The Power of QR codes for small business
QR code in action
What is a QR code?
A QR code is a picture made up of tiny squares that, when scanned with a mobile device equipped with a scanner application, will send instructions to your device to complete an action. QR is the abbreviation for Quick Response. A QR code is like a Barcode but because of the configuration of the tiny squares can communicate on a much larger scale.
What instructions can a QR code send to your mobile device?
Once a QR is decoded by your scanner application, it will do one of three different actions:
- Translate the code into text. No internet connection required.
- Direct your browser to an internet landing spot. Internet connection required.
- Take command your of your mobile device to start another process. Dependant on the instructions, Internet connection may or may not be required.
To further understand what each of these three actions mean, we will look at them individually, keeping in mind that this list is not exhaustive but will demonstrate the possibilities.
No Internet Needed
1. Translate code into text
Simply put, when the scanner reads the QR code, it unscrambles a message and converts it into a readable form. No internet or phone service is required for this operation making it an ideal method of providing instant information. To the right is an example where I made a QR code from a Bible passage. When this code is scanned, it is a translated verse from English to Spanish. In terms of marketing, this would be an example where a you would scan the QR code placed on sales literature and it in turn would convert the information into another language. Other applications could be using a QR code to provide a recipe or code in a marketing treasure hunt. I used this approach for a multi-participant store approach. Each store had a QR code clue...the successful winner visited all of the stores until they solved a puzzle. The winner received a gift card to any of the participating stores.
Hub Pages Facebook Direct Connect
2. Direct your browser
When a scanned QR code that is designed to interface directly with the internet, it will simply connect using your browser to a web address by bypassing the steps normally required to get to the same place. Basically, it operates like a shortcut with no typing or manually opening of your browser.
- YouTube Video: useful for how-to videos directly on packaging, or a music video that could be watched and placed in print media like a magazine or advertisement.
- Facebook: connect directly to a personal or business Facebook page. The same could be applied to any social media landing spot.
- Twitter Follow: just like Facebook, connect directly to a Twitter account. Especially useful in building a business or non- profit follower base.
- Goggle Maps: a great approach to getting people from point A to point B on the spot. Using a QR with a map interface will not only provide instant directions from the point of scan, but will also capture when, where, and what was used to get the information.
- LinkedIn Profile: this is an “instant” way of connecting with and building networking associates. By placing a QR code on a business card or product brochure, your future contact base can grow even when there is no direct contact.
- ITunes Link: this is a popular way to hook potential buyers especially for bands and clubs. For example, in an establishment that has a jukebox, a QR placard with “free” downloads of an artist is a useful and inexpensive way of marketing.
- Website, Blog, or article direct connects: unlimited as the number of URLs available. Using a QR code will give direct access to any landing point you choose without the need for a redirect.
- Instant Coupons: creating a web based coupon or discount only accessible through a QR code can be used to create a marketing approach that will not only enable a customer to lock in to a special offer, but will also capture information that can be used for future marketing strategies.
- Product Reviews: consumers are very savvy and want to know more information or the experience from previous purchasers. Just like connecting directly to a website, blog, or article, a dedicated product review can be placed at their fingertips without further research.
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3. Command your mobile device
A QR code can operate like a “smart” switch. When scanned, it will turn “on” another application in your device and then feed that application with information or further instructions. For example, a QR code could be formatted to direct your phone to instantly dial a phone number or send a preformatted text message.
- Scan to Pay: enabled direct payment platforms can be automatically utilized for instant scan and pay. An example of this would be a QR code that is placed on a product or service card that reads: “Pay with Paypal”.
- Place a Call: a QR code that is designed to access your phone can import contact information and automatically populate an address book and allow you to make a phone call directly with a simple touch of “send”.
- Send an Email: designing a QR code that opens a preaddressed email address and filled in subject line, when scanned will automatically open your email and allow you to respond.
- Tweet: just like making a call or sending an email, a properly designed QR code will activate the users text messaging service and allow them to tweet directly to the twitter account of your choosing.
- GPS: for mobile device with GPS applications, scanning a QR code that is imbedded with destination coordinates will configure your GPS with update routes. An interesting approach to using this is a GeoCache with a QRcode that provided the next location for treasure hunting.
- Skype Username: instantly connecting with another Skype user saves opening your account and inputting addresses.
- WiFi pass code connect: Scanning a QR code that is designed to provide access to locked-out connections provides a track able security level and gives real time data to the originator. This allows the owner of a WiFi network to change the code as often as desired.
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About the Author
Joel has a unique passion for Small Retail Business Marketing and has developed campaigns that have proven successful for over 30 years. Driving traffic and concentrating on methods that encourage growth by crafting new approaches to enhancing customer service and satisfaction has been his stock in trade. Joel works as an independent retail consultant and values the relationships he has established by helping small businesses become leaders in local commerce. Please feel free to ask questions or leave comments below.