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QR Codes: Wrapping up the Series.

Posted by
Jul 03, 2012 09:00am
Posted in: Small Business Advice

This is the fourth and final segment in “The Definitive Guide to QR Codes in the Sign Industry“.

A Brief Recap

In Part-1 we learned what QR codes are, and discovered that – outside of Japan – Canada has the highest growth in adopting the technology worldwide. With over a million Canadians scanning QR codes monthly, the technology seems to have crossed into mainstream usage.

3D QR CodeIn Part-2 we expored the hidden opportunities in QR Codes for sign and display companies: to drive measurable marketing results for your clientele – and to establish leadership in mobile marketing.

In Part-3 we proposed that you begin to familiarize yourself with the basics of QR code campaigns by developing and launching one for your own company. We also shared some useful and insightful resources to help you get started.

Experience really is the best teacher.

If you haven’t already run the “baby steps” campaign proposed in Part-3, we would like to encourage you NOT to skip that step. We want you to have at least some experience – and the confidence that comes with it – before you begin approaching clients. You’ll be more successful if you have some confidence you can walk the talk.

Approach existing QR users first.

It’s going to be easier to work with clients who are already using or experimenting with QR codes themselves. For one thing, you don’t have to educate them or persuade them that the technology is worth trying. For another, they are more likely to have most of the right pieces in place to run a meaningful QR code campaign – so they will require the least investment of time and effort.

Start with some basic client research.

Think back and make yourself a list of clients who have run a campaign using QR Codes. Pull up the artwork from their last QR code campaign. Have a look at when they ran it. Have they run any previously? How many? Scan the code. Does it still point to an active web page? Take a screen shot of both the sign artwork and the landing page, print them, staple them together and put them in your campaign file folder. Note some ideas for how they might have improved results through copy changes (Eg. a stronger call to action), design changes, etc. These are just talking points for later. Don’t overthink it too much. Trust your experience.

When you’re ready, sort through your file and pull out the clients with whom you have the best relationships – the people most likely to work with you. Let’s start with those.

How to approach the client:

There’s always room for improvement in every marketing campaign. But there’s also a pretty good probability that the clients you are targeting haven’t been overly “wowed” by the results they’ve experienced with the QR code campaigns they’ve run to date. This is where you come in.

Start with a phone call.

Once you get past the nicities, state your business: Let the client know that you’re calling because they’ve run QR code campaigns in the past, that you’ve recently experimented with them yourself – and that you believe you can help improve their results. Ask if they would be interested in discussing the matter further. If so, then arrange a meeting at their place of business (It’s always a good idea to have a look around – to spot opportunities for proposing new signage projects).

Follow-up with an email

Immediately after the call ends, send the customer an email, with a subject line like “Our upcoming meeting re QR Codes”. Thank them for their time and interest. Suggest that it would be helpful and greatly appreciated if they could come to the meeting prepared to discuss the following…

  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how satisfied were they with their QR campaign results?
  • What were the specific results they hoped to achieve through the campaign?
  • What results did they measure? What were their specific results?
  • What did they learn? What would they do differently?
  • What ideas do they have for future campaigns?
  • What would their objectives for those campaigns be?

Follow up again.

Follow-up a few days in advance of your meeting, by forwarding your email to your contact again – as a “friendly remiinder” – and restate that you appreciate their time and interest.

Get face to face.

Bring a gift your meeting – something as simple as a Tim Horton’s gift card. Give it to them as soon as you shake hands at tell them it’s just a small token of your appreciation for the work you put them through. Review their campaign together using the questions provided. When that portion of the meeting ends, tell them you are certain you can help them.

Explain that experimentation is the secret to marketing success. The point is to learn by testing ideas for improvement – as quickly, frequently, inexpensively as possible – before launching an all-out campaign. This approach minimizes risks and maximizes results.

Describe the process.

You’ve heard the old saying. You can only manage what you can measure. We can measure how many people scan the QR code our campaign banners. The first banner will be used to establish a baseline. From there, we propose to run a series of banner changes, each intended to test variables in a controlled way.  Use your marked-up screenshots of their previous campaign to show examples. The variables include copy elements and design elements, and might also include single and multi-location banners and/or location changes. When we figure out what “formula” gives better results – we apply that to future campaigns. If and when future campaigns are struggling, we experiment again.

What you’re asking for:

Ask your client for a budget for a test campaign, using banners – which are about as fast and inexpensive to produce as just about any advertising media on the planet.

Get to know your client’s “funnel metrics”.

Marketers often refer to a somewhat abstract concept called a “marketing funnel”. If you picture a funnel in your mind’s eye, it’s basically a cone shape with a narrow spout. The cone is wider at the top and narrows into the spout. Customers make their way into the marketing funnel through various stages of the buying cycle – to the point where they take some desired action – which (for you) could be a sale, or could mean qualifying themselves as a prospect or sales lead.

In our case, we’re going to use the funnel concept to measure where customers are in our client’s marketing process. As you know, for our purposes, the top of the funnel is the number of QR code scans we receive via the campaign banners. But that’s just the top of the client’s funnel. What else can the customer measure? How many visitors to the campaign’s landing page take the desired action? What could the customer do on-page to try to increase that number?

What else is important and measurable in the client’s funnel?

For example, if the client owns a restaurant, they need to put bums in chairs before they can take an order. They need to take an order before they can upsell. They need to deliver a quality experience to get return visits and referrals.  At each stage, they have opportunities for improving results. How can you (or a partner you bring to the table – a web designer, for example) help them? How can they help themselves? You get the idea. work with the client to tailor the process to their business.

Sales Opportunities

You started with a small budget and a few banners. You tested and fine tuned the campaign to maximize results. Your customer “gets it”. Now how can we help them expand their campaign and blow it out of the park? Where else can they use run their campaign? Vehicle graphics? Interior signage? Labels on packaging and invoices? All stuff you can sell.

Now think beyond what you can produce in house. What could you outsource? Another “secret” to successful marketing campaigns is to reach the customers through mutiple channels. Each channel or medium that you add is also an experiment. Remember to use a different QR code for each medium you integrate into the customer’s campaign.

Amass and Publish Case Studies

Do your best to document every step in the journey – with each client – in a manner that you can clearly and briefly state the customer’s situation, their campaign objectives, their unique challenges – and their results. When the time is right, ask the customer for permission to use their case study on your website. If they’re happy with your work, they’ll almost certainly say yes – especially when you explain that you will “cleanse” the information for public consumption and will send it to them for review, changes and final approval.

Success Breeds Success.

Each new case study published on your website demonstrates your expertise. And by the time you’ve run a few successful campaigns, you will clearly be an expert. Visitors to your website will gain confidence that you can deliver the results they want – because you can demostrate that you’ve done it for others. This is far more powerful than the testimonials they will find on your competitors’ websites.

The Final Word: Being First Matters

By now, we hope you can see what a wonderful opportunity QR codes represent for your business – so don’t wait for a competitor to get the jump on you. Being first matters. Please comment below if you have any questions – or to let us know how you make out.

About the author: Jon Aston helps sign companies with marketing strategy, planning and execution. You can contact Jon directly through his website:

Photo credit: Image used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license – with thanks to golanlevin.


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