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How to use QR codes to enhance your business

By Mark A. Carillon

The simplicity of the QR code is helping more and more businesses generate leads, bring in more sales, and create long-time customers. With the snap of a camera phone—or one equipped with a QR code reader—consumers can scan your QR code and instantly connect to various forms of digital media or retrieve desired information about your business, product or service.

A QR code changes the consumer experience by making it possible to “scan” instead of “type” to access your information on their mobile device. Think of these QR codes as “hyperlinks” that connect your physical world to the online world.

What are they?

In 1994, Denso Wave, a subsidiary of Toyota Corporation, invented the QR (Quick Response) code—a two-dimensional barcode used to transfer information to mobile phone barcode readers. Where traditional barcodes only held 16-20 characters of data and were very slow, Denso Wave’s 2-D barcode could read up to 7,000 characters very quickly.

In 2002, while exploring ways to add more value and features to their devices, mobile phone manufacturers decided to use QR codes to allow access to website URLs and the Internet—and the rest they say is history. In 2010, the number of scans increased 1,300%—13 times more than 2009.

QR codes are almost always free to create, store a lot of data, and do not require expensive barcode scanning devices to work. Search Google for “QR code generator” and you’ll find tons of sites where you can make these codes for free.

A QR code reader is very easy to download from your app store or marketplace, but many mobile smart phones come with a QR code reader installed.

4 Ms of mobile marketing

When considering the use of QR codes, understand the 4 Ms of mobile marketing: market, mindset, message and mistake.

•Market. There are over five billion mobile phone users in the world today and it is the fastest growing segment on the Internet. Think about your own mobile usage—chances are you leave home each day with three things: your keys, wallet, and phone. If any of these are missing, you promptly return home to get what you forgot. Your clients do the same.

•Mindset. When mobile users are on their phone, they want info now and they want it fast. QR codes make it quick and easy for them to get to your information. They’re also three times more likely to “buy” when compared to someone searching from their desktop.

•Message. The message you give to mobile users must be concise and succinct. This is an excellent opportunity to offer up a coupon or a free report or video to further educate, entertain and engage your prospect as to why they should be doing business with you.

It should complement and add value to their experience and not repeat the same message that lead them to scan your QR code in the first place. A brochure which leads to a YouTube video that shows your product in action is a perfect one-two punch.

•Mistake. The most common mistake is to take customers to your full size website. Why? You’re stuffing 17 inches worth of information onto a 3-inch device. This forces your prospect to scroll left, right, up, down, etc.—making your mobile users work way too hard.

Instead, take them to a mobile optimized site that displays properly on their phone and make it “one-click simple” so they can call you, send you an email or text message, view a video, listen to an audio, import your contact details, etc. with one click.

Popular uses

Some of the most popular uses for QR codes include:

•Building a customer list. Create a QR code that links to an opt-in page where consumers will leave their name and email address in exchange for some type of report or incentive. Once a consumer has your QR code stored on their phone, it also serves as a reminder about your business.

•Enhancing marketing and advertising materials. QR codes can be easily placed on business cards, T-shirts, flyers, receipts, print advertising, signs, billboards, websites, store windows/displays, vehicle wraps, car magnets, menus, receipts and many others. And it’s easy to make changes to your QR’s destination when things change, so you don’t have to worry about changing your ad and then re-printing and re-publishing.

•Linking to social sites. Link to your social media profiles on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube to create a powerful list-building combination.

•Obtaining reviews. Create QR codes to help get customer reviews on your online directory listings; such as your Google Places, Yelp, Insider Reviews, Super Pages, and the like. Good online customer reviews are powerful in converting prospects into customers and are one of the best ways to help get your website listed higher on search engines.

•Creating electronic connections. You can create a QR code that goes to an electronic version of your business card, commonly referred to as a VCARD or MECARD, and to an electronic calendar entry, commonly called a VCAL. A scan of the code and your contact information is being added to your prospect’s phone contact list or an event gets added to your calendar—making it easy to RSVP.

•Making business better. Service providers can have QR codes that lead to the service history of a particular item, or manufacturers can link to written assembly instructions that lead to a video that provides step-by-step displays through the building of that item.

There are so many different ways QR codes can help you and your business attract and retain more clients, so do yourself a favor and jump in with both feet now. The question is not if you will use QR codes, but rather when—so get ahead of your competitors.

Mark Carillon is president of Web904.com, a company specializing in marketing your business with custom websites, mobile websites, QR Codes, social networking and mobile phones. He can be reached at 904-375-0194, mark@web904.com, or through www.web904.com.

How to read a QR code

Anyone with a camera on their phone can read a QR code, but there are different ways to receive the results. A QR reader on your phone is much simpler and faster, but if you have an older phone, then emailing or text messaging for results will work as well.

• Download a QR reader for your phone. If your phone is nto already equipped with a reader, you can easily download one. There are multiple ones to choose from, with many being free.

•Send an email. Capture the QR code with your phone’s camera and then email that picture to scan@scanlife.com.

•Send a text message. Take a picture of the QR code and send it via MMS text messaging to 43588.


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