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QR code marketing for SMEs

QR codes are everywhere. Walk down your local high street and you'll see them on advertisements at bus stops, in shop windows and you might even find one wrapped around a lamp post.

QR codes are everywhere. Walk down your local high street and you’ll see them on advertisements at bus stops, in shop windows and you might even find one wrapped around a lamp post.

Many large corporations are using QR codes with great success. Probably the most talked about QR code success story is Tesco in South Korea, who increased sales by 130 percent in three months with its visual experiment in mobile supermarket shopping. Read more here: goo.gl/pUEQB

But what can QR codes do for SMEs?

If you are completely new to QR code marketing, keep reading and I’ll give you a brief introduction and share my thoughts on how QR codes can make traditional marketing more measurable.

What is a QR code?

QR codes, or Quick Response codes, are 2D barcodes that can be decoded using a smartphone with a QR reader. They started off being used as a tracking mechanism for auto parts, but more recently they’ve proven very useful in marketing.

Why engage in QR code marketing?

According to Ofcom’s latest marketing communications report, over a quarter of adults (27 percent) and almost half of teenagers (47 percent) now own a smartphone in the UK. The vast majority of these people (81 percent) have their smartphones switched on all the time and 37 percent of adults and 60 percent of teens admit to being addicted to using them.

By engaging in QR code marketing, you can tap into this rapidly growing smartphone market.

What can QR codes do for your business?

QR codes can be used by SMEs to communicate all sorts of messages. A few examples include:

  • Promoting a discount or special offer.
  • Driving customers to your website.
  • Demonstrating a product.
  • Giving customers additional information about your company.

One of the largest drivers of QR code marketing is intrigue. People scan the codes with their phone through curiosity and generally to gain some sort of benefit.

You can programme a QR code to do pretty much anything, so be creative and think about what added value you can offer your customers.

How do you use QR codes?

QR codes are easy (and free) to set up and offer a range of possible uses for marketers. They can be used on product packaging, in shop window displays, on TV advertisements, in print advertising and much more.

One of the ways I think QR codes can really prove their worth for SMEs is by making traditional marketing more measurable.

Print advertising, for example, is great for maintaining brand awareness and promoting key messages about a particular product or service, but in terms of stimulating calls to action, print advertising is difficult to measure. But QR codes can change this.

By using a simple tracking device, like Google Analytics, the use of QR codes in adverts can be measured, and not only that, by using different QR codes in different adverts, companies can compare the effectiveness of advertising campaigns. The same applies to other forms of traditional marketing, for example, direct mail campaigns, inserts and even PR!

The boundaries for QR code marketing are far-reaching. One of my favourite uses of a QR code appears on a UNESCO World Heritage site in France. Place Stanislas, a large pedestrianised square, has grown a botanical QR code using over 1,700 plants which span over 43 feet. The naturally grown QR code can be scanned from the balcony of City Hall, which then directs the user to a mobile page with information about the garden and its events.

When used well QR codes appeal to consumers’ curiosity and provide a quick response mechanism which can deliver exciting results for SMEs.

Have you got a smartphone? Scan the QR code which accompanies this blog to read about 101 uses for quick response codes.


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