What are all of these black and white square mazes that look like mutant zebras or crazy mixed up crossword puzzles?
After all, you see them nearly everywhere, from the back of cereal boxes to the sides of trucks. If you have ever asked yourself or someone else this question, you are not alone. They’re called QR codes, and they are probably one of the newest trends in marketing that have popped up nearly everywhere, and at an astonishing pace.
What is a QR Code and Why Do They Look So Strange?
It seems like every time you turn around there’s some new technology available that claims to revolutionize your marketing efforts. Fortunately, not only do QR codes take nearly everything you know about marketing your product and cut it off at the knees, but this innovative marketing tool also revolutionizes the relationship between marketers and their target audiences.
In a nutshell, Quick Response Codes, or what are commonly known as QR codes, are a special type of bar code that store data, similar to a UPC bar code that we see on most retail items today. The difference between UPC and QR codes is how they store data and what data they can store. UPC codes store data 1-dimensionally (vertically or horizontally), while QR codes store data 2-dimensionally (vertically and horizontally). You can also scan QR codes at any angle as opposed to UPC codes, which must scan in one direction to be decoded and read. You’ll notice cashiers often have difficulty scanning traditional UPC codes due to this directional limitation with scanning.
QR codes do not all share the same look and can appear to be different, but due to the robust data capability, the design of the QR code itself has greater flexibility and often depends on the style preference a customer, printing company, or graphic designer chooses when creating the QR code. The flexibility in design also lends itself to being less of an eyesore on print materials, promotional products, and any other location you choose to place the code.
Get Your Message to the Masses
With so many people using mobile and digital communication devices today, there should be little wonder why QR codes have become so popular, with end-users as well as marketers. After all, there are so many marketing goals that you can accomplish with a QR code that it is astonishing how effective they can be!
QR codes cater specifically to an audience on the go since your marketing message is just one click or “scan” away at all times. Customers today keep their smartphone close by or on hand nearly all day long from the moment they wake until they sleep, which means you have far greater opportunity to get them to take action than ever before.
For example, if you want a customer to remember the name and contact information for your business, a QR code can easily store this information making it accessible when the customer needs it most.
Or, let’s say you want to offer a discount code or coupon customers can redeem when visiting your business. You can accomplish this with a QR code as well. But why stop there?
You can even give customers or prospects an entire sales presentation, direct access to an eBook, mobile app, and so much more, without even leaving your office, since it’s just one scan away, sitting in their pocket, ready to go with a touch of a button!
How Do QR Codes Work?
Just as is the case with UPC codes that are read by the scanner at your supermarket, so can QR codes be read by anyone who has a QR scanning app or reader on their cell phone, smartphone, or another device. (There are plenty of free QR code scanning apps available for any mobile device which we provide links for at the end of this article.)
QR codes work along the same principles as the puzzles that you find on the backs of cereal boxes that had a hidden code that could only be read by the special red glasses found inside. By reading the QR code with a device that has a reader app, you can see the message contained in the code. You can include a QR code with your sales message on virtually anything, from print advertising to promotional products, and nearly anything else. The sky is the limit.
What Kind of Data is Stored by the QR Code?
UPC codes can store 30 numbers. By contrast, a QR code can store up to 7,089 numbers in addition to other data.
These other data include the following:
- Mobile text SMS/MMS message
- Telephone number
- Email (Send message)
- Contact entry
- Calendar entry
- Program or mobile app download
- PDF or document links
- Video & Webinar links
- And so much more
Interestingly, when you add a website link to a QR code, you not only provide access to a web page, but website links can send users to other rich media and content such as a video, app download, map display and directions, and much more. In fact, nearly any business-related function can be encoded in a QR code which includes advertising messages, customer service data, logistics, and everything else.
How Can I Use QR Codes to Enhance My Business?
With so much information and functionality available in QR codes, marketers can use their creativity and make something as simple as a barcode more of a strategic marketing element which increases engagement and interest from your target market.
When considering QR code marketing for your print or promotional materials, it is always best to consult with printing or marketing professionals to learn more about how to properly integrate the code into your piece as well as how to properly create the code itself.
Working with a local printing professional will also give you a much clearer picture of how to achieve the goals of your campaign using a QR code to influence a higher rate of engagement from your audience. Professionals can also help test and troubleshoot your code, uncovering potential issues that may arise during setup.
While we do suggest consulting or hiring a marketing professional if this is your first time working with QR codes, creating the code itself is very easy. One quick Google search and you will find quite a few free QR Code generator websites such as www.QRStuff.com. This site enables you to embed a great deal of information and style the QR code and also offers a paid platform for even greater customization and data options for your QR code marketing efforts.
Every Small Business Can Benefit from QR Code Marketing
Given the robust functionality and ease of implementation, nearly all small businesses will benefit from the use of QR codes in their marketing efforts. The difference between the success and failure of such an effort will depend on the local printing company or marketing professional you hire since they are best equipped to maximize the effectiveness of such a program for you.
Are you ready to discuss how QR codes can transform your marketing efforts?
Acu-Data Business Products specializes in QR code integration into any print or promotional product campaign. Our team can help design and create the code, craft the right offer or message to promote, as well as test and properly place the QR code in your marketing piece to maximize effectiveness.
Contact Us online and schedule a no-obligation consultation or call 1-800-535-6563 today to get started. If you want to give it a try, get started by scanning our QR code below, and you can experience the magic for yourself!