Marketing, Technology

May 11, 2011

QR Codes for Small Businesses

QR codes (short for Quick Response), the black and white image you see to the left, are popping up everywhere these days.  So what exactly are they?  Does you business need one?  And, if so, how do you get one?

First, a QR code is nothing more than a two-dimensional barcode that is encoded with text, a website URL, or other information.  The idea, from a marketing standpoint, is by incorporating a QR code into your marketing material or even your product packaging, you will encourage customers to scan the device with their mobile phone which will enable them to learn more about you and your company.  Additionally, QR codes are a way to track the return on marketing investment as it’s easy to see how many people have scanned your QR code for more information.

As to whether your business actually needs one is a different question entirely.  As with anything marketing, the answer lies in who your target market is.  QR codes are hugely popular in Japan and South Korea so if your target market is made up fo a similar demographic it may be a given that this is a tool you should use.  Alternatively, if your target market is comprised of less tech-savvy individuals then QR codes may be pointless.

You should also give some thought as to how QR codes will fit with yoru overall marketing strategy.  As an example, the other day I was walking through my neighborhood and came up on a beautiful house for sale.  Instead of providing pieces of paper with the home’s details, the real estate agent had posted a QR code.  Since I was out without my cell phone, I had nothing to scan the code with.  Granted, if I were a highly motivated home buyer I could have always gone back later to scan the code or looked through the listings on the real estate agent’s website to find the house, but you don’t want to make it more difficult then it needs to be to get cusomters to connect with you.  Though popular in parts of Asia, QR codes have been slow to get started here in the US so don’t assume everyone has a phone that can scan QR codes and make sure that there are still ‘old-fashioned’ ways to share information with customers easily.  (If you want to download a QR reader for your mobile device click here).

If you’ve decided that a QR codes is a good marketing toool for your business, you’ll be happy to know that they’re easy to aquire and free of charge (as of today).  Simply put QR code into any search engine and you’ll get a long list of companies that can instantiously produce a specialized QR code for your small food business.