Monday, August 27, 2012

PSMJ Tips: The Latest Trend: QR Codes in Proposals

QR codes offer a quick link to the virtual world. Their possibilities are endless. A QR (Quick Response) Code is a two-dimensional barcode designed to carry significantly more data than a normal barcode, and can be scanned both horizontally and vertically. Originating in Japan in the early 90s, the QR was used as a tracking system for automotive components. Today, these codes appear everywhere: on billboards, food packaging, newspapers, magazines, and even airline tickets.

The primary purpose of the QR code is to provide a quick link to text or URL. A cell phone camera is needed to read the information and a web-based link is needed to provide the information. Applications are available for download on mobile devices. The QR codes are generally free and can be generated from various sources such as:

While the QR code can link to text, for A/E proposals, that application seems redundant. Where QR codes can really set the proposal apart is in linking to the web for a YouTube video, website, or landing page. The benefit is that you can expand your information beyond the basic proposal, adding another layer to your “full package.”

QR codes add a dimension to a proposal that cannot be accomplished easily through other means. It is recommended that you provide the URL below the code just in case you have a curious client that does not have the technology needed to read the code. You might also consider providing instructions on downloading a code reader application.

The code itself can be used throughout a proposal, depending on what you want it to link to. Here are a few examples:

• Put a QR code in your cover letter. This is a great technique for emphasizing the key points that you want the reader to walk away with. Some of these things may be client testimonials. Link to videos of clients espousing all of the great reasons they use your firm.

• Use a QR code for the firm portfolio. You want your prospective client to learn more about similar projects that you have worked on, so the QR code could link them to a landing page that you have developed that provides images and narratives bringing your projects to life.

• Include a QR code with team resumes. In the resumes, include a link to YouTube videos of your project manager, director of design, or key project principals explaining their project philosophies, experience and/or how they would manage this project.

• Place a QR code on the proposal cover. If you’re a novice, you can always start with having a link to your website.

The best part is that you can actually see how effective your efforts are. Our firm recently created an in-house landing page to link from a QR code for a specific proposal. Using Google analytic statistics, we were able to see when the landing page was viewed. We won the project because we were able to provide information above and beyond our competition.

The beauty of the QR code is that it costs nothing to generate. With a well thought through marketing campaign, you can build your communication repertoire so that you have the opportunity to link to almost anything. And the price? Nothing. For more vital information on how to effectivly approach business development, register for PSMJ’s Win Work Now: Three 1-Day Business Development Programs.This fall, PSMJ is providing 5 locations all across North America and Canada to give your whole firm the tools and confidence you need to succeed in bringing in more work for the firm. Register today!

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