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10 Ways to Add QR Codes to Your Company’s Marketing Mix

by  TashaCunningham

Have you ever heard of a QR code or Microsoft Tag? If those terms sound likes a foreign language to you, you\’re not alone. While major brands like Kraft Foods, Procter and Gamble and Macy\’s have embraced them in their marketing campaigns recently, the average small business owner doesn\’t have a clue about using QR codes to drive customers to their products and services.

Although they\’ve have been around since the early 90s, QR codes didn\’t catch on in the United States until recently. QR or Quick Response codes are 2-dimensional bar codes, similar to ones you would find on a price tag at the clothing store. Using a scanner or reader available on your smartphone, your potential customers can scan the code and see where it takes them. Major brands use QR codes to take customers to discounts, freebies and special promotions.  A Microsoft Tag works just like a QR code, but can only be scanned with a Microsoft Tag Reader.

‘QR codes have helped us introduce our company to an entirely new customer base,’ said Amy Bergeron, director of marketing at the Kursch Group, a commercial real estate company in Victorville, California. ‘We\’ve put QR codes in storefronts of properties we are marketing. Now when potential buyers scan the QR codes with their smart phones, it takes them to a website that is set to showcase a particular location. They can see pictures of the property, get details such as square footage and price and contact a realtor all without having to make a phone call or search the Internet.’

qrcode

Guerzo Business Solutions QR Code

While QR codes and Microsoft Tags can be used to educate potential customers about a product or service, they can also be used to reward them for their interest in your brand. Major corporations like Best Buy, Starbucks and Nike are using QR codes to cultivate new customers and thank existing ones who have been loyal to the respective brand.

‘We\’re seeing marketers using QR codes to create buzz and get consumers excited about their brands,’ said Matthias Galica, creator of ShareSquare, a founder and CEO of ShareSquare, a platform that allows anyone to create, share and market QR codes. ‘QR codes have been around for a long time and are in use around the world, but in the U.S., they\’ve taken off because now there is an installation base. As long as you have a smart phone, you can install a QR code reader. That has caused an explosion in the popularity of QR codes.’

So how can you use QR codes and Microsoft Tags in your business? Here are 10 ideas to get you started and remember, when potential customers go to the trouble of scanning your QR codes or tags, it is imperative that you give them something they can use.

1. GIVE THEM A DISCOUNT. When customers scan your code, reward them with a coupon for a 20discount off their next purchase.

2. GIVE THEM A DAILY DEAL. Encourage customers to scan the same QR code every day for a week to get a daily deal good for discounts, freebies and other rewards. This will create constant buzz about your product or service and keep your customers coming back.

3. GIVE THEM A FREEBIE. When customers scan your QR code, give them something free like a product sample or a 2-for-1 deal.

4. REWARD THEM FOR TAKING ACTION. Use QR codes to build your Facebook fan page or e-mail newsletter list. When customers scan your QR code, take them to a website where they can sign up for your e-mail newsletter or like your Facebook page. Once they complete the call to action, send them an e-mail with a discount, freebie or special promotion.

5. GIVE THEM A FREE DOWNLOAD. If you use e-books to market your business, use QR codes to distribute them. When customers scan the code, give them a free e-book download and the opportunity to sign-up to receive future special promotions from your company.

6. GIVE THEM FREE TICKETS. If you use event marketing to promote your business, use QR codes to hand out free tickets. When the code is scanned, make sure it leads to a website where potential customers can download their free tickets.

7. GIVE THEM EXCLUSIVE ACCESS. QR codes can be used to give potential and existing customers exclusive VIP access to events, sales and special promotions. When the code is scanned ensure that it leads to a website, video, text message or phone number that will allow customers to enjoy their exclusive access.

8. GIVE THEM A HEADS UP. If you want to pique a customer\’s interest in a specific product or service that you\’re planning to offer on sale, use QR codes and tags to tell them about it in advance. Place a QR code on your printed marketing materials that leads to a website where customers can get details about the sale and even pre-order.

9. GIVE THEM AN INVITATION. Use QR codes or tags in your event marketing to invite potential customers to events. If you\’re having a launch party for a new product, create a QR code that leads to the event invite and a way for customers to RSVP.

10. GIVE THEM SOME HELP. Use QR codes or tags to give customers more information about your product or service. Put a QR code or Microsoft Tag on your website, printed marketing materials or promotion items that leads to an FAQ web page where customers can get answers to their questions via e-mail or live chat.

