QR Codes: Passing Fad or Brilliant Marketing Tool?

Help members scan their way to your CU’s bottom line.

December 23, 2011

Somehow, the best marketing tool of the online era is still flying under the radar of many small businesses. QR (Quick Response) codes are a two-dimensional type of barcode, originally designed by a Japanese automaker to revolutionize the manufacturing inventory process.

These powerful little gizmos have an almost unlimited ability to assist any business in tracking and improving a variety of processes. But they really shine when used to help with marketing efforts.

So, how do they work? Well, let’s start at the end and work our way back.

For marketing purposes, QR codes are read by your prospect or customer using a smartphone application. ScanLife, QuickMark, Optiscan, Barcode Scanner, and the Goggle QR code application are just a few of the many options available.

You can include a QR code in your marketing materials, on your business cards, or on promotional items, and when your prospect scans your code with her mobile device, she is directed to text, video, photos, music—or even a URL of your choosing.

The obvious advantages for customers include the instant access to your content and the convenience of not having to write down (or try to memorize) a phone number or web address for later use.

Many potential customers are lost every day to the lag between exposure to your brand and the time it takes to get to a computer or phone. QR codes let you take that lag out of the equation. They’re extremely cost-effective, simple to use, and almost limitless in their potential.

You can generate your own QR codes easily, quickly, and cheaply (can you say, “free?”) using a code generator such as Kimtag, iCandy, Kaywa, or a host of other code generators that are available for free or as part of a QR services suite.

StickyBits will even produce your QR codes on stickers or temporary tattoos, for even more fun options.

Codes no longer have to be homely little squares of squiggles either. QR codes can be crafted into your company logo and colors, or shaped to resemble almost anything, such as a dog or a house

Each code can store almost anything the creative marketer can imagine.

Although the sky’s the limit for getting creative with QRs, let’s talk about some specific examples where QR codes can help you market your company:

• Promotional materials. Many companies like to give away swag at trade shows, seminars, or sales presentations. Imprint a QR code on your swag, and potential customers will never lose the ability to connect with you.

Attach a limited special offer to the code that isn’t available to the general public, and you’ll create instant urgency and brand loyalty.

• E-cards. Imagine your business card supersized! On your business card, include a QR code that will allow the recipient to scan your information instantly into his smartphone contacts.

Or, have the QR code direct your potential customer to your website or Facebook page.

• Window or trade-show displays.

Right now, you may be asking, “What’s the downside?” Well, actually there is one disadvantage of note.

Many people don’t know what QR codes really are or how to use them. But this problem is simple to overcome.

Place a blurb in your marketing materials explaining what the QR code does and where to find a scanning app. You will give your curious customers all the help they need to start scanning their way into your bottom line!

This article was written by The Small Business Authority, which provides business lending, merchant processing, data storage, and website design, development, and hosting. The company is a CUNA Strategic Services strategic alliance provider.