Thursday, June 9, 2011

Engage Customers and Grow Your Business With QR Codes

In today's increasingly mobile and interconnected world, there is a relatively new technology that can help you attract more prospects and customers for your products and services. That technology is the QR (or Quick Response) code.

QR codes are funny-looking, two-dimensional barcodes that can hold thousands of alphanumeric characters. Invented by a company in Japan (Denso Wave) over a decade ago, QR codes are only now beginning to gain prominence in North America. (They've been popular for years in Japan and Europe.)

How QR codes work

The power of a QR code is in its ability to connect users with each other and with relevant digital content quickly and effectively. The process begins when the end-user snaps a picture of the QR code using a smartphone or other camera-enabled device. The device then uses specialized software to "read" the code and deliver the content it contains (usually a website or web-based promotion, which the phone opens in its web browser).

QR codes marry print with digital, via the mobile phone. Many smartphones come preloaded with free software for scanning QR codes. For models that don't, there are many free QR code readers available via the app stores of the various smart phone manufacturers. Scanlife, i-nigma, and NeoReader are just a few of the choices that seem to do the best job.

Get Your FREE i-nigma QR Code Scanner From Our Mobile Website:  Go to on your smartphone. Over 5,000 devices supported...

How to create a QR code

The process of creating QR codes is relatively simple, too, which is one of the attractions of this tool. Many websites can create free QR codes for you. A quick Google search for "qr code generator" will return many viable results. Once you find one you like, simply follow their instructions, and you will have a QR code in no time. You can then save the QR code to your hard drive for use with any of your promotional campaigns.

Amazing opportunities

The possibilities of using QR codes are as amazing and creative as the people deploying them. The choices are only limited by your imagination. Since a QR code can point to ANY website address, the choices are as vast as the web itself. Here are some ideas to get you started:
  • Put a QR code on the back (or front) of your business card. It can be encoded so the person scanning it can automatically receive all of your contact information digitally, so they don't have to enter it manually into their phone's directory.
  • Print a QR code on postcard or brochure mailers, and have it point to a landing page with a special discount offer or contest entry.
  • Add a QR code to printed invitations, and point it to a Google map page that provides directions to your location.
  • Place a QR code on posters promoting a show, play, or movie, and have it point to a YouTube trailer promotion.
  • Print QR codes on product instructional sheets, labels, or decals, and link the code to a website providing more details or a YouTube video showing how the product is assembled.
  • Add QR codes to vehicle signs, billboards, TV ads, t-shirts, coffee cups... the list goes on.
  • Put QR codes on restaurant menus to provide dietary information for each dish.
  • Make the pages of a book come to life with QR codes that provide links to websites that offer more details about the subject in the book.
  • QR codes work great for tradeshow booth signs and events.
  • Want to bring more traffic to your Facebook page? Create a QR code that points to it, and add it to all of your marketing materials.
The possibilities are truly exciting and limitless. You can have a lot of fun with this. Soon, QR codes may become as widespread in North America as they are in Japan. The sooner you deploy QR codes in your campaigns, the more your efforts will stand out since you will be one of the early adopters in your field.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Secret formulas, baited hooks... and the importance of compelling headlines

I saw this headline a few days ago: "Coke recipe still safely under lock and key in Atlanta." I clicked on it at once. When I went to read the article, I realized I'd been subject to link bait.

Link baiting is (in part) when you create a headline that is SO AMAZING your potential fish get caught on your hook. They just can't help reading your article. In this case, it was the implication that Coke's 125-year-old, top-secret recipe had been revealed.

People forget just how important headlines are. I'm not just talking about social media either. If your monthly newsletter has boring headlines, then how do you expect to hook YOUR fish? Writing counts. It counts on Facebook, in your blog, on Twitter, and most certainly on your printing. Boring newsletters are, well, boring.

Let me make you this offer: I will rescue you from boring headlines. When you call me, we can write some amazing headlines together. I have the experience. You have the newletter. Let's get writing!

By the way, in case you're interested in reading more about the story that inspired this post (the security of Coke's secret recipe), here's a link to a Reuters' article detailing it all:

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Focus on adding value if you want to stay ahead

I ran across an interesting quote recently that I thought I'd share. "Times are tough. In times like these, clients tend to focus on the value proposition. 'Throw it at the wall and see if it sticks' is not a phrase you hear a lot in recessions. Instead, your customers will tend to have their eyes transfixed on your value proposition. 'How does this spend make me better off?'"

I saw that on a site about something entirely un-print related, but it is so true for so many industries that it cried out to be quoted. Printing hasn't been about "seeing what sticks" for years. I bet your industry hasn't either. I know that we have been focusing on making you better off for an awfully long time. But even so, it bears repeating.

You need marketing. Why? Because you want customers. But you don't want to waste your marketing dollars. As printers, we recognize that and have continued to adapt our product and service line to remain in line with our customers' nee ds as they evolve.

