Every day marketing professionals are looking for a way to do something amazing, to impress their clients, to get the job done faster and to grow their business. Technology isn’t the magic bullet for all your problems but, used well, it can really help. Here are ten tips:
1. Go big screen. Switching to a bigger screen or adding a second one can dramatically improve your productivity. For example, you can review artwork on one screen and write feedback on the other. If your desktop computer only has one video connector, consider adding a discrete graphics card with multiple ports. Most notebook PCs will now extend their display over two screens. With Microsoft Windows 7, try using the Windows key and the left and right arrow keys to arrange windows side by side. It’s surprising just much quicker you can work.
2. Polish your presentations. Marketing agencies spend a lot of time making pitches and presentations. Try to avoid long lists of bullets and reading text from the screen. (For more tips, see 10 simple rules for awesome presentations.) It also helps if you can get your PC hooked up to a projector without fumbling too much. Look for notebooks that have quick launch buttons to configure multiple displays and consider getting notebooks with extended battery life so you don’t run out of juice mid-speech. A neat way to make presentations more responsive is to use hidden action buttons in PowerPoint so you can navigate from slide to slide and section to section by clicking on the screen.
3. Improve the quality of your copy. Use automated tools to assess the readability of your copy. For example, Microsoft Word gives readability statistics when you run a grammar check (but you need to enable it in the options). You can also use web-based tools. (Basic rules: use as few words as possible and don't use 'clever' words when a 'simple' one will suffice do).
4. Increase concentration. Creativity is the heart of marketing and it starts when you shut out distractions and focus on the task in hand. Just for while, turn off the radio, log out of Facebook, Twitter etc, and close your door.
5. Get free training. HP has a large library of free online courses and supports Knowledge City, a site where you can develop your business and IT skills. Check them out on HP Business Answers.
6. Share files and collaborate. Once you start working with colleagues, clients and subcontractors, collaboration and project management become essential. Here are some things that can help: access, store and share your documents online with Microsoft Web Apps; video conferencing on Skype with your notebook’s built-in webcam, sharing files online using Basecamp or Microsoft Online Services, and online proofing tools like ProofHQ. See HP Business Answers for more tips on improving teamwork.
7. Rapid prototyping. Check out MakerBot. It’s an affordable 3D printer for building ABS plastic prototypes of anything you can design on a PC. (Even if you can’t use it in your business, it’ll make a perfect geek birthday present.) You can use technology to prototype other things, such as websites more efficiently.
8. Outsourcing. Sometimes coming up with a really great product logo can be a slog. Why not outsource it? Logoworks provides fixed price logo development.
9. Better, cheap stock photography. Good photography makes the difference between ‘me-too’ and ‘look at me’. However, stock photos from traditional libraries can be fiercely expensive, especially if you can’t get a buy-out and need to pay renewable licence fees. Don’t overlook the plentiful supply of public domain images and crowdsourced low-cost online libraries such as iStockPhoto.
10. Get free advice. If you have a question about how to get the most from your technology (but not, please, technical support questions) you can ask HP experts directly using the Business Answers IT Agony Aunt. It’s free, confidential and run by humans. (Ed's note: And also from Microsoft Small Business Specialist Partners on Facebook.)
This guest post first appeared on the HP Business Answers blog and has been edited for publication here.