The Perfect Blend

How to run a small business and stay sane.

Using QR Codes for Small Business Marketing

Using mobile marketing and in particular QR codes to engage customers

Seven years ago, entrepreneur Rico Elmore was on vacation when he failed to find a pair of sunglasses that would fit on his not-so-small noggin. Elmore's hefty head experience left him with an ah-ha moment, and today he is the proud proprietor of Fatheadz Eyewear, a company that makes oversize sunglasses and extra wide eyewear for folks with large heads.

Always looking for ways to innovate, Elmore has recently been using mobile marketing and in particular QR codes to engage customers in making a once-boring piece of print an interactive experience.

QR codes (Quick Response Codes) are commonly aimed at mobile phone users. If you have a camera equipped phone with a QR code reader application, this will scan the image of the QR code to display text, contact information, connect to a wireless network, or open a web page in the telephone's browser.

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"In early 2011, I was flipping through an outdoor retailer trade publication when I saw a QR code in the magazine," says Elmore. "I thought it was very cool and decided to look into how we might start using them in our marketing."

Within 60 days, Fatheadz had integrated the use of QR codes into its campaign involving the ongoing sponsorship of racecar drivers.

"For all of our sponsored drivers, we give them a 'Hero' card they can autograph and give out to their fans," says Elmore. "We put a QR code on the back, and when the fan scans it on their mobile device, up pops our web page."

Once on the website, fans can see information about their favorite racecar driver, including which sunglasses they wear - and buy them. Elmore says the QR code campaign has increased web traffic by 10 percent.

What's next? Elmore says he plans to increase the use of QR codes to prospective retailers by printing them on business cards and other marketing collateral and then linking them to product videos on his site.

Dan Hollings, an expert on mobile marketing, says that video is one of the most effective uses of QR codes.

"The key is to create a short video (under three minutes) about your product or service or some useful information relating to your product or service," says Hollings. "Then post the video on your website, YouTube and Facebook and link a QR code to it that brings the visitor to the video. It's as simple as that."

Even though QR codes are relatively simple to set up and use, many small businesses don't know where to begin. To start, check out Qr.net and createandtrack.com, just two of the hundreds of sites that offer QR code creation.

Once you've created a code, Hollings says you can then easily link it to a video, your website or a podcast. Once you know where you want to send your potential clients, the next step is to promote it. Publish your QR code on your business cards, flyers, DVDs, brochures, mailers, signage, or any other material you give to potential clients. Hollings says he's even seen them placed on coffee mugs as a giveaway at conferences.

Still feeling a bit shy about bringing QR codes into your marketing mix? Get your feet wet by using one yourself. Now that you know what to look for, you'll see them everywhere. So download a QR reader on your smartphone and scan away. Who knows, you might just end up with a pair of your favorite racecar driver's sunglasses.

Has your small business been doing anything with QR Codes or other forms of mobile marketing? We would love to hear your comments. 

Karen Leland is a freelance journalist, best-selling author and president of Sterling Marketing Group where she helps businesses create killer content and negotiate the wired world of today's media landscape -- through modern marketing practices, business development, PR and social media. She writes a weekly small business feature column forXero.com, online accounting software for small business. For questions or comments, please contact her at kleland@scgtraining.com. 

 

Karen Leland is the co-author of Watercooler Wisdom and many other books.

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