Of course, the same is true of your customers and the products and services you provide to them. Your customers don't want to spend money just for the sake of the next new thing. Make sure your value proposition makes sense to your customers, too.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Social media basics for busy businesspeople

We've all heard about the importance of social networking, but what is social networking exactly? A social network focuses on building a group of people who share common interests and activities. In this case, we're talking about online social networking... the biggest free party in the world. Social networks make it easier for people to interact with each other. But social networking has a lot of outlets (Twitter, Facebook, blogs, LinkedIn), and it can become a time-intense process to effectively track, converse, monitor, and manage them.

But if social networking is so time intensive, why bother? Selling is selling. You can't get away from that. Social networking doesn't -- and shouldn't -- replace selling. Social networking is part of MARKETING. Selling and marketing are two sides of the same coin. And since coin is what we're trying to get in your pocket, we need to pay attention.

Small Business Magazine advises, "We all know how important word of mouth is, and social networking is like word of mouth on steroids. As a business, it's vital to tap into and join online conversations not only about your brand, but also those about your competitors, your industry, and your areas of expertise."

The social networking tools you choose depend on what you want to accomplish, how much time you can commit, and where your comfort level lies. To simplify things, I'm only going to stick with four basic social networking tools you might find helpful: Facebook, blogs, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Benefits: Great for keeping in touch with friends and far-flung also used well for businesses.

How to use it: Create a Facebook page JUST for your business, then update it one to two times per week. Join in discussions about topics relevant to your business and customer base. A printer, for example, might join conversations about local area businesses and the chamber of commerce.

Benefits: Terrific for your search engine optimization. A great way to let people know what is going on with your business. Somewhat more personal feeling than a standard website.

How to use it: Lots of great, free blogging tools are available. If you decide to start a blog, you should commit to posting at least one blog entry per week, to encourage repeat readership and maximize the SEO benefits.

Benefits: Short and sweet. Allows people to follow you and get information that is up-to-date and content rich in short sentences.

How to use it: For Twitter, you'll want to post something fresh every day. Don't tweet about what you're doing at the moment. Instead, tweet links to helpful websites and articles people might find fascinating. Follow your competitors and customers on Twitter, and listen to what they're saying and doing.

Benefits: A great business networking site. Easy and common sense.

How to use it: Add updates at least once per month. Join groups relevant to your business. And answer questions from other members.


“To be thrown upon one's own resources is to be
cast into the very lap of fortune, for our faculties then
undergo a development and display an energy of which
they were previously unsusceptible.”
~ Benjamin Franklin
The World’s Most Famous Printer
as well as author, diplomat, inventor, physicist & politician;
published "Poor Richard's Almanack" 1732-1757;
founder & 1st president of American Philosophical Society 1769-1790

Welcome to our blog.  We hope to make this a place where Lethbridge and area business owners, managers, marketers, purchasers and administrators can come to find fresh marketing ideas, business tips and lifestyle quips that are free, fun, relevant and available for everybody to use.

We will endeavour to provide some clarity about marketing and especially about printing and promotional products so you can focus on the important things you have to do: sell what you sell, grow your business and find happiness in your work.

My name is Althea Buhler, and I’m the creator and writer here. I’m married to Jeremy, and we are the parents of 3 children, ages 13, 10 and 5. We make our home in Lethbridge, Alberta, where we spend our time together watching movies and sports, camping, taking neighbourhood strolls and nature walks, hangin’ in the hot tub or jammin’ a mean game of Guitar Hero – we have an entire band!

On May 1, 2007, after a 10 year career selling real estate, I opened the doors to Minuteman Press and I became a printer, cold turkey.  I had no idea that I had no idea what I was getting into!  It took 3 years for us to learn the ropes and get our act together.   

But like all entrepreneurial junkies, we really dug in and now we’ve expanded from paper printing into the imprinted world of promotional products and Minuteman Press Lethbridge is really taking off.

Presently, I work full-time marketing and growing our business and my passion is helping other business owners grow theirs using creative marketing products and strategies that help them stand out from their competition. 

I spend much of my time researching and creating ideas for trade shows, fundraisers, tournaments, corporate events, direct mail programs, employee incentive programs and customer re-activation and affinity programs. 

I combine these strategies and others to maximize the exposure of your business brand while appealing to the specific people you’re trying to reach.

For me, marketing is like breathing, but more fun.
I have a great team behind me, and they handle the hard work of design, production and finishing on all your printing.

Together we work to ensure that your printed and imprinted materials perform the functions you need, when you need them.

Thank you for visiting. If you’d like to automatically receive our blog posts, be sure to sign up here.

You can also find us on our webpage at, as well as LinkedIn and Twitter and you can get exclusive deals by liking us on Facebook.

We’d love to hear from you. 

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