ALTHOUGH THE TERM “QR CODE” MAY BE UNFAMILIAR TO YOU, you’re likely beginning to see them everywhere. Of course, standard bar codes have been around forever—but QR (Quick Response) codes contain much more data. They’re the new darling of the marketing world… But can they be useful in marketing your dental or orthodontic practice? If so, when and how can you use them?
First, let’s be sure you understand what QR codes are and how they work.
- QR codes were first created in Japan, and have been used internationally for a number of years.
- QR codes are just getting traction in the U.S. and Canada primarily because of their use by big brands like Target, Post Cereals, Best Buy, etc.
- QR codes are typically read by camera-enabled smartphones.
- Smartphone owners download a free reader application to be able to scan these codes.
- QR codes are easy to create, anybody can create them, and they’re free to create.
- When you create a QR code, YOU determine where you want the code to send viewers—to a web page, video, text message, coupon, photo, etc.
- There are many sites on the web where you can create them including Kaywa.
A Few Ways Dental And Orthodontic Practices Are Using QR Codes:
Encouraging Reviews – Our good friends at Prospecta Marketing are testing QR codes for use in helping patients write testimonials on their smartphones while in your practice. QR codes are created so that patients can easily link to your local listing in Google, Yahoo or Bing. This concept is still under development (we’ll keep you posted). We’ve also heard of practices creating and linking to Google surveys that solicit feedback about patient experiences in the practice.
On Business Cards – Instead of handing out boring, traditional business cards, some dentists and orthodontists are placing a QR code on their business or appointment cards that links to an office-tour or testimonial video.
On Traditional Ads – Just like the big brands, QR codes are placed on your newspaper or magazine print ads to add supplemental, media-rich linked content. Here’s an example from a Target catalog (if your smartphone is handy, try scanning it!):
Posted Outside Your Practice – If your practice happens to be in a high walking-traffic area, a prospective patient may scan the code through your front door or window to see what your practice is all about. Also, if you have other business relationships in town, you could promote each other’s businesses with QR codes. You place a QR code in a local salon and let them place one in your practice.
Posted Inside Your Practice – A QR code, posted on the wall in your reception area, could link to something fun that kids may enjoy… an video or dental-related game. It could lead to video about a service you offer (such as Invisalign), or to your Facebook page. You could promote an upcoming patient-appreciation picnic or charity event. You can even create a QR code with all your practice information (phone number, address, email, etc.) that will automatically generate a v-card to save this contact information in the viewer’s contacts (QuickMark is one such service).
Handout Cards Inside Your Practice – Here is an example of some of the things we’re currently experimenting with for our clients:
Yes, QR Codes Are Hip… But They’re No Silver Bullet
Right now, because QR codes are fresh and new, there’s still a little bit of a “treasure hunt” mystique about them. You can use that to your marketing advantage. Patients and prospective patients who know what they are will scan them. For patients and prospective patients who DON’T know what they are, this provides a fun conversation starter—especially inside your practice.
Also, keep in mind that if you link a QR code to your website, it may be a good idea to create a “mobile version” of your site that is more viewer friendly on a smartphone. Many websites are either hard to view, or in some cases impossible to view, on smartphone screens.
And remember, as the cartoonist Tom Fishburne illustrates in such a clever way below, QR codes are not a silver bullet. They won’t turn bad marketing around on a dime. They’re simply one more potential weapon in your online marketing arsenal.
For specific, tactical, step-by-step training and quick ideas using QR codes, become one of our valued My Social Practice clients! For more information, contact us today!