By Nils Engelking
The strength of a company’s marketing and sales strategy has a huge impact on its success and growth. Including quick response (QR) codes in a marketing toolbox can be an effective and inexpensive way for a business to promote brand awareness, reach a target audience, boost customer engagement, as well as measure a campaign’s success.
Whether your company is a startup or an established brand, learn how to effectively use QR codes to enhance your next marketing campaign.
1. Existence stage: Increasing brand awareness
Startups, in particular, are often hard-pressed just to get their company noticed and let potential clients know what problem their product or service can solve. With QR codes, they can add a digital button to print ads, business cards, posters, or storefronts to make it as easy as possible for customers to connect.
When reggae musician Craig Thompson, or Craigy T, first began building his record label, GafJam Records, he was looking for ways to connect with fans and get his music directly into the hands and smartphones of a new audience. With a social media QR code printed on business cards and album covers, he was able to display all his profiles in one place. More than that, he was able to use scan statistics to better identify his audience.
“The platform has enabled me to grow and analyze my fan base in ways I never thought possible for a growing brand,” says the Kingston native. “Awesome stuff!”
2. Survival stage: Calculating costs and pinching pennies
The mobile IT tech support team at Mac Zen was trying to spread the word about the company’s services, using the best advertising medium they had available: their vehicles.
“I needed to place a QR code on my car so that passersby could grab a digital business card. [This] gave me the unique opportunity to have a scannable code that I could repurpose over time without the expense of reprinting,” explains Mac Zen founder Aitan Roubini.
For small businesses, cost savings on printing marketing materials might make the difference between boom or bust. Dynamic QR codes can be changed and updated as often as needed, saving both time and money.
But besides just making ends meet, emerging brands want to build trust with their customer base. One way to foster this is to create a unified brand message along all channels, which can then be applied to your QR code materials. For example, using a matching URL to link the code to a custom domain name adds an extra layer of transparency for scanners.
“The ability to use custom domain names for the address meant that when customers scanned the code, they would have higher confidence that the link they’re going to is safe,” Roubini points out.
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3. Success stage: Selecting the right campaign strategies
Once Nils Will had a firm foothold for his German industrial cleaning supply business, Furth Chemie, he then faced a challenge common among small business owners: how to better identify his target markets and improve his marketing strategy. By using QR codes on product packaging, Will was able to identify which products were selling well and adjust the design of the QR codes to see how his customers were engaging with the products.
“In this industry and for these types of products, the code has to do something useful. Buyers of industrial cleaning supplies are interested in function over form, so the QR codes are more practical by design,” explains Will.
The codes on his cleaning supply product packaging often lead to an online reorder form so customers don’t have to waste time searching for the right product in a specialty cleaning supply store. For especially sensitive products, Will includes additional product information or an instructional video to encourage safe use.
4. Established brand: Maintaining the lead with QR codes
For established brands, QR codes can be a way to give back to your customer base, such as by hosting giveaways or promotions.
For example, the Dutch recruiting agency Synensis wanted to connect more with its target market. The solution: Host a bike giveaway with a branded QR code on a poster. Not only did this make one lucky scanner’s day, but it also increased awareness of the brand through a simple but cost-effective technique. And with a dynamic QR code, the company is able to adjust and repeat the giveaway action many times without having to reprint the poster, saving time and money.
In another example, Diesel Power Gear, a retail provider for diesel automotive-themed apparel used QR codes as an auto decal to promote a giveaway for a massive diesel truck—with astonishing success. To date, more than 30 diesel trucks have been given away, and thousands of scanners from all over United States have engaged with the brand by using this QR code marketing tactic.
Successful companies pull out all the stops
Granted, not all companies make it to the “success” stage. In fact, according to the Small Business Administration, only around half of all small businesses survive past their first five years. Aside from offering a quality product or service, having strong sales and marketing strategies are often game changers. After all, what good is having the best product when no one knows about it?
Companies that figure out how to reach their customers using all the tools at their disposal will be the ones that make it. These are the companies that want to make their product more customer centric—and when it comes to enhancing the customer experience, QR codes are valuable tools to have.
With strategic planning and attention to design, placement, and functionality, QR code marketing can be a cost-effective way to boost growth for small and medium-sized enterprises in any industry. Whether it’s a way for customers to track the origins of olive oil, score a delicious recipe, or download an exclusive coupon, the possibilities for QR codes are as varied as the businesses themselves.
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