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Presentation Tips For Any Field: Create Great Architecture Proposals

Be Prepared for the Unexpected Image Credit: iskir
Be Prepared for the Unexpected
Image Credit: iskir

A recent request from one of our architecture customers prompted a little research into creating successful presentations and proposals—and we thought we’d share what we learned in the process.

Brenda, partner in a consulting firm, is a long time customer of Cardphile’s corporate holiday cards. She gave us a call, initially just seeking a source for high quality printing of her presentation materials. After chatting about the project a bit, it turned out that she wasn’t entirely happy with the new brochure layout she had created.

One thing led to another, and we ended up working with Brenda’s marketing people on the design as well as the printing of a number of presentation materials for a project proposal. While we certainly don’t pretend to have all the answers, we came across some great resources and presentation tips during our research that we wanted to share with you.

Whatever your product or service, good design matters and sells—if you don’t think so, take another look at apple products.

  • Be genuine. Avoid canned slides and use color for emphasis—not decoration.
  • 3 is a big deal—in graphic design and in written and verbal presentations.
  1. Follow the Rule of Three – in writing & speaking
  2. Follow the Rule of Thirds – in design
  3. Be Simple, Be Clear, Be Brief!


  • Engage your audience in unexpected ways: Include an element of surprise. Why not use QR codes to engage your audience at the end of the proposal, and connect them to additional content. (Not sure what a QR code is? Learn more about QR Codes here.)
  • Be a boy scout: Yes, prepare for the unexpected and have options in place if the projector doesn’t work or there’s a screaming baby in the audience.
  • Practice, Practice, Practice. (Note the rule of 3 applied again here!)
  • End with high quality, printed presentation materials that will serve as a visual, tactile reminder for those attending the presentation—and provide the right reference information for those who did not. Product description sheets and proposal booklets are a great way to reinforce your message.

A couple of our favorite resources:

  1. Organize and Prepare
  2. Top 10 Delivery Tips
  3. Top 10 Slide Design Tips

Or follow Garr Reynolds online (No, we’re not related to Garr, we just think he does a great job!):


Too busy to check the resources? Just subscribe to our blog via email (top right) or check back later in the week—we’ve pulled more of them together for you in free a downloadable pdf – Cardphile’s Top Ten Presentation Tips.

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What is a QR Code and Why Do I Need One? 5 Things You Need to Know

  1. My QR Code is bigger than your Barcode.
    QR Codes are 2D—and carry data in both directions. So they can hold up to several 100 times the data held by an old fashioned barcode. They can contain all types of data too: alpha and numeric characters, language characters (Kana, Kanji, etc.), as well as symbols, binary and control codes.QR Codes Contain Layers of Data
  2. Beam me up, Scotty!
    Think of a QR Code as a way to “physically hyperlink” – to whatever you want. A quick scan with a smart phone and you connect offline print to mobile & online. A QR Code printed on your business card, tri-fold brochure, product tag or marketing postcard can initiate a call to your mobile phone, link to a special offer, website product page, online survey, or even your Twitter or Facebook account – the choice is yours!
  3. Give your printed business collateral some real muscle.
    QRCodeKidNot everyone is sitting at a desk or in front of a computer when reading a magazine or newspaper, but by scanning the QR Code in your ad with a mobile phone camera, readers can immediately find out more. Print QR Codes on business cards, brochures or product sheets – and you’ve built an instant bridge to guide visitors to any page on the web, where you can provide more detailed product information, offer a pdf download to their mobile device, show video demonstrations, testimonials or offer special promotions.
  4. Why are QR Codes important to you?
    Because your customers are on the move, and mobile marketing is the way to reach them. (According to this article last month in The Motley Fool, the Smartphone market is projected to grow 56% in 2011, an even faster rate than in 2010.
    Your customers are increasingly using mobile devices to learn what they need to know, at the moment they become interested—and QR Codes eliminate the need to type in a long or difficult web address or phone number. A quick scan and—zap! Your phone is ringing or your client is immediately learning more about what you want them to know.SmartPhoneGraph
  5. Strange but true.
    Although used primarily in printed marketing materials, a QR code can be scanned on your computer screen. Try it now – the QR codes in this article work – just scan them on your screen!

Step 1: Download and install a QR Code reader on your smartphone (see below).

Step 2: Use the camera on your smartphone to scan any 2D QR Code. The software will take whatever action has been programmed into the particular code.

Step 3: Have fun scanning QR Codes and discovering things. 

Resources and take-aways:

  • Most QR Code readers are completely free, and you can find a QR Code Reader here for just about any device. (iPhone users can just go to the app store.)
  • A word of caution. This is about mobile, so make sure that wherever your QR code leads—you’ve optimized the experience for mobile devices. Use applications such as Mobify or MoFuse to convert your existing site to mobile.

Ways to Use QR Codes:

  • Print a QR code on your product literature—link to a trade show demo or instruction manual.
  • Print QR Codes on your business cards—link to your LinkedIn page or website.
  • Print a QR Code on your next marketing postcard to announce a new staff member—and launch a webpage describing the skills she’ll bring to your firm.
  • Mail a Christmas card with a QR Code—and link to a video of the partners singing Jingle Bells!
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3 Tips for Business Thank You Cards—Good Manners Still Count!

Remember when Mom used to nag you to mail that thank you card after someone helped you out? Well, if your mother was a slacker in the manners department, we’re here to take her place! The world can always use a little more nice, and the business world is no exception. So don’t forget—sometimes it’s the little things that bring you the business.

