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Monday, March 14, 2011

Barcodes For Small Business Marketing

With the explosive growth in the use of smartphones & other mobile devices, there comes new opportunities for small business marketing. None is more intriguing right now than the use of barcodes.

Known as mobile tags / barcodes, action codes, 2-dimensional barcodces or QR (quick response) codes, these little pictures are starting to show up in all kinds of places...from billboards to business cards and everything in between. They have been used extensively in Japan for several years & have been very successful. So what are they and how can small business benefit?

To start, these barcodes are generated using special programming. Contained within the picture that you see is information that instructs a computer application what to do & where to go. So a smartphone, tablet or other mobile device scans them (using the camera of the device, an application & a mobile Internet connection) and information is automatically pulled up on the device. These barcodes can be created to lead devices to text, photos, videos, websites and more.

A good example of this is being used in the real estate market. A house that is for sale has a special sign out front with a mobile barcode on it. An interested home buyer drives by, stops and scans the sign with a smartphone. Instantly, information is available on the buyers cell phone about the house - maybe the listing on the real estate's web site, maybe a video of the house interior, maybe details about the asking price - the potential is virtually unlimited.

So small business has new opportunities to reach customers with mobile messages. A good example is a QR code that leads mobile devices to a coupon or special deal. This QR code can be included on printed brochures, business cards, print advertising and even a storefront window. Not only is the business marketing to customers with traditional methods, they are engaging the growing mobile market. It is easy to see that the possibilities are endless!

The excitement of new possibilities should be tempered with cautious optimism. Technology is moving at a rapid pace and each new advance requires some adjustment time. While more consumers are becoming familiar with the QR codes, not all mobile users associate them with action. So while it is a good idea to consider how they might be of benefit to your business, don't pin all your marketing plans & hopes to this single aspect of technology.

Watch for more posts in the future about suggestions to implement QR codes and creative ideas for small business to use the barcodes alongside current marketing strategies.

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