Monday, August 22, 2011

QR Codes and Mobile Marketing

When I talk to people about QR Codes, there are several typical responses:

1) “A what code?”

2) "I just don't see the big deal about those things."

3) "Every time I see one, I scan it. I just can not stop myself."

For those of you in category one, a QR Code is an abbreviation for Quick Response code. A scannable barcode used to link a mobile device to specific information. Based on the code, it can link you to a website, make a phone call for you, deliver a vCard with contact info to your address book, and more.

Of course, in order to scan the code, you need a QR scanner. My favorite is RedLaser by Occipital, which is free.

QR codes were started in Japan, and have since gained popularity across the globe. Of course, once marketers got their hands on them, their uses have increased and innovators continue to find new and creative ways to use them in an effort to get their message into the hands of potential customers.

Where might you see them? On business cards, billboards, print ads, packaging and labeling, as check-ins at stores and restaurants, at museums and other tourist attractions. In fact, the tourism industry has quickly adapted QR codes for use as airline boarding passes, in contests, for self-guided tours, on billboards and other advertising, and more. Where might you start seeing them?

• Airline Check-ins
QR codes are being used as boarding passes, avoiding lines upon arrival at the airport.

• “High-tech” Contests
Contestants can check in at various locations by scanning a QR code to their mobile phone.

• Self-Guided Tours
Museums, galleries, even zoos: display a QR code, which links to a video, audio, or text explaining details about the exhibit.

• Go Green and Save Money
Use on print ads, billboards and posters, at your place of business, and on packaging or labels. Consumers can link directly to a digital brochure or website right from their smartphones. Not only does this save money, but it will also assist you in your corporate efforts to go green.

Technology is forever changing the way we advertise, the way we communicate and even the way we vacation. We have seen it over and over again. Fifteen years ago Google didn’t exist and now it is a word in the dictionary! Two years ago, most of us had never seen a QR code. Now, as we walk around New York City, we see people pointing their smartphones to the sky as they scan these funny looking mobile barcodes off of billboards.

While it is difficult to stay on top of new trends in technology, this new trend may just be worth your while. QR codes are a marketing tool that can be used to engage your target audience and save you money.

Everyone Loves a Good Mystery
To me, the most intriguing element of a QR code is that you don’t always know what to expect when you scan in that code. It is that element of surprise that marketers can use to their benefit. So, have fun. Be creative! Engage your audience and provide them with information that is useful and relevant.

June Bisel

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