) has lowered past the annual target, but really Celebrating Safety (side note for a discussion at a later time: celebrating LTIFR can be very damaging and reduce incident reporting, among other negative results).

      How often does your workplace take the time to recognise a worker that had a great idea and reduced risk to themselves or others?

      When was the last time a member of the team was rewarded for going over and above when it comes to safety?

      Positive reinforcement shapes the habits of the future.

      What I mean, is that if we are rewarded for doing what is expected (at unexpected intervals), there is more chance of that positive behaviour being replicated.

      How many of you slow down when you see a police car or a speed camera? It is a habit that has been ingrained within us all as we are aware of the negative outcome that may occur if we are caught speeding.

      Not everyone has been caught speeding before, but we know about the negative consequences. That’s because people share experiences. When was the last time someone told you that they were booked? I’m sure you know someone that has been booked in the past year or two. 

      Let’s bring this back to the workplace. How many people do you know that has been pulled up for allegedly working in an unsafe manner at work? Again, you can probably think of a few examples.

      Now, how many people can you think of that have been positively recognised or rewarded for doing the right thing when it comes to safety? Hopefully there are a few of you out there that can.

      Celebrating Safety in the workplace, if done correctly, can assist in positive experiences and stories being shared. These stories have the potential to inspire others to follow in the footsteps of others, striving for a safer workplace.

      Recently, Red Insight had the pleasure of Celebrating Safety with our Principal Risk Consultant, James Brown. James won the WHS Champion of the Year category at the 2017 Hunter Safety Awards.

      Several other organisations and individuals also Celebrated Safety at the Awards night on the 17th of March, 2017, whether they were Finalists or took home the trophy. They all were recognised for excelling in the field of Workplace Health and Safety.

      Each one of these people will be able to share their successes and stories with others in their workplace, and beyond.

      Not all recognition has to be as grand or glamorous.  Simple acknowledgement is a great start, such as pointing out how well they protected a hazard with barricading or completed their Take 5 with detail.

      Let’s turn the negative stigma on Workplace Health and Safety around in a positive direction so we can all work in a safe work environment and Celebrate Safety.



      Monica Toews Brown
      Red Insight

      Want to Invest in Super after you have Paid Off the Mortgage? It wont work! 0 Comments

      Want to Invest in Super after you have Paid Off the Mortgage? It wont work!

      By Dan Walsh

      Ever heard someone say they will invest in Super after they pay off the mortgage?

      I have NEVER seen it work.

      Watch this video and I explain why.

      Find the right balance between debt repayment, lifestyle and wealth creation. This gives your investments time to grow and minimises the pain later in life.


      Dan Walsh
      Tailored Wealth

      Why do I need website for my business 0 Comments

      Why do I need website for my business

      By Mitchell Beattie

      The importance of having a professional website for your business

      Whether or not you want to sell products online, having a website is essential for your business. People around the world spend hours each day on the internet through various different devices.

      We have become accustomed to accessing information wherever and whenever we want it, so it is becoming increasingly common for people to check out a brand online before they decide on a purchase.

      If a potential customer does this but can’t find any sign of you on the web, then they are more likely to be put off and go to one of your competitors that does have a website.

      Hopefully, you already know how having a website can benefit your business, but just in case you still aren’t convinced, here are a few key reasons:

      Having a website allows customers and potential customers to find out more information about your brand and products, helping to inform their decision of whether to buy from you or not. People are more likely to buy from a company when they know something about them first.

      Your website adds credibility to your business because it shows that you are serious about what you do. It could also make you look like a bigger and more successful company than in reality because some smaller businesses still don’t have business websites.

      Your website stays open even when you don’t. This means that even out of your regular business hours, your prospects can find out more about you, discover your location, how to get in touch with you, and even buy from you if you run an e-commerce website. So, your website brings in leads and sales even when you are not working.

      Having a website allows you to reach a wider clientele because people all around the world will be able to access your site. This means you aren’t limited to the small locality where your physical shop is located, if you have one, giving you access to a lot more potential customers.

      So, whether or not you need a website for your business shouldn’t really be the question, because the answer is most certainly, yes.

      However, one question still remains – “Should I hire a professional website designer or create a website myself?” Platforms such as Wordpress allow you to design a website for little to no cost.

      If you have knowledge of web development and web design, then this could be a great option and a way of saving you some money, but you need to think about the quality of your website. Will a DIY website do your business justice?

      When creating a website, it’s important that its design, functionality and content are all up to a high standard. Here are some of the key things a professional website can do for your business:


      If your website looks professional, then this will reflect positively on your business, giving people the impression that your business is professional and, therefore, trustworthy. If your website is poorly designed, contains spelling mistakes or just doesn’t look the part, then people will assume that your business is similarly amateurish.


      A professionally designed website created with your branding at the forefront will really help people to remember who you are. When they see your logo or branded colours elsewhere, they should instantly recognise it and connect the two together, helping to keep your brand firmly in their mind.


      The development, design and content of your website all contribute towards the way it is optimised for search engines. Google’s algorithms for identifying websites in their searches contain hundreds of rules that are constantly evolving, so optimising your website is a very complex task. A professional website should be created with this in mind, making it more likely that people can find your website when they search.


      If your website is replete with broken links, poorly formatted text, low-resolution images, and a confusing way of navigating around the website, then this is going to put people off when they land on your website.

      A professionally designed website will be inviting to the user and will encourage them to stay on the site, take a look around, read more of your content or browse and purchase your products.

      Since your website is so important to your business, it is imperative that it looks professional and that it works properly.

      If you are in any doubt about your ability to create a high-quality website design, then hiring a professional is probably your best answer. Having a website designed doesn’t have to break the bank these days, either, and there are plenty of reasonably-priced website packages for small businesses.

      You don’t need an extravagant website with dozens of pages to do the job; an effectively designed one-page or three-page website will serve you much better than a poorly designed website with 100 pages.


      Mitchell Beattie
      Mad Cat Marketing

      What's the best way to increase productivity? 0 Comments

      What's the best way to increase productivity?

      By John Lechner

      Can you hack your way to better productivity for your team?

      There are lots of hacks to improving productivity. But there is a sure fire way to increase productivity in the long term and lower costs at the same time.

      Focus on real ways you can improve the happiness of your team.

      Sounds like BS I know but there is solid data and research to back it up.

      Firstly lets start with the downsides.

      • Unhappy employees [1] are 10% less productive, some argue this number is too low.
      • Only 13% of staff are fully engaged in their work. [2]
      • More sick days, unhappy employees take 10x more sick days than happy employees. [3]

      The Bonuses of Happiness

      • More productive when happy, up to 37% more productive. [4]
      • Imagine if you took your team from 13% productivity to double that at 26% or double again at 52%. You can multiply your results.
      • Less sick days.
      • More creative team.
      • Better sales results.
      • Happy salespeople produce 37% greater sales

      Happiness is a result of culture, you need to demonstrate you care, It isn’t a quick fix. There are simple and easy things to start you on your journey.

      Think about providing free healthy snacks like fruit. Tea and coffee are important too and not just the cheap stuff. Supplying free quality espresso coffee saves you money. Have you thought about how much time your team spends ducking away to the cafe down the road for a coffee.

      Think about the office environment. People want to work in a places that looks and feels great. Bring live plants into the office, put art on the walls.

      Think about your team rewards, do you say thank you every day for a great effort, an extra step taken by a team member. People want to know you care.

      For creative and customised office art solutions, we are the specialists in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Central Coast and the Newcastle Hunter region.

      Book your free consultation TODAY call 0449 105 295 or email

      Have an awesome day!

      John Lechner
      The Office Art Specialist


      [1] Why Happy Employees Are 12% More Productive | Fast Company | The Future Of Business

      [2] Why Happy Employees Are 12% More Productive | Fast Company | The Future Of Business

      [3] The Five Drivers of Happiness at Work

      [4] The Statistical Case for Company Culture [Infographic] - Business & Personal Growth Tips

      10 simple ideas on videos you can prepare for your business 0 Comments

      10 simple ideas on videos you can prepare for your business

      By Melissa Groom

      10 Types of Videos to Promote Your Business

      Check out the Biz Tips Blog for more great tips to help you grow your business.

