12 Tips on Using QR codes In Your Marketing

QR codes are meant to avoid the need for typing in your web address into a smart phone (which usually carry a very small keyboard). Over the past few years, we have seen marketers adopt QR codes in a big way. Here are some ideas to keep in mind when using QR codes in your business.

This is a QR code pointing to the Noble RiverMarketing Services page.

Click to view how we can help your QR needs

  1. Use QR codes with smartphone users in mind.
  2. Display them where people walk by, or where they sit for a while, but dont have access to a computer.
  3. Lead them to landing pages, not your regular web site home page. Smartphone users dont want to go hunting for a special link on your website.
  4. Explain the advantage to the user in scanning your QR code right now. Are you offering them 15% off ?
  5. Do not replace web address with QR codes. Web addresses are for users sitting at a computer screen. They may not have a smartphone. They cannot use a smartphone to browse to your landing page if they are at a computer.
  6. Use web addresses in email. QR codes are useless.
  7. Keep it black or two toned. Multi color QR codes may throw some scanners off.
  8. Please provide instructions on how to use QR codes. For example, instruct your users to “Scan this code using your Google App”.
  9. You can also provide links to your favorite QR code readers.
  10. You can offer a link to a page that explains”What is a QR code?”
  11. Be creative with your QR code. A friend of mine has created a card that is the same shape as a QR code. The entire back side of his card displays his QR code!
  12. QR codes do not need to always point to your web address. Here is one pointing to our phone number. ( If you read it with a good app, it will directly initiate a call to our number.)

Important Note :

The Google Search App on my iphone4 could not read this QR code. My QRS+ scanner app did read this and immediately called the number.

Some QRCode readers :

BeeTagg ( if you are reading this on your smartphone, get it here. )

Free QR code generator qrcode.Kaywa.com

OmniQRcode.com : This site has QR codes that can redirect users appropriately to the right app for their device.

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And one more thing before you go! Take a look at this article on mashable regarding people who never read this article.

And for those who don’t listen to me, you end up here in stupid QR code museum!

This post by Deep Janardhanan, CMO at Noble River Marketing.

Why You Need A Hosting Service Provider

As you start your online business, one of the first things you do is to identify a hosting company to host your website.

You need to host your websites for a number of reasons. I list just a few of these reasons here.

  1. Most websites are online 24 hours a day; seven days a week. Your computer needs to stay on irrespective of the time or day. Most personal computers are not built for such performance. Hosting companies have very powerful servers that are meant to stay on without powering down for years at a time.
  2. Website Performance

    Your website needs to load as fast as possible. Most home networks are connected via Internet Service Providers lines which are not conducive to high speeds. Hosting companies have high speed backbones that make your website display at high speeds.

     
  3. Handling High Load

    Preferably, many people are using your site at the same time. On a personal computer, any kind of load will cause the processor to suffer and people start getting Page Load Errors. Hosting companies have high performance multi-processor machines that easily handle heavy loads with ease.

  4. Security:

    There is a need to constantly update your computer with the latest anti-virus software and security updates. Hosting companies have the manpower and the technical knowhow to carry these out constantly.

  5. Space: Over time, your website may grow to consist of many pages. A web host can offer you more space depending on your needs.
  6. Email: Your website also needs to have your own email address. Your web hosts provide the SMTP server for sending and receiving your email.
  7. Most webhosts now have website builders that help you put up a page with no technical skills required.

There are quite a few well known web hosts available.
GoDaddy.com
1And1.com
networksolutions.com
aspnethost.com
cera.net
fatcow.com
bluehost.com
inmotion.com
hostgator.com

Here you see a comparison of hosting sites.

Marketing Mythbusting : Caveat Emptor

For ages, we’ve heard  the phrase Caveat Emptor – Let the Buyer Beware. And for years, it has been true. It was up to the customer to do the due diligence. If you were not careful, you would be taken for everything you had, and there was nothing to be done about it.

Boy, have things changed now! Its understood that goods are returnable if proven faulty. Warranties are the rule rather than the exception. Department stores have policies in place that make it easier for you to return products.

So, how does it affect the small business person?

  • Well, it has upped the ante for you. If you are selling a product, the onus is on you to make sure that your product is faultless; or its coming back to the store.
  • Even when people deal with faceless websites, they expect free shipping even on returns.
  • Your customers expect only the best quality checked products; anything less is frustrating and disheartening. They feel cheated.
  • Customers look for exemplary service, anything less is business suicide.
  • Buyers have learnt not to worry. They know they can return it if your product isn’t up to the mark.

This is a paradigm shift as far as the customer mindset goes; and you and me better learn to adapt. The only other option is to perish and there are many examples around us of businesses that perished because they did not rise the customers expectations.

So what do you do as a small business?

Simple.

