Have you seen these black and white squares as you’re out and about? They are becoming popular and more widely used as a marketing tool. These are called QR codes, short for Quick Response codes. They are similar to the UPC bar codes now used for scanning your groceries when you check out at the store.

You can link these to the URL for your website, text, videos, contact information, events, contests, and even maps. You take a photo of them with your cell phone (you’ll need a code reader application) and it connects you to whatever link you’ve stored for it. The one you see at the right is linked to the Viewpoints Archive on my website.

There are free QR Code generators you can find online and also versions you can subscribe to for a fee that allow you to customize the designs, adding color and images, store and batch process multiple codes. A few good ones to start with are:

QR codes are saved as an image that can be used on anything you can print on – business cards, brochures, direct mail post cards, real estate signage, posters, wedding invitations, warehouse stock control, even temporary (or permanent) tattoos!

Have the QR code link back to:

  • Your website
  • Your LinkedIn or Facebook Fan Page profile
  • Your blog
  • Sign up for your newsletter
  • A YouTube video
  • Real estate listing
  • Service discount coupon

The possibilities are endless! There’s no limit to how, or even how much, you can share with QR codes. I anticipate we’ll see them getting more and more popular. Take a closer look and see how the use of QR codes can enhance your marketing strategy.

Have you noticed a growing number of questionnaires on Facebook?  People are asking about your pets, what cities you’ve visited, your political view, even if you were going to stay up to watch the Royal Wedding on TV.

For Facebook users, you can implement Questions on your business fan page to interact with customers as part of their social media strategy.  Ask questions about your ideas or conduct a mini survey to determine which of your services is most popular.

To begin using Facebook Questions on your own page:

Step 1: Sign into your Facebook Fan Page.

If you administer multiple fan pages, go to the “Account” tab at the upper-right side of your Facebook account and click “Use Facebook as Page.”  Click “Switch” next to the fan page you would like to be signed into, which should be the page where you want to add Questions.

Step 2: On your Wall, where you would normally enter your Status, click on the “Question” link and enter your question.  Click on the “Add Poll Options” link and enter the survey options.

Step 3: Click on “Ask Question”

Yes, it’s that easy!  Come up with a question that you’ve been meaning to ask your clients and see what your Facebook network thinks.

Last month, I was away from my office on a two week vacation. I had taken up my laptop with me. I felt seriously guilty that I hadn’t accomplished as much as I “should” have during my time away since I was going to have two whole weeks of “free time.”

Well, I returned to a pile of backlog items and went into somewhat of a frenzy, trying to get things done in preparation for another vacation just a few days later. This trip was over a weekend, leaving on a Friday morning and returning on Monday. Not surprisingly, working in a frenzy, I didn’t get much done.

Totally exhausted on Friday morning, on a whim (well not quite…I had convince myself not to), I left my laptop at home. As we drove away from the house, I physically turned and looked back with that feeling of dread, like I had left a part of me behind. I repeated to myself over and over, “It’s just a weekend. Just a few days.”

Once on the airplane, resigned to the fact that I no longer had a choice as my laptop was at home, I began to let go. Needless to say, it was the best vacation I had had in years! We spent the time relaxing, played some golf and tennis, even took naps in the middle of the day, and literally did nothing. I hadn’t realized how sleep deprived I had been, even after having been “on vacation for two weeks” only a few days prior and that I was running on fumes.

I’m back in the office now, my head is clearer and I’ve made some changes to my business that I had only been thinking about for what seemed like forever. I’m working more efficiently, and I’m amazed at how quickly I’m crossing things off my backlog of things to do.

I just read an article on BizNik that helped reinforce that feeling – Here’s an excerpt:

“… I made all sort of excuses about how I wanted to be there for the client and things. I mean how else was I going to do what I was meant to do. Serve my clients and be there for them every waking minute. Well, as I read my own words I hear how sad this sounds. It was at that moment I realized that I wouldn’t be able to keep this up much longer. One of two things would happen. I would end up in the hospital from exhaustion or I would begin resenting my clients. Neither of which is a good thing. I also knew that I hadn’t created anything new for my business in quite a while and had no clue what was next for me…

… Once, I landed back on the mainland and as I started to withdraw from my tropical haze, I was full of ideas and energy. The type of energy that makes things happen. I’m not sure how long it will last but I can’t wait for my next vacation. I promised myself I won’t take my laptop next time. And that 100,000 foot level and letting go stuff really works. I think in letting go I realized that my business is better when I had a chance to work on my business and give myself a break from working in it.

