QR codes are starting to show up all over. Also called two-dimensional codes, these bar-code-analogs allow users with a smart phone app to zip over to a web page or to get special information right on the phone. For instance, this banana has a QR code that reports that the product is organic. This is really just an artsy thing–it’s more practical to put a sticker that says “organic” on a banana than a QR code.
The trick in thinking about QR codes is that you are always going from the physical world (print, paper, displays, signs) to the online world. Think of QR codes as a zipline into cyberspace.
While some marketing experts shy away from QR codes as gimmicky, they are absolutely here to stay. What most of us do not entirely grasp yet is how useful they will be. Here are 10 great ways to use QR codes for marketing your medical business or practice.
- Many companies provide physicians with printed patient literature for their waiting room. This is great. But add a QR code to it and you can drive a patient directly to the package insert (OK if you want to bore the patient to death) or to a web page with FAQs or a video testimonial about the product.
- Sales literature can now morph down to business card size. Print a business card and put a QR code that takes the reader directly to a website with tons of product information. Put a second QR code on the card with a contact page for the rep (including a click-to-call number). By the way, when using a QR code to link to a web page, connect your viewer with their final destination. Most medical organizations have gargantuan sites that can be tough to navigate. Don’t ask your attention-deprived physician-customer to click around for the information. With a QR code, you can take him right to the door step.
- Put QR codes in your ads. A hospital can use a QR code in an ad about its services to provide more extensive details. A business can use a QR code in its ad to show potential customers relevant product literature, clinical articles, peer-reviewed literature, or a contact form.
- Use QR codes for surveys. Instead of doing fancy focus groups, periodically distribute business cards requesting input from your target group. The QR code takes them right to an online survey form.
- If you run a brick-and-mortar business, put signage near the check-out area with a QR code offering some kind of coupon. (You can do online coupons so that the customer just goes to the coupon and then shows his or her phone to the cashier for scanning or approval.) Now don’t necessarily just offer a coupon. Try to capture the user’s email information (the “squeeze” as marketing folks call it) in return for a coupon. The result will be an email list of tech-savvy cell denizens who are also your customers. Future mobile campaigns can focus on them.
- Put QR codes throughout a brochure as a sort of souped-up bibliography. For instance, if you reference a particular study, don’t just stop with the traditional endnote. Instead, add a QR code and take the reader right to the PubMed page offering the abstract.
- If you run a medical practice, put QR codes on business cards or other promotional pieces that link your potential customers with a map to your practice. It’s very handy to have a map delivered straight to the cell phone.
- To launch QR codes–which are not all that widely known yet–you can put QR codes on premium items like clipboards, caps, shirts, notepads, padfolios or other items. The novelty item then becomes the ice-breaker to explain what the strange-looking code is. The legal folks may not like giving anything to an MD, but this promo idea would be a really unique promotion for job fairs when medical device and pharma companies go out looking for the best and brightest graduates. Hand them a mug or water bottle with a QR code that drives them to the page on your website talking about corporate benefits.
- Physicians are in the unhappy position of being subject (or victim) to frequent online reviews. One way to get good reviews ethically is simply to encourage patients to write a review. Hand them a flyer or business card with a QR code that takes them to a place where they can write a review. The idea is to get them to write a review immediately after using your services.
- If you are a medical business that typically is contacted by customers using cell phones, hand out refrigerator magnets with your company name and logo along with the QR code of a “click-to-call” button. Now when the customer wants to reach you, he or she can just use the QR decoder on the magnet (it takes about 2 seconds) and then click, you’re on the line!