      Here are 10 simple ideas on videos you can prepare for your business by Melissa Groom the Visibility Mentor

      10 Types of Videos to Promote Your Business

      1. Share a client success story
      2. Share your frequently asked questions
      3. Share 10 things about you
      4. Interviews with clients, colleagues or team
      5. Promote an upcoming event you are hosting or speaking at
      6. Client Testimonials
      7. Product Demonstrations
      8. Introduce Your Team
      9. Share the Latest Trends in Your Industry
      10. Be the Commentator, Have an Opinion

      Simple and easy tips you can start implementing today.


      Melissa Groom
      The Visibility Mentor

      Are you ready? 0 Comments

      Are you ready safety incident whs

      By Monica Toews Brown

      Ready for that fateful day?

      I remember the screams that echoed through the incomplete building when the incident occurred. As a trainee and visitor to the site, I was perplexed and unsure of how to intervene, thus I stood idle on the sidelines watching the so called incident management unfold.

      Firstly, the workers involved clearly did not know how to communicate an emergency incident in a timely manner. An injured work mate lay in a pool of his own blood when onlookers looked blankly at each other. Wondering, what do we do? Who is the first aider? How can we help our mate?

      It wasn't until the area Supervisor heard the commotion and entered the area. He too appeared to be lost with what to do. After a period of time that felt forever, he used the site radio to call for assistance.

      I desperately wanted to call 000 for help. However, the site rules did not permit visitors to enter the site with a mobile phone. Like I said earlier, all I could do was watch and cringe.

      I wasn't close enough to hear the conversation on the 2-way radio, but it looked like there was a lot said, with little action to follow.

      The sounds of the poor worker screaming in pain attracted my attention again. This is when a guy wearing a green helmet quickly ran into my view. He was one of the sites nominated first aiders.

      As soon as he entered the area, he asked if an ambulance had been called. He shouted the question repeatedly in an attempt it seemed to snap the onlookers out of their dazed state.

      A few people mumbled in response. The first aider then directed the Supervisor to call for an ambulance and to let them know a worker needs critical assistance due to loss of blood. 

      The next 15 minutes were a blur, but I recall the worker being stretchered off the site into an ambulance to receive much needed medical attention. I often think about that injured worker today and wonder if he survived and if so, how his life might be today.

      In my career as a Safety Professional, it is events like these that drive persistence to ensure company systems are not only developed, but monitored and reviewed. 

      This would include conducting emergency drills regularly to test the system and ensure workers are prepared and efficient at emergency response.

      How ready is your workplace to respond to an incident? And how do you ensure your procedures (e.g., banning mobile phones) do not inadvertently cause harm?


      Red Insight

      Meet Melissa Groom The Visibility Mentor 0 Comments

      Meet Melissa Groom The Visibility Mentor

      By John Lechner

      Melissa Groom The Visibility Mentor

      Video marketing is the number one essential tool today for any small business that wants to grow. With new tools like Facebook live, Instagram Live and Youtube Live there are so many more options for you to connect with your fans, supporters, customers and people who share your passion. 

      I wanted to bring someone into our blogging team with years of video marketing experience. Melissa was recommended to me by Steve and Pam Brossman, themselves video marketing gurus. 

      So here is my chat with Melissa.

      Melissa is based in beautiful Kingscliff on the far north coast of NSW Australia. She grew up on the Northern Beaches of Sydney.

      Melissa is passionate about how to be visible online. She is driven by the ripple effect that helping people sharing their message/gifts has on people all around the world to move them from suffering, frustration, to pleasure and happiness for themselves and all around them.

      What do you do and who do you help?

      "I help entrepreneurs to increase their visibility, boost their profile and income thought the power of video. I teach them to share their message/gifts with the world by creating their online signature program, run online workshops and their own web tv show."

      Melissa loves to travel anywhere by the ocean. Her bucket list item not yet ticked off is Machu Picchu. (It's on my list too, pretty close to the top).

      Favourite eating/drinking experience when travelling?

      "In 2016 I travelled to Bali to speak at a conference and we attended a cooking class at the Balinese Cooking School in Ubud. The food was all raw and was delicious."

      If you had $1000 spare and no rules on how to spend it what would you do?

      "Book a Captain Cook Cruise for my whole family on Sydney Harbour for the day. I cherish every moment I spend with them."

      How to connect with Melissa

      Facebook:        /melissagroomthevisibilitymentor

      Getting started with video marketing for your business 0 Comments

      Getting started with video marketing for your business

      By Melissa Groom

      How to get started with video marketing

      What are the basic tools you need to get started with video marketing for your business.

      You need:

          • Your mobile phone
          • A basic tripod 
          • The head off a selfie stick
          • A microphone, a good idea but not essential at first we recommend either the Rode VideoMic Me or the Rode SmartLav+ both are under $100 each.
          • A Youtube account
          • Facebook Page
          • Basic editing software, I use Perfect Video

      Watch the video and I will take you through the basics.

      Good luck with starting your video marketing.


      The Visibility Mentor


      To design it yourself or to not design it yourself? 0 Comments

      To design it yourself or to not design it yourself

      By Marc Brabander

      The big design question, DIY or get a designer?

      Nowadays, the range of options in terms of design tools available is incredible, as are the types of professionals you can turn to if you decided you’d better outsource. Computers and the Internet have certainly opened possibilities for non-designers to design something reasonably attractive without too much effort.

      So, if you decide to have a go yourself with a visual design piece, what programs to use? Or if you decide to look at outsourcing… which professional should you contact?

      In this post, I’ll give some tips and background that might assist you in making a choice whether you go it alone, or hire someone. In my previous post I explained Where to start with designing promotional pieces for your business - that’s critical to have ready whatever you direction you choose.

      You’re taking the design challenge on yourself?

      There is a multitude of reasons why you might choose to design yourself. One of the most common one is cost saving. It could well be that you enjoy fiddling on the computer to make it look nice and ‘designy’, or get one of your creatively inclined staff members to create something that gets your message across in the way that you envisaged it. And certainly, some things can, and make sense to, be designed by yourself. I’ll will give you useful design tips in later blogs, but for now let’s just focus on things you might like to consider doing yourself.

      You can easily put something together for things like simple DL-size flyers, gift vouchers, invitations, office forms, simple menus, product/price lists, labels, program booklets (for school recitals, weddings, funerals, births) – items that don’t necessarily require a high design standard. That said, of course I’d recommend you engage a professional designer if your brand calls for it, or if your type of customers expect a certain standard.

      What design programs can I use?

      Adobe products

      In an ideal world, you’d use the tools that designers use – InDesign (for layout design) and Photoshop (for photos), and Illustrator (for vector graphics and logos). Adobe has available a license available for around $50 per month, or very cheap Student licenses to buy the programs outright, making access to these programs a whole lot cheaper than. Downside of the programs is that it takes a little bit of effort to learn, but with a fantastic help library and YouTube video you can make that work, if you’re so inclined.

      Microsoft Word

      Everyone is familiar with Word. In fact, Word is a great document layout program and will cope quite well with you designing a simple flyer, an order form, particularly if you are familiar with the program.

      There are some drawbacks you need to be aware of when using Word. One of the main ones being the quality of reproduction, particularly with images and colour. Because Word functions in RGB mode the colours when printed could turn out differently than expected (sometimes dramatically).

      Another drawback is with fonts – for instance, when you send a Word file to a printer that doesn’t have the fonts you’ve used, Word will automatically use a different font without informing anyone. But for most simple projects this will be totally acceptable, particularly if it ends up being printed on a digital printer or digital press.

      We’ve had customers that provided their designs in Excel and PowerPoint, not your ideal program to design in. People do tend to stick to what they know – and we make it work.


