Quick response (QR) codes – those black and white cousins of the Rubik's Cube, are just about everywhere. You see them in the newspaper, on the side of bus stops and in store windows. But do you know how to put them to work for your business?
QR codes are a way for your company to provide consumers with lots of info about your company without taking up a lot of space. By reading your QR code with their smartphone, they can access lot of data you wouldn't otherwise be able to fit on a sign or business card.
But like lots of small businesses, you haven't figured out how to incorporate them into your marketing plan. The best method is to start slowly and see what works for your company
Here are five simple ways to start using QR codes to promote your company.
1. Start with your business card.
One of the easiest ways to get started with QR codes is to start small.
Neil Gale, owner and CEO of Gale Web Marketing, specializes in the auto industry. He has seen QR codes used in various capacities.
"I advise some of my clients to add a QR code to the back of their business card so that it goes straight to their website," he said. "Also, you can have a calendar event put into it. I had one auto dealer that sent out invitations with a calendar event and a QR code."
Gale has seen QR codes placed on used cars so that when someone visits a car lot on a Sunday when it isn't open, they can scan the code and get all the details on the vehicle.
"It's much more popular than just looking at the sticker on the window," he said. "It has boosted sales points for some of the dealers."
2. Be creative.
Marketing consultant Tami J. Miller said that the more you can do with a QR code, the more it will benefit your business. "Be fun with it. In the movie industry, QR codes can go to trailers and promos. You want that kind of immediate engagement."
Miller believes that the opportunities to think outside of the box with QR codes are endless. For example, she worked with a bakery and party company that put a QR code on a cake, which directed visitors to the party company's website.
Another area where she sees QR codes taking off is restaurants. "Restaurants will say, 'Go here to see our latest promotions.' The QR code can provide rotating content. It's very cost-effective because they don't have to print and hand out flyers."
3. Offer an incentive.
One of the most effective ways to drive traffic to your business is a giveaway.
"Aside from putting a QR code on the back of your business card, one of the easiest ways to start off is to offer a promotion on your website or homepage," Miller said. "The QR code can lead to some kind of coupon or special offer."
If you work with direct mail, Miller encourages using a QR code to provide constantly changing content.
"The QR code can go directly to an online catalog," she said. "You can change the back end of the QR code anytime you want, so you're in control of changing promotions. QR codes are effective just like any other marketing tool. You just have to figure out what the effectiveness is for your business, depending on your options."
4. Keep QR codes organized.
Irene Williams, CEO at QRHere LLC, has seen QR codes falter by trying to cram too much information into one code.
"A lot of people will have every piece of data they can on that code," she said. "Sometimes when I'm scanning the code with my phone, it doesn't even how to tier out all of the information."
She starts by separating her QR codes, having one that is her phone number, one that is her email address and so on.
"Every phone is going to know what to do with that," she said. "Then the QR code becomes a live interactive link that is very useful."
5. Link QR codes to unique content.
While many QR codes may drive visitors to a website or catalog, one of the most effective tools is to drive visitors to special pages.
"I have seen many QR codes where people are just driven to information that they can get on your homepage," Williams said. "If you are a music writer and want people to see your show, use your QR code to provide information on your show, not just your homepage."
Williams has noticed that some of the most effective types of unique content are videos or specific sales. "I really like the pages that enhance the catalog or the direct mail piece that I received. I don't want something that takes me to the website of the catalog I'm holding. The QR code should enhance your experience."