QR Codes: Taking Marketing to the Next Level
Trends come and go. This is especially true in the tech and social media fields, but one trend that is currently on the rise without signs of slowing down is the QR code. At first, it may sound like some complicated tech jargon, but the truth is that these tiny little pictures are changing the scope of marketing.
What are QR Codes?
QR codes, or Quick Response codes, are specific matrix barcodes that is readable by dedicated QR barcode readers and smart phones. The code consists of black bars arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The information encoded may be text, URL, or really anything else.
Common in Japan, where it was created by a Toyota subsidiary, the QR code is quickly becoming one of the most popular forms of relaying information to potential customers, giving them instant access to information.
How can they help market your business?
The most common use of QR codes right now involve a user, or customer, swiping a picture with their phone of a QR code on a product, brochure, or anything else and instantly having access to specific information such as deals and sales, a different website altogether, or promotional material. Part of the fun of the process is the mystery of where or what the QR code will take you to. This type of building excitement ensures that QR codes have a place amongst the consumer base.
Some of the ways businesses can utilize codes include:
- Sending users to videos, maps, tweets, facebook updates, and more social media destinations to allow them to easily find you
- Provide further information from a brochure or press release, ad materials, etc.
- Invitations that load into users’ calendars so they are automatically reminded of an upcoming event
- Email messages to help further promote brand (maximum impressions)
Also, for small business, it’s important to give attention to specific elements of QR codes if you’re looking to implement them into your marketing strategy:
- Preparation – Make sure you’re QR code landing point is complete before you get too excited. An incomplete QR code is a great way to turn off customers
- Planning – Will one QR code do the trick for your plan, or will multiple be necessary? It’s important to plan if multiple codes are for you
- Style – Be sure to bring the flair of your company to the code, as a boring, bland message can send the wrong type of message
- Functionality – TEST TEST TEST! As already stated, be sure that your QR code will indeed work and function properly
- Direction – Don’t leave users in the dark – give them directions on how they should use your code, what it’s for, and any other specifics
Real life examples
Companies are going to great and unique lengths to promote themselves via QR codes, so as with any marketing tool, differentiation plays a big role. Here are some methods being used today:
- Tattoos and fashion – QR codes are being utilized by fake tattoos and even being sewn into clothing items. Imagine walking down the street and seeing a giant QR code on someone’s arm or handbag – wouldn’t you be curious?
- Music – The British band The Pet Shop Boys released a single from an upcoming album, and attached to any physical or digital purchase was a QR code. What did it lead to? A secret website with the band’s criticisms of the government – something they wanted everyone to read about
- Business cards- Many employees have put QR codes on their business cards, linking to their personal websites as well as their company page. It’s an easy and fun way to get to a destination
- Marketing materials, freebies- Businesses are also attaching codes to brochures, flyers, all marketing materials, as well as inviting customers into stores for a free gift, a unique way of getting consumers into the store, and eventually purchasing something else
QR codes are definitely a growing trend in the marketing world, and I fully expect them to continue to climb in usage rates. The possibilities, because it’s a tech item, are endless, and it’s exciting to see where/what they will be taking users to next.
Arielle B. • July 14, 2011
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