Are You Using QR Codes? Let’s Talk About It…

00244_00123I recently read an article in the Wall Street Journal about QR codes…I thought it was very cool that a coffee shop in Canada had advertised with QR codes on trains. Passengers scan the codes and are taken to a mobile menu in which they can order whatever they want. When they got off the train their coffee was waiting for them. This coffee shop doubled its sales. It was brilliant!

So I Googled more articles because now I was intrigued. I love nothing more than reading about creative marketing. Here are a few stories that caught my attention:

Philadelphia commuters spend on average of 30 minutes a day commuting, roughly 2.5 hours a week and can grocery shop through Peapod. Peapod advertised in local business publications and posted a QR code that took them literally to a mobile site that consumers can use to pick from a full grocery list and be finished by the end of their commute. Love this too because I dread nothing more than grocery shopping!

Nissan has incorporated a QR code for every car on their lot…a potential customer would scan the code and it would take them to everything that was included in that particular model vehicle instantaneously. Amazing!

This one actually ticked me off a bit…there is a company that makes dog collars with QR codes on the back of the collar. I spent a pretty penny to have my Boxer puppy micro chipped and I could have just bought this collar. This particular company took it to the next level. Each collar QR code took you to a web page that you would find everything you would need to know about the pup including: pets name, emergency contacts, vet name and phone number, medical needs and vaccinations, training tricks and dietary needs. An owner would not even need to write down care instructions for a pet when leaving on a vacation or business trip anymore.

Forbes Magazine tells me that QR codes have been around for 18 years! Now I really feel dumb. They’ve mostly been used in manufacturing, but they have since shifted to magazines, billboards and subway stations. In June of 2011, 14 million smart phone users scanned a QR code – sounds impressive right? Well, it is not really as impressive as it sounds if you consider that the number only makes up about 17 percent of smart phone owners.

Is this a fad? If you don’t have an awesome idea is it worth it?

They are definitely an eye-sore, and to slap them on every pretty marketing piece I create definitely turns me off a bit. I don’t think everyone even knows what they are or how to use them. From what I have read, there can be slow load times, and sometimes a smart phone might have issues getting a good read in poor lighting. There is also the security issue: a customer really has no idea what they are scanning until they do it. So there is hesitation there as well.

Search engines, big brand names, mobile phone companies are all on it, so how can I resist?

I have slowly started to implement QR codes onto our promotional materials and on our business cards for Advanced AV. I can’t say I have come up with a blow-your-mind idea yet, but again, the wheels are turning. Can QR codes be as effective for a business to business company? I think so, but in a different light.

I think QR codes can be an effective tool for our service clients directing them to our contact information, help desk, 24 hour service line – so in case there’s ever a problem we would be one scan away.  Putting a sticker with a QR code after a rack install, for example, would not be that difficult and is a cost effective service that I think our clients would appreciate. Our vans are spotted all over Philadelphia when they’re out on service calls. I think it is time to add a QR code to our wrap. Promoting events or contests with QR codes to increase social media and web presence are all possibilities. At the end of the day, it is a pretty cost effective marketing tool.

I can see such an opportunity for our manufacturers, just like Nissan, if AV manufacturers put a QR code on every new piece of equipment that would take you to online product information, accessories and case studies. That exposure might open up all kinds of new business, and it’s also green.

QR codes can be yet another way to open a door to a new contact, be a resource for current customers and gain exposure both to our website as well as our social media sites. So I will give it a shot. This might not prove to be successful, but slowly implementing them into my marketing initiatives is not going to break the bank, so what do I have to lose?

Are you using QR codes? Let’s talk about it.