QR Codes have graced the list of discussion topics lately in some of the marketing meetups I've attended.
Although they've been around since 1994 and have gained some traction overseas, QR Codes have only recently begun gaining increased traction here in the U.S. Mainly because of the proliferation of smartphones. (Gartner: 172 million smartphones sold last year; up 24%.)
How To Scan a QR Code
For my friends who haven't heard of QR Codes, let alone having ever scanned one before, I took the liberty of placing a little quick reference tutorial through the image link below.
Download the Tutorial Above (Free)
It's free. No signup forms or other strings attached. Just download it and extract it.
It downloads as a zip file. When you extract the zip file, it expands to include two files (index.html; engage.swf) and a folder (engage_content). If you plan on uploading it to your server to play in your own blog, feel free to do so. Just make sure to keep the same relative file structure.
The file that launches the tutorial is the index.html file.
The Problem With QR Codes
Why am I making the tutorial available as a free download? Because, one problem with QR Codes is that, although 172 million smartphones were sold last year, the thing of it is, there are still a lot of folks who have never scanned one before. So, you can implement the great tips I'm going to tell you about below, but if the person who drives by your yard sign with the QR Code on it (for my real estate agent friends) or the contact who picks up your business card with the QR Code on the back of it, has no idea about how to scan a QR Code, then it's sort of a moot point.
What I've found is that it helps to also include a little knowledge enabler, along with the QR Code image placement. It helps those folks who are still trying to wrap their head around the idea of what the heck this funny looking dotted-square-thingy is all about.
The tutorial above can be that enabler.
I'm making it available for you to download and place on your own site if you want because I figure some of you may not want to use my blogsite as the knowledge enabler.
Don't worry, I get it. It's a branding thing.
So, download it. Then, put it on your site and include a small bit.ly link to it in small type somewhere visually near where you place your QR Code in your marketing collateral. (Full disclosure, I tried to keep the tutorial relatively brand-free so it would be of use to you. 'Fact is, though, I needed a couple of examples. So in a couple of panels, it's actually my QR Code image that's included. Also, there's one panel that has a snapshot of a website; the snapshot is one of my (this) blog. But, other than that, I think I did a pretty good job of keeping it fairly brand neutral.)
5 Great Ideas for Using QR Codes to Build Your Network
Now, if you know how to create a QR Code (should I write that post next?), then here are some ideas you may want to consider.
1. Place it on the back of your business card. Have the QR Code link back to, say:
- your LinkedIn profile,
- a web page where your VCF card can be downloaded,
- a YouTube video,
- an About page on your blog
- or, better yet, a contact signup form.
2. Print one on a custom name badge. Wear it at your next trade show or industry conference. (Same link-back examples as above.)
3. Marketing collateral. Place a QR Code on your yard signs, flyers, postcards where the buyer / prospect can find out more about the property or product. (Tip for my trainer-colleagues, place a QR Code on your handouts. Have it linke back to a resources page on your site.)
4. Products. Place a QR Code on tradeshow trinkets like cups, T-shirts and other giveaways. (Tip for restaurateurs: Place QR Codes on your menu and have it link directly to your business page on Yelp.com.)
5. Your car. (Hmmm... your car?) Well, Danica Patrick has a QR Code on the hood of her car.
What other ideas can you think of for the use of QR Codes for small businesses?
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