What Are QR Codes and How Can Industrial Companies Use Them?

So what’s the deal with the bar codes showing up on ads, billboards, mailers, brochures, and just about any other printed marketing piece these days? Have you just wondered, or have you actually figured it out, downloaded a code scanner to your Smartphone, and scanned one?
Those bar codes are called “QR codes,” short for Quick Response code and they are the newest way for individuals to interact quickly with a product, service, or company. There are apps available for most Smartphones that can be downloaded and used to scan the code. Once scanned by the Smartphone’s QR reader, the phone immediately jumps to an Internet landing page that provides whatever the marketer wishes: a coupon, a contest entry, registration for a “free” offer, or just more information about something.
It might interest you to know that a recent study conducted by a major marketing firm indicated:
•QR scanning in North American increased 1,200% in the past six months.
•People who are aware of QR codes tend to be more educated and affluent, between the ages of 35-54.
•The two main reasons QR codes were scanned – about 53% for both – were getting a coupon or accessing additional information while away from a laptop or desktop computer.
•33% scanned to enter a sweepstakes.
•26% scanned to access a video.
•23% scanned to make an actual purchase.
Not surprisingly, as of today, QR codes are primarily being used by B to C businesses. However, even though we are a small firm dealing exclusively with industrial businesses, we do have one client, an industrial service company, that is experimenting with QR codes in their ads, mailers, and brochures. Undoubtedly, as QR codes become more common, manufacturers and other industrial companies will see their usefulness and start integrating them into their marketing efforts.
But what about today? Why should an industrial company think about using QR codes at a time when they haven’t yet been widely accepted within the industrial community? Perhaps your company would like to extend its messaging in printed media and be able to more accurately track digital response, or maybe you like being on the cusp of new marketing technology. If you are a manufacturer or industrial service company whose value proposition is based on offering cutting edge technology, the use of QR codes is one more way to build that image.
Even if you’d like to give QR codes a shot, you may not have considered all of their applications. They can be used on any printed media, such as brochures; mailers; ads; billboards or signs; trade show display materials; business cards – if it’s printed, it’s a spot for a QR code. One simple QR code can be the launching pad to:
•Your entire product catalog
•Your Twitter or Facebook page
•A video on your Industrial Production Index China website or YouTube
•A special offer page that requires registration (and a new prospect for your lead database)
•Your website
•Details about a new product or service
•A landing page with a live chat box monitored by your inside sales or customer service personnel
•Directions to your facility
•A special event invitation
•Your Production Capability Assessment blog
•A technical paper (which could also require registration, and provide leads)
•A landing page that elaborates on one specific ad (great for gauging results)
•A landing page that promotes one specific product or service
•Registration for a raffle or drawing at a trade show
•Trade show registration
QR codes give you the ability to track the “hits” on any given page. This is the kind of insight that marketers crave, but is usually elusive with print media. Knowing what brings the most response is the key to knowing where to direct your marketing efforts.
The reality is that QR codes are growing in use and where it goes, nobody knows. Is it just a fad, or will it become an important tool in the future for the industrial marketer? Just as social media marketing is starting to become more prevalent in the industrial arena, one day soon we may see QR codes on the majority of ads in trade publications. Unlike some marketing tactics, implementing QR codes into your printed marketing materials is a relatively inexpensive way to experiment with new technology. Why not give them a try?

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