My daughter is a new mother, her new son is my first grandchild. As you might imagine, a lot of things have changed in her life, not the least of which is a heightened interest in saving money.
Sarah has always been a money conscious person, but since becoming “domestic”, as she now refers to herself, that focus has become an obsession. That’s not to say that she doesn’t spend money, but like so many families these days, careful consideration is given to any major, and most minor purchases.
She no longer buys music CDs on a whim, DVDs are likely to remain on the store shelf until they drop significantly in price, jeans once bought at boutiques are now purchased at chain stores or, at the very least, when they go on sale.
Now that she’s a mom her shopping cart now contains boxes of diapers and formula instead of hair products and cute clothes, and she buys in bulk whenever a decent sale is at hand. She’s become quite good at finding sale items. So good, in fact, that I thought she was getting insider information. Recently she told me what her secret is.
When she gets those packets of coupons and advertisements in the mail that so many of us (me included) toss in the trash without so much as a glance, she will go through them and scan the coded tags on each coupon and advert with an app on her iPhone.
Sometimes the codes