For many small businesses, the not-so-new marketing technique of QR Codes is just another technology platform that may well be a craze.

Unfortunately, this would be wishful thinking.

QR Codes are here to stay and in 2012 small businesses will find everything from advertisements through to resumes featuring QR Codes alongside brand names sending consumers and customers to websites, video, advertisements, catalogues, contact information, product suggestions and so on.

Only limited by your imagination or that of your creative departments, it is imperative that marketers don't fall prey to this form of marketing without carefully considering their target audience.
QR Codes - Only Limited By Your Imagination and Target Audience

When I was in the U.S. recently, I saw an aged care facility advertisement with a QR Code on it. Really? Did the marketers behind this really think that this would work? I am afraid that it was not only a waste of space on the advertisement, but a clear example of a marketer who has a complete disconnect with their target audience.

QR Codes are everywhere; coffee cups, billboards, retail signs, social media platforms, websites, brochures, product packaging, resumes - you name it - it probably is there. I for one think that the barcode looks ghastly on an advertisement and doesn't sit so well alongside brand identity marks, but in most cases it has a place.

The task for all small businesses is to consider how (and if) a QR Code will work for their business and how much should they invest in changing the placement of their brand on various touchpoints to incorporate a QR Code that needs to be able to deliver a useful and meaningful experience for your clients.

Considering what your small business marketing strategy is for 2012 is imperative to aligning the placement and interactivity of a QR Code in your marketing programs. QR Codes are great for providing contact information, but they do need to produce an experience that is more than that. Try incentivizing mobile purchasing behaviour through coupons and loyalty rewards, or garner email address, likes on facebook, phone calls and social media engagement. The list is endless when it comes to what you can actually achieve from a QR Code, but understanding your customer is key.

Don't forget to pay special attention to the design and usability of the content on your QR Code. Opt for designer codes rather than a black and white code as they have a higher scan-through rate and look better on your marketing material.

Identify your social metrics by analysing whether your business receives more hits on your website because you have incorporated a QR Code, more followers on Twitter or more 'likes' on Facebook.

According to comScore, 20.1 million mobile phone users in the U.S. used their devices to scan QR Codes in a 3-month average period ending in October 2011. Australia certainly has not this magnitude of take-up rate, but like everything, we won't be far behind. Companies do need to investigate now, what role QR Codes will play in their 2012 marketing strategies.

Author: Mellissah Smith, small business marketing blog writer.
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Mellissah Smith

Mellissah Smith is a marketing expert with more than 20 years experience. Having founded and built two successful marketing companies internationally, she is well recognized as a industry thought leader and innovator. Mellissah started her career working with technology and professional services firms, primarily in marketing, public relations and investor relations, positioning a number of successful companies to list on the various Stock Exchanges around the world. She is a writer, technology developer and entrepreneur who shares her thoughts and experiences through blogs and written articles published in various media outlets. Brag sheet: #2 marketer to follow on Twitter (2003), Top 150 Marketers to Follow (2015), Top 10 innovative marketers (2014), 60K+ followers on Twitter with 97% authentic.

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