The world of advertising was once much simpler. All that companies had to do in order to attract customers to a store or office was to use marketing devices, such as print media, radio commercials or television ads, to sing the praises of a product or service. Some campaigns were successful, while others failed, and the time it took to judge their effectiveness was often quite long.
However, the internet and mobile devices have forced companies to act much more quickly and in a variety of ways. Social media, search engines, blogging and other technologically-aided tools force marketers to constantly try new things, which can be judged failures or successes very quickly.
An interesting way to interface with customers that is gaining traction in the small business community is through QR codes. These items, also called quick response codes, are a kind of barcode that consumers can photograph with their smartphones. The device then analyzes the black and white grid pattern and directs the user to a website or mobile app.
These codes are useful because they allow customers to link directly to a company without the difficulty of searching for a company's name. Better yet, they can be used to track customers, who can log in to a company website or check in on a social networking platform.
One way that QR codes can be used to great effect is on promotional products. Small businesses that give away promotional products can surreptitiously put them on personalized mugs, promotional calendars or other items that quite a few people will see. These products, which were once simply brand ambassadors for whoever used them or was around people who used them, suddenly become a gateway to a company's online presence.
Advertisements can also be enhanced with QR codes. Effective marketing material often contains a call to action that consumers can follow. This can be to visit a store or office, check out a website or simply keep a product in mind on a future shopping trip. QR codes greatly increase the effectiveness of a call to action because consumers can participate with the click of a button.
Though it may not be quite as useful as advertising, QR codes can be used for customer retention as well. Putting them on receipts and encouraging customers to use them to access special discounts and savings is a great way to keep frequent customers coming back.