      You can use Publisher for laying out of design projects like gift vouchers, church booklets, newsletters, menus etc. It is more of a design program than Word is in that sense. For instance, it has features that makes it easy to prepare files for a printer.

      Pages (on Mac)

      A program called Pages is something like a simplistic version of Word and Publisher combined.


      Free online design software is making its presence know as well, and I am quite impressed with the capabilities and results that come from one of those programs, called Canva – a couple of our print customers supplied print PDFs that were made in Canva, and the results were pretty good.

      The program is tailored specifically to make it easy for non-designers to design something reasonably decent – it seems to be a lot simpler to use than the other regulars like Word and Publisher.

      There will be plenty of other software available that you can use to design things with. Whatever program you end up using, the important thing to know is that you need to be able to produce PDF (preferably with high quality print settings and bleed area) as printers will accept and check these PDFs to print from.

      Help, give me a professional!

      There are a lot of different creative professionals out there that can assist you. Below I have listed them in order of dollars you can expect to pay and how professional they’ll handle your design project (ranging from low to high). Most designers quote per job/project, or will provide number of hours they expect to work with a set hourly rate.

      • Freelancers
      • In-house graphic designers (commercial printers and sign companies)
      • Web designer
      • Graphic design professional
      • Design studio
      • Web design studio/agency
      • Brand agency
      • Digital (and traditional) marketing agency
      • Advertising agency

      When contacting any of the above – perhaps with exception of the marketing and advertising agencies (who will expect to develop and execute a strategy for you), it would be beneficial to let them know what your goal is for your design piece, what your Key Message should be, the Audience you’re targeting, Distribution Type and finally your Call to Action, as discussed in my previous blog post).

      So how can these professionals help me?


      Freelancers can help create you a nicely designed piece, but chances are that it’s only just that. What is designed depends on the designer’s skill level, and the brief you give them. It might be low cost generally, but if you get something that doesn’t hit the mark, that doesn’t tie in with your brand, has spelling errors, or just misses proper design structure, you might be paying too much. That said, for certain design pieces where it’s either a one-off or something different, it’s nice to give it to someone else to instead of having to do it yourself.

      A freelancer could be a friend of a friend, a visual communications university student/graduate, design contractor (via online freelance websites like oDesk, Freelancer, Behance, Fiverr). A note of caution - working with design contractors via websites such as oDesk, Freelancer etc. demands that you be incredibly clear on your brief. You might also find that it’s rather hands-on for you and not at all as easy as it is advertised – particularly when things don’t quite go as planned/briefed. Most of the contractors are based overseas in countries like India, Phillipines, Ukraine etc. My attitude on this is that ‘local is best’.

      In-house graphic designers (that work at commercial printers and sign companies)

      Using in-house graphic designers from commercial printers and sign companies is a good step up. Most will have the skills to work the program efficiently. These designers are focused on getting the job done, due to the volume of work. Some printers hire excellent designers, whilst others struggle to lure designers that have experience behind them – it will be clearly visible in the work that they produce. The design also matches the type of work that is printed and the volume of jobs that that flows through e.g. docket books, ordinary business cards, menus, order of services etc.

      Web Designer

      They build websites – these day websites are fluid and use ‘skins’, or ‘themes’ (templates that work with a website database) and add coding for styling purposes. Please, value your brand, and don’t go to your web designer for anything to do with print. Full Stop. Vice versa too – don’t go to a graphic designer and expect them to do a great job on your website. It’s different when it is a studio or agency that have specialist in both areas.

      Graphic design professionals

      Graphic design professionals generally have several years of experience behind them. They work with passion on your pieces, have a personal approach and understand aspects of marketing you will find helpful. There generally is consistency of design between various pieces you get them to design. Sometimes you might find that they’ll get overloaded with work, or go on holidays which could potentially leave you stranded if you’re in a hurry to get things designed. Mostly though you tend to build up a good relationship that will last for a year of two, sometimes more.

      Design studios

      Design studios brings together a team of design professionals, generally with a creative that has a decade or more experience. It’s another level up, and it’s all about working with you, your company and your brand. You should see them as part of your company – just working externally. You will find consistency of design between any of the pieces you get designed. They are all-rounders, and can handle pretty much anything print related.

      Web Design Studio/Agency

      Web Design Studios/Agencies also have a team of specialist in the field of web creation, website content management systems and search engine optimisation. With websites, content is king, but so is usability, navigability and the way it looks…. just have a check that your website is mobile-friendly e.g. works on a PC, tablet and phone. If it isn’t, and you’re planning to upgrade your site, let me know and I will send you in the right direction.

      Brand agencies

      Brand agencies is where you’d go to get your brand developed. They are specialists and they’ll research, create and manage branding strategies. Brand agencies generally also support you in terms of advertising and other forms of promotional design.

      (Digital) marketing agency

      You’d go to a (digital) marketing agency to be helped with developing a marketing strategy for your business. It involves online/social media, PR, advertising and prospecting activities, all of which involve some elements of graphic design – which predominantly is either done by their in-house designer, or external contractor.

      Advertising agencies

      Finally, the advertising agency – specialists in creative communications across all facets of marketing. Advertising agencies provide everything from complete strategy, research and testing, with full marketing support, strategic brand management and backed up by production expertise in creative direction, brand development, copywriting, graphic design, photography and video/audio production. If you’ve got a decent marketing budget, and a big brand (or wish to create a bigger brand) you know where to go.

      Your choice comes down to this…

      To DIY-Design or Not to DIY-Design comes down to making simple choices. What can you afford – and don’t just look at it from a dollar perspective but also in relation to what your brand demands and the timing and scope of your design project. A great question to ask yourself is what can you NOT afford (eg. bad design, miss-targeted flyers, spelling errors, etc).

      I hope you find this overview useful. As always, if you have any specific questions or comments, I’d love to hear from you – call me on (02) 4990 3230 or send an email


      Marc Brabander

      BINK Creative




      How and when do I develop a Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS)…? 0 Comments

      How and when do I develop a Safe Work Method Statement SWMS

      By Monica Toews Brown

      Safe Work Method Statement basics

      When I walk up to a worksite, one of the first things I inspect is the high risk activities and whether or not the Safe Work Method Statement meets the requirements of the WHS Regulations. 

      Nine (9) times out of 10 they do not. Just last week, there was a forklift being operated (high risk construction work - work involving movement of mobile powered plant) with no risk assessment available.

      At another workplace they had JSAs but they had not been reviewed in over ten years and did not comply with the current legislative requirements for SWMS (e.g., includes how the SWMS will be implemented, monitored, and reviewed etc. - refer to Clause 299 of the WHS Regulations). 

      And often, when there are SWMS they are written complexly (often by the site engineer or safety person) and not in words easily understood by the crew who need to work to them. 

      SWMS are extremely important and should be used as a planning tool, developed in consultation with the crew who needs to work to them.  SWMS implementation audits have often been very useful in identifying whether or not SWMS are being implemented appropriately, and if the SWMS adequately covers the hazards and controls in the high risk activity. 

      When I worked with the site supervisor and demonstrated how to complete a SWMS implementation audit, they found the SWMS much more effective and easier to implement, monitor, and review.

      A business that carries out work that is defined as High Risk Construction Work is required to develop Safe Work Method Statements (SWMS) in order to control the risks associated with the work.

      High Risk Construction Work as defined in the WHS Regulations includes the following:

      Work that involves a risk of a person falling more than 2 metres.
      Work that is carried out on a telecommunication tower
      Work that involves demolition of an element of a structure that is load-bearing or otherwise related to the physical integrity of the structure
      Work that involves, or is likely to involve, the disturbance of asbestos
      Work that involves structural alterations or repairs that require temporary support to prevent collapse
      Work that is carried out in or near a confined space
      Work that is carried out in an area that may have a contaminated or flammable atmosphere
      Work that is carried out in or near a shaft or trench with an excavated depth greater than 1.5 metres or is carried out in or near a tunnel
      Work that involves the use of explosives
      Work that is carried out on or near:
      a) pressurised gas distribution mains or piping
      b) chemical, fuel or refrigerant lines
      c) energised electrical installations or services
      Work that involves tilt-up or precast concrete
      Work that is carried out on, in or adjacent to a road, railway, shipping lane or other traffic corridor that is in use by traffic other than pedestrians.
      Work that is carried out in an area at a workplace in which there is any movement of powered mobile plant
      Work that is carried out in an area in which there are artificial extremes of temperature.
      Work that is carried out in or near water or other liquid that involves a risk of drowning
      Work that involves diving work

      In order to develop a SWMS that will add value to your business, the SWMS must be developed in consultation with the workers who will be directly engaged in the works.

