You've probably seen them; they have started to appear on everything – t-shirts, print advertising, direct mail pieces even billboards. What are those funny looking square barcodes? The technical name is Quick Response code or QR code. This two-dimensional matrix bar code can be scanned by a smartphone’s camera and transfers information. Based on the type of QR code it is, it might redirect you to a specific page of a website, show a video, make a phone call, provide directions via Google maps or more. Think of a QR code as a hyperlink to the precise information you are looking for.
QR codes are of particular interest to marketers as it gives us the ability to measure the response rates to different marketing tactics with a high degree of accuracy. The business owner will now know exactly how well a marketing campaign is pulling.
But there are some limitations. The QR code is fairly new in the U.S. so many people don’t recognize them. Also, a person must have a smartphone with a QR app installed to view the destination URL. But QR codes are gaining in popularity. According to a recent industry study QR barcode scanning grew an impressive 1200% from July to December 2010. Fully integrated QR campaigns (print, web, TV) have seen a steady increase since October of 2010 and according to some industry experts are predicted to snowball.
So how does a small business owner use the QR code? The first step is to determine if this marketing tactic makes sense for your business – it made great sense for one of B&A’s clients – RealStar Realty.
Owned and operated by John and Dianne Wilt, RealStar has a significant share of the first time home buyers’ market. These young, tech-savvy house hunters are a perfect match for the QR application. The prospective homeowner takes a photo of RealStar’s QR code on the for sale sign in front of a home. Their smartphone quickly takes the user to RealStar’s specific webpage that offers detailed information on the exact house they are standing in front of – That is marketing at its finest!
It should be noted that not everyone is seeing the potential of the QR code. Most notably, in March Google shut down their QR code initiative – they are focusing their efforts on developing Near Field Communications (NFC) technology. NFC promotes the use of short-range wireless interaction in consumer electronics, mobile devices and PCs. Remember that the QR code is a hyperlink to the specific information you are looking for – You won’t have to “Google” to find the information you are seeking. My bet is Google will set up some roadblocks on the cyber highway for the QR code long term.
If you would like more information on QR codes and its application to your business please contact us at www.BuddinghAssociates.com.
Jeanne M. Buddingh is founder and partner in Buddingh & Associates, Inc., an award-winning strategic marketing consulting firm in Naperville, IL. Contact her at (630) 961-4504 or visit www.BuddinghAssociates.com.