Many of us have seen QR codes and recognize them as the hottest new trend in business development, but how many of us are really harnessing the power of mobile technology by using these funny looking boxes? Let’s start with the basics.
What are QR codes?
QR (quick response) codes, in their most basic form, are two dimensional barcodes that can be scanned by virtually any smartphone or tablet with the use of a free application and the device’s camera. Since QR codes can contain over 7,000 data points (as opposed to the 12 numerals stored in a one dimensional UPC barcode), the possibilities are seemingly endless.
QR codes act as the bridge between printed materials and online content. They can link readers to any content such as downloadable contact information, blogs, videos, calendar reminders or other unique online content.
Are law firms really interested in QR codes?
According to a 2011 Vizibility study of legal professionals from top firms, 79% of legal marketers already use QR codes or plan to start using them in 2012.
Law firms are attracted to QR codes because they empower firms to make better connections with potential clients and make their printed materials interactive. By leveraging mobile technology, firms make it quick and easy to jump from printed pieces to online interaction with a firm.
According to Jonathan D. Frieden, a principal of Odin, Feldman, and Pittleman and an e-commerce and technology attorney, “QR Codes bridge a gap between how we exchange information and how we store it. Clients and prospective clients are looking for the fastest way to capture and store our contact information, without retaining unnecessary paper. By utilizing this technology, we’re helping them do that.”
What’s behind QR codes?
The single most important principle of using QR code technology is that it’s what is behind them that matters. The best implementers of the technology use the codes to link users to relevant and engaging content. They continually rely on this principle as a rudder for navigating through the entire process, from gaining buy in at the firm to positioning the codes to increase the likelihood of potential clients scanning them.
When planning, always consider these two points:
- The call to action – what should the scanner see, do, and learn about the firm or an individual attorney?
- The target audience – what do the firm’s target clients look like, where will they encounter the code, and how will they interact with the information presented to them?
The legal and professional services industries use mainly three types of QR codes.
Basic URL – links to one destination
This traditional QR code can be linked to one URL/website address. Typically, these have been linked to either the firm’s home page, to a bio page or contact page for that individual. Linking to a mobile optimized site is always advised, but not often accomplished in practice.
vCard – links to contact information
Typically seen on business cards, this traditional QR code allows the reader to download the individual’s contact information. The code must be kept to only the most pertinent information (name, firm, phone, email) to ensure optimal readability.
Vizibility – links to mobile business card
The most powerful QR code for professional services. This code is designed to fully leverage the capabilities of mobile technology, search engines and social media in one powerful Mobile Business Card. Vizibility’s dynamic codes do the work of more than 3 traditional QR codes. You can link to contact information, network through common social media connections, provide multiple links to websites such as blogs, videos, and LinkedIn, and ensure the reader finds your professionals online with verified Google results all optimized for viewing and interacting on smart phones.
Should I pay for QR codes?
There are a host of websites that tout the availability of free QR codes and how quick and painless it is for businesses to adopt the technology and incorporate it into their communication plans. As with most things that are “free” – BUYER BEWARE! Many law firms that have chosen to use these providers have been frustrated with the unreliability of the codes they’ve received. The biggest issue they have faced is the time, resources, and overall logistics required to create, proof, and organize a set of QR codes that is ready to be turned over to a printer.
Proper planning and a knowledgeable printer will make implementation of a QR code strategy much smoother, especially when the project involves administering codes and information for multiple attorneys.
Work with an expert
To harness the true power of QR codes, law firms should partner with a provider who simplifies the process, educates you on your options, has a protocol for reproducing quality codes and materials, and incorporates testing into several key phases of the creation and production process. Having a printer handle the project from the beginning has proven to be the most efficient and effective way to ensure that a firm’s QR codes will be created and printed correctly for maximum scanning.
By choosing to work with a knowledgeable printer, law firms will get the added benefit of having a resource to help with designs. For example, when a firm is deciding where to put a QR code on its business cards, it can either choose to tout the code on the front of the cards to bolster the firm’s image as “technologically advanced,” or it can choose to more subtly introduce the code on the back of the card. A seasoned printer can provide the pros and cons of each approach, both from a technical standpoint and as a partner that’s guided other law firms through this maze of questions and helped deliver the best tool to suit the firm’s objectives.
Tammy Mangan, Director of Marketing Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox, had this to say when asked about her experience with QR codes, “I couldn’t see a downside to adopting QR codes, especially for a firm like ours. As an intellectual property firm, we understand and embrace technology and we want to be seen as tech forward. QR codes and Vizibility provides us with a perfect opportunity to do just that at a reasonable cost. Once we decided on a design, the implementation of the QR codes and the printing of the business cards was the easy part. Everything went smoothly. ALL-STATE LEGAL did the heavy lifting by importing all of the information that was needed to print the business cards and create the Vizibility mobile business cards, which allowed me to focus on the ‘surprise’ rollout to our partnership.”
Getting started or just trying to make it easier?
Whether you are just starting to look into QR codes, you have a comprehensive QR code strategy in place, or you are somewhere in between, it’s important to remember that it’s what’s behind QR codes that matters. Keep your clients and prospective clients in mind. And when you are ready to evaluate the implementation process for QR codes, be sure to choose a proven partner that will offer ease of administration, ongoing resources, and industry knowledge. With an effective strategy and an experienced business partner, your firm can leverage the power of QR codes and bolster its business development efforts.
If you have any questions about QR Codes, their uses or would like to see samples, call ALL-STATE LEGAL at 800.222.0510.