3 Tips for Business Thank You Cards:

1. Don’t Type!

Your business thank you card should always be hand-written, hand-signed and hand-addressed. Since you care enough to say thank you in the first place, take the extra effort to select professional quality thank you cards, and then write your note by hand. Your thoughtfulness will be appreciated and remembered in a world where many have forgotten their manners! (Here’s an earlier article if you want to learn more about how printed paper communications build a stronger connection than digital.)

2. Keep a Supply on Hand!

Save time and money by keeping a supply of thank you cards on hand, along with the stamps to mail them. It’s just like eating your veggies; you’re more likely to do it if they’re washed and ready to go. While you’re at it, have your return address printed on your envelopes—it’s elegant and appropriate for both business and personal use. One of our favorite tools for business use is Cardphile’s corporate logo, custom notecards. Personalized with your own logo, just the right size and suitable for any occasion, they’re an elegant way to promote your brand in business communications.

Evernote to Keep Track of Business Thank You Notes3. Keep Track!

Want to keep track of what you said? Evernote is a terrific tool for keeping a digital record of your handwritten thank you cards. The best part? Handwritten notes are searchable in Evernote—it’s magic! Just download the Evernote app to your smartphone, take a picture of what you wrote in your note, and email or upload the image to your free Evernote account – you’ll never have to worry about remembering what you said! For example, here’s a screen shot from my Evernote account: I could find this note in my account not only by searching for its label or tag, but even for whatever I can remember of the handwritten content – like “product pages” — how cool is that?!

Got a Suggestion for #4?

We’d love to hear how & when you use personal thank you cards to keep in touch with clients and business associates. Just let us know in the comments below and we’ll enter you in our monthly drawing for a free pack of Cardphile’s all purpose note cards with personalized envelopes to match.

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Corporate Holiday Greeting Cards and Small Business Marketing 2011

Holy moly – it’s 2011!

Cardphile-Customer-Service We do have to apologize for being out of the picture for a few weeks, blog-wise, but to be perfectly honest – the fur flies around here for the last 2 months of the year. Every single one of us pitches in wherever needed to make sure that your custom, personalized holiday greeting card designs from Cardphile are printed with care, quality checked, folded, strapped and shipped to you on time – so your business Holiday and Christmas cards look fantastic!

Customer service is also hugely important to us: one of the few rules at Cardphile is to respond to you quickly, and in person – whether you prefer phone or email. It doesn’t matter whether you only need a quick call or require specialized support in creating the perfect corporate holiday card, we make it a priority to keep in touch with you. Customer service at Cardphile is not just about keeping our sales promise; it’s also about making friends with you, answering all of your questions, and even tweaking your artwork or logos if that pesky designer who created it is nowhere to be found!

Our team is rested and excited to be back and kicking into gear on some great new ideas for marketing your small business in 2011; we’ll have newly designed greeting cards for architects, engineers, and all kinds of manufacturing and small business markets.

Stay tuned for more to follow on Cardphile’s print marketing and graphic design services for small and midsized business. And be on the lookout for a little competition we have coming up – you could win a chance to work with a Cardphile Greeting Card Expert to customize your 2011 holiday greeting card for free!

2011 is off to a great start, and we’re excited to help you freshen up your print marketing materials so your business will shine. Tell us what you need!

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Holiday Greeting Cards for Architects + Wind Turbines?

Photo © Tim Hursley

At Cardphile Greeting Cards, we have some cool stuff designed and built in our own backyard. Like this recently completed green building in Portland, designed by Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects (ZGF) with lots of eco-bling!

We love the Skystream turbine array on top – apparently it’s not that easy to put wind turbines on a building and not drive the occupants crazy, but Skystream has figured it out – nicely designed too.

And not that we’re bragging, but Cardphile began sourcing windpower for our design and production studios many years ago. You can rest assured that all the custom corporate holiday cards for architects and personalized engineering holiday cards you’ve been sending to your clients have been sustainably designed and printed with the highest recycled paper content available.

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Cardphile Delivers Your Greeting Cards Through Wind, Ice & Snow!

Ever tried driving on ice in Oregon?

And did we mention that we have a lot of steep hills around here?

A bit like a nice layered cake, here’s what happens in Portland when you attempt to move a car on top of:

  1. Cold asphalt
  2. Warmish rain
  3. Colder rain
  4. Slushy ice
  5. + Snow on top – it’s so exciting! Take a peek at driving on icy hills in Portland.

We do have a winter storm headed our way before Thanksgiving, but never fear: at Cardphile, neither snow, sleet, ice nor Oobleck will keep us from getting your holiday greeting cards shipped out in time for the holidays!


portland ice and snow
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4 Client Communication Tools That Work

The Professional Services Management Journal, PSMJ, can be a great resource for professional firms and their marketers. In particular, of course, we appreciated their mention of the value of the “two-minute” touch (including a hand written note to your clients).

In a nutshell:

  1. Schedule weekly calls for active projects.
  2. Assign one primary contact to pursue feedback.
  3. Ensure your project manager is keeping a to do list and checking things off.
  4. Make frequent “touches” – and a hand written note card is the perfect vehicle.

Goldilocks would approve—Cardphile has the perfect solution for your note card dilemma. Our custom, corporate logo note cards sport your own full color logo on the front, and are just the right size for a short note of thanks, appreciation or congratulation. We call them client communication tools, but you might call them business thank you cards.

Client Communication Materials