What is a QR Code?

Most of us are familiar with the bar codes that are on all of the products we purchase at the grocery store. My first job was in Chicago as a cashier at Dominick’s and these codes saved me tons of time at the register. They  allow the cashier to scan that code so the computer quickly knows the product and of course the price.

But what is this that I keep seeing outside of the grocery store?

Please allow me to introduce you to the QR Code. QR stands for “Quick Response” and was originally invented in 1994 in Japan by Toyota subsidiary Denso-Wave. The QR Code was designed to allow its contents to be decoded at high-speed.

Lately, I have seen this code gaining plenty of traction here in the United States and as more people become familiar with it, I predict it will be gain an even
stronger hold.

Recently, I was at a trade show and many companies had their code on a laminated piece of plastic at their booth. Others exchanged their business cards, which had their own personal QR code printed on the front or back.

It took me a while to gt it. Sort of like Weekend at Bernie’s II, Rocky 26 and all the other lousy sequels out there.  Godfather excluded of course. “Leave the gun, take the cannoli’s” What a great line!

Ok so back to the QR Code.  Companies are now placing all of their information within this code or on their business cards which allows a person with a smart phone and the application downloaded to quickly take a picture of the code and “BAM” everything pops up on the phone such as company name, phone number, web address etc.  The application on your smart phone allows you to store all codes into a folder on your phone.

What a great idea.  Consumers can create a folder for that trade show they are attending and file away all of the companies they meet and wish to remain in contact with or research more at a later date.   No need to exchange business cards as all of your contact data is quickly stored into your phone. So I guess this is keeping us green too.

So that’s it for the basics; but guess what I saw last weekend while I was driving? A delivery truck with a QR code printed on the back driving down the freeway. I am guessing someone was looking at the truck saying, “look at that poor truck with graffiti written on it.”

Check this story out: 

In South Korea, retail grocery giant Tesco is trying something very unique. They have painted in a busy subway a grocery store full of products with QR Codes.  Shoppers are encouraged to scan the QR Code for the groceries they desire and they are next added to their virtual shopping cart and ready for home delivery when the final button is submitted.  Wow!

Check out this video link which talks about this amazing on-line marketing project.

Lastly, be on the lookout for this Google Maps sticker below.  You will find it in the window of your local business merchant. Google recently sent out thousands of these to local businesses to promote Google Maps and the QR Code.

Well now you know what all of the fuss is about and you can sound pretty smart  the next time you notice the truck with all of the graffiti on it.  Just say it was tagged by the QR gang from on-line Central. Tuff Neighborhood.

Until next time – Stay Local…

Advertisements

Getting Familiar with Google+

If you have not heard the buzz around Google’s new product called Google+ well get ready as it is coming to an Internet connection near you.

Let’s cut to the chase…..What is it and what will it do?

Google+ is  a big product in which you might compare to Facebook but with some very interesting differences.

Here is what I know:

Circles –

Google+ will provide users the ability to create different social circles within Google+. So for example, you can have a group of your closest friends in one group and co-workers in another group. This will allow users to communicate certain topics in a much more appropriate fashion.  The groups can be formed by dragging the contact’s picture/photo over a circle that represents the group. It was sort of odd when my old boss read my Facebook update that said “I got the job offer.” This feature could have come in handy back then.

Hangouts –

Hangouts allows up to 10 users to video chat. This could be a very neat feature for the Star Trek lovers as they can get in a closed circle and speak simultaneously about the journeys of Captain Spock and the crew. Ten people talking at the same time?  I would like to see how that works out.

Sparks

Sparks will bring in stories, videos and content from the Web that relate to your specific interests. According to Google, the content in the Sparks stream is different from the results you’d get if you put the same term into the search engine. You will be asked to create or choose from a list of possible interests (cooking, bocce ball, salsa dancing, etc.), once you do this, Google+ then goes out and searches on-topic content from all over the Web. This seems a bit like Google Alerts if you have used that feature already.  Regardless – very convenient and helpful.

Stream

Stream helps you organize the way you receive instant updates from your friends and other contacts in your Circles list. It also will allow you to manage who you share your updates with as well.

Huddle –

Huddle is a group in which you will be having a texting conversation with a group of people where the mobile phone numbers of members will be visible to all.  Great!  Another way for our kids to text and communicate with their friends.  I did not see that one coming 🙂

So there you have it.  The basic 411 on what is coming soon from Google and why Facebook is somewhat worried.  What?  Facebook worried?

Yes!  Owner of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg had built a huge buzz this week to release the announcement of their new product which will allow Skype communication on Facebook.  That is interesting as well.

For now, Facebook is still king, but please keep an eye out for this unique little company making waves in SiliconValley with this new product and interesting logo.

How to Maximize your Business Listing on Google Places

We recently were discussing about the importance of Local Search and how important it was for local business owners to be found within Google Places…as it is called.

See screen shot for example:

So the million dollar question……If I am a business owner, how do I get my listing on the first page of Google Places so potential customers can find me and hopefully call?

You want answers?  You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth!!  Sorry, I just escaped into the 1992 movie “A Few Good Men” but I am back now.

My advice is to immediately search for your listing within Google.  If you have been in business for a while, chances are that Google has something on your business already such as an address, company name and maybe a telephone  number.

Type into the Google search bar, your company name and city – state.  Find your listing and click on the “Place Page”

See below for Place Page link.

Once you click on your Place Page link, you should then see something like this:

First thing I would recommend is to claim your listing. Look in the top right area where it says, “Edit this Place – Business Owner”.

Click on that link and follow the instructions. Google will either ring the telephone number on the site in which when you answer will supply a short digit code or they will mail you a postcard from the East Coast which sometimes takes up to two weeks to receive and again, they will mail it to the address on file.

Now that we have claimed your business, we can start doing some Search Engine Optimization. In short, that means making your page friendly so Google can understand what you do and display your page when appropriate.

You will see that I highlighted the “Category” area on the left had side. Make sure to add the maximum of five (5) categories in which your business should appear for.  Never settle for just one as in this example.  Add additional categories such as Family Dentist, Cosmetic Dentist, Pediatric Dentist etc. Make sure to get your Fab Five  (5) categories.

Add a description of your business.  You will be prompted to do this as well. Very important in words to explain what your business does and why people should come to your business.

It seems that both Google and the viewers like the photographs both for rankings and visual appeal. Make sure to put your best foot forward with your images, logo etc. Be bold and add a video as well. It does not have to compete with the filming of “Titanic” but make it matter.

Now that you have claimed your business, added the categories in which you could appear for in searches and also added photographs and some of you, videos, it is now time to distribute your Places Page to the World Wide Web (www).

Stay tuned for the next update in how to maximize what is available on-line and do all you can to get our business listing on the first page of the Google Places or Map area.

Until then…..Stay Local.

Share

So what is Local Search anyway?

After many years in the Internet business, if there is one thing I have learned it is that the industry loves to coin many acronyms and duplicate definitions.

SEM stands for Search Engine Marketing but then there is SEO right? What is the difference between Organic and Natural?  Is it Paid Search or PPC?  Is it cost per click or CPM?  Are you getting the idea? It gets a little crazy.

Then there was the rage that every search agency must offer Social Media.  You must have a social media strategy they say but what does that really mean?  As I looked closer, most were simply creating a Facebook page or a Twitter account.  It always seemed like so much more was there to be done regarding social media but digging deeper, no one really figured it all out.

Most recently, Local Search has taken the front and center spotlight but what exactly does that mean and will it be important next year or will it’s light soon dim like roller skates, Atari and phone booths?

In the simplest terms, Local Search is here to stay and means this:

Being visible within a map area online as a searcher queries your services in the city or location that you provide service.

Think of the once popular Yellow Pages books.  You had to be there if you were a local business.  If your kitchen sink went on the bum, chances are you flipped to the “P” section of the Yellow Pages and called the ad with the most color or offered the best discount.  When was the last time you truly used the phone book?  Standing on it to reach the wine glasses does not count.

Today, most will go online, say to Google for example and type in “Plumber.”

So wait a minute…looking at the illustration above, how does Google know I am in Newport Beach CA?  What are all of these red balloons? Well the secret rests in your computer Internet connection.  As your computer connects to the Internet – your location is then known…whether it is from your office, your home, the airport or the Starbucks downtown.  Be careful though because if you are using a company issued computer, the location might be set already to the corporate office location. One search and you will see if this is the case and in one click of the mouse, you can edit the future searches to your home town location.  As for the balloons, that is simply Google’s fine art representing local business.

In that instance that you have a company computer or if you simply want to find nice “Restaurants in Palm Springs CA” for your big date this weekend, you would simply want to add the city in your search query such as “Restaurant in Palm Springs CA” This will bring the local information to you in the same format as above.

So is Local Search important?  Well, if you are not showing up as I search for a plumber or that restaurant in Palm Springs, how do I contact you and give you my business?  Well I think you just answered the big question…

Local Search is here to stay and more importantly, as more and more people utilize their mobile telephone to search for businesses while on the go, the need to be present on the local search engines will be even more crucial to one’s success.

Now how do you become visible on the local searches?  How can you get all of those good ratings from your current clients to let new customers know you are a solid company to do business with…

Well stay tuned as next week’s update will speak to these very questions.

Until then…Stay Local!


Share