The QR Code:

The Newest, “Smartest” Way to Market

1 in 2 Americans will own a “smart phone” by this Christmas.* That’s 150 million Americans projected to own an iPhone, Blackberry, Droid, or some other cell phone—each feeding us with more information than we ever imagined possible.

From a marketing standpoint, there are going to be lots of exciting new opportunities—some of which you’ll want to adopt for your school. One of my favorites? The QR Code.

“QR” stands for “quick response.” The QR Code (or “quick response code”) is a two-dimensional barcode.

To scan the code, you first need a smart phone with a camera. Go to your apps store and download “Bar Code Scanner,” “QR Scanner,” “QR Reader,” or another app that allows you to scan in QR codes (should be free).

Once the app is installed, launch it. You’ll see a scanner line (red) across the screen. Move the phone close to the QR code, so that the viewfinder can zoom in. The QR code should come into focus.

If the code points to a URL (as this one does), your phone should say, “Found URL” and open your browser to go to my website, eSpyder Web Design Group.

Imagine the power of this feature. You can post a QR Code in the window of your school that pedestrians can scan with their phones. After the QR Code does its job, the owner of the phone has your information and website at her fingertips.

It’s fun for users, and it’s quicker than typing in your business URL. They can use the QR Code to:

  • Sign up for an event
  • Find a YouTube video
  • Pull up your class schedule
  • Check out your website

 How do I code my school?

It’s easy. First, get yourself a QR code. For now, while the technology is still young, there are a few websites that will give you one for free. I like Kaywa, which gives you the option of generating a small-, medium-, or large-sized bar code. QRStuff offers lots of options, too. 

Think about where you want to direct people. You can use one QR Code to send them to your home page, another to view a special event in your school’s schedule, and a third to give them a copy of your V-Card (with your contact details). You can even get the code to point to a popular item in your e-Commerce store, or to a video on YouTube. 

Then, order your QR Code display. You want to put your code somewhere that will get people’s attention. This might be as simple as a sticker in your window (inexpensive, and widely available). 

You can have United Professionals print your code on your window banner, postcard, presentation folders, tele-letters, or any other printed material. 

You can also put the code on a poster, in your brochure, or on your business card. You could put one on a blank place card, and prop it up in a display case next to a bestselling product—and have it point to the “check-out” page on your website. You can even print a large version on your school’s t-shirt, or—if you’re inclined—a tattoo (not recommended). 

Be careful—the codes are difficult to tell apart, so if you have multiple codes, don’t get them mixed up! Using your own smart phone, do a test-scan to make sure you’re putting the right code in the right place. 

An Option—Not a Replacement 

Note that QR Codes provide an additional option for your prospects—but they do not replace your URL or phone numbers in your marketing materials. You’ve always got to include those, since not everybody has a smart phone (yet). 

Also, stick to QR Codes offline. Online, a URL link is still the best way to go. 

Be the first school in your area to incorporate this cutting-edge technology! Have fun with it, and check out our website for more tips on how to increase the online visibility for your school. 

*Forecast from NielsonWire, dated March 26, 2010. 

About the author: Renee Helton is the founder and president of eSpyder Web Design Group, which specializes in converting a web presence into leads and revenues for martial arts school owners nationwide.