Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

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August 13, 2012

QR Codes ~ A Sexy Marketing Technique for Your Books

Scan this!

by Jenny Hansen

What happens when you hold your iPhone up and click that weird looking square on the left?

You see these in magazines, at the grocery store, on clothing labels, and YES, in the back of eBooks. What are they and how do you use this sexy little bit of free Techie gadgetry that’s all the rage?

After last week's chat about social media, a great follow up seemed to be a post about QR Codes!

I know, I know…QR just doesn’t sound sexy and, unless you’re more the nerdy type, “code” probably doesn’t either. But QR Codes are getting me hot these days. Seriously.

QR Codes are one of the EASIEST marketing tricks you’re not taking advantage of, especially if you’re a self-published author or a small business person. Sit back to bask in the warmth of a new piece of technology fun that doesn’t cost a thing!

What is a QR Code?

QR stands for Quick Response and was created by the automotive industry to help track vehicles during the manufacturing process. How is this sexy, Jenny? you might be thinking…

Well, I’ll tell you. A QR Code is a barcode that stores a web address of your choosing. If you scan the one above, you’ll go to our WITS Facebook page, where we hope you'll take a moment to click the "Like" button.

There are free apps available in both the Android and the iPhone that let you scan a QR code to quickly go to a website.

Note: To scan the code, you’ll need an app like QR Scanner [iTunes link] for the iPhone and iPod touch, or ShopSavvy for Android devices.

Uses for QR Codes…just think about this, folks:

  • QR Codes are being used at grocery stores to give you recipes and nutritional information for products you’re buying in the store.
  • To give you coupons, both in-store and on the internet.
  • On business cards, signs and brochures. A simple little barcode allows you to give the info you need to on the card or sign and, with a single click, also help the person to visit the webpage of your choice.
  • On clothing labels (Macy’s and other retailers are already using this) to tell you about that item and others you may like in the store.
  • On anything with packaging, to push people to a website, Facebook or review page.

Why couldn’t my self-published and indie author friends use this on the front or back covers of their books, or hidden as Easter eggs in the pages? (Ex: Click here to get a free short story, or to submit a review, or to sign up for my monthly newsletter.) The possibilities are ENDLESS.

Are you juiced up yet? Cause I am.

Can I get a QR Code of my very own?

But of course! There are tons of free spots to generate a QR code. Bit.ly and Social Oomph are the two I use the most often.

To use Bit.ly:

  • Visit bit.ly, write or paste in a URL address, click “Shorten,” and add .qr to the end of the generated bit.ly link (like so: http://bit.ly/tm90xj.qr).
  • Copy the modified link into a new browser window to view the QR code.
  • Once you see the code on your screen, you can print it out, send to your friends via e-mail, post on your blog, etc.

To use Social Oomph:

  • You need to sign up for a free account, whereas for Bit.ly, you could sign in with Twitter (but it still asks for your email address).
  • Once you’re signed in, l00k at the left navigation bar – “Shorten URL” is the fourth choice from the top.
  • Click the Shorten URL shortcut and type or paste the address in to the “Long URL” box and click the Shorten button.
  • There’s a box that says QR Code – copy the link out of there and follow all the same steps as above in the Bit.ly example.

I used Qurify.com for the code above. I've also used http://quikqr.com/.

From Wikipedia: Users with a camera phone equipped with the correct reader application can scan the image of the QR code to display text, contact information, connect to a wireless network, or open a web page in the telephone’s browser. Click here for more details than you probably want on how to work QR Codes. :-)

UPDATE: In the weeks since I wrote this post, viruses have targeted QR Codes here and there. That doesn’t mean they aren’t safe but, just like email, watch where you click. More details here on how to avoid viruses.

Does this give you any new marketing ideas for your books, businesses or advertising? Are you already using QR Codes in your self-published books? What has your experience been? (Feel free to ask questions in the comments section!)



About Jenny Hansen

Jenny fills her nights with humor: writing memoir, women’s fiction, chick lit, short stories (and chasing after her toddler Baby Girl). By day, she provides training and social media marketing for an accounting firm. After 15 years as a corporate software trainer, she’s digging this sit down and write thing.

When she’s not at her blog, More Cowbell, Jenny can be found on Twitter at jhansenwrites or here at Writers In The Storm. Every Saturday, she writes the Risky Baby Business posts at More Cowbell, a series that focuses on babies, new parents and high-risk pregnancy.

0 comments on “QR Codes ~ A Sexy Marketing Technique for Your Books”

  1. Thanks for this, Jenny. I've heard about QR codes, and seen them a lot, but sure helps to have the links to where to get them. I hadn't heard about the viruses, either, so thanks, as usual, for your amazing IT tips!

  2. Hi Jenny, I just put a QR code on the back of my business cards, that goes directly to my website. I'm very excited about these, I think they are a great idea. And I love that they are free! Viruses are scary though. What is it about people that makes them so destructive?

  3. I remember your first post about these, and I was in awe of the possibilities and how easy it was. I now have them on my mini-cards, which links to my books on my webpage, which in turn has purchase links. I also have QR code purchase links on my chapter booklets and postcards. Additionally, I do a fun trivia question with one on every monthly newsletter. One thing I find, though, is that it isn't known enough yet. Most people I run across don't know what to do with them, and I show them. I think they will be more useful in the future as it becomes a more common thing. Great post, Jenny!

    1. I agree with you, Sharla, which is part of why I did another post. The more people feel that they're accessible, the more they'll become part of what we all do. You are ROCKING the QR codes (you sexy girl)!! 🙂

  4. Jenny....my middle son new I wanted to get business cards for the RWA Conference, he put one of these scan codes on my business card and gave them to me for my birthday in July! How cool is that??

    These codes or SO cool!!

  5. Great tutorial! Thanks for sharing. I like the idea of a QR code. I love the way businesses are beginning to take advantage of social media and smart phones. Recently, I got the Ikea catalog and it has an interactive smart phone feature. When you download the app and scan pages with a phone symbol, you get more content (videos, pics, etc). I bet that could be interesting for books and ebooks too.

  6. What a fabulous idea, Jenny! It was weird shopping for vehicles recently and seeing a QR code on the auto sticker. It said something like, "Scan this code to find out more about this vehicle." I thought it was a great idea. This could easily work for books too!

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