Augment your Awareness with QR Codes

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What are QR codes?

If you’re not yet familiar with QR codes, they’re similar to the barcodes used by retailers to track inventory and price products at the point of sale. The key difference between the two is the amount of data they can hold or share.

Bar codes are linear one-dimensional codes and can only hold up to 20 numerical digits, whereas QR codes are two-dimensional (2D) matrix barcodes that can hold thousands of alphanumeric characters of information. Their ability to hold more information and their ease of use makes them practical for small businesses.

When you scan or read a QR code with your iPhone, Android or other camera-enabled Smartphone, you can link to digital content on the web; activate a number of phone functions including email, IM and SMS; and connect the mobile device to a web browser.

How can QR codes help your business?

Imagine being able to reach hundreds and thousands of people with your message instantly, as they walk past your poster or shop window, flip through a newspaper or magazine, or pick up your business card and brochure. Here are some of the many exciting ways this on-demand and on-site communication tool can be used to enhance your business’ advertising and marketing campaign.

  1. QR Codes on business cards. This is probably the de facto way many businesses use QR codes. Rather than overload a business card with all of your contact info you could include the bare minimum for reaching you, then create a QR code that leads people to your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr, Plaxo, Yelp, FourSqure, Digg, Delicious, StumbleUpon, Whrrl, and MySpace profiles.
  2. Scavenger hunts. Again, for some reason this appears on every list of QR code marketing ideas. Probably because scavenger hunts are fun and engaging, although a lot easier to write about than to administer. Still, for destination marketing, a scavenger hunt approach can be a great way to get visitors to check out places they might not otherwise go.
  3. Labeling. Somewhere, a restaurant patron is enjoying wine from your vineyard. They notice the QR code on the bottle and quickly scan it. That takes them to a mobile site where they can learn more about your wine, your vineyard, and links to where you can buy a case for delivery…all before the check comes.
  4. Storefront displays. Few retail businesses are open 24/7. Don’t disappoint potential customers after you’ve left for the day. Create a Shop Online Now! QR code and put it in your storefront window. One quick scan and you’ve turned a potential lost sale into an online customer who’s going to share a lot more of their contact information with you.
  5. Promotions, discounts and giveaways. If you want to encourage patronage from the iPhone and Android set, you could create discounts that are specific to the QR codes. You could run these codes in advertisements or post them throughout your store. You could even turn them into a “retweet” so that your shoppers share their discount with their followers.
  6. Laptop stickers. Slap a QR sticker of your vCard or website to your laptop, making it easier for passers-by to connect with you when you’re at a tradeshow, industry meeting or the local coffee shop.
  7. T-shirts. Put your QR code on your t-shirt for some subtle or shameless self-promotion. Make a bigger impression by printing up 100 t-shirts and put them on 100 interns or volunteers and have them attend a public event like a ballgame, street fair or campaign stop. For more engagement from the crowd, put different messages on the shirts, so people take more scans of more of your codes.
  8. Get funky with your QR Code design. QR codes allow a little wiggle room, meaning that you can “hack” the code itself. A famous, early example is the BBC’s QR Code. However, you can play around with the QR code once it’s been generated in an image editing tool like Photoshop and work in your own logo or brand. Always be sure to test your QR code before printing up a few thousand copies.
  9. Use QR codes to get Likes and Follows. You can create mobile-friendly landing pages with Facebook like buttons or lead them to your Twitter page for a quick follow. The name of the game is engagement, so a Like or Follow can create a long-term marketing opportunity. Caveat: so far the Like buttons that QR tags generate lead to the Facebook website rather than the mobile app. Mobile users rarely log into Facebook’s website from their phone, so that requires extra steps the average person may not be willing to take.
  10. Supplement your retail space. QR codes next to pieces of art could help art galleries move more art, or museums replace those aging audio tape tours. Hardware stores could link to how-to videos on YouTube of how to use specific power tools. Groceries could link to pages that talk about how their products were sourced, and perhaps to interviews of the farmers who grew the food. Electronic shops could bring visitors to review sites so they could get unbiased reviews of stocked products. Or to an e-commerce site where shoppers could buy out-of-stock items. Book stores could link to their own reviews of books on their blog.
  11. Increase e-commerce sales. Since QR codes can lead to URLs, you can create a code that will populate a shopping cart with specific products. (Assuming your e-commerce solution can handle that.)
  12. Build your email subscriber list. Use your QR code to send people to your email signup. Just make sure you give people a compelling reason to subscribe to your list…otherwise you will have just wasted their time. Not the best way to engage your audience.
  13. Get the phone ringing. QR codes can also make a phone call.  If you want to get the phones ringing, you can create a code that will dial a predetermined number. Likewise, QR codes can generate SMS text messages.

It won’t take long to come up with many ideas for using QR codes to help your business or organization reach a new audience and boost awareness and interest.

Contact Quiet City Design to see how just how easy QR codes can be incorporated into your next ad campaign or marketing tools.

 

Posted in: Tips & Tricks

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