QR Codes: Passing Fad or Brilliant Marketing Tool?

Help members scan their way to your CU’s bottom line.

December 23, 2011
KEYWORDS barcode , codes , marketing
/ PRINT / ShareShare / Text Size +

Somehow, the best marketing tool of the online era is still flying under the radar of many small businesses. QR (Quick Response) codes are a two-dimensional type of barcode, originally designed by a Japanese automaker to revolutionize the manufacturing inventory process.

These powerful little gizmos have an almost unlimited ability to assist any business in tracking and improving a variety of processes. But they really shine when used to help with marketing efforts.

So, how do they work? Well, let’s start at the end and work our way back.

For marketing purposes, QR codes are read by your prospect or customer using a smartphone application. ScanLife, QuickMark, Optiscan, Barcode Scanner, and the Goggle QR code application are just a few of the many options available.

You can include a QR code in your marketing materials, on your business cards, or on promotional items, and when your prospect scans your code with her mobile device, she is directed to text, video, photos, music—or even a URL of your choosing.

The obvious advantages for customers include the instant access to your content and the convenience of not having to write down (or try to memorize) a phone number or web address for later use.

Many potential customers are lost every day to the lag between exposure to your brand and the time it takes to get to a computer or phone. QR codes let you take that lag out of the equation. They’re extremely cost-effective, simple to use, and almost limitless in their potential.

You can generate your own QR codes easily, quickly, and cheaply (can you say, “free?”) using a code generator such as Kimtag, iCandy, Kaywa, or a host of other code generators that are available for free or as part of a QR services suite.

StickyBits will even produce your QR codes on stickers or temporary tattoos, for even more fun options.

Codes no longer have to be homely little squares of squiggles either. QR codes can be crafted into your company logo and colors, or shaped to resemble almost anything, such as a dog or a house

Each code can store almost anything the creative marketer can imagine.

Although the sky’s the limit for getting creative with QRs, let’s talk about some specific examples where QR codes can help you market your company:

• Promotional materials. Many companies like to give away swag at trade shows, seminars, or sales presentations. Imprint a QR code on your swag, and potential customers will never lose the ability to connect with you.

Attach a limited special offer to the code that isn’t available to the general public, and you’ll create instant urgency and brand loyalty.

• E-cards. Imagine your business card supersized! On your business card, include a QR code that will allow the recipient to scan your information instantly into his smartphone contacts.

Or, have the QR code direct your potential customer to your website or Facebook page.

• Window or trade-show displays.

Right now, you may be asking, “What’s the downside?” Well, actually there is one disadvantage of note.

Many people don’t know what QR codes really are or how to use them. But this problem is simple to overcome.

Place a blurb in your marketing materials explaining what the QR code does and where to find a scanning app. You will give your curious customers all the help they need to start scanning their way into your bottom line!

This article was written by The Small Business Authority, which provides business lending, merchant processing, data storage, and website design, development, and hosting. The company is a CUNA Strategic Services strategic alliance provider.

Post a comment to this story


What's Popular

Popular Stories

Recent Discussion

Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory ( will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

Your Say: Who should be Credit Union Magazine's 2014 CU Hero of the Year?

View Results Poll Archive