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Do QR Codes And Small Business Marketing Mix?

QR code cupcakes

QR codes have always seemed to have so much promise.

They’re the hipster cousin of a UPC barcode--they’re really cool looking and they’re a little mysterious.

When they started popping up at businesses everyone hoped they’d be the that “one thing” that would allow shoppers to quickly and easily bridge the digital divide. They wanted their customers to use QR codes to connect with their products, websites, mobile apps, and promotions. But they just haven’t caught on. At least not yet.

For small business owners, the allure can be especially tempting.

  • There are a lot of sites out there that allow you to create QR codes on the cheap—a really big deal if your marketing budget is limited.
  • Having a QR code proudly displayed near your cash register, on your business cards, or near a product in your store gives shoppers the impression that you are on the cutting edge of technology—think back to the hipster UPC code reference. They might not understand them or use them, but they could make you look “hip.”
  • If and when your customers do use them, you are definitely increasing the chances they’ll go to your site or participate in a promotion versus hoping they’ll remember to do so when they get home (which almost never happens).

But, for whatever reason, shoppers still haven’t fully embraced the concept.

Case in point. I swung by a local bakery a few days ago and noticed the QR code near the register. I asked the cashier if people are actually using it to sign up for their promotion. “Not really” she replied. The same response I hear from a lot of small business owners who are currently experimenting with them. That’s not to say things might not change, but for now they’re just not a powerful tool for most small business owners.

It's okay to experiment. Try new things. Push the envelope. But when you do it has to work for your small business. Before you dip your toes in the water, make sure you have a clear understaning of what you're trying to accomplish. If QR codes aren't working for you, it might be time to consider focusing your efforts on other strategies and tactics. 

Are you using QR codes for your business? What's been your experience?


[Image: Flickr user Clever Cupcakes]

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