What is a QR code and do you need one?
Does it every feel to you that where technology and your business are concerned that you are the hamster on the wheel, constantly running but never catching up with all of the changes? I feel that way and am lucky to have a great team of people to support me and help North Texas Kids stay current and on top of what matters for us! The latest craze in online and print marketing is the QR code. I am sure you have seen them around town, at the store, in your favorite magazine, at the movie theater, on your television, they seem to be everywhere!
But what is a QR code and can it serve you as a small business owner?
First, let me answer the second half of that question because it is the same question you should ask of any new technology: does it fit into your current marketing plan and both enhance and relate to what you are already doing? Does it fit into your business? Do you have the technology to support this new piece you are adding? We all get excited and hopeful that the latest invention will be the silver bullet to fill our classes, programs and coffers!
So, what is a QR code? According to Marc Lyne in an article on Searchengineland.com,
“They come to us from Japan where they are very common. QR is short for Quick Response (they can be read quickly by a cell phone). They are used to take a piece of information from a transitory media and put it in to your cell phone. You may soon see QR Codes in a magazine advert, on a billboard, a web page or even on someone’s t-shirt. Once it is in your cell phone, it may give you details about that business (allowing users to search for nearby locations), or details about the person wearing the t-shirt, show you a URL which you can click to see a trailer for a movie, or it may give you a coupon which you can use in a local outlet.
The reason why they are more useful than a standard barcode is that they can store (and digitally present) much more data, including url links, geo coordinates, and text. The other key feature of QR Codes is that instead of requiring a chunky hand-held scanner to scan them, many modern cell phones can scan them. The full Wikipedia description is here.”
What are the best uses of a QR code for your kid-related business? Here are a couple of ideas:
Access to a coupon or special offer on your website
Put it on your business cards to send people to a specific page on your website for more information, to sign up for a newsletter or download a free report.
At an event, you can put a QR code on post cards like we did in the example above, on a flyer, poster or even your banner.
According to a great article on Mashable.com, your QR code should:
“direct users to a mobile-optimized webpage with functionality tailored to your audience and application. Below (click here for rest of article) are recommendations based on the calls-to-action that we’ve seen achieve the highest engagement. You’ll notice the following themes recur: Exclusivity, rich media, downloads, social media, incentives like prizes and contests, and contextual relevance.” Read the rest of this article for great tips on what has worked in different industries using QR codes.
One of our greatest needs is to build our online following through our e-newsletter and Facebook. We can us QR codes to drive traffic and attention to both of those places. The trick is to remember that people want value! They are not going to sign up for our e-newsletter just because we ask them too, no matter how nicely we ask!
In the case of the QR code on the post card above, it takes them to the sign in page for our newsletter but also offers them a free PDF download of our 2012 Summer Camp Guide when they sign up. This is great incentive for Moms who are actively looking for this information now and a great bonus to our advertisers as we find creative ways to drive traffic to their ads with us.
The success to any marketing tactic is to understand exactly what your clients want from you. Don’t guess! Go ask them!! Do they want unique and relevant content? Discounts? Special offers? Time? When you can successfully answer this question, you can use a QR code to drive traffic to your website by crafting a special page offering clients what they want!
And as always, “Try,Test,Try!” Marketing involves trial and error to see what works as well as patience. It takes time to build interest and a positive response with any new marketing campaign.
We are introducing this QR code at the Dallas Kids Expo on Saturday, we’ll let you know how it goes!