Creative Ways to Use QR Codes for Marketing

 

In the same way that websites, then MySpace URLs, and more recently Facebook pages started appearing in TV, magazine and newspapers ads, we’re starting to see more QR codes appear in traditional advertisements.

QR codes have been spotted on direct mail pieces, movie posters, business cards and in Times Square.Whether they’ll have the staying power of your website or of your MySpace page has yet to be determined, but while they still enjoy the buzz of the “next big thing,” you can take advantage of QR codes in marketing your small business.

What is a QR code?

A QR code is a 2-D barcode that can be scanned by a smart phone’s camera and transfer information. Based on the type of code it is, it might direct the viewer to a website, make a phone call, deliver a vCard or more.

How can I market my small business with QR codes?

QR codes are fairly new here in the states (no surprise, they’re big in Japan), so many people won’t recognize them when they see them or won’t have a smart phone with a QR reader installed, which limits their impact. Most current advertisements that use QR codes still have to explain how they work, and the steps the person has to take to access this additional information.

Because of this, you need to determine if QR codes are a good fit for your business and your audience. If you feel there’s a place for QR codes in your marketing toolbox, here are some creative suggestions on how you can take advantage of QR codes.

  1. QR Codes on business cards. OK, not the most creative idea ever. In fact, 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. Little muss, little fuss.
  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 (fully) 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.
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