Yolanda M. Johnson-Bryant

A native of Colorado, Mrs. Yolanda M. Johnson-Bryant, currently resides in the Piedmont Triad area of North Carolina, with her husband. Mrs. Bryant is a published author, freelance writer, novelist, editor, ghostwriter and a literary and entrepreneurial advocate. She is the founder and owner of YolandaMJohnson, Literary Wonders! and Bryant Consulting. She is a columnist for Examiner.com, RAW Sistaz Literary Services and other literary venues. Mrs. Johnson-Bryant is a member of The Nussbaum Entrepreneurial Center, Women of Leadership and Learning (WELL Women) and Toastmasters. She also conducts workshops and classes on writing and entrepreneurship and is also a member of several reading and writing groups.

Bryant Consulting

QR Codes: A Marketing Must

The economy is tanking and you have a family of six to feed. Food prices have reached an all-time high and you must cut costs. In a valiant effort, you buy a Sunday newspaper and browse pages of coupons, looking for things you buy on a regular basis. You realize those 35¢ and $1.50 savings could actually help lower the bottom line of your grocery bill. You take your pile of coupons to the grocery store and at the checkout stand your eyes light up when you scan your coupon’s barcode across the scanner. The bar code on that coupon has information imbedded into it that tells the scanner how much to take off your purchase.

Now close your eyes and imagine this. You’re about to release your next great title. You are contemplating an effective marketing plan. What do you do? You add a bar code to the back of your book’s cover and to your marketing materials, such as bookmarks, postcards, posters, and flyers. Now readers can run their smartphones (cell phones for those who are old school) across the bar and they can get pricing information; your Website and bio; the what, when, and where of your next book signing; and other valuable information related to you and your book. Say what, you ask? Okay, open your eyes.

You can do this by using a QR code. A QR, quick response, code is a two-dimensional bar code that can be read by an app (a phone application) using the camera on most smartphones. QR coding is the new innovative way to share various bits of information that can be stored within the code include magazine ads and offers, business card information, Websites, brochures, packaging information, social media, and more.

Although QR codes may appear to be the latest technological breakthrough, they have been around since 1994. Western countries, especially the United States, have been slow to catch on to the concept. This cutting edge technology was originally created by a Japanese company to track automobile parts. QR is a two-dimensional matrix barcode. In the last few months, the bar codes have been popping up all over the place.

QR Codes are easy to create with tools like Google’s QR Code Generator and read with software such as the Kaywa QR Code Reader. However, if you do a search, you can find other free software to utilize QR codes. BlackBerry users can choose from a number of QR readers. The one I am currently using is the QR Code Scanner Pro. I like it because I don’t have to snap my photo button. I turn on the app, wave it over the QR code, and it automatically retrieves the embedded information.

Artists use QR codes in their paintings. Interestingly enough, musicians use the codes to promote themselves and their work. Now everyone from designers to marketing gurus to the military is using the codes for marketing, contests, direct mailing, and campaigns. Just this year the Memphis Rock ’n’ Soul Museum launched a line of museum T-shirts and apparel that feature museum logos and designs on the fronts and a QR code

screened on the right back shoulder, which directs users to the museum’s Websites or artist interviews. How cool is that? Let’s say you’re walking around the mall and wearing a T-shirt with a bar code on it. The Savvy Savers Group is walking behind you and one of them scans your T-shirt, which leads them to your Website and or information about your book. They’re interested and guess what? There’s a bookstore two shops down. They all buy the book. Cha-ching! Okay, so I’m a little more excited about QR codes than I should be.

The possibilities of QR codes, especially for marketing, are endless. As stated above, a user can scan a code on another user’s business card and upload contact information directly into their smartphones. QR codes have even spilled over to the coupon sector. In some instances, users can scan a coupon code into their smartphones and then scan it across the checkout scanner at a grocery or department store to redeem the coupon.

An excellent source for more information on QR codes and their benefits is the Social Media Examiner. QR codes are here! How long? Who’s to say? My theory is to use them while you can and while they are literally free to use. It is my suspicion that this simple creation will take us well into the next millennium of technology.

To test this technology, after you’ve installed a QR code reader or scanner onto your smartphone, run it over the image below and watch the embedded information come to life. If it does not scan, either you are not scanning it correctly or you have a faulty scanner. One of the links below is titled Google sample QR codes. Click on the link and try scanning a few of the codes to get the hang of it. Also, look in your latest local paper or magazine for codes and try to scan them.

QR Code

Now that you have the hang of it, I encourage you to use them on all your marketing materials, social media, Websites, tote bags, T-shirts, or anything and anywhere you can stick it!

Wikepedia/QR Codes: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QR_code
AP Spot: http://createqrcode.appspot.com/
Google Code Generator/Shortener: http://createqrcode.appspot.com/
Kayway: http://qrcode.kaywa.com/
Google Sample QR Codes: http://bit.ly/mFSRoF
Social Media Examiner: http://bit.ly/i3hs2S
BlackBerry App World: http://appworld.blackberry.com/webstore/content/13962