As entrepreneurs we get so caught up in running our business that all the things we wanted to do when we started get pushed aside in the grind of trying to make money and make it all work. I now have a clearer picture of my business and how I want it to look, work and feel. And that’s a good thing. So, go book your next vacation, zoom up to the 100,000 foot level and get-a-way for a while and get your life and your business back. This is my life through a different lens. Be well.”

— Step Away from Your Business and Nobody Will Get Hurt” by Gerald Grinter, The Twelfth Power Consulting

We simply hold on and tell ourselves “it will slow down after X happens” and push on. I’ve heard it countless times before, but I guess in prior attempts to take time for myself, I haven’t ever quite allowed myself to really let go. I know now that that everything will be okay, the work will still be there waiting for me, but I’m in a better frame of mind to tackle it.

I challenge YOU now to give yourself permission and pick a date (make it soon!) and mark your calendar. Really and truly, completely unplug. Let go. Breathe. Take time for yourself and return recharged and with a new perspective!

Wow! It seems like I had stopped for just a moment to catch my breath and months have disappeared. Well…it’s time to take a deep breath, exhale and jump in and resume sharing my Viewpoints. So here goes…

It’s again the start of a new year. Many people take this time to begin new advertising and marketing campaigns, or at least take a closer look at where they are with their business. An article I read hit the nail on the head for things to take a look at. Although it’s mainly direct towards trade show marketing, the basic rules still apply.

Planting Sales Seeds by Mike Mraz via Skyline Trade Show Tips

“My nephew Andy is a farmer.  He’s wanted to be a farmer since he was a little boy.  For Andy, there’s something so special about tending the crop to harvest.

Spend a day with him and you’ll learn that farming is very hard but rather simple work.

Of course technology has made a significant impact on the farming process. Fields are now charted by GPS, seeds are engineered to withstand hardship and chemicals assist in maximizing output.

But, the process is still pretty simple; turn the soil, plant the seed, water the field and harvest the crop.

Imagine if Andy farmed like many organizations marketed.

Here are 5 lessons that farmer Andy could teach marketers today:

  1. Choose the right crop for the right field.  Market segmentation and targeted messaging allow us to focus our efforts and leverage our marketing dollars like never before.  The proliferation of smaller more targeted events, allows exhibitors the chance to tell their story to a very qualified audience.
  2. Remember where you planted your seed.  What’s the point to randomly handing out or letting people help themselves to your literature a trade show?  When that brochure gets stuffed into a show bag, it’s one step closer to the trash can.  Just like the farmer controls his seed, the trade show marketer must control his information.
  3. Nurture your seed as it grows.  Focused follow-up and relationship development after the show is CRITICAL!  The farmer would never toss his seeds to the wind and expect the crop to harvest itself.  Why do exhibitors think that they can show up at a show, hand out literature, give away a few pens and expect a harvest to follow?  The harvest will belong to the marketing farmer who works the field.
  4. Know when to harvest your crop.  Experienced marketing and sales people know when it’s time to ask for the business.  They take a very strategic approach to developing the prospect into a customer and know when the time is right to close.  And, close they must.
  5. Be a good steward of the land.  Give back to your industry.  Get involved with the associations you belong to.  Put your “knowledgeware” (your smart people) on display by getting them on the speaker’s platform and presenting at your big conference.  To be seen as a thought leader you need to act like one.

If farmers behaved more like the average marketer, this country would starve.

With the exception of field sales (interesting use of words), the trade show floor is the only marketing field where we are face to face with our market.  In this field we have the opportunity to nurture a good crop and grow your business like no other.

So put on your overalls, grab your pitchfork and get to planting. You’ve got mouths to feed!”

Hello 2011! We have been offline and busy for a few months, but are back and ready to start sharing our Viewpoints for 2011. Stay tuned!

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