For wireless retailers, QR codes fall into the category of double-edged marketing tools (like Twitter or Foursquare, for example) that allow you to a) advertise to consumers and b) reach them on the very device you sold them: the smartphone. In other words, it’s an exceptionally novel way for wireless retailers to promote their brand.
“Originally an Asian phenomenon, QR codes are starting to help small businesses in the U.S. by providing inexpensive access to potential clients,” wrote the experts at NFIB.com. “Essentially they’re small barcodes that can be scanned by smartphone cameras to pull up text, photos and videos – but the trick is to use them to your advantage.”
NFIB.com spoke with Sally Falkow, a Pasadena, Calif.-based web content strategist, who says QR codes are increasingly enabling businesses to connect with mobile customers on the fly. She suggests the following tips for new QR code adopters:
- Storefront windows: Google is sending out QR code decals to top local businesses with Google Place Pages. “If they don’t send you one, generate your own QR code to place in your window,” says Falkow. Use this code to encourage customers to visit an online profile of your business, post a positive review, or invite them to share memories, photos or videos.
- Business cards: Give recipients access to your company website, to educate them about your business.
- Marketing materials: Add QR codes to a brochure, flier or other content in your media kit. You might direct views to a how-to video or a Flickr photo set, get them to follow you on Twitter, or point them to a mobile-friendly landing page that promotes a new campaign.
- Freebies: “Say you’ve placed a QR code decal in your storefront window – why not reward those who scan it with 10 percent off their purchase?” Falkow asks. By creating a custom code for a reward of some kind, you can thank customers for their patronage in a unique and memorable way. You can also post the same QR code offers online, on your Facebook page or website.
- Have fun: The Detroit Red Wings arena programs became a hit with fans when they started including QR codes, linking thousands of fans to a video of the team – and drawing positive media attention along with them.
QR codes are pretty new to me. In fact, my co-worker just showed me how to use them today, with a QR/barcode scanner app on his smartphone. One type of advertisement I would add, on top of Falkow’s above suggestions, is printed public transit ads on buses, at bus stops, as well as in subways, train terminals and airports. I spend a lot of the idle time during my daily commute on my smartphone: reading news via Twitter, flipping through Facebook updates and looking things up on Wikipedia. Since I just downloaded the same QR/barcode scanner app as my co-worker, I would be keen on trying it out on the next advertisement that catches my eye on the subway.
NFIB.com suggests the following apps for generating and scanning QR codes:
- Generating QR codes: Kaywa, Candy, Stickybits, Bit.ly
- Scanning QR codes: QuickMark and Optiscan (for iPhone), Barcode Scanner (for Android)