You see them everywhere. On business cards, on menus at restaurants, at the doctor’s office and even just walking down the street. What are they? QR codes. Those funny little boxes with black dots, lines and squares that people with smartphones can scan to find out what that QR code wants to communicate to you. It could be an ad, a contest, a cool video or a link to a product. What’s great about QR codes is that they are becoming mainstreamed into our everyday lives, and everyday it seems, someone comes up with a new and interesting way to use them for business. But be careful, QR codes are not the answer to your marketing problems, they are to be used carefully and with a complete strategy.
I found a great list of various ways to use QR codes for your business correctly, and I’ve selected my favorites here. To see the whole list, click here .
Capitalize on “tween-time”
QR codes are best used when people are in between point A and point B — waiting for a subway, bus, plane, or train. It is a choke point in your journey. This in-between time is a perfect opportunity for marketing. It is also an ideal usage of QR codes.
Integrate your product in a creative way
QR codes are ugly “blocky-block-block” eye-sores. The German online toy store myToys.de built QR codes out of Legos, both to drive traffic to their online store and drive purchases of Lego. The associated Lego box could be ordered directly from their website by decoding the QR code.
Fill wait time with cause marketing
Chili’s used table top displays with QR codes as part of a charity drive to give to St. Jude’s. This integrated with a much larger effort to support the charity; however, table-top usage was particularly effective. Wait time is different than “tween-time.” Wait time is when someone is waiting for a meal, or a doctor, etc. They are already at their destination, not in-between it.
Know what your consumer wants
This may sound simple, but often client brands are ignorant as to what their consumer actually wants, how they want to be engaged, and what you can offer them that is attractive and gets them to act. Mountain Dew and Taco Bell partnered on a promotion that let their consumers scan a QR code and download free music. They understood that for their customers, music is a way to differentiate and communicate among peers.
Make it personal, and connect your brand to emotional moments
Making something personal provides the emotional connection to a “branding moment.” And brand moments happen when that emotional connection occurs simultaneously with your brand. That is what actually cements brands in synaptic pathways to aid better brand recall. “Branding” is not an ad, or a campaign; it is a strategy that makes moments that “brand” people.
Encourage sociability by making it worth their while to share
Verizon ran a campaign where in-store customers could scan a QR code that shared their competition entry on Facebook. If a friend used that link to buy a Verizon mobile product, the original customer would win a smartphone. Not could, not maybe, but would win. Verizon saw a $35,000 return on a $1,000 investment, plus brand awareness on 25,000 new Facebook profiles.
Better than an expert
Even at the most basic level, a QR code is just a link, and, when used well, that link is to information. The Home Depot uses QR codes on their flowers and plants. With it they provide a way for people to get information on how often the plant is to be watered and how much light it needs
QR codes are becoming the norm rather than the newest, greatest thing in the social marketplce, but don’t be lulled into thinking all you have to do is create a QR code and a link and you’re done. It has everything to do with sound digital and marketing strategy, it’s just one part of a complete and comprehensive plan.