QR codes (Quick Response codes) are the dot matrix squares you have noticed showing up in print advertising (magazines, newspapers, billboards). These squares actually contain messages that can be read with a scanner. A quick scan using an app (application) like Red Laser from an app store and instantly, the embedded message is experienced on the mobile technology. Yes, mobile technology, not just a cell phone. Tablets, iPads, iPods and any mobile technology equipped with a camera that can download an app can scan and read a QR code. Therefore the reach of QR codes encompasses the great majority and so those little squares can pack an big profit jump. Remember the fun of finding a prize in the cereal box or the Cracker Jacks? Remember the thrill of finding Waldo? Well, just imagine the fun has grown-up and you are half-way there regarding both the thrill and the potential of QR codes.
- Knowledge. Be aware of some of the many actions QR codes can produce; QR codes can send a text, make a call, play a video, offer a discount, add you to contacts, launch an app, make a donation, have a competition, refill a prescription, provide map directions to your location, or hey, here’s a fun idea: add a QR code on the label of your free samples of wine, music, magazine, book excerpt or product and the consumers enjoying the fruits of your labor will want more information. Partner your QR Code campaign with another professional group to provide a free item (such as free music), place the QR code on a flat surface (bag, cup, business sized card) and when consumers scan your code everyone wins.
- Add value. I can not think of anything more anti-climactic than scanning a QR code and arriving at a landing page full of words, more words, and even more words about you and none of them saying “win”, “prize”, “just for you”, “to thank you...”, “free”, “gift”. While that level of let down may be a slight exaggeration, I hope it illustrates the fact that the URL you worked so hard to develop can be overwhelming and go overlooked when loaded on a cell phone or the small screens of hand held technologies. People are largely motivated to scan QR codes because they believe they are going to receive something of value. The mere pleasure of visiting your blog from a mobile technology is a little flat, especially since if you have FLASH on your URL, mobile technology can not load it (*get a mobile website).
- Add a grain of boldness. Yes, many consumers notice the QR code squares but they can hold little interest when they consist of boring black and white blocks hidden in corners seemingly for some purpose not related to the general public. When you incorporate your QR codes into your marketing, be bold! Do it in a highly visible manner so that people know your QR code was meant for them. Include a call to action with “scan for...”, “Like us on facebook...”, “scan to follow us on twitter”.
- Inform. Some people, even those who have all the latest great tech toys are still not in the know about QR codes but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a scan. Include a little information to give them a nudge such as: 1. Download a scan app such as Red Laser 2. Scan and enjoy! It’s cool to find a new use for your favorite toy. You remember how thrilled you were to discover you could play word games and with mad birds or whatever distraction app you downloaded. It’s no different when people are encouraged to discover what lies embedded in QR codes.
- Get branded QR code. If you do any print advertising or use email, blogs, social networks or cell phones, this is probably the most important thing to note: A multimedia graphic artist can transform a plain, black & white qr code square into an extension of your brand or service. Use that logo you developed and add have your image and company name customized into your QR code message. You are more likely to get scan if your QR code is attractive and professional in appearance. There is power in beauty! A consumer will say “oh, a QR code from my favorite insert your name profession here. I wonder what it contains.”
Oftentimes, the person developing your branded QR code can also produce a mini-me version of your website that can be visited with a smart phone or other mobile technologies. Having a mobile site does not diminish your great web page. It is just that people are not always being introduced to you from their desks and that is a reality you should embrace. I realize that you don’t always like change but this QR code business is powerful and it can work to your great benefit no matter what your industry is. Add your branded QR code to your email signature, screen saver, facebook banner, blog, etc.