When QR Codes started showing up in magazines a year or so ago I thought they were a gimmick. I still think, for the most part, they are. After all, why not just have a URL that can be typed in to a browser either on your computer or mobile browser?
But the discussion of QR Codes has come up with a couple clients recently so I thought I’d take a closer look at what’s being done with them. Apparently, they are cropping up everywhere. And as the use of smartphones continues to grow, they may be around for quite some time – or at least some form of what this writer calls ‘Real World Hyperlinking’ will be.
In case you don’t know, QR Codes are those ugly little squares with odd squiggles on them that, with a QR Code reader you can quickly scan and be taken to some resource on the web, read a message, get a phone number and have your phone call it and so on. They are easy to make and place in email, on the web, in print ads or business cards.
But what’s the real value proposition? There are a couple really basic ideas that make QR Codes worth implementing:
With the increase use of smartphones and free QR Code reader apps, you can give mobile users a quick way to connect with you. Once you have the app on your phone, it’s so easy to point it at a QR Code instead of typing in a web address. Convenience and speed are the language of the mobile world.
There is something fun about pointing your phone at a QR Code and finding out what lies behind it. And if a business or organization puts something special behind it it’s a great opportunity to engage with that potential client or customer. As the article linked above states:
“While it’s just as simple to look up information on the mobile web, savvy businesses are realizing that one of the main benefits of a QR code campaign is to provide their mobile customers with instantaneous access to something that is unique and can’t be accessed in another way.”
So don’t just point your QR Codes to your home page. Make something special, either a web landing page or a mobile mini-site and offer something special like unique information, a special video, discount codes, or a contest.
Want to get started with QR Codes? Here are some resources:
In my most recent Tech Beat article I included a reference to Gary Vaynerchuck’s Crush It! It was sort of a mini-review within a longer article. I thought I’d give the book more thorough treatment here where word count is not an issue.
If you are looking for a blueprint for building a successful online business, you should consider reading this small (148 pp) book. It’s both inspiring and cautionary. If you can absorb both of those feelings and take them to heart you can also follow Vaynerchuck’s recommendations on how to build a personal brand and thereby create a variety of income streams both on and off line.
Vaynerchuck begins the book with his “secret to success”: “Love your family, work superhard, live your passion.” Then he proceeds to tell his personal story to illustrate how he as followed those 3 rules to build a $60 million business.
Briefly, he began working in his father’s local liquor store in New Jersey. He started out as a stock boy and cashier, but he eventually found a niche by reinventing how wine is reviewed and sold. Eschewing the enigmatic language with how wine was described and marketed he decided he wanted to make wine accessible to the average buyer. This helped him greatly expand the liquor store sales. But it was when he went online with his unique approach that things really exploded.
And here is where his story will be of most interest to the online entrepreneur. Vaynerchuck lays out a set of steps if you want to follow his model for building a personal brand. If you watch his videos on Winelibrary.tv or elsewhere on the web you may not think you can or want to turn yourself into another GaryVee. He is well aware that his story and personality may not be a fit for everyone. And he provides some alternative paths. He also throws out some quick examples of people in other professions who are following their passions and even offers ideas for other businesses you could pursue.
But be warned, it ain’t easy!
But the cautionary thoughts are also woven throughout the book: Don’t attempt this if you do not have a real passion for the product, service or concept you want to market because while the online tools are free or relatively cheap, the true cost is the investment of time you will need to make in order to succeed. You have to truly “live your passion” because outside of your family it will become your life. You can’t approach this casually. But if you believe in what you are doing, the work should be fun. Follow the steps outlined in the book. Do many of them over and over again. In fact, you don’t even have to buy the book. Just find a copy and memorize Appendix A where he lists 21 steps. To quote a few:
Post your content.
Start creating community by leaving comments on other people’s blogs and forums and replying to comments to your own comment.
Search Twitter.com to find as many people as possible talking about your topic, and communicate with them.
Use Blogsearch.Google.com to find more blogs that are relevant to your subject.
Join as many active Facebook fan pages and groups relating to your blog topic as possible.
Repeat steps 12 through 16 over and over and over and over and over.
Do it again.
Do it again.
Not a complete how to
This is a book to read to get you to turn off the TV and get busy. However, if you’re looking for specific instructions on how to use the various social media tools such as Facebook or Twitter you will need to look elsewhere. I plan to review other books and resources on social media and other topics here in the future. So check back.
Some people think social media is a fad. It’s possible that the tools we know today such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and so many others are fads. But is the trend itself going to fade? What do you think? Is it a fad a powerful shift in the way we communicate and consume information and goods?