Herzlich writes the Small Business column in Newsday.
On the front, Brian Punger’s business card looks like any other.
But on the back is a large quick response or QR code that says “Scan me.” People who do just that will upload his contact information right into their mobile phones.
“I think it adds a little bit of flair to the card,” says Punger, owner of Rockville Centre-based Bri-Idea, a freelance Web and graphic design firm. “I think it gets people curious.”
While not every consumer is familiar with these codes, 30 percent to 40 percent of the population has scanned QR codes, according to Heidi Tolliver-Walker, a Baldwin, Maryland, analyst for the commercial and digital print industries, who recently released a report on the adoption and usage of QR codes.
The codes can be used for a variety of purposes, from driving traffic to a sales campaign or website to providing consumers with more information on a product or service.
But they only work with a strategy behind them, says Tolliver-Walker.
“It used to be that people would slap a QR code on a marketing piece or print ad and have no plan of action whatsoever,” she notes.
Now, there’s a better understanding of how to use them effectively and this has led to growth, she explains. Scanbuy, which processes 20 percent of all the QR codes scanned globally, saw an increase in average scans per person from four scans per person in 2014 to 4.6 scans in 2015, says Tolliver-Walker.
“QR codes aren’t dead,” she notes. “They are in new places all the time.”
Top industries in which consumers are scanning QR codes are food and beverage, consumer electronics, media, entertainment, wireless and home improvement, she says.
But before using them in your own business, think carefully about your target audience and what motivates them, she advises. Ask yourself, Is there a role QR codes can play, and if so, what? Make sure they serve a purpose, for example, to pique curiosity or prompt a purchase, says Tolliver-Walker.
“Let the QR code do something that what it’s [printed] on can’t do,” advises Joe Waters, the Boston-based author of “QR Codes for Dummies” (For Dummies; $9.99) and founder and blogger at SelfishGiving.com, a cause marketing blog.
For instance, he says people will send him resumés with QR codes on them that lead to the exact same resumé. A better choice might be linking to a speech they gave in their industry, he notes.
Keep in mind QR codes tend to do very well with a younger population, says Waters. That doesn’t mean they can’t work with older customers; it just takes more education and information on how to use them, he notes.
“You need something that explains the process, to make sure customers understand it,” says Anthony Savino, CEO of Benjamin Marc, a Lake Grove Web design, logo design and marketing firm. For instance, they have to download a QR code reader from the app store to their phone to be able to scan the codes.
Savino has been putting them on websites including his own; when scanned they automatically upload the firms’ contact information into a user’s phone.
His own QR code incorporates the firm’s red and black company colors, he explains, noting they don’t just have to be black and white.
“You can introduce the company logo and colors into the design,” says Savino.
The more they stand out, the better, even if they sometimes do take explaining.
“A lot of people don’t understand what it is at first, but when I show them they’re intrigued,” says Punger.