How to use QR codes in small business marketing

Marketing Oct 8, 2020

QR Codes

You have probably started to see these squiggly looking squares up everywhere, in fast food chains, on popular soft drink bottles and cans, as well as on flyers, tickets, medications, magazines and business cards.

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Photo by Hillary Black / Unsplash

Companies are using them to provide information on products in the store, providing information which can help the buying decision process.

What on Earth are these

These particular codes are called QR Codes. QR stands for Quick Response. A QR code is actually a 2D matrix barcode. QR codes were invented in Japan by Toyota almost two decades ago for the auto industry for keeping track of car parts inventory.

A QR Code is simply a graphical image that stores information.

You are already familiar with UPC barcodes which are one-dimensional barcodes, usually on products you buy in a store. A UPC code is rather limited in the amount of information it can hold.

How do you read QR Codes

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QR Codes are read by software which scans them and then links to the information they contain.

A reason for the recent increase in the use of QR Codes is the increase in the number of smartphones people are buying. You can download the app that reads these codes or use your default camera app to scan if this feature is supported on your phone.

Once they are scanned, QR Codes can:

  • Take you to a website
  • Send a text message
  • Show a map location
  • Show a phone number for customers and prospects to call
  • Show a virtual business card
  • Take you to a video
  • Take you to a coupon / offer
  • Show other information

Why would people scan a QR Code

QR Codes are great to use right now because they are something new that many people haven't seen before and they add an element of suspense. People are intrigued about what they'll find behind the code.

People are scanning QR Codes for the following reasons:

  • Curiosity - to know what they do
  • To get more information about your product or service
  • Take advantage of a coupon, discount or gift
  • Gain access to exclusive content
  • Buy something
  • Connect to public Wi-Fi
  • Gain access to some content faster

When you use QR Codes for the first time in your business, you may want to teach customers about what they are and how to scan them. A simple picture with instructions explaining the process is usually enough.

The only limit to where you can use these codes is your imagination.

Why should you use QR Codes

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Traditional marketing is usually "push" marketing. You push information at people. It is one-way message. People can't talk back to the TV, Radio or YouTube Ad.

When using QR Codes, you allow people to interact with your marketing. With the proper incentive, people will voluntarily scan the code and "talk" to you to get your message. Your marketing becomes "pull" marketing. You initiate a two-way conversation.

Some QR Code campaigns may allow you to continue to have a conversation with the people who have scanned the code, if you have set it up to collect contact information.

What do you need to know about using QR Codes

As you know, most people will try something at least once. In the case of QR Codes, people will scan them first out of curiosity. Once they are familiar with the codes, people will scan them to get something of value. That something can be some information they want. QR Codes may be directed to a mobile webpage specific to your offer/promotion/event. You want to make sure you provide a good value to your customers, so they continue scanning codes.

You want to make sure the codes are readable by scanners. They should also be placed in locations convenient to be scanned, as well as in locations with internet access for the smartphones. If you're sending your customers to a website when they scan the QR Codes, you want to make sure that website is mobile friendly.

Of course, you will want to make sure you have a clear Call to Action. Tell customers what to do and what they will get when they scan the code. For example, Scan me to download my contact information, scan and enter to win, scan for testimonials, scan to like us on Facebook, etc.

Is this just another fad?

Photo by 🇨🇭 Claudio Schwarz | @purzlbaum / Unsplash

as the owner of a small business, you should be aware that the larger corporations are using QR Codes in their marketing more and more. Companies such as Target, Subway, Taco Bell and others are using QR Codes on a regular basis in their marketing strategies.

QR Codes are an affordable strategy you can use when planning your business marketing.

The key to successful QR Code campaigns is using QR Code generator that allows you to change the content whenever necessary so that once you print the QR Code on all ads, flyers, etc. all that is requires is to change out the content and the QR Code is still relevant. This process ensures you do not want to have to reprint all the marketing materials which translates to saving you and your business money.

These codes can be linked to an opt-in form for entering a contest or for an offer of interest to your customers. If your intention is to collect contact information to market to a customer in the future, make sure subscribers know they will be receiving more offers from you in the future if they opt-in to this contest or offer.

The beauty of using a QR Code the right way id that people don't have to wait to go home to their computer to sign up for something. They don't need to write anything down or remember a phone number or some other information. They just scan the code and get the information they want.

When you develop the offer you'll be using with the QR Code, remember to ask yourself: If this wasn't your ad, would you scan this code?

In summary, QR Codes can be a fun mobile marketing tool for you to use as your market your business. It allows you to interact with your customers and can enhance the other marketing you are already doing.