Ok, so QR codes are not completely free. They are free to generate, but to take full advantage of them you need to create campaigns that make sense for your business, you need to create mobile landing pages, and you need to review statistics to see what’s working. But really, don’t you do that for all your local online marketing efforts? I hope so or you are wasting valuable time and money. Fun? Well I think they are fun because really the only limit to how you use them is your imagination. And fascinating, why fascinating? Well they hold a mystery because the person viewing the QR code doesn’t know ahead of time what they will see when they scan the code (unless of course you tell them).
Let’s take a step back for those of you that don’t know what a QR code is and explain a few basics. A QR (Quick Response) code is a two-dimensional bar code that has information embedded horizontally and vertically. It’s called quick response because when people see it, they usually respond right away vs. filing it away in a “to be read” folder like an email. A QR code can hold a lot more information than a traditional horizontal bar code because information is stored in two directions, so from a marketing perspective that means a lot information can be provided when the code is scanned. QR codes are those odd looking square symbols that you see in magazines, on billboards, in newspapers, on benches, on business cards, etc. Get it – they are just about everywhere things can be printed. If you haven’t seen one, you probably have been walking around with your eyes closed. To “read” the codes, all you need is a free scanner application available on your smart phone. To find one just Google QR scanner + the name of your smart phone.
So, how can you use a QR code in your small business? Well, as I said, you are really only limited by your imagination, but let me give you some ideas to jump start your thinking
- Provide a link to your website (should be a mobile website) for a specific action like filling out a contact form, getting product information, or the hours of operation of your business. Make sure to use the link to send the customer to a specific landing page, not just a home page.
- If you are a realtor, put a QR code on the sign outside a house for sale that contains specific information or your phone number with a click to call capability (make it EASY) online QR Code scanner
- If you own a restaurant, provide a link to your menu
- For any business, give them directions to your location and your phone number (click to call)
- Offer a coupon for use at a store location
- Send them an SMS to join an email list and/or join a loyalty program. Note that sending someone a SMS to join a list without offering them something in return like an entry in a contest or ebook probably won’t get them to give you their email address, so thing about what you can provide in exchange for their email address.
- Send them a link to a YouTube video that talks about your products
Those are just some ideas that rolled off the top of my head. Take a minute and think about how you could create an interesting marketing campaign using QR codes. To actually generate the QR code, you can do that for free at a number of companies, but you should consider selecting a company that allows you to generate codes and collect statistics. That isn’t free, but knowing how your marketing dollars are being spent is critical.