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QR Codes in Marketing- Is it Right for Your Business?

There is a lot of buzz about how QR codes are the latest and greatest marketing thing for small business. According to a study by Mobio Identity Systems, the number of QR code scans increased by 4549% in the US in one year.  But for some small business owners, this might feel like just one more thing to add to their already crowded world of running a business.  So the question is; why should we adopt QR codes in our marketing?  Or should we just wait and see? The answer is; it depends.

QR codes (or Quick Response codes) are similar to the UPC codes on the back of product packaging.  Just like when the grocer scans your groceries in your shopping cart, so can businesses owners use a scannable QR code in their marketing.  Consumers with smartphones (such as iPhone, Android, or Blackberry) can download a  free bar code scanner application so that they can scan the code.  Once a consumer scans the code, it will give them additional information about the product such as price, for example. A QR code would work in an instance where a consumer would want more information about a product but where there was not space on the package to print that additional information.

As with any marketing strategy, the first step is to decide if using a QR code marketing campaign makes sense for your business.  Although most scans are generated from QR codes on product packaging, there are many ways these codes can be used to bring in more business.  Understanding how QR codes can benefit your business is the key to deciding if they are a good fit.

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In order to help you decide, here are 6 interesting ways businesses are using QR codes to enhance customer engagement, distribute information, and invite new prospects into their business.

1. QR Codes on Business Cards and Products

The most popular way to use QR codes is to put them on your business card.  The QR code then takes the person scanning it to your website where they can find out more about your products and services.  However, businesses also use QR codes to link customers to specific product information without having to print it and distribute it with the product.  For example, a plant nursery might use a QR code sticker attached to plant’s packaging to link customers to planting and care instructions specific to their climate.

2. Expand Selling Opportunities

Most businesses are not open 24/7, but even those who aren’t may have an online store where customers can shop at their convenience.  Posting a QR Code and the words “Shop Online Now” next to the opening hours in your shop window gives customers the opportunity to buy from you when they are looking for you, regardless of whether or not you are open.  For crafters and other companies who vend at local events, a QR code on your product label can help you build repeat customers who may not remember where they made their initial purchase or know where to find you to make additional purchases.

3. Link to Customer Centric Content

Imagine you are shopping for a new lawnmower and as you browse the selection at your local home improvement store you are able to access independent customer reviews for each product with a quick scan on your phone.  Companies can use QR codes within their displays to link to customer review sites, how to videos, replacement part information, or discounts.

4. Give Prospects The Information They Want When They Want It

One powerful use of QR codes is to enable prospective customers to access the information they want when they want it.  Real estate agents can use QR codes on their “For Sale” signs to offer prospects a virtual tour of the house as well as other selling information.  The QR code software has the ability to record the contact information of the person who clicked on it, therefore giving the real estate agent a new prospect to follow up with.

5. Host a Contest or Give a Special Discount

Because QR codes are new and interesting, businesses can use them to drive people to their business.  One idea is to host a QR code scavenger hunt where customers have the opportunity to win something by clicking on QR codes to find the clue to the next code.  QR codes on posters or on direct mail items can give customers access to exclusive discounts or enable them to enter a contest at just a click of their phone.  Businesses can put QR codes on event posters, advertisements and invitations to deliver people event information and special offers for discounted admission.

There are hundreds of ways that businesses can use QR codes to bring in business and build their brand.  The key is to find the right opportunity that makes sense for your business.  Whether you use it to build online sales or to broadcast the word about a new product, strategic use of QR codes can supplement your other marketing activities and have the potential to provide significant returns with a very small investment.

6. Use QR Codes to Simplify Registration and Follow-up

Infusionsoft used QR codes to simplify the registration process at their annual event Infusioncon. Instead of having attendees wait in line at the registration table while an attendant searches for their name and badge, Infusionsoft emailed each registrant a printable ticket with a QR code on it.  Attendees were instructed to bring the ticket with them for admittance into the event.  Once at the event the QR code was scanned at the registration table and the attendee quickly admitted.  The QR code was linked to the attendee email information so that Infusionsoft could email the attendee specific event related offers during and after the event.

As you can see from the examples above, using QR codes can be a low cost marketing strategy that can generate significant results.  However, before you begin to use them, decide if it will make sense for your business.  Ask the questions:  Do my customers use smart phones?  Do they understand QR code technology?  Are they always asking for more information on a product or service?

If you are using a QR code in your marketing, would love to hear about your experience.  Let us know in the comments and please leave a link to your business.

Want to get more inexpensive and practical small business marketing ideas?  Sign up for my free marketing newsletter at http://23kazoos.com.

About the Author: Wendy Kenney

Lineage2, Aion, Blade And Soul

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