In a slow economy, business leaders know they need to take a creative look at their sales and marketing strategies. They explore new ways to grow when the economy isn’t growing around them. BACO Exterminating in Atlanta is no exception. J.P. O’Neil, chief operating officer at BACO, used the struggling economy as an opportunity to experiment with alternative marketing ideas. After careful consideration, the company decided on Quick Reference (QR) codes.
QR codes are the black-and-white boxes of dots and dashes that can be seen on just about anything today — from coffee cups to billboards. When scanned with a smartphone, the code will take the user to a website or video link. These codes have gained popularity due to their fast readability and high storage capacity.
“After the housing boom stopped, our industry really changed,” O’Neil says. “As COO, I knew we needed to start shifting some of our attention to marketing and sales. One part of that process was to begin using QR codes in our advertising.
“We use the codes to capture new customer attention, to engage our existing customers and to maintain our existing customer base. It’s a valuable tool, especially for the smartphone users we have as customers. We realized that this is new technology on the horizon, and we wanted to use the codes to link back to our website and online videos.”
BACO Exterminating began using the QR codes last spring and currently implements them over multiple advertising outlets, including print, direct mail, on their Yellow Pages ad, billboards, television ads and even on the back of employee business cards.
They also have put QR codes on literature created by Dow AgroSciences, which will link the user to information about the Sentricon® System.
The QR codes can take the user to a variety of videos and websites. For example, when the QR code on the back of a business card is scanned, the user is taken to a video about general pest management services offered by BACO Exterminating, as well as information about Sentricon.
O’Neil says one of the best things about using QR codes is the low cost.
“It costs less than a dollar to produce the actual code itself,” he says. “The content behind the code is different. Sometimes we link to an existing online video or to our website, but sometimes we need to create content just for that code. So there’s a variance in the cost associated with it.”
However, as with other digital advertising outlets, it can be hard to decipher an actual return on investment, O’Neil says.
“The QR codes are fairly hard to track, unlike some of the other Internet statistics,” he says. “But indirectly, I can say that we experienced a 1.8 percent increase in inquiries since we’ve started using QR codes.”
Smartphone use doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time soon.
“When you start looking at the fact that 37 percent of our customers have smartphones, you know there’s going to be some pretty positive results coming out of that,” he says. “Moving forward the next two or three years, that percentage is expected to double. Soon everyone will be using a smartphone, and I think we’re only in the beginning stages of being able to track that information.”
One thing O’Neil says is worth the money is outsourcing the technical aspect of QR codes to an IT professional.
“If you’re interested in using QR codes for your business, I would suggest that you get an IT person who has expertise in that area,” O’Neil says. “Maintain your focus on the core business — that’s certainly what any good manager would do.”