  1. Explain in clear terms what your customers should expect.
  2. Explain the effort you have put into making your product stand out.
  3. Explain why your product is better compared to the competition.
  4. Explain how you stand behind your claims.
  5. Explain what you will do if your customer is unsatisfied.
  6. Provide exemplary service; go above and beyond; don’t cut corners.
  7. Expect to satisfy every customer that buys your product.
  8. Finally, keep your promise – accept a returned good and provide a refund without whining or misgivings! 

The positive effects from this are two-fold:

  1.  Word spreads that you stand behind your product; and that you keep your word. More people learn that its good business to be in business with you.
  2. The customers you treat fairly will feel the need to reciprocate and will bring you more of their business.

Follow the  few rules of Customer Satisfaction above and you will see your business grow and keep on growing.  

Here’s a similar post : How to make your customers feel special.

To Greater Profits Every Day,

Deep Janardhanan, Noble River Marketing.

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Noble River Marketing is a full service Marketing Agency in Richmond,Va providing consultancy services to growing businesses in Richmond and suburban areas.

25 Rules for Using Images on the Web

 Investing in an image might be good for your marketing.

An image is worth a thousand words.

This sure is a cliche, but has been true for thousands of years! Even today, a picture trumps text on your page by a huge margin. A glance at the above image is enough to understand what the artist wants to convey. So, it may be worth your effort investing in the services of a good graphic artist.

Here are a few rules of thumb that you may follow while using images on your web page.

1) Pictures of people always have better results than other images.
2) Pictures of smiling people perform better.
3) Pictures of your target demographic doing something healthy and fun may pull better.
4) All else being the same, pictures of pretty people(men/women/cute kids) are the best performing ones.
5) If you are using pretty people in the picture, they should be shown using your product or enjoying the benefits of using your product.
6) If your product is being shown in the picture, but its not being used, then make sure the people in the picture are looking at your product.
7) Preferably they should be wearing something in colors that match your theme colors or logo colors.
8) The background may be muted bringing attention to the person in the forefront.
9) It may be a good idea to keep the background relatively clutter-free too.
10) Your image should be placed above the fold, where the user can see it without scrolling.
11) If you are placing the image on the left hand side of the page, your product should appear on the right hand side bottom corner; or vice versa. This helps the viewers gaze to fall on your product as a natural extension of where he is going to look next.

 If you are using a video instead of an image,
12) Make sure the video snap shot that appears makes sense and is engaging  enough to make the user want to click to view it.
13) If  you are using a youTube plugin, normally the snapshot is taken from the middle, but you can set it to something else too.
14) You can use some scripting to display an image from anywhere in the video, then play the video in place when the user clicks on the image.
15)If you are hosting the video on a third party site, please load an in-place image initially so that there is no ugly empty space on the page. The video can be loaded hidden and displayed when fully loaded. Talk to your software guy about how to do this.

Tags:
16) Do not forget your tags. Use AlT tags for images and videos.
17) If you are using a video hosting service such as youtube, they allow multiple tags with your images.
18) Mention your product, then your company name if it makes sense.
19) Please do not use other people’s images without permission or at least attributing to the creator.  If you can provide a link to the creators site from your footer, that would be even better.
20) If the owner of the images asks you to bring it down, you have no option but to take it off right away.

Other tips:
21) If you are a solo-preneur or a mom and pop shop, put your picture on the front page.
22) If you are a local shop, it may help having your entire family’s picture on your web site.
23) Try to reduce your images to the smallest possible size without losing clarity to avoid long loading times.
24) Use sprites if you can; again check with your Software Guy.
25) Carry a camera with you, and snap anything that looks pleasing. You never know when the next big blog idea may show up and you can snap a picture go with it.

Do you have any words of wisdom regarding the use of images? Have you run any tests that disprove any of the rules above? Let me know … 

  * Image courtesy of Treehugger blog.

24 Sources of Financing For Your Growing Business

I thought I’d  make a list of the various sources of financing for any startup or growing business.

This is only a small list to get us started. Please feel free to add to the list by commenting below.

  1. Initial Public Offering (IPO)
  2. Venture Capitalists
  3. Angel Investment
  4. SBA 7(a) loans
  5. Local Business Incubators
  6. Other Government Sources
  7. Bank Loans
  8. Bank Overdraft
  9. Credit Unions
  10. Micro-financing
  11. Relatives,Friends
  12. Share capital
  13. Investing Clubs
  14. Franchising
  15. Vendors
  16. Suppliers
  17. Customers
  18. Crowd Sourcing
  19. Factoring
  20. Leasing
  21. Credit Cards
  22. Pension funds
  23. Private Money Lenders
  24. Pawn Shops
  25. Hire Purchase
  26. Grants

There are many organizations that give you loans on collateral. This collateral can be a capital asset like land, buildings etc or future profits  or even private guarantees.

Every source has it pros and cons. Sometimes its beneficial to work with a company that specializes in getting loans for businesses. This may help you find the best deal available.

If you are a company that helps others get loans for businesses please feel free to introduce yourselves and link to your website in the comments. Let us know your name, the market you serve and the kind of businesses or loans you specialize in.