We’ve all seen those commercials about what the future will bring us. Some seem so far-fetched that they couldn’t possibly really work. I vaguely remember the commercial about a family member pulling an empty ketchup bottle out of the refrigerator (who would put an empty bottle back into the fridge?) and using the built-in scanner on the fridge to order a new bottle.
Well, the fridge isn’t ordering products for us yet, but that same technology has finally arrived. Thanks to the proliferation of smartphones, QR codes have hit the scene and are taking over the way we will market our products.
A Quick Response (QR) code is a two-dimensional code that can be scanned by smartphone cameras to automatically pull up text, photos, videos, music and URLs. While QR codes are just beginning to take off in the U. S., they’ve been actively used for over a decade in Japan, where they were invented. These codes have become the latest way to direct people to online resources, additional information, and special product offers.
On the scanner side of things, apps that can scan codes are available for most smartphones. Simply search your app store for “barcode reader,” or “QR code scanner,” and you’ll find several to choose from.
Using QR Codes
QR codes are opening unimaginable innovative ways to connect information to people. They can be as small as a half-inch, up to large displays on the outside of your storefront. Because QR codes are so inexpensive, you are really only limited to your imagination as to how you can use QR codes.
Turn Foot Traffic Into Web Traffic: The most obvious use of QR codes is to drive people to your company’s Website. But simply sending someone to your Website’s homepage isn’t necessarily the best place to send people. Instead, build a simple, mobile-friendly page that is specifically designed to the message that relates to your ad.
Build Up Social Media Followers: Rather than sending users to your own site, why not connect them with your social media profiles? Sending them to your Facebook page or Twitter.
Business Cards: Place a link to your company’s Website or social media presence in a QR code to build immediate brand recognition.
Print Advertising: Many advertisers are finding that using QR codes in ads are a good way to bridge the gap between print and online. Unlike other print ads, those containing QR codes can be measured for their effectiveness.
On marketing materials: You’ve got fliers, brochures, programs, handouts, whitepapers and countless other materials in your media kit. Add QR codes to direct viewers to your message.
The Detroit Red Wings have added QR codes to their marketing pieces to drive fans to watch videos. Fans are actually using QR code bar scanners on their mobile devices to access these videos, and sticking around to enjoy it.
“In tracking this effort, the Wings have found mobile devices to be the #1 viewing medium fans are using to see videos accounting for an overwhelming 22% of fans viewing linked videos nearly 2,000 times all the way through. We’re very excited at the possibilities this technology provides our team in giving more access and we’ve only just begun to tap into the capabilities it provides us in both marketing to our fans and giving them exactly what they are asking for in terms of access to their team.
Moving forward, we’re looking to create exclusive video content that is complimentary to stories included in the magazine, create opportunities for our advertisers to include offers in their ads via QR codes and put our fans in the driver’s seat when it comes to giving them information on the Detroit Red Wings.” (http://mashable.com/2010/02/10/red-wings-qr-codes/)
In storefront windows: You can use this code reward those who scan it with a discount on their purchase or even a free item. Use it to encourage social interactions, such as, Foursquare check-ins, point to your Yelp profile, or your Facebook account. You could even use a QR code to generate Facebook-likes.
You could print stickers and temporarily add to signage within a store to promote a new product or an upcoming special event.
For freebies: If you really want people to pay attention to your QR codes, make them good for something fun. Give them something small to thank them for their patronage. Simply create a custom QR code for the freebie you want to offer. You could even get creative and hide the QR code inside your store.
Things to Remember
Like any new technology, you’ll want to keep in mind that QR codes — and the apps that scan them — are still unfamiliar to most people.
Never assume your customers will know what to do. Make it a point to spell out how to scan the QR code, and help instruct customers on where they can grab scanner apps.
Also, remember that QR codes should provide some kind of value to the scanner. It may be easiest to direct QR code scanners to your website, but that’s likely not the most engaging place to send people. Invest in creating special landing pages for your QR codes.
Have fun with it. QR codes here to stay. The sky is the limit as to how you can market your business. Maybe even put a QR code on that futuristic fridge.
What do you think? Are you currently using QR codes? If so, how are you using them?
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