What is this thing?
It’s a QR code…. and in 2010, you’ll start seeing a lot more of them.
A QR code is a special barcode that acts like an internet hyperlink. When scanned by a smart phone (such as an iPhone) it will display a webpage, business card, or message.
QR codes are an easy, cheap and fun way to promote your business.
Read on! By the end you’ll know how to create these codes and use them for nefarious guerilla marketing purposes.
That funny-looking box above
represents a link to padiinstructorinfo.com (sorry amigos, this was our old blog – new defunct). Scan it with a smartphone, and PADI Instructor News will appear on the screen.
The code isn’t doing much sitting on this webpage – but imagine if I printed out 300 of these codes on sticker paper and put them in every bathroom stall at DEMA? Besides a possible misdemeanor for me, it would be a sly marketing move: capturing the attention of smartphones users – anyone with an iPhone, Android phone, Palm Pre, etc.
This is pretty powerful marketing – that costs next to nothing. Additionally, you reaching customers who don’t mind spending money on cool gizmos. According to ComScore – over 38 million Americans own smartphones already and 64% plan to purchase a smart phone in the near future.
Creating a QR code is extremely easy. Pasted below is a screengrab from qrstuff.com – one of many free QR code generators.
As you can see it’s three short steps.
#1 Decide where you want the user to be directed to: (website, telephone number, etc).
#2 Type in the web address (or phone number) into the box
How to utilize QR Codes
Step 1: What is Your Goal?
- Increase membership in your dive club?
- Book more divers into an upcoming dive trip or charter?
- Promote a new product?
- Spread the word about your internship opportunity?
Step 2: What do you want people to see?
When the QR code is scanned, it will bring up a webpage link, virtual business card, phone number, or a few lines of text – your choice. Whatever you choose will display on the phone’s screen.
Let’s say your goal is to bring new people into your dive club.
The QR code should point at a webpage (or text) describing your next dive club meeting date, time, location and topics. Be sure to say why your dive club meeting will be the most exciting night of the year. Maybe you’re having an interesting guest speaker. Maybe there will be manufacturer-sponsored prizes. You’ve got a new customer’s attention, make it as exciting as possible.
Step 3: Go Nuts!
Create your QR code (see recommended websites below) and distribute!
- If promoting your business or dive club: place the QR codes (responsibly) in and around places where divers hang out. Is there a breakfast spot near a training site that attracts divers? Print out the codes and put them on index cards – under car windshield wipers, stashed in the menus, etc.
- Got an internship program? Visit the student common areas or cafeteria of your local college. Place your code next to napkin holders, tape them up inside bathroom stalls during a big sporting event, make beer coasters – get creative!Put the codes wherever students are likely to have a few moments of idle time. Invite students to contact you for more information on how to become an intern and/or a diver (using simple text or directing them to a college page on your website).
- To promote a new product such as a safety whistle or underwater camera in your store, post a QR code next to the product and link to a video of the product in action (on the manufacturer’s website, or something you’ve made).
- Need to fill up an upcoming dive trip? Put a QR code on your trip flyers and have it point to a youtube video of the destination.
- Print off a sheet of QR codes and use them as a calling card. Leave one with your restaurant bill or in the waiting room of the dentist’s office. Maybe write an intriguing message on the back,
“Are you Curious?”
- Some of the websites below will print your QR code on a t-shirt. Walk around town, a convention center, or your favorite outdoor concert and invite people you see using their smartphones to scan your shirt.*
* This may work better for wahines than kanes – not recommended in all cities. 🙂
The QR code is still new to many folks which makes it a great conversation piece. Esquire magazine and Fast Company recently did issues spotlighting this new technology.
Also, take my word on this one: people who own smartphones love to show off what they can do.
Are you QRious? Ready to Get Started?
Try out the QR code experience (see below)
Using a smartphone with a QR barcode reader, scan the QR code below. If it doesn’t work for you right off the screen, try printing the image out on a piece of paper.
No barcode reader?
- Here’s CNet’s list of the best barcode readers for the iPhone.
- For Android I use the app called Barcode Scanner (it’s free).
- NeoReader is a QR reader app for Blackberry, Palm and other phones – though I haven’t personally tested it.
Ready to Make Your Own?
Print out one or several QR codes at qrstuff.com. You can print the codes on regular paper or make stickers on Avery labels). You can also create fabric QR patches at p8tch.com (attach to a dive bag, jacket, etc).
15 minute QR code project
- Go to qrstuff.com
- Choose “text” as the data type
- Update the sample text below.
- Paste the text into the website’s text box.
Fate is telling you to become a scuba diver. Email us at [your email here] or call us at XXX-XXX-XXXX. Mention you found our QR code and you and a friend can try scuba for free in our pool. Already a diver? Come to our next dive club meeting. We’d love to meet you. Email us for details.
One last really important thing:
You’ve got the customer’s attention. Make the payoff compelling. Rather than simply linking to your homepage, consider a short message of simple text that references your website. For example:
Hi there, we like your style. We’re scuba divers, and like you, we’re curious. We like to explore and try new things. Here’s our website: xyzdivecenter.com – we hope you’ll stop by.
Alternately, you could have the QR code point to a special page on your website inviting the customer to leave their contact info to receive a special offer. Or, if you have a short promotional video already produced, you could link to the video’s URL. Be sure and watch your video on someone’s phone first to make sure it looks okay.