Category Archives: Marketing your Business

QR Codes- A Powerful New Marketing Tool

Are you familiar with QR codes? If you’re a small business owner, you should be. QR codes are on their way to becoming the latest rage in new technology for small businesses– and with good reason. QR codes (aka Quick Response codes) are two dimension bar codes that can be scanned by smartphone cameras to link the user to videos, text, and online resources. A business can use the QR code on printed material to instantly link to information about a product, its business, or anything else.

One advantage is how specific and targeted the information in the link can be. For example, you could put a bar code on specific products you sell that links the reader to product reviews or instructions on how to use the product. Or, you could put a bar code on receipts or flyers or in your store window that links to updated information on upcoming store sales or special deals or new products you want to advertise. The possibilities are endless and consumers and businesses in the US are just starting to take advantage of this incredible tool. QR codes are widely used in Japan (where they were first developed) and in Europe. Check the Internet for information on how to get started with a QR code and other ideas for uses. Kawya is one of the more popular sites for creating a QR code.

Don’t Be a Victim of This Yellow Pages Scam

You receive a fax from what you think is the Yellow Pages. The fax includes the “walking fingers” logo we’re all familiar with. The fax asks you to update your information for your local Yellow Pages listing. What would you do?

If you’re like the thousands of business owners in the U.S., Canada, and Australia who did receive this fax and didn’t read the fine print, you’d probably fill in your contact information and send the form back without a second thought.  Unfortunately, what the fine print revealed is that by returning the form, these business owners agreed to pay $89 a month for a two-year listing on a non-Yellow Pages online business directory.

This scam is alleged to have been perpetrated by a company based in Europe called Yellow Pages Marketing B.V., which collected millions of dollars in fees from U.S. small business owners alone. The company is now the target of a lawsuit filed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

We’ve all heard this before, but it bears repeating: Always read the fine print.

For more on this scam, see The Wall Street Journal’s In Charge blog.

Don’t Greenwash When Marketing Your Business

Have a product that you’re thinking about marketing as “green” or “eco-friendly”? You may want to tweak your marketing plans.

Responding to the rampant and unregulated marketing of products as Earth-friendly, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is set to update its Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims (also known as the Green Guides) later this year. One of the proposed changes is a bar on the use of unqualified claims of environmental benefit, such as “sustainable” or “Earth-friendly.” Other proposed changes include limitations on the use of green certifications or seals of approval, claims that the product was created with renewable energy or renewable materials, and terms such as “biodegradable,” “compostable,” “recyclable,” “non-toxic,” or “ozone-safe.” Violators of these guidelines may find themselves taken to court by the FTC.

What to do if you truly believe your product is green and want to shout it from the rooftops? Comply with the FTC’s guidelines. Make sure all of your claims are verifiable. And seek third-party certification from a company like Green Seal.

If you’re a consumer trying to wade through the sea of green labels on store shelves, check out GreenerChoices.org, run by the publishers of Consumer Reports.