Additional Tips:

  • Educate your customers about QR codes and how they can use them to get access to discounts, special offers and other promotions that will save them money on your product or service.
  • Show your customers where they can download QR code readers for iPhone, Android and Blackberry to unlock your company\’s QR codes.
  • Place links to popular code readers on your marketing materials to make it easy for customers to unlock your QR codes.
  • Use one of these five free tools to generate QR codes for your business

ShareSquarehttp://www.GetShareSquare.com

BeQRious http://www.beqrious.com/

Delivrhttp://delivr.com/

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Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/marketing-tips-articles/10-ways-to-add-qr-codes-to-your-companys-marketing-mix-4890165.html

About the Author

Tasha Cunningham is a newspaper columnist and technology expert who has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times and numerous other media outlets.

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Assertive Communication – 6 Tips For Effective Use

By Lee Hopkins

What IS assertive communication?

Assertive communication is the ability to express positive and negative ideas and feelings in an  open, honest and direct way. It recognizes our rights whilst still respecting the rights of others. It allows us to take responsibility for ourselves and our actions without judging or blaming other people. And it allows us to constructively confront and find a mutually satisfying solution where conflict exists.

So why use assertive communication?

All of us use assertive behavior at times… quite often when we feel vulnerable or unsure of ourselves we may resort to submissive, manipulative or aggressive behavior.

Yet being trained in assertive communication actually increases the appropriate use of this sort of behavior. It enables us to swap old behavior patterns for a more positive approach to life. I’ve found that changing my response to others (be they work colleagues, clients or even my own family) can be exciting and stimulating.

The advantages of assertive communication

There are many advantages of assertive communication, most notably these:

  • It helps us feel good about ourselves and others
  • It leads to the development of mutual respect with others
  • It increases our self-esteem
  • It helps us achieve our goals
  • It minimizes hurting and alienating other people
  • It reduces anxiety
  • It protects us from being taken advantage of by others
  • It enables us to make decisions and free choices in life
  • It enables us to express, both verbally and non-verbally, a wide range of feelings and thoughts, both positive and negative

There are, of course, disadvantages…

Disadvantages of assertive communication

Others may not approve of this style of communication, or may not approve of the views you express. Also, having a healthy regard for another person’s rights means that you won’t always get what YOU want. You may also find out that you were wrong about a viewpoint that you held. But most importantly, as mentioned earlier, it involves the risk that others may not understand and therefore not accept this style of communication.

What assertive communication is not…

Assertive communication is definitely NOT a lifestyle! It’s NOT a guarantee that you will get what you want. It’s definitely NOT an acceptable style of communication with everyone, but at least it’s NOT being aggressive.

But it IS about choice

Four behavioral choices

There are, as I see it, four choices you can make about which style of communication you can employ. These types are:

direct aggression: bossy, arrogant, bulldozing, intolerant, opinionated, and overbearing

indirect aggression: sarcastic, deceiving, ambiguous, insinuating, manipulative, and guilt-inducing

submissive: wailing, moaning, helpless, passive, indecisive, and apologetic

assertive: direct, honest, accepting, responsible, and spontaneous

Characteristics of assertive communication

There are six main characteristics of assertive communication. These are:

  • eye contact: demonstrates interest, shows sincerity
  • body posture: congruent body language will improve the significance of the message
  • gestures: appropriate gestures help to add emphasis
  • voice: a level, well modulated tone is more convincing and acceptable, and is not intimidating
  • timing: use your judgment to maximize receptivity and impact
  • content: how, where and when you choose to comment is probably more important than WHAT you say

The importance of “I” statements

Part of being assertive involves the ability to appropriately express your needs and feelings. You can accomplish this by using “I” statements. These indicate ownership, do not attribute blame, focuses on behavior, identifies the effect of behavior, is direct and honest, and contributes to the growth of your relationship with each other.

Strong “I” statements have three specific elements:

  • Behavior
  • Feeling
  • Tangible effect (consequence to you)

Example: “I feel frustrated when you are late for meetings. I don’t like having to repeat information.”

Six techniques for assertive communication

There are six assertive techniques – let’s look at each of them in turn.

1. Behavior Rehearsal: which is literally practicing how you want to look and sound. It is a very useful technique when you first want to use “I” statements, as it helps dissipate any emotion associated with an experience and allows you to accurately identify the behavior you wish to confront.

2. Repeated Assertion (the ‘broken record’): this technique allows you to feel comfortable by ignoring manipulative verbal side traps, argumentative baiting and irrelevant logic while sticking to your point. To most effectively use this technique use calm repetition, and say what you want and stay focused on the issue. You’ll find that there is no need to rehearse this technique, and no need to ‘hype yourself up’ to deal with others.