      This will ensure that the personnel undertaking the work, have input into how the tasks will be completed, what tools and equipment are required and what hazards may be present during the works.

      They will also have direct buy in on the control measures that will be implemented to reduce the risk to personnel (aka ownership and subsequent successful implementation of controls). Utilising the skills, experience and lessons learnt from your workforce will ensure that a lot of the hazards and required control measures associated with the task will be identified before the work commences.

      A SWMS must include the following information:

      • Identify the high risk construction work associated with the activity
      • Detail the hazards associated with each job step
      • Detail the control measures that will need to be implemented to control the hazards
      • Detail how the SWMS will be monitored and reviewed.

      The Code of Practice for Construction Work includes a SWMS template that can be modified to suit your business.

      Once the SWMS has been documented on a SWMS form, each worker undertaking the work must read, understand and agree with the job steps, identified hazards and control measures.

      If additional hazards or control measures are identified during the works, these must be added to the SWMS. These can be added to the document in the field and discussed with all workers undertaking the work.

      The simplest way to demonstrate that the changes have been communicated is to get each worker to re-sign the SWMS with the date the changes were made.

      It is very important that the SWMS is located at the workface to ensure personnel can review the SWMS to ensure the works are being undertaken as planned. This will assist in managing risks associated with the work.

      For more information on SWMS’s, or for assistance in hazard identification, contact Red Insight at



      Cutting corners with safety can be disastrous 0 Comments

      Cutting corners with safety can be disastrous

      By Monica Toews Brown

      Rewards for production may actually be rewarding workers for cutting corners

      A few years ago, I worked as a Safety Advisor on a project constructing a 330kv transmission line over 200km.  When I first arrived on the project it was in full swing, yet in a very bad way – they were tracking several months behind completion date, and financially in a muck as well. Needless to say, their safety records were also frightening.

      I spent nearly half a year on the project, and in that time, we had 5 different project managers – one of which had a heart attack.  He was only in his early 40s! The job was stressful. Extremely stressful.

      One day, a few senior Safety Managers from the company arrived to inspect the site. While on the site visit, we were all standing together discussing the work with the Construction Manager.

      At the time, there was a winch and brake system set up – roughly about 200m away from where we were standing. As we were standing there, we saw the rope used to pull the draw wire fling up through the air. Not knowing what happened we raced to the location where it occurred.

      For some unknown reason, the rope was tied to the farmer’s fence. An inspection of the line was not conducted before proceeding. There were several other serious incidents previously as well and, for the Construction Manager, that was the last straw for that crew.  There was to be no more stringing activities until the crew from Queensland arrived.

      The Queensland crew arrived. Production was improving. Things seemed to improve overall but it was still extremely busy and the pressure was intense. There were some difficult towers to be constructed, and the solution was helicopter assisted stringing.  It was impressive but required a lot of planning and risk assessments.  More resources were sent to the project, including an additional safety resource. 

      During site inspections, most of the supervisors were very engaging and encouraged us to attend their site to help them.  The supervisor from Queensland – the Stringing Supervisor, however, would often disappear whenever we approached.

      We had so much work to do and so many different sites to cover, I subconsciously learned to drift to the other crews where I felt I could be more effective and efficient. During the last few months of the project, I was then moved to another project as most of the foundations and towers were completed.

      Since then, the Safety Manager had organised specialised training specifically for earthing of towers.  Then, for 14 weeks, the Stringing Supervisor ran a toolbox on correct earthing techniques.

      While the project itself was behind, the stringing crew were very successful and completed faster than expected. The Stringing Supervisor was patted on the back, given a promotion to Construction Manager, and sent to Queensland for the next project.

      One week later, the Stringing Supervisor – now Construction Manager, was killed while placing spacers on a new line being constructed, and another worker seriously injured spending 3 days in hospital.

      I remember the day vividly. I had just tried on and selected my wedding dress when I received the devastating call. He was young and had been married just 6 months prior.

      During the investigation, it was found that proper earthing was not implemented as had been trained and tool-boxed by the supervisor in the 14 weeks prior.  Proper earthing would have included earthing each tower on both sides of where the work was being conducted, as well as earthing of the EWP. 

      Neither tower was earthed. Once in the EWP, they found they had only one pair of hot gloves – rather than retrieving another pair from the ute where there were another 8 pairs, they split the pair they had and continued their work.  They also did not have a hot stick. And the risk assessment they were supposed to complete that morning was not completed.

      So how was the previous stringing job so successful that it landed the supervisor a promotion? Were the corners cut then too? Why was he not interested in the safety team inspecting and supporting his site?

      In hindsight, the red flags were there.  If there ever was an example of “I have done it this way for years, why do I need to change now” or the classic Swiss Cheese model where everything lines up, this is it.

      My passion for safety and being highly diligent in my safety conversations, inspections, and reports is often driven by this experience. I often wonder would things be different if I had focused on the stringing crew, rather than leaving when I did not receive a warm welcome. I now question myself when I start on an easier path and if it seems hard then I know that’s exactly where I need to be. 


      Red Insight

      Meet Monica Toews Brown, safety leader at Red Insight 0 Comments

      Meet Monica Toews Brown, head safety nerd at Red Insight

      By John Lechner

      Monica Toews Brown, Risk Consultant

      Safety & risk is one of those things we all face in business. Often we try to ignore it's impact on our business, that is until it all goes wrong and then we wish we had done things differently.

      Monica is a risk consultant based here in my home town of Maitland with a great variety of experience. Monica grew up in Campbell River, British Columbia, Canada - a town of approximately 30,000 people also known as the 'Salmon Capital of the World'

      Monica's passion is people - with an educational background in psychology she has a passion for understanding people and why they behave the way they do.

      Her professional expertise is in risk management with a focus on workplace health and safety. Psychology and safety are deeply intertwined - and she uses her knowledge and experience to try to influence people to think about their own behaviour to improve their safety performance and subsequently mitigate harm.

      Monica is driven by excellence and seeing how her performance drives other people and workplaces to improve.

      She is inspired when she meets with a new client and can quickly demonstrate how she can provide tips on how they can improve their safety leadership and safety culture. Plus she assists them develop and implement systems that help them comply with, or exceed, legislative expectations.

      She is also driven by her 3 daughters - to demonstrate women can succeed in a male dominated industry, that we are all equal and can choose to work in our chosen area of passion.

      I asked Monica what do you do and who do you help?

      "Our business Red Insight - is a company owned and operated by myself and my husband which specialises in Workplace Health and Safety (WHS). We aim for insightful safety - to establish WHS strategies that not only comply with legislation, but suit the specific needs of the business. Our approach inspires and leads workplaces to achieve safety excellence.

      We help workplaces in protecting their people and providing a safe workplace."

      Where is your favourite place to travel to?

      "With a full time commitment to work and young family, life can be a bit challenging so my favourite place to travel to would be any place to relax - with sun, swim-up bar, beach and activities such as snorkelling - like Playa del Carmen, a coastal resort town in Mexico, where we went for our honeymoon."

      What is the one place/thing is at the top of your bucket list that you haven’t got to yet?


      Favourite eating/drinking experience when travelling?

      "My favourite restaurant of all time is a place in Vancouver Canada,  called Cravings - it's a restaurant hidden in a small area of Marpole in Vancouver. Best soup ever - spicy chicken. I haven't been back in years but the owner and service staff were always amazing."

