QR Code Primer:
What are they and how should I use them?
Quick Response - aka QR - codes are the square barcode-like images popping up on print ads, brochures, business cards, billboards, tee-shirts - just about everything related to marketing a product or service.
So how do they work?
When scanned by a QR reader enabled smartphone, they provide a means to distribute information about the product or service being advertised.
Where do you get QR codes?
A simple search for "QR Code Generator" will help you locate an online QR Code Generator. Some online services generate them for you automatically: Google Places is an excellent example: each location added to Google Places includes a unique QR Code in the profile you can use in other places.
Where do I get a QR reader?
Most smartphones now come with a QR reader app pre-installed. If yours doesn't, there are many downloadable apps available in the App Store (iPhone), Market (Android) or AppWorld (BlackBerry) - most are free.
How should I use them?
That largely depends on how you are trying to interact with your potential customer. It may make sense to start with the basics - include a QR code on your print material linking to your main website displaying basic information about your business (i.e. address, map, business hours, contact information).
From there, start thinking about how you can personalize the experience for the perspective customer. Here are a few ways QR codes could be used to make a visitor experience unique:
- A QR Code added to a mailed marketing brochure from a franchise can boost local sales. When scanned, a specific offer displays to the customer localized for the zip code that the brochure was mailed to. This creates a unique, local connection with the local franchisee.
- A restaurant places a QR code on a bus stop billboard. The code links to a web page that changes throughout the day - in the morning, the site features dinner to-go menu items that could be picked up on the bus rider's way home; switching in the evening to breakfast menu items for the following day.
- QR codes could be generated for each salesperson attending a conference and then added to special business cards distributed at the show. Each card provides a special coupon for "show pricing" when scanned. While not personalizing the experience for the new customer, the unique QR codes provides a personalized tracking mechanism for the company participating in the conference.
All these examples demonstrate a web application (the scan resulted in a website displaying on the smartphone). QR codes can also be linked to text messaging, emails and even telephone numbers. For example: connecting a QR code to a telephone number provides a link to your call center if that is your preferred method for closing a sale. Using one of these methods may provide a better match for your internal sales needs than a website - it may be a good test to try anyway.
Consider using QR codes
QR code campaigns can create buzz and user participation. They remain novel and lead to unique interaction for your customers/visitors.