Savvy Marketing with QR Codes

Blog > Coffee Shop & Restaurant Operations > Marketing

QR codes are popping up everywhere, and people are intrigued. They’re on direct-mail pieces, promotional posters, business cards and billboards—and as alluring as website URLs and Facebook-page promos were when they first came on the scene.

But what is a QR code, and why should you care? These 2-D barcodes can be scanned by a smart-phone camera to transfer data. They might direct the viewer to a website, make a phone call, or deliver a vCard or coupon. They can also provide photos, reviews, directions, and event dates and times. (Here’s a great video on QR codes that brilliantly explains their functionality.)

Exciting stuff for sure. If you feel that QR codes are a good fit for your target audience, or you simply want to be on the bleeding edge of technology, here are some great ways you can start using them.

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  • On your business cards. This one’s pretty obvious. Keep your card’s content minimal with a QR code that leads people to your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr, Yelp or FourSquare profiles.

  • Labeling. Somewhere, a restaurant patron is enjoying coffee from a roastery. They notice the QR code on the bottle and quickly scan it. That takes them to a mobile site where they can learn more about the coffee, and links to where they can buy it online.

  • Storefront displays. For passersby, especially when you’re closed, create a find-out-about-us-online QR code and put it in your storefront window.

  • Promotions, discounts and giveaways. If you want to encourage patronage from the iPhone and Android set, you could create discounts that are specific to QR codes. You could run these codes in advertisements or post them in your store. You could even make them a "re-tweet" so that your shoppers share the discount with their followers.

  • Stickers, t-shirts, etc. Put a QR on t-shirts as shameless self-promotion. Put it on stickers that link to your vCard, and slap them on the bumper of your car or your laptop, making it easier for people to connect with you when you’re out and about.

  • Supplement your retail space. QR codes next to retail items could link to pages that talk about how they are sourced, or to review sites for unbiased opinions of your products.

  • Increase online sales. Since QR codes can lead to URLs, you can create a code that will populate a shopping cart with specific products. (Assuming your e-commerce solution can handle that.)

  • Build your email subscriber list. Use your QR code to send people to your email signup. Just make sure you give people a good reason to subscribe to your list, otherwise you will have just wasted their time.

Important: Always be sure to test your QR code before printing up a few thousand copies!