QR Code Marketing and Your Local Small Business!

QR code marketing is something you should test right away. Why? Because it’s cutting edge, and for the few prospective customers who use it currently, it’s a big timer saver. But first, lets cover the basics of QR codes and their history, and then I’ll get into some marketing ideas.

You must have seen those cryptic narrow and wide lines on label or wrapper of the item that you recently bought from a store. Or maybe you noticed them on coupons? One often wonders what these lines are for when the cashier runs a scanner across those alien drawings.

You probably figured out that the data reflects on the computer screen as soon as the scanner scans the mystical code which means some sort of information was stored in those lines. Those seemingly alien lines are called barcodes which are very popular among the retail chains for identifying and capturing the data about the products they sell, or for identifying a coupon in relation to the product being offered at a discount.

These lines have been in existence for a long time. So as the usage of this technology becomes more and more frequent, it gives rise to the need of inventing evolved technologies which offer more and more benefits over the existing one. The all popular barcodes have evolved into the QR codes now. The images of QR code banners in the magazines, banners, neon signs etc., can be easily spotted these days. To give you a little overview, barcodes are linear and one dimensional codes as they can be read or scanned only in one direction. This also limits the scope of data storage capacities of the barcode.

This limitation is overcome by introducing a more immaculate coding system which is the two dimensional code. The two dimensional code can store comparative larger amount of data. This makes it a preferred choice when it comes to storing larger amounts of data.

The two dimensional code can not only store numbers and simple characters which is what one dimensional data normally does, but also stores high density data such as music, images etc. There are a number of formats available under the two dimensional code. But the one format that has received a widespread popularity is the Quick Response code.

Quick Response codes or QR Codes as they are popularly known have made a remarkable mark of their own. A QR Code is a two dimensional code which is arguably the most famous of all other so called two dimensional codes. They are the successor of the popular one dimensional coding system which has secured its place in the inventory management systems of almost all sorts of things which are sold.

One can say the QR code is just a newfangled barcode. Your local mall is quite possibly filled with as many one dimensional codes as the number of products they store or sell.

QR Codes – A Short History: In the year 1994, the QR code was developed by Denso Wave, a subsidiary of Toyota for usage in the automobile industry. The vehicles being manufactured on the assembly floors needed a simple mechanism that could help the tracking of the manufacturing process and the autos and auto parts.

This was the purpose why the QR code was developed. But because of the comparatively high data carrying capacity of the QR code, it found its way into other streams as well. This technology has become very commonplace in Japan and other countries such as USA are also seeing an increased usage of the technology.

 Why QR Codes Are Useful For Consumers and Businesses

The high data storage capacity of the QR codes is what makes them nicely positioned for getting hugely popular. QR codes tend to essentially replace the now ubiquitous one dimensional barcodes which have comparatively lesser storage capacity. As users have started interacting with the brands more than ever, the use of QR codes to engage the user groups has become relevant.

What’s in it for consumer?

The advent of smartphone usage among the masses has triggered a number of new and innovative measures which enhance the interaction of the brands with the user. Let’s say for example you are planning to buy a pair of sunglasses for yourself. You would definitely find a number of options based on the price, quality, brand value etc.

Now you come across an ad for sunglasses in a magazine. But you are looking for more details except for pictures and catchy tag lines. But the tech savvy marketing team of the sunglasses company has put a QR code in the advertising piece. So you take your smartphone out of your pocket, scan the QR code with the pre installed software, and the browser in your phone takes you to more details and a video.

The consumer has a lot more information accessible to him or her which can be easily accessed within a couple of clicks. Most of the smartphones come with the QR code scanners pre-installed these days. The user interface of this software is also quite user friendly. The consumer is empowered by having access to more and more information about the product that the traditional media cannot deliver.

At the same time, the user has to take an action in order to access the content embedded in a QR code. This helps the user to stay away from the spam which is becoming too commonplace these days. As most of the people who have used their smartphones for scanning QR codes would agree, using QR codes is not a tough thing to do. It’s as easy as clicking a picture. Even if you are not good with the camera, the advance in the QR code scanner technology also takes care of it.

What’s in it for businesses?

If consumers can reach the content they get to as a result of scanning the a QR codes, it is good for businesses because businesses decide what content the consumer should access, and if the content is chosen wisely, it can increase conversions and awareness of the products and services being offered.

The huge popularity of QR code scanning among the masses around the world has opened a new channel for the businesses to interact with the consumer.

The novelty factor of QR codes and the easy availability of the QR code scanners in most of the smartphones these days has made the users even more prone to accessing the QR codes published through various marketing channels.

What Big Business Is Doing With QR Codes

QR codes have the potential to give the marketing campaigns of the companies a great boost. A number of companies have included QR codes as an integral part of their marketing strategies.

I searched through several popular magazines to see what advertisers are doing with QR codes in their ads. After all, they are spending big money to be in any of the magazine I searched through (National Geographic, Fortune, and Better Homes).

(After the following advertising examples I will cover how a small business like yours can use QR codes in more effective ways than even these big advertisers).

Effective QR Code Marketing Strategies For Small Businesses

The QR code is the new kid on the block for many businesses new or old, big or small, even though this was first used a long time ago. Since then businesses have started using QR codes in a number of different manners which have proved to be quite beneficial for them. The main idea behind including the QR code in your marketing strategy is to take the consumer interaction from an offline interaction to an online interaction. Once the consumer is online, it can be an effective way to generate highly qualified leads (prospective customers). The leads generated in this manner are more than to be targeted leads.

This is new, a custom made tile with a custom made QR code. Great for any retail or restaurant situation by MiniMasters:

Here are some simple yet effective QR code marketing ideas:

  • Put a QR code block on your business cards. Business cards are usually boring. People keep looking for ways of making their business cards as interesting as it can get. Putting a QR code there is a good idea. You may want your website address (URL) on your business cards. But how many people who get your business card make the effort to read the URL and actually type it into their browser? If you put a QR code block on your business card people who have it can visit the website on their smartphones with the click of a button. Not only that, you can even customize the QR codes to give access to selected pages and content of your choosing.
  • Real estate agencies can use QR codes on the property signs of the property for sale or the marketing material they hand out. Agencies can embed a QR code which will carry (redirect) the prospective client to the images or even video clips of the property. This enables the prospective client to get a feel for the property before they pay a real-time visit. This reflects well on the part of the real estate agency as well as the property for sale.
  • You can use the QR codes for building a stronger social media presence. If you are a retail store, a restaurant owner, or a business to business operation, you can put a QR code on your website header, banners, and marketing material etc. which directs visitors to the social media handles of your business (Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, etc.).
  • In the above case you can even use QR codes for giving incentives to people who use your services, buy your product, or even ‘like’ your Facebook page. You can give them discounts for doing so. Incentivizing their actions can prove to be a strong way of building customer loyalty.

Similarly QR codes can be used in a number of ways. You should always make sure that you take into account all the challenges and limitations that QR codes have for marketing purposes.