QR codes — those cute little graphics made up of a bunch of random squares — are starting to pop up all over the place, but I must admit I’m surprised I’m not seeing them a lot more often. The idea for this post came to me yesterday while I was sitting at Starbucks looking at my cup with the distinctive logo but what? no QR code? Considering how Starbucks has embraced social marketing — using Twitter and Facebook — I’m surprised they haven’t jumped all over this idea.
If you’re unfamiliar with QR codes or the limitless uses they can be put to, you might want to check out this post that I wrote a couple of months ago. Maybe you’ve noticed the QR code up their next to the name of my blog. Scan that and it loads the mobile version of my blog on your mobile phone’s browser (assuming you have Internet access) where you’ll hopefully bookmark it.
Back to Starbucks. Just how could they use QR codes? Well, here are a couple ideas.
Link to their Twitter page to add more followers. Imagine you’re sitting there drinking your cup of coffee and out of curiosity you scan the code on the cup with the QR code scanner on your mobile phone and it takes you to Starbuck’s Twitter page. If you’re not already a follower, do you think you’d click the follow button? Or maybe it sends you to the landing page on their Facebook page where you can become a fan.
Link to a page that changes periodically, offering specials to anyone who has scanned the code. A perfect place for this code would be on the cardboard cup holders. Printing a new batch of cups every time you wanted to change the link the QR code pointed to wouldn’t be practical but swapping out cup holders would be a cinch.
If Starbucks ran periodic specials only available to people who found out about them by scanning the QR code on their cup holder, it wouldn’t be long until it would be common to see people pointing their mobile phone at their Starbucks cup.
Obviously I’m using Starbucks as an example here, but there are many ways companies can use QR codes as part of their marketing program. Here are just a few more examples.