Example:

“I would like to show you some of our products”
“No thank you, I’m not interested”
“I really have a great range to offer you”
“That may be true, but I’m not interested at the moment”
“Is there someone else here who would be interested?”
“I don’t want any of these products”
“Okay, would you take this brochure and think about it?”
“Yes, I will take a brochure”
“Thank you”
“You’re welcome”

3. Fogging: this technique allows you to receive criticism comfortably, without getting anxious or defensive, and without rewarding manipulative criticism. To do this you need to acknowledge the criticism, agree that there may be some truth to what they say, but remain the judge of your choice of action. An example of this could be, “I agree that there are probably times when I don’t give you answers to your questions.

4. Negative inquiry: this technique seeks out criticism about yourself in close relationships by prompting the expression of honest, negative feelings to improve communication. To use if effectively you need to listen for critical comments, clarify your understanding of those criticisms, use the information if it will be helpful or ignore the information if it is manipulative. An example of this technique would be, “So you think/believe that I am not interested?”

5. Negative assertion: this technique lets you look more comfortably at negatives in your own behavior or personality without feeling defensive or anxious, this also reduces your critics’ hostility. You should accept your errors or faults, but not apologize. Instead, tentatively and sympathetically agree with hostile criticism of your negative qualities. An example would be, “Yes, you’re right. I don’t always listen closely to what you have to say.”

6. Workable compromise: when you feel that your self-respect is not in question, consider a workable compromise with the other person. You can always bargain for your material goals unless the compromise affects your personal feelings of self-respect. However, if the end goal involves a matter of your self-worth and self-respect, THERE CAN BE NO COMPROMISE. An example of this technique would be, “I understand that you have a need to talk and I need to finish what I’m doing. So what about meeting in half an hour?”

Conclusion

Assertiveness is a useful communication tool. It’s application is contextual and it’s not appropriate to be assertive in all situations. Remember, your sudden use of assertiveness may be perceived as an act of aggression by others.

There’s also no guarantee of success, even when you use assertive communication styles appropriately.

“Nothing on earth can stop the individual with the right mental attitude from achieving their goal; nothing on earth can help the individual with the wrong mental attitude” W.W. Ziege

When you match consumer psychology with effective communication styles you get a powerful combination. Lee Hopkins can show you how to communicate better for better business results. At Hopkins-Business-Communication-Training.com you can find the secrets to communication success.

Proper Etiquette For Your Business Power Lunch

By Don Doman

Power lunches don’t just happen. If you leave them to chance you might end up at half-power. As in all business communications, power lunches start well before you sit down to talk . . . or eat.

Here’s what to do before your client arrives for lunch:

          • If it is up to you to suggest the restaurant, have one in mind that will be conducive to conversation. A sports bar just doesn’t make it.
          • Call and make reservations. If you are familiar with the restaurant and the staff, ask for a table that will suit your meeting.
          • Call your client to confirm. Inform the client that reservations have been made under your name.
      • Arrive early so you can make sure everything is in order.
      • Talk to your waitperson and give them your credit card. Learn the waitperson’s name.
      • Look over the menu and decide on your order.
      • Order something non-alcoholic to drink while you wait.
      • Be well aware of your client’s interests so you can easily slide in and out of small talk.
      • Keep your cell phone on vibrate in case your client needs to cancel. This way you’ll not be kept waiting at the table through lunch.

Before you even think about a power lunch you should of course brush up on your table manners. If you are in doubt, and even if you are pretty sure, it never hurts to review proper dining etiquette. One of my favorite etiquette training programs is called The Art of Dining: The Business Lunch. The video covers the basics and acts as a good reminder for the steps involved as well as table manners.

“Hosted by Marjabella Young Stewart, this program dramatically increases your social confidence when dining as a host or guest.

The business lunch includes setting up your appointment, choosing the restaurant, ordering the meal, managing hard-to-handle foods, tipping and ending the meeting. Stewart is internationally known through her television appearances on “Good Morning America” and “The Today Show.”

This video will help stop you from making the wrong moves and pave the way for an enjoyable business lunch that should make good friends and good clients.”

– Ad copy for The Art of Dining: The Business Lunch

For less than hundred dollars this wonderful training video will repay you many times over. You can share the video with your fellow employees, or keep it to yourself.

The next step involved in the business or power lunch begins when your client arrives. The waitperson will probably show your client to your table and then take drink orders.

  • If your client orders an alcoholic drink you should consider ordering one, but no more.
  • The time it takes for the waitperson to reappear is time for small talk about the food, about the weather, about the client’s interests.
  • If the client asks what’s tasty and well prepared at the restaurant, you can offer your favorites.
  • While the client looks over the menu, turn your cell phone completely off.
  • When the waitperson returns ask them to list the specials, and place your order.
  • After the order has been placed you may begin talking about business.

Enjoy the meal, enjoy the conversation, and enjoy your business dealings. You both should be in a good mood following a well thought-out business power lunch.