      If you had $1000 spare and no rules on how to spend it what would you do?

      "Weekend get-away with my family - explore and teach the girls to appreciate as much as we can."

      What is the best way to get in touch with you?


      Salary Sacrifice a great way to boost your retirement nest egg 0 Comments

      Salary Sacrifice a great way to boost your retirement nest egg

      By Dan Walsh

      Boosting your retirement nest egg with salary sacrifice

      The Superannuation Guarantee was introduced in 1992 in a bid to improve retirement incomes for Australians and to reduce the reliance upon Government benefits later in life.

      According to the ABS superannuation coverage rates increased over the 10year period of 2003–04 to 2013-14 from 64% of people aged 15 years and over to 71% of people holding Super accounts.  

      The same period shows the average value of superannuation accounts increased by 61% in real terms but still only increased from $68,000 to $110,000.

      The proportion of 55 to 64 year olds with at least $200,000 in superannuation savings was only 27%.

      Sadly, this figure is way too low to maintain a reasonable lifestyle tomorrow.

      Here is a very simple way to boost your retirement nest egg. 


      Dan Walsh
      Tailored Wealth

      Introducing Dan Walsh from Tailored Wealth 0 Comments

      Introducing Dan Walsh from Tailored Wealth

      By John Lechner

      Dan Walsh from Tailored Wealth

      I am going to preface this bio with two points. Firstly, Dan is the only person I trust to give me sound, no BS, financial advice. He is our family financial advisor and has been for quite a while now.

      To have Dan explain a complex financial issue in 5 minutes on a whiteboard is actually empowering, you walk away having grasped what he is explaining.

      Secondly, he is a mate and business colleague. Our friendship has grown from our mutual interest to try doing things differently in our respective industries, to innovate and to enjoy our work. 

      In the end, when it comes to the financial advice Dan gives me and my family I trust him implicitly.

      So let me introduce Dan to you, he a Newcastle boy who moved his family home and business to Maitland in the Hunter Valley Australia.

      Dan is passionate about Financial Planning and in his words "I support individuals to make smart decisions with their money and the accountability that gets them on track to financial independence."

      He is driven by  a focus to provide memorable life experiences for his family and be the best version of himself.

      Dan loves to travel and when asked about his favourite place he responded

      "I have travelled to so many places around the world it’s hard to have one favourite. Each experience is unique for different reasons. If I had to narrow it down I would do it this way:
      To Live: New York City
      Nature:  Doubtful Sound New Zealand.
      Skiing:  Whistler Canada
      Food & Wine:  Pizza & Chianti in Tuscany"

      I asked Dan about his unfulfilled "Bucket list" item?

      "I want to attend a Superbowl Game!"

      Asked about his favourite food and travel experience.

      "I’ve always liked authentic local food when travelling. From fresh Crawfish & Gumbo in New Orleans to whole Peking duck in China. Go where the locals are and order anything you haven’t tried before."    

      If you had $1000 spare and no rules on how to spend it what would you do?

      "$1,000 probably wouldn’t get me to a 49er’s game and home again so I’d probably throw a dinner party with close friends. Stock up on some quality wines and serve up an 8 course degustation."

      To contact Dan

      Facebook:    /tailoredwealth

      Where to start with designing promotional pieces for your business 0 Comments

      Where to start with designing promotional pieces for your business

      By Marc Brabander

      Where do I start designing a promo flyer or other offer?

      In our design studio, BINK Creative, we deal with a large range of businesses – from sole traders to large corporations. During the past 14 years, we’ve seen and worked it all, but there is a common theme that runs through all our design work; it is a basic principle that should be applied to create effective promotional pieces that gets your message across effectively.

      Cool tips for a promo piece too hot to handle

      It is well understood that to build a fire you need three things: fuel, oxygen, and heat (or ignition source). Similar is true for the key elements required for a successful promotional piece. Keeping to the fire theme… the three critical ‘elements’ you need to set your promo material ablaze are:

      FUEL – Key Message, and Audience
      OXYGEN – Distribution Type
      HEAT – Call to Action

      Some of you might not be familiar with some of the lingo, so let me explain these three ‘elements’ a little further.

      FUEL – Key Message and Audience

      Ask yourself two simple questions:

      1) What is the main purpose of sending this promo piece – what’s the key message you wish to get across?

      Take your time, and sit with that question. What is the ONE thing you wish to get across?

      The whole purpose might be a special offer (like 20% off), or ‘get a free info pack’, or that you’ve won an award, or more generally informing people about your products/services.

      The important thing is that there’s one thing that becomes the key message. It’s easy for the offer. A little harder when you only want to talk about your product/services… in that case, you must find a key point of difference that makes your products/services unique and run with that as your key message.

      And make it snazzy, because without enough fuel in your promo piece, it will just fizz out like a wet fire cracker.

One of the main problems designers come across is that people want to say it ALL, and therefore confusing the message.

      Consider this… it’s all great fun having a bright and big party and everyone’s having a good time. But the best conversations are had when there’s just the two of you.

      Similarly, with promo pieces – keep it simple, keep it to one key message. You’ll get the cut-through you’re after.

      2) Who are you talking to - to your current customers, or potential customers?

You talk in a different tone when you talk to you best friends (your customers) or people who you’ve just met (potential customers). Knowing the ‘who’ will set the tone for both the wording and graphics.

      OXYGEN – Distribution Type

      Working out where you are going to distribute the promo piece should be reasonably straightforward.

      You might wish to do a Facebook promotion, or email to your customer database; or you might consider a mailbox drop, direct mail, or putting flyers at certain places such as the information centres and the like, or hand them out at networking events. Or it could be and advertisement in the newspaper or school newsletter.

      Whatever distribution you end up choosing for your promo piece, knowing the where will provide you (or your designer) a critical bit of information that will help with the design of a promo piece that sets your message alight.


      The good old ‘Call to Action’. It’s all well and good having a great key message (be it an enticing offer or otherwise), but without telling the audience you are reaching out to where/how to contact you is… well, without action.

      A great call to action not only leads the customer, it also lets them know what the result will be when they follow the call to action.

      For example:

      As a minimum you need your contact details (a simple Phone + Number).
      You’ll be doing a little better with a “Call now + Number”
      You’d be doing better still with “Call us today and we’ll help you save money on your xyz.” 

      It seems simple, but there’s are some real techniques to writing a good call to action. I’ll elaborate more on the Call to Action another time.

      And that concludes – in very broad terms – the first step to creating and designing a promotional piece for your business. Hopefully you’ll find it a reference point for when you next start developing your promotional piece. As with anything, there is no real right or wrong way of doing things, just better ways.

      If you have any specific questions or comments, I’d love to hear from you – call me on (02) 4990 3230.

      Marc Brabander
      BINK Creative 

      Meet Marc Brabander from Bink Creative 0 Comments

      Meet Marc Brabander from Bink CreativeBy John Lechner

      Marc, Graphic Designer from Bink Creative

      I've know Marc for quite a while now, we first met with his first business Bink Creative, more recently Marc has taken on the annual printing of my Wanderlust Calendars as well as printing my promotional material via Cessnock Print Place another of Marc and his wife Leanne's businesses.

      Marc is a wonderful addition to the Biz Tips blog as his design experience is so diverse over many years. I hope you enjoy the tips and expertise he shares.

      Marc is based in Cessnock in the Hunter Valley Australia but he grew up in the Dutch seaside town of  Zandvoort. 

      Marc is passionate about is being creative in all its forms… designing, painting, drawing, writing, thinking. "If I had to limit my expertise to a couple of words, it would be “intuitive and effective design”."

      I asked Marc what drives him? 

      "A couple of things drive me – on one level I have a desire to deliver quality work, to improve efficiencies and find better ways to get results. But more importantly I strongly driven by ‘connection’ – connection with the customer, their business, with the design piece and the audience the design piece speaks to, and for it to connect with me personally as well."

      What does he do and who does he help?

      "BINK Creative is committed to providing its customers with creative and cost-effective solutions to their graphic design, digital printing and offset printing needs. We are focused on delivering professional design and print services that deliver you more!"

      Favourite place to travel to?

      "Apart from the obvious (Holland), I really enjoyed travelling around Vanuatu, Thailand and Lombok (Indonesia).

      But I must admit that when I travelled Australia as a 21-year-old, the country and its people put a spell on me, haha!"

      What is the one place/thing that is at the top of your bucket list that you haven’t got to yet?

      "I am drawn to idea of walking the Camino track. [JL Note: me too, I would love to walk the Camino. I'd love to cross the Simpson desert on foot too]  But we’ve been talking for a few years about taking the kids cycling along the Danube river, starting in Germany (downhill!). That would be a dream come true." [JL Note: sounds amazing]

      I asked Marc a follow up question about when he last returned to Holland with his family?

      "We travelled back to Holland on Christmas day 2014. It was one of those last-minute things, following on from an off-the-cuff remark I made (“I think I like to visit my mum and dad for Christmas”) that ended up with all four of us going. 

      It was one of those holidays that deepened the family relationship, plus the whole travel experience for the kids. It’s moments like that shine bright in one’s life."

      Favourite eating/drinking experience when travelling?

      "Two weeks ago I visited my sister in Melbourne. We ended up a little way out at a wonderful new Thai restaurant called Holy Basil in Croydon, that totally blew me away.

      I don’t normally write a review, but on this occasion, I did. “The food delivered is quite simply sizzling soul on a plate. It's exciting to look at, surprising in its depth and balance and takes Thai food to a whole new level. Clever. Captivating.” It’s most definitely worth booking a table there if you happen to be in Melbourne.."

      If you had $1000 spare and no rules on how to spend it what would you do?

      "Well, if you put it that way, I’d spend it on a weekend away with my wife and two kids, near the ocean."

      How do people find you?

      Facebook:    /
      Linkedin:      Marc Brabander

      5 steps to balance optimism and pessimism 0 Comments

      5 steps to balance optimism and pessimism

      By Kelvin Holliday

      Balancing optimism and pessimism

      In one of my favourite leadership books, Jim Collins in Good to Great, talks about a key distinction between good and great leaders. He named it the Stockdale Paradox after Admiral Jim Stockdale.

      Admiral Stockdale was the highest ranking United States military officer in the “Hanoi Hilton” prisoner-of-war camp during the height of the Vietnam War. Tortured over 20 times during his eight-year imprisonment from 1965 to 1973.

      Stockdale lived out the war without any prisoner’s rights, no set release date, and no certainty as to whether he would even survive to see his family again. He shouldered the burden of command; doing everything he could to create conditions that would increase the number of prisoners who would survive unbroken, while fighting an internal war against his captors and their attempts to use the prisoners for propaganda.

      At one point, he beat himself with a stool and cut himself with a razor, deliberately disfiguring himself, so that he could not be put on videotape as an example of a “well-treated prisoner.”

      After his release, Stockdale became the first three-star officer in the history of the navy to wear both aviator wings and the Congressional Medal of Honour.

      Collins tells the story of meeting Stockdale, “In preparation, I read In Love and War, the book Stockdale and his wife had written in alternating chapters, chronicling their experiences during those eight years.

      As I moved through the book, I found myself getting depressed. It just seemed so bleak—the uncertainty of his fate, the brutality of his captors, and so forth. And then, it dawned on me: Here I am sitting in my warm and comfortable office, looking out over the beautiful Stanford campus on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.

      I’m getting depressed reading this, and I know the end of the story! I know that he gets out, reunites with his family, becomes a national hero, and gets to spend the later years of his life studying philosophy on this same beautiful campus. If it feels depressing for me, how on earth did he deal with it when he was actually there and did not know the end of the story?”

      “I never lost faith in the end of the story,” he said, when I asked him. “I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life, which, in retrospect, I would not trade.”

      I didn’t say anything for many minutes, and we continued the slow walk toward the faculty club, Stockdale limping and arc-swinging his stiff leg that had never fully recovered from repeated torture. Finally, after about a hundred meters of silence, I asked, “Who didn’t make it out?” 

      “Oh, that’s easy,” he said. “The optimists.”

      “The optimists? I don’t understand,” I said, now completely confused, given what he’d said a hundred meters earlier.

      “The optimists. Oh, they were the ones who said, ‘We’re going to be out by Christmas.’ And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say, “We’re going to be out by Easter.” And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.”

       Another long pause, and more walking. Then he turned to me and said, “This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

      The Stockdale Paradox =
      You must retain faith that you will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties.
      AND at the same time…
      You must confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.

      For me, the Stockdale Paradox carries an important lesson in leadership development, a lesson in faith and honesty: Never doubt that you can achieve your goals, no matter how lofty they may be and no matter how many critics and naysayers you may have.

      But at the same time, always take honest stock of your current situation. Don’t lie to yourself for fear of short-term embarrassment or discomfort, because such deception will only come back to defeat you in the end.

      Living the first half of this paradox is relatively easy for some. They naturally optimists, looking for the opportunities in situations, and are solution-finders. Optimism is often held up as the epitome of leadership characteristics.

      But optimism on its own can be a dangerous thing:

      There’s no difference between a pessimist who says, “Oh, it’s hopeless, so don’t bother doing anything,” and an optimist who says, “Don’t bother doing anything, it’s going to turn out fine anyway.” Either way, nothing happens. – Yvon Chouinard.

      So you need to embrace the second half of the Stockdale Paradox to really make strides. You must combine that optimism with brutal honesty and a willingness to take action.

      Now of course, nobody likes admitting that they’re struggling to complete a project, or that they’ve chosen the wrong career or that they are overwhelmed. But admitting such truths is an absolute necessity if you want to grow and improve. It might feel like you’re taking a few steps backward by doing so, but you can view that retreat as the pull-back on a sling shot: you’re just setting yourself up to make significant progress down the road.

      Some people are ‘natural’ pessimists.

      The truth is, we can over do either of these ways of seeing and interacting with the world. Our ‘strength’ can become a weakness.

      I meet leaders who are brilliant at diagnosing technical issues in their field of expertise; they can see all of the obstacles between them and their goals. This is a strength; overdone however, they come across as negative and demotivating. They think they are simply being realistic. As Stockdale says, we need to confront the brutal facts, however in ways that don’t make us or others feel defeated and overwhelmed at the beginning 

      I also meet many leaders who are brilliant at reframing really difficult, overwhelming issues into opportunities. Many times this approach rallies the troops to put in an extra effort to succeed. However, use this approach too many times, an optimist can be unprepared and blindsided. This ultimately will reduce our trust in our leaders ability and make them seem naïve. 

      How to keep a balance between optimistic will to overcome and confronting the brutal facts? 

      5 steps to balance optimism and pessimism

      Investigate the realities of the challenges that you face. The first step is to make sure that you have as much information, from as many sources as possible.

      A plan to overcome the challenges needs to be based on facts, but also gathers information from other sources like – experience, hunches and ascertaining patterns. Ensure that there is nothing you are choosing not to see.

      Acknowledge the challenges to yourself and others without setting a tone of doom and gloom. This step is about being authentic and is crucial to gain trust. When we see the facts, especially when they seem particularly difficulty, there are two reactions.

      One temptation is to ignore them and be a bit ‘Polly-Anna’ and the other is to become fatalistic about the possible outcome. The trick seems to be to state the challenges without emotional hyperbole. Stating things calmly, using measured language is important to display an air of confidence and reduce anxiety.

      Reframe the challenge as an opportunity to shine without being flippant. This step provides the link between pessimism and optimism. Being able to reframe realities into a narrative, which provides hope and galvanises effort is critical.  Reframing is essentially about being able to see the positives and the choices within a situation.

      Determine to do whatever it takes to succeed. Let this step propel you into solutions and innovation. Most successes won’t happen through individual effort alone, ensure this step helps develop unity and collaboration amongst you team. The will to succeed often propels people to push themselves to find new answers and tap into their creative genius.

      Celebrate when you succeed. Never lose an opportunity to celebrate. Celebration honours people’s effort but also solidifies the team’s confidence to meet and overcome the next challenge. Confidence comes from seeing, meeting and then overcoming big challenges.

      Which of these steps do you find most challenging?


      Kelvin Holliday
      Transformational Group

      The Importance of Social Media for Growing your Business 0 Comments

      The Importance of Social Media for Growing your Business

      By Mitch Beattie

      Why Social media is critical to business growth

      We're all constantly working to try and grow our businesses, generate more leads, get more customers and more profits. It can be difficult, especially for small businesses with not much of a budget to spend on marketing.

      The key is to find the right marketing channels that work for your business, many of which can be done at affordable prices.

      Social media is something that all businesses should be doing, regardless of the size of your business, the industry you're in, or your budget.

      The popular social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ are all free to sign up to, so it's a great form of marketing you can use without spending any money.

      You are able to invest some money into social media for advertisements and promotions in order to boost your success, but again, this doesn't have to mean spending the big bucks.

      Here are a few reasons why you should be using social media to grow your business:

      Increase links to your website

      Through social media you can post content with a link back to your website, encouraging people to click through and visit your site.

      This can be promotional content advertising specific products or services that you are offering or sales that you are running, or it could simply be interesting information about your business, such as how you formed, what you do, how you can help.

      If you have a blog or news page on your website, then you can share links to these. If you have your website set up on Google Analytics, then you'll be able to track how much traffic is coming through to your website from social media to see how much of an impact it's having.

      The more people you get clicking through to your website, the greater chance you have of generating qualified leads and making sales.

      Gain authority

      Through social media, you can share content that shows the level of knowledge and expertise that you have in your field. Share quick tips or pieces of advice that people may find useful or might not know.

      Share links to the latest news from your industry or your local area to establish yourself as someone who is in the know, and the first account that people think to come to when they want to read the latest news in this area.

      You can also help other users by looking out for questions they might be asking in relation to your field and answering them for you. For example, on Twitter, you can use hashtags to search for instances of people talking about a certain topic, #marketing, for example.

      When you find someone you can help, hit reply and answer their question. This helps you to develop trust amongst other social media users, making them more likely to buy from you.

      Share your content

      If you have a blog or other forms of content created by your company, social media is a great way to get it seen.

      This helps you achieve a combination of the above; sharing links to your blog page increases traffic to your website, and sharing useful, informative and educational content will help to establish yourself and your company as an expert in your field.

      It's not just about you sharing your content, either; once you've shared it on social media, all of your followers and other users on the site will be able to see it. If they find your blog, or whatever it might be, interesting or useful, then they might want to share it themselves so that all of their followers can see it as well.

      This increases the amount of exposure your content receives and helps to create a lot of inbound links to your website, which boosts traffic and is also great for your search engine rankings.

      Raise brand awareness

      Social media is another way of getting your brand out there and making more people aware of who you are and what you do.

      First of all, make sure that each profile you have is tailored to reflect your brand; it should have an avatar and header image containing your logo and brand colours, the name of your company should be clear and any messages that you send out should be in line with your brand values.

      Keep this consistent across all channels, so that you are instantly recognisable no matter where someone comes across your business. Stay active on social media by posting regularly and also engaging with your followers and other users on each platform.

      The more you post, the more likely you are to be seen, but make sure not to bombard your followers with too much content. Try to get as many followers, likes or connections as you can to expose your brand to as wide an audience as possible.

      Reach your target audience

      With more than 2 billion active social media accounts across the world, it's likely that your target audience are out there. Social media is an easy and cost effective way to reach your customers and potential customers.

      Which social media platforms you should focus on will depend on who you are targeting; if you mainly target other businesses, LinkedIn is a must, and we'd also recommend Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

      For businesses targeting consumers, visual platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram can be really effective, and others such as Snapchat, especially if you are targeting a younger audience.

      Twitter and Facebook are also good platforms for reaching consumers. You don't need to use all the platforms you possibly can, but find out which suit your business best and really focus on building up a following on these.


      Mad Cat Marketing

      Marketing Strategies… Who Needs Them! 0 Comments

      Marketing Strategies… Who Needs Them 

      By Mitch Beattie

      Who needs Marketing Strategies

      You might think, “I’m just a small business with an even smaller marketing budget, why do I need a marketing strategy?” As a result of thinking you don’t need a strategy, you carry out marketing activities as and when you have time to do them or whenever you remember that you should be doing them.

      You spend time, effort and sometimes money carrying out your marketing without really knowing what you are hoping to get out of it or if it is working. Whether you’re a one-man band or a global corporation, this sounds like ineffective business planning to me.

      Why do you need a marketing strategy?

      Having a marketing strategy in place, no matter what the size of your budget is or how many people you have on your team, has a number of benefits to the way you run your business and sell your products or services.

      A marketing strategy helps to give you, your team and your business a sense of direction. Without one, it might not be clear what you are trying to achieve, what needs to be done to achieve it, and whether or not it is working.

      By defining goals and the strategies involved in achieving them, it will provide you with a better focus, so everyone knows what they are aiming towards and what they need to do to achieve it.

      A marketing strategy also helps you to gain a better understanding of your business; what it’s selling, how it is different, who it’s selling to, who its competitors are, and more.

      Knowing all of this information will help you and your team to work more effectively, as they understand the needs of their customers and the conditions of the market.

      Essentially, a marketing strategy makes your business run more effectively, making it more successful at bringing in new customers, retaining them, and making sales. Plus, if your competitors have a marketing strategy, but you don’t, then this puts you at a serious disadvantage against them.

      What’s the difference between a marketing strategy and a marketing plan?

      A marketing plan is essentially an extension of your marketing strategy. Where the strategy outlines all of the factors affecting your business, the marketing mix you are going to implement, how you are going to communicate it, etc., the marketing plan explains how to put this strategy into action.

      It involves assigning more detail to the plan of execution identified in your marketing strategy, including specifics such as budget, timescales and who is in charge of what.

      What should your marketing strategy consist of?

      There are several areas you need to consider when creating a marketing strategy. One of the first things you should do is define your goals and business objectives, as these will shape the entire strategy.

      Next, you need to decide how you are going to achieve these goals; what marketing methods you will use, who you are going to aim your campaigns towards, how you are going to communicate with them, etc.

      A good marketing strategy requires a comprehensive understanding of all of the factors which affect your business, both from within it and outside of it.

      Firstly, thinking about the business itself, what is it that is special about your business and the products or services it offers? What is your unique selling point (USP) or unique value proposition (UVP)? Essentially, you need to think about what you do that no one else in the market does, and what value you provide to your customers.

      Understanding this also involves understanding your customers. If you know what your target market wants, what challenges they face, and what motivates them, then you will be able to assess what you provide them that solves their problems or meets their needs.

      From examining your customers’ behaviours, thoughts, etc., you will also be able to decide which marketing methods will be the most effective at reaching them, what platforms you should use to reach them, when you should communicate with them, and what language you should use to do so.

      As well as your business and your customers, you should also gain an understanding of the market you are operating in. Knowing who your competitors are and what they do will also benefit you when identifying your USP as you can compare what you offer to what they offer, and see what the differences are.

      Being aware of your market will also allow you to identify any emerging opportunities that you might be able to take advantage of, such as a new technology or a competitor going out of business. This also goes the other way, as you can also identify emerging threats, such as a new competitor in the market or a decline in your customer base.

      It’s important to regularly review your marketing strategy so that you can assess what aspects of it are working and which aren’t, and you can respond to any changes in the market and identify how to handle these.

      Remaining flexible and updating your strategy according to changing factors, both internal and external to your business, will help you to stay one step ahead of the competition.

      Having a strategy in place for your marketing and a plan for implementing it will help your business to achieve its goals more efficiently, meaning more customers, more sales, and more profit for you.


      Mad Cat Marketing

      Who you need in your support crew to succeed 0 Comments

      Who you need in your support crew to succeed
      Kelvin Holliday

      What makes a great team?

      Charlie “Tremendous” Jones once said that “You are the same today as you’ll be in five years except for two things: the books you read and the people you meet.”

      I’m not sure if that is entirely true, but it certainly impacts the levels of change, success and contentment we experience in life.

      This is because humans need a sense of progress to feel happy. Progress comes in many shapes and sizes. For many people it is new knowledge, which empowers us to change, for others new experiences, others an increased sense of mastery. The books you read and the people you meet will help us to understand and do new things. These changes give us a sense of progress and therefore happiness.

      In the next couple of blog posts I want to explore:

      Helpful books for us to grow and

      Helpful people needed to grow


      I watched a TV program the other day. It was of John Van Wisse, 41 years old doing the “Arch to Arc” challenge, from London’s Marble Arch to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

      This involves a run of 140km from London to Dover before embarking on a 34km swim across the Channel after a break of around seven hours. He then cycled 290km to Paris.  The previous record was 73 hours and 39 minutes, set by Englishman Mark Bayliss in 2012. John completed it in 61 hours 21 minutes. Incredible!!

      When we see someone like John accomplishing incredible feats it is easy to ignore the support crew necessary to achieve such amazing feats. Without the support crew it would have been impossible for John to complete the task, much less in world record time.

      Who is on your support crew?

      Our support crew are those people who we hang around, we intentionally seek out to learn from, those we let influence us.

      I think it is easy to identify the people around us who can hinder us, those that are always negative, blocking new ideas, not curious intellectually, fearful of change.

      But, what sort of support crew is helpful to help us to become the best we can become.

      Here is my list of the type of support crew I think we all need to be successful. Sometimes one person can fulfil multiple roles, but often we need multiple people in each role.


      Ask every successful person and there is someone who they want to emulate. Someone who has gone before. Sometimes they are a record holder who is long dead. Sometimes they are their mentor. These people are your hero, your north star. This person’s presence (actual or in the mind) is a constant reminder that you too, can do amazing things. You want to make them proud, beat their feats. If you have them in your life they have the most influence on how you do things. Of course when read biographies they can act as a source of guidance, inspiration and wisdom. This is the voice of inspiration and wisdom.


      In a support crew there is someone who is helping the athlete to work out the best tactics to move forward. We all need someone in our lives who have the same goals we do, who have our best interests and who understands deeply our challenges – the industry and environment. This person might be a co-worker, board member, or someone who helps you think things through out loud. This is the voice of analysis.


      Success takes lots of resources. We need someone who is a connector between us and the resources we need – people, finance, and information. This person can help you find new avenues and new allies. This person breaks through roadblocks and finds ways to make magic happen. You need this person to reach people and places you can’t. They are resourceful and intelligent. This is the voice of opportunity and cooperation.

      Cheer Squad

      This person or people are huge fans, strong supporters, and a rabid evangelist for you and your work. Work to make this person rewarded, to keep them engaged. This is the voice of motivation. There are two sorts of cheer squads, those who are with you in pursuit of the goal (you work with them) and those you cheer you on in the background (your home and personal life). We need both. If I was to say which is more important I’d say the personal cheer squad is more important. They give us a self-belief that provides a solid base. This is the voice of encouragement and belief.

      Task Master

      Someone who pushes you, who makes you think. Who motivates you to get up and go, and try, and make things happen. You want to keep giving this person permission to bring the best out of you. This is the loud and belligerent voice that demands you gets things done. This person is the steward of momentum, making sure deadlines are met and goals are reached. This person believes in your capacity and pushes you out of your comfort zone. This is the voice of progress and inspiration.

      Truth Teller

      There are times when we get ahead of ourselves, we get full of ourselves, or we simply go off course a bit. This is the devil’s advocate, who asks the hard questions and sees problems before they arise. You need this person’s perspective. Sometimes they sound negative but they are looking out for you, and want you to be as safe as you are successful. They don’t accept platitudes or fuzzy thinking. They are sometimes blunt, but never mean. This is the voice of reason and debate.

      As you read this list no doubt there are people who are coming to your mind. Write a name beside each type of support crew description. Are you missing any ‘types’ of people?

      If you are, then set about finding someone to fill that support role. Sometimes all it takes is to have a conversation with someone to give them permission or set up a regular time to explore some aspect of your life and work.

      To grow takes intentional action. The people who you regularly interact with do set the altitude at which you will fly.


      Kelvin Holliday
      Transformational Group

      Meet Mitch Beattie from Mad Cat Marketing 0 Comments

      Meet Mitch Beattie from Mad Cat Marketing

      By John Lechner

      One of the great things about what I do is that I get to meet lots of different people from near and far. One of my longest standing business relationships is via BNI (Business Networking International). BNI has helped me grow my business as well as build a network here locally in the Hunter Valley and around the world. In fact, it was through BNI that I was able to hold an exhibition in New York City's art district Chelsea.

      I met Mitch locally as a fellow BNI member from another chapter and we quickly learned that we had a shared passion for Marketing. That's why I asked Mitch to join our Biz Tips blog as a contributor.

      We caught up to chat about Mitch and his business.

      Mitch is a local having spent his life growing up in Lower Belford (part of the Hunter Valley). He now bases his business there but works much more widely.

      I asked Mitch what drives him? "To help others achieve their business dreams. To make a positive change to the world" 

      Mitch has a real passion for helping people to grow the business and reach their goals through quality and affordable marketing. Whether you need help with creating a marketing strategy, building your brand awareness or creating amazing content for social media, Mitch is your man.

      I asked Mitch about his travels to date, "Alas, I have not yet had the pleasure of travelling to as many places as I would have liked but Barcelona, Spain is a favourite."

      What about his bucket list? "Scuba diving in the Maldives".

      I asked Mitch about his favourite food and travel story. He's a man after my own heart, passionate about gelato. "To say I have a sweet tooth is probably an understatement… In particular, I have a love for ice cream/gelato. One of my favourite eating experiences is exploring the incredible food markets in Barcelona with a cup full of gelato in hand."

      This is my favourite question to ask people. If you had $1000 spare and no rules on how to spend it what would you do? "More than likely it would get invested into my businesses… sad I know."

      So how do we find out more about Mitch?


      Facebook:   /MadCatMarketing

      Linkedin:     @mitchbeattie

      Twitter:        @mitchbeattie

      Tips to save business thousands in video production 0 Comments

      Tips to save business thousands in video production

      By John Lechner

      These tips will save you thousands $$ in your business.

      It's a simple reality today that if you are running a small business you need to be on social media. It doesn't matter if you don't like social media, have a problem with Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. If you are not on social you are missing out on business to your competitors.

      But as the platforms get more sophisticated it gets even harder to get any traction, particularly on Facebook which is by far the biggest and the most important platform for you to be on.

      Videos are essential for small business

      The BEST way to get any traction on Facebook is by regularly posting videos. In reality if you can post videos daily it will make a huge difference to the exposure you get on Facebook.

      But how do you record videos, quickly, cheaply and in high enough quality that people will not only want to watch them but also share them within their own networks.

      Obviously having a great subject and knowing your material helps a huge amount. But you also need some tools to ensure you get quality every time.

      In this video I walk you through two key tools that will make a huge difference to the quality of your videos.
      Need to get your hands on the selfie stick head or the Rode VideoMic Me? Here are the links in the video.

      Resources to create great videos for your business!

      These tools will really make it easy for you to produce great videos very quickly every day. If you are looking for a tripod but don;t just want a cheap tripod. I can highly recommend the Manfrotto BeFree, I did a quick review on it a few months ago HERE.

      I look forward to seeing the videos you produce and if you would know more about how I help small business owners create more productive and profitable workspaces then book your free consultation TODAY call 0449 105 295 or email

      Have a great day.


      John Lechner
      Art | Travel | Photography

      PS: Want to see what Forbes had to say about how art in the workplace has an important role? Check it out HERE.