Archive for WordPlay

Easy Marketing Ideas

No matter what your business, marketing is crucial. If you don’t remind your existing clients and potential customers of your products or services and how they can benefit from working with you, chances are your competitors will and your business will suffer.

A few easy ways to stay top-of-mind:

  • Use business cards. One of the least expensive forms of advertising, business cards let others know you’re a professional. Be sure friends and family have your cards to share with others. And give all employees their own set of cards.
  • Keep in touch with existing clients. It doesn’t much matter how you do it – mail a note, send an e-mail, call or stop by with a small gift – let your clients know you value their business and your relationship.
  • Send handwritten notes. In this age of electronic communication, sending a handwritten note will get you noticed. Hand-write the envelope and use a stamp for postage.
  • Make the most of group memberships. Attend as many meetings as you can and network with other members. Does the group have a publication or Web site where you can submit an article, purchase advertising or add a link to your Web site?
  • Ask for referrals. When you get referrals, follow up immediately and thank the person who made the connection.
  • Cross market. Do others in your group have clients who may benefit from your product or service? Consider a joint mailing or offer discounts or coupons to their customers.
  • Use your marketing materials. If you have new printed items, share them with existing clients. Never assume because they’ve worked with you in the past they know what you do. Chances are they don’t know all you have to offer.
  • Consider promotional items. Useful items such as pens, post it notes and mugs will be kept. Hopefully they’ll sit on a desktop for others to see your information.

If you are already marketing, keep it up and do more. But above all, do something.

Benefits of PDFs

If you’ve ever sent a file to a printing company and been asked to give them a PDF instead, you may have wondered why.

PDF stands for Portable Document Format. Basically, it creates a snapshot of your document that locks it. A document’s formatting will often change when opened on a different computer. Say, for example, you create a flyer and use a fancy font you purchased. When you send that document to someone and they don’t have the fancy font, another font will be used, often Times Roman. The person opening the file will have no idea it’s happened.

Imagine you sent the file to a printing company and asked for several hundred copies and they printed it without knowing the font had changed. Neither you nor the printing company wants to be in that position. So, send a PDF.

How to create a PDF? There’s freeware available. Go to and download Cute PDF Writer (Freeware). It’s easy and takes just a few minutes. Once you have it installed, open the document you want to convert to a PDF, click your print menu and, if installed correctly, you should see “Cute pdf” as one of your printers. Click it and your document converts to a PDF. I’m told other software may imprint their information on your PDF; this one does not. So, be wary if you go with another option.

PDFs are great tools for creating documents you don’t want others to modify. Think about e-mailing an invoice to a client. Send a non-PDF and amounts due can be changed. You spend hours creating a manual for your child’s baseball team. You tweak it until it’s perfect and the text fits on each page just right. If you send that document to another parent and it’s not a PDF, it’s likely the text will reflow based on the margins that person typically uses. All your hard work goes out the window. Send a PDF and your masterpiece remains intact.

You may have heard the phrase, “garbage in, garbage out.” That’s true for PDFs as well. If you use poor quality photos or graphics meant for online only, no PDF is going to improve that and make your document look great and print clearly. PDF or not, the rules of printing are simple: use high-resolution photos and graphics (at least 300 dpi); nothing copied from a website. Printing and viewing something on your computer screen require different files and formats. So, even if it looks great on your monitor, that’s no indication or guaranty it’s going to print clearly.

If in doubt, ask for assistance or have a sample printed digitally.

QR Code Basics

Clark College url QR Code


Called QR Codes (Quick Response Codes), these barcodes store data that can direct smart phones to websites, online videos, coupons, surveys, social media or anything else your company or organization wants to promote.

The codes make printed materials interactive and can be used on postcards, brochures, direct mail, business cards, banners, newsletters and advertisements, to name a few items.

Reading the QR Codes requires a smart phone with a camera and a QR Reader. Some phones come equipped with QR readers/scanners. Free applications are available and an online search for your phone model along with “QR reader” should turn up options.

Once it’s installed, open the reader, hold the camera over the code and your phone does the activity embedded in the code. This may be going to a website, dialing a phone number or accessing a video. The code above is for the website of Clark College in Vancouver, Washington (

QR Codes enable your audience to connect with you immediately – while they’re interested. Imagine you receive a postcard in the mail from your favorite nonprofit organization. You scan the code and it takes you to a donation page. A few quick seconds and you’ve made a donation through your phone and you’re on to the next thing. Or, walking by your favorite clothing store, you scan the code on the poster in the window and a great coupon pops up on your phone.

They’ve been in use in other parts of the world for years and there’s a lot of information available. If you’re interested, try a Google search or see them in action in YouTube videos.