Don Doman is a published author, video producer, and corporate trainer. He owns the business training site Ideas and Training (http://www.ideasandtraining.com), which he says is the home of the no-hassle “free preview” for business training videos. He also owns Human Resources Radio (http://www.humanresourcesradio.com), which broadcasts HR and business training information, program previews, and training samples from some of the world’s great training speakers twenty-four hours a day. You can listen and learn on Human Resources Radio.

Turn Prospects into Paying Clients

by Ali Brown

As a small business owner, you know that keeping your marketing funnel –your stream of prospects– full is essential for sustaining your business. I’ve spoken often of the merits of:

  • Building your contact list of potential clients/customers
  • Communicating regularly through an ezine (email newsletter)
  • Posting valuable content on your blog
  • Connecting through social media marketing (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)

If you’re doing all this, but still struggling to convert prospects into customers, here are some additional strategies for you to implement:

Back to basic methods work:

1. Call. Sometimes we get so wrapped up with our status updates, tweets and email broadcasts that we forget the most personal connection that you can make with someone: calling them up and having a live conversation. Don’t go for the hard sell though, instead connect and listen.

2. Send a personal note. In a mail box full of bills and ads, a hand-written personal note is golden. If you have a special event or promotion to tell someone about, consider the personal touch of a hand written note.

3. Invite someone to coffee. Face to face bonding goes a long way for making a favorable impression. Host a coffee for one or more contacts, and find out what they’re up to, and share your latest projects as well.

See people in person:

1. Host an event. Give people an excuse to get out of the house, break out a new pair of shoes, and mingle with colleagues. From an intimate gathering to a big production, you’ll make a big splash by bringing people together to connect and collaborate. Make it worth their while to attend by offering a discount, incentive, or complimentary information.

2. Invite the locals. Speaking engagements are terrific list builders, and when you do speak, whether it’s at the local chamber or a larger event, let everyone know. Send out a targeted email to your prospective customers in that area, and they’ll feel special and want to attend. Similarly, if you are attending an event, let your contacts know that you are going and that you hope to see them there.

Get more personal:

1. Send a personal email. You’re probably using an email broadcasting system, and that’s great, but it’s even better to regularly reach out to your top prospects with personal emails.

2. Survey your prospect’s needs. If what you’re doing isn’t working, find out why. Survey your potential customers personally by phone, or set up a survey (Check out Survey Monkey) and email it to your customers. Keep the survey short, carefully select your questions, and get assistance from a pro if you need it. Reward them in some way for taking the survey, and you’ll get better results.

3. Be super-responsive. It’s all about connecting with the people on your list to build their trust over time. One way to achieve that is to respond to every email, Facebook post, and Twitter tweet that you can possibly manage, and within 48 hours. (You may need an assistant or a team to help you with this.) Even though you can’t make everyone happy, respecting them with courtesy will make a lasting impression.

Offer them more:

1. Present bonuses. Add bonuses to your sales page if your customers sign on by a certain date.

2. Offer discounts. Make discounts available for certain circumstances to entice buyers.

3. Extend deals. Everyone loves a deal, so join forces with a joint venture partner, and offer customers a two-for-one offer.

4. Provide fast action bonuses. Reward early purchasers with fast action bonuses of special gifts.

5. Hold a drawing. Enter all customers in a contest for an enticing grand prize.

6. Make it easy. Deliver stellar customer service that makes doing business with you a pleasure by devising ways to make it easier for them. (Example: If a customer has just purchased a spot at your event, offer to make their room reservation for them.)

Be generous:

1. Deliver fabulous content. Make sure that your ezine, blog, Facebook, etc. has valuable content your readers can use, so they want to stay connected with you.

2. Reward referrals. Word of mouth from existing customers can be your most effective sales tool. Reward clients who refer you by offering referral fees, or better yet, create an affiliate program.

3. Offer options. Provide products and programs for every level of customer. Even though entry-level programs can be a “loss leader,” it’s a way to get people in the door, build trust, and eventually this pool of people may join at a higher level later.

Connect in every way:

1. Friend them. Create a Facebook Fan page that’s attractive to prospects and “friend” everyone and reinforce connections.

2. Follow them. Create a Twitter account and tweet away. Provide leading edge and engaging messages that attract followers.

3. Share. Share personal snippets of your life to keep people engaged with you to create a relationship.

As the economy continues to pick up, those who go the extra mile with their prospective clients will enjoy a higher customer conversion rate. Be personal and generous, offer fabulous incentives, informative content, and connect in a variety of ways. Then watch you sales lift and your spirits soar.

© 2010 Ali International, LLC

Self-made entrepreneur and Inc. 500-ranked CEO Ali Brown teaches women around the world how to start and grow profitable businesses that make a positive impact. Get her FREE weekly articles and advice at www.AliBrown.com

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