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A marketing strategy will help you identify your best customers, understand their needs and implement the most effective marketing methods.

The internet has transformed business marketing. No matter what you do, the internet is likely to be at the heart of your marketing strategy.

Social media is firmly established as a marketing tool. Having a presence opens up new lines of communication with existing and potential customers.

Good advertising puts the right marketing message in front of the right people at the right time, raising awareness of your business.

Customer care is at the heart of all successful companies. It can help you develop customer loyalty and improve relationships with your customers.

Sales bring in the money that enables your business to survive and grow. Your sales strategy will be driven by your sales objectives.

Market research exists to guide your business decisions by giving you insight into your market, competitors, products, marketing and your customers.

Direct marketing can be a highly successful way to generate sales from existing and new customers. Find out how to target them in the best way.

Exhibitions and events are valuable for businesses because they allow face-to-face communication and offer opportunities for networking.

PR

Favourable media coverage can bring a range of business benefits. But how do you attract the attention of editors, broadcasters and journalists?

Q&A: Mobile marketing with QR codes

QR codes are barcodes that can be read by smartphones with a camera. This mobile technology is a great marketing tool and it helps you improve your customer service, as Richard Gauder of CMS Web Solutions tells Sonja Jefferson

What are QR codes?

RG: "QR codes or Quick Response codes are a two-dimensional barcode that can be read by smartphones with a camera."

What can QR codes do?

RG: "When a smartphone user takes a picture of the code, they are directed to a page on a website. A business could have anything on that webpage - product information, menus, order forms, coupons, store hours, promotional offers and links to social media pages.

"You can place them on marketing materials, on products, in store windows, on restaurant tables, on billboards, TV commercials, newspapers, t-shirts, anywhere!"

Why should businesses use them?

RG: "QR codes are a fantastic marketing opportunity. As most people have smartphones, they now expect instant information: take the opportunity to lead the way in giving them just that."

How easy is it to use QR codes?

RG: "QR codes are quick, convenient and easy for the consumer. For businesses they are simple to set up and can be generated for free - a great way to interact with your customers. Results are easy to track; you can quickly adjust your marketing strategy based on what works best."

Can you suggest any marketing ideas?

RG "You could use a QR code to direct people to customer reviews. How about a page that shows up at check out offering an extra gift or discount if they sign up for your newsletter?

"They're not just for retail. How about putting one on your business card sending people to your website? Estate agents could add a QR code to the For Sale sign: interested buyers can scan the code and immediately access details about that property."

So how do you set up a QR code campaign?

RG: "For best results, make sure your QR code takes visitors to a customised landing page on your website. Also, make sure your page is mobile-friendly. You want it to load quickly and have the most important information near the top.  Include contact details so that visitors can quickly connect.

"Once you've created your landing page, you'll need a QR code for it. It's easy to generate - URL shortening services such as bit.ly let you create a code from any web page address (usually by adding a '.qr' to the end of the shortened URL). With services such as QRStuff you can create other types of response such as text messages or phone numbers. It's simple. "

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