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How to Make QR Code Posters 

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Published:  February 03, 2012
 
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Slide 1: ==== ==== Easy QR-Code Video Tutorial http://tinyurl.com/75fnubh ==== ==== Those strange-looking shape-filled squares you've been seeing lately may not look like much, but they are very likely the next big thing in marketing and branding for U.S. businesses. With a simple snap of a smartphone, that unassuming graphic sends valuable information instantly to potential customers, which for some businesses can mean the difference between a sale or a walk-away. What is this magic marketing bullet you ask? Its common moniker is a "QR code," and it is essentially a two-dimensional bar code much like the bar codes that have become so ubiquitous in the retail world. But it is oh so much more! Each QR code (QR stands for quick response) is composed of tiny shapes that can be read both horizontally and vertically. The turbo-charged design means that when activated, this code can implement complex actions, such as opening a web page, downloading a video or sending a text message. It's a way of providing instant information, integrating print and multimedia capabilities, capturing data on the spot and otherwise engaging your customer through the use of today's new mobile technology. "It's growing very rapidly," comments Mike Wehrs in an article on Newsobserver.com. Wehrs is the president of Scanbuy, a New York QR code development and management company that produces one of the most popular codes: ScanLife. "It's not something where you'd say people don't know what's going on, but it's not 100 percent out there yet either." But whether or not people don't know about these codes yet, they definitely will in the near future. According to the article, Scanbuy data shows QR code generation and usage has increased by 700 percent since January 2009 with the number of scans in the United States increasing from around 1,000 a day to more than 35,000 a day. That's an awful lot of people clicking their smartphones for more information. But it seems that's what people want nowadays. Consumers crave information. They're devouring online reviews and product descriptions before even stepping foot in a store. And they want even more. Latitude, a Massachusetts consulting firm that researches how new information and communications technologies can be used to improve consumer experiences, discovered in a 2010 study of food shoppers that 56 percent of shoppers wanted more product information, such as food origins and ingredients, from the stores they frequent, and 30 percent of the respondents wanted that information delivered to their mobile phone. "What this study tells us is that having access to information in real-time-at those critical decisionmaking moments-is often the missing link between intent and action," says Neela Sakaria, Latitude vice president. Smartphones = Savvy Consumers Although QR codes are not new (they were developed in Japan in 1994 and appear on everything
Slide 2: from beer cans to buses around Asia), they are only now starting to hit Mainstream U.S.A. QR codes require a web-enabled smartphone to decode, something not all consumers use. But that is changing. According to a comScore MobiLens report from last July, one in four Americans now own a smartphone and that is on a continual upward trajectory. The Nielsen Company has similar astounding statistics: as of Q3 2010, 28 percent of U.S. mobile users had smartphones, and of people who acquired a new cell phone in the prior six months, 41 percent chose a smartphone. Nielsen predicts that by the end of 2011, there will be more smartphones in the U.S. market than standard feature phones. And lest you think those smartphone users are all teenagers who are not your core audience, the comScore report showed that smartphone penetration is highest among persons age 25-34 with the second highest group being age 35-44. In addition, Nielsen reports, two-thirds of today's smartphone buyers are personal users. "U.S. consumers increasingly view their mobile phone as their go-to device for shopping and managing their lives," says Peter A. Johnson, vice president of market intelligence for the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA). In a study conducted last October, the MMA found that 59 percent of mobile consumers had planned to use their mobile phone for holiday shopping and planning celebrations. Knowing the Basics The technology and desire to make QR codes popular is definitely there. So how can retailers and other small businesses leverage this exciting new marketing tactic to their advantage? Let's start by learning the basics of 2D bar codes. Two-dimensional bar codes (also called matrix codes) come in various designs. The two most prevalent in the market today are the QR codes mentioned above and a similar format developed by Microsoft called Microsoft Tags. The codes used in Country Business are Microsoft Tags. Microsoft Tags are proprietary in that they can only be read by a Microsoft Tag Reader. However, the Tag Reader is free and easy to download and the tags themselves are free to create. Microsoft Tags can also be rendered in black and white or color and can also be customized or branded. Microsoft Tags can also be made smaller than other QR codes and, according to Microsoft, are more readable under non-prime conditions or by inferior phones. Microsoft also makes the whole process easy to use and allows organization and analytics of your various tags. Scanning a Microsoft Tag can open a website, send a text message, place a phone call or add contact info to your address book. QR code creators and their accompanying readers are available from a variety of different companies. Some of the top QR code generators are ScanLife, Kaywa and BeeTagg. You can do an Internet search for "QR code generator" to find even more. Most QR code generators and readers are free and easily downloaded as well (although a few may charge for expanded services, such as data metrics, organizational library, etc). One of the main benefits of QR codes are that several different codes can be read by various readers. Some code readers are even coming pre-installed on newer phones. Scanning a QR code provides the same results as Microsoft Tags plus some; a QR code can also add a bookmark, email a message, find geographical coordinates and a few other actions in addition to opening a website, adding contact information and other actions handled by Microsoft Tags.
Slide 3: Both QR code readers and Microsoft Tag readers run on the most popular smartphones, including Blackberry, iPhone, Android and Windows Mobile. Specific details on compatible platforms can be found at each company's website. The process to create the tags is simple; basically sign up at the code generator of your choice, choose your URL or other action, and decide what size and format to make the final code. The final code is downloaded to your computer and can be used on various surfaces-printed on paper, added to window clings, adhered to vehicles, designed into fabric-even tattooed onto skin! A YouTube video shows one inventive person creating a working QR code out of M&M candies. Best Practices The 2D bar codes are currently being used in any number of ways. Tech-savvy business men and women are adding QR codes to their business cards so recipients can access their online business profile. Airlines are using codes to allow travelers to scan their boarding passes paperless from their phones. New York garbage trucks have QR codes printed on the side that let viewers scan the code to see a video on recycling. Realtors are adding codes to their For Sale signs to let potential buyers see interior shots and get more information on the homes for sale. A Pennsylvania company sells Memory Medallions that put QR codes on tombstones to let loved ones scan photos, a video and a biography of their departed family member. Those examples may be obscure, but when it comes to the retail world, QR codes and tags can be used just as inventively. Codes can be placed on shelf talker signs to give more information about the product (Best Buy started doing this in all their stores last year). In a gift or home decor store, this could be especially useful for handmade goods or artisan pieces. The code can scan to a video demonstration on how the products are made or an interview with the artist. Or if you sell specialty foods, a tag or code can be used to download recipe ideas for that particular item. A QR code or tag placed among a display can give a complete listing of all the products in the display, their prices and where they can be found in the store. Or consider generating a code for your window display and placing it somewhere where it is visble from the street, so people passing by at night can gain more information about the products on display. It's a salesman that's working for you while your business is closed! (Google is actually doing something similar; it is sending out window decals with QR codes to more than 100,000 U.S. businesses it identified as the most sought after on Google and Google Maps.) A code can also be used to enhance a TV ad. Give a 30-second spot added value by displaying a code at the end that takes viewers to a more in-depth YouTube video of your store, or sends them detailed information about upcoming events. Display a code near your cash register that lets customers scan it and automatically sign up for your newsletters. Have a delivery van? Put your QR code smack dab on the side of the van, turning it into an interactive traveling marketing piece. Ramp up your print campaigns. Integrate codes or tags into your flyers, brochures, catalogs or newsletters. Print is one-dimensional. Today's customers want their information in multimedia format. Give it to them. Send shoppers on a scavenger hunt. Place 10 codes around your shop and have customers scan all 10 to get a discount on their order. If they buy at least five or more of the 10 items, give them a bigger discount. Or have one tag scan to another product they need to find to locate the next tag,
Slide 4: sending customers all around your shop. When it comes to integrating 2D bar codes into your business, Latitude's Sakaria says to "look at what people are doing in the store, what the gaps are between their desires and their actions, and architect tools with those in mind." Consider what questions shoppers ask or what more information they look for to help make their buying decision. If customers are hesitant to purchase floral arrangements because they can never quite envision how they might work in their homes, have a nearby QR code sign that lets shoppers scan the code for pictures of how florals can enhance different rooms. When you do implement a 2D bar code marketing program, keep these practices in mind: • Be sure the scanned information provides added value; don't make people go to the effort of downloading a reader and scanning a code just to take them to a general paragraph or two about your business. • Keep the URLs used to create the codes short; use a URL shortener if needed. • Be sure the landing page is optimized for mobile viewing. • Be sure codes are placed where WiFi is available, or be sure that your customers have web-enabled smartphones. • In addition to the code itself, also include descriptive copy on how to download a reader or scan the code. • Test out the code on various phones before making it public. • Have an inventory system in place and a way to track metrics of the codes; you want to make sure your efforts are paying off. QR codes and Microsoft Tags are an innovative way to enhance the customer relationship for any business. The technology is easy to use and the cost is minimal at most. With everything going for it, diving into this new wave of marketing is more like being carried away on a delightful ocean current rather than jumping off a cliff. Go ahead! Take the plunge. Susan Wagner is the editor of Country Business magazine, a trade publication for independent gift and home decor retailers. Country Business provides valuable business advice, tips, resources, ideas and more to help the small business owner succeed in today's retail world. For more information, visit http://www.country-business.com. Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Susan_M._Wagner
Slide 5: ==== ==== Easy QR-Code Video Tutorial http://tinyurl.com/75fnubh ==== ====

   
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