I consider myself a fairly average. I'm definitely not a tech-geek, and I thoroughly respect those who are. But I definitely enjoy learning about technologies, especially about new ways of using "old" tech. Enter QR codes.
QR codes (Quick Response codes) were invented in 1994 to help a Japanese car manufacturer accelerate their logistics processes. Because they are a matrix barcode, they are able to be read in both directions, not just left to right like regular barcodes, which allows them to store more information.
With the introduction of mobile phones, QR codes moved beyond inventory management, to travel and entertainment with ticketing, and then into a variety of other uses, including non-business uses such as adding them to gravestones so cemetery visitors can learn more about the deceased. We are used to seeing QR codes for a variety of purposes, but it seems they follow a cyclical pattern of growing in popularity and then waning.
Then we had a pandemic.
COVID brought the need for touchless interactions between individuals and between businesses and their customers. And, as we've become more comfortable using QR codes in our day to day lives, it may be that QR codes will be around to stay. So, how can you and your clients use QR codes?
1. Marketing materials are a great place to use QR codes when the code points to relevant, compelling, beneficial information. Things to keep in mind:
- Marketing isn't necessarily about growing your practice, it is about building the practice you want with the clients you want.
- Remember, the fundamental purpose of marketing is to build relationships. So you need to be strategic in where the QR code lands on your website.
- Give and take. When someone clicks on the QR code, you should give them something valuable, but you can also take the opportunity to ask for a "micro-level commitment", i.e., have them enter their email & ask some very basic survey questions, ask them to connect with you on social, etc.
2. Conferences, networking events and even business meetings are another opportunity to use QR codes. Use a QR code to allow those you meet to connect with you on LinkedIn, visit your website, or maybe even land on a fun special page designed just for people you meet out and about. Many conference producers use QR codes that allow you to connect with people you meet using the conference app, but you can take it a step further. Adding your own QR code to your business cards, to a name badge, or even to your clothing or briefcase/bag can help you get conversations started.
Remember, networking is about building relationships, so be strategic in where you direct the QR code. Define why you want them to go to that page (whether it is your LinkedIn or your website).
3. You can use QR codes to accept payments. Although this isn't a widespread practice yet, it is starting to become more common. And accounting software is making it more simple. For example, QuickBooks Online Payments allows you to generate a QR code for your customers.
4. Customer support and customer education can be delivered with QR codes. For example, did you know that the IRS is now printing QR codes on CP14 and CP14IA notices to taxpayers informing them that they owe money on unpaid taxes? With a quick scan of a phone, tax payers are able to access the information they need.
Providing customer support (including customer education) allows customers to consume information on the go - just make sure that the landing page they go to is mobile optimized.
5. Customer review requests can be delivered through QR codes. The QR code can direct customers to an outside source, such as Google Reviews. Remember that online reviews like Google Reviews and Yelp are the new "word of mouth" advertising, so you want to have a solid presence on these platforms.