Marketing and QR Codes

Visitors to the Marketing Pavilion at GRAPH EXPO 2011 have the opportunity to learn much about all of the tools and techniques that are involved in the business of marketing. The components of a marketing campaign can include print, digital, social media, direct mail, email, telemarketing, multimedia, and much more. Today, one hot trend in the world of marketing is the use of QR codes.

A few years ago, QR codes were rarely seen in the United States—despite being all the rage in Japan. Today, QR codes are everywhere and used in a wide variety of ways. According to one recent survey, in the last six months of 2010, QR code use increased 1,200% in the U.S. Recently, the United States Postal Service offered a 3% discount for mailing pieces that included a QR code as a way to promote the use of direct mail.

For those who somehow have avoided running into a QR code, it is simply a two-dimensional barcode that can be scanned by the camera in a smartphone in order to transfer information. The beauty of QR codes is that it doesn’t cost to add them to marketing materials, since basic QR codes generally are free.

Applications for QR codes are almost limitless. You can:

• Create a QR code on a business card that can lead people to your company’s website or to a Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn profile.

• Put a QR code on a product label to lead people to more information about the product.

• Mount a large-format printed QR code in the window of a retail location to lead potential customers to a website to learn more about the business or to request a quote or estimate, even outside of business hours.

• Use QR codes in promotions to lead people to discounts or freebies that are exclusive to those who scan the codes.

• Print QR codes on apparel such as T-shirts to promote a business or a special offering or event

• Use QR codes to send people to a sign-up page for an e-newsletter or to subscribe to a printed newsletter.

Many retailers have taken advantage of QR codes on in-store POP or individual product labeling. For example, retail giant Best Buy has QR codes on much of its merchandise that lead customers to a site optimized for viewing with a mobile device. The site gives product specifications for that particular camera, computer, or appliance.

Obviously, QR codes are not the end-all or be-all, but they can be a valuable part of most marketing campaigns. Used creatively, they can be an effective addition to almost any printed piece, from POP signs to direct mail postcards. The only limit is your imagination!