Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Do you want to make it easier for prospects to find your company? Google Places and QR Codes—can help.

Most of my clients are small business owners and that means they have a tight budget. One of the easiest (and free) things you can do to help your business get visibility online is to create a Google Place account.

Yellow pages are a thing of the past, I realized recently, thanks to my 10-year old son. The internet connection was down one Saturday afternoon (sigh) and I had to reach into a cabinet and pull out an old, dusty, yellowed copy of the Yellow Pages to look for a phone number of the local fish supply store (don’t ask why). “What’s that?” asked Omar, as I heaved it on to the kitchen table. Could it be possible that this child has never seen a Yellow Pages book before? Explaining the value of the handy guide was as difficult (almost) as explaining to him the workings of a rotary dial phone.

Next question: “Why would anyone look through a yellow pages book when you can search on Google much faster?” When the Internet was not around of course we all relied on the wealth of information offered up by the yellow pages. Not so much these days.

Creating a Google Place account is like taking out an ad in the yellow pages – except it won’t cost a penny and you can make changes whenever you like. It certainly helps people find your company when searching on Google. And lets face it, who isn’t on Google these days? More and more prospects are searching for local, reliable goods and services online, and Google is still the leading Search Engine.

So, go ahead and create a Google Places account. Be sure to complete your listing with Description, Hours, Contact info, Website Link, Logo, Images, Reviews, etc. AND – since Google loves Google – your website ranks higher thanks to the 30 minutes you spent creating a places page. The wonderful, thoughtful people at Google will even send you a decal stating that you are a “favorite place” along with a handy QR code. You can place this on your storefront – if you have one – and incase someone walks by and wonders what you sell – they can zap the QR code on their smart phone and zoom into your business!

You look puzzled. You are probably wondering, “What is a QR code?”. “QR” is short for “Quick Response”. According to Wikipedia (yes, I Googled QR code” and this is what I found):

“A QR code (short for Quick Response) is a specific matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code), readable by dedicated QR barcode readers and camera phones. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The information encoded can be text, URL or other data.

So what is the big deal about QR codes? You may have seen them on newspaper ads (especially car manufacturers). You will need a “decoder” on your smart-phone (I have “QR Reader” – a free app – on my iPhone). When you launch this application it uses your phones camera to detect and read a QR code from a printed ad or even from a computer screen. Then it takes you directly to the URL specified on the QR code.

You are probably wondering how this could help your business. Right. I wondered the same thing. Then it struck me! (It’s so obvious that I have to admit I am embarrassed). QR Codes can be used anywhere – for anything! I see you are still scratching your head. Let me clarify.

Basically a QR code can take your potential customer to a specific URL. What you put on that URL is up to you. A Coupon? A Video? Your Google Place Page?

1. You can use the QR code on your email signature (if you don’t have an email signature – you better stop reading this blog and go to my previous one). When used in your email signature, the user can “read” your contact info, website or any special offers!

2. Place the QR code on an ad, brochure or even a coffee mug – and suddenly you can “talk” as much as you like! Your prospect can even see a video, go to your website… get coupons! Wow. Now a postage stamp sized ad can actually work! And, you can make changes to the URL without even touching your printed piece. So go ahead – print up 10,000 copies and still keep everything current.

3. Include the QR code on your website and the viewer can download and save your address, access a Google map for directions, etc. or again, get coupons directly on their smart phone.

In the day and age of smart-phones, this is simply genius!

Here are some useful links:

And when you are ready to include your very own QR code on your marketing materials – you know you whom to call.

Aparna Mulchandani,

Creative Director




Aparna said...

Great! I think I actually learned something today.

Anonymous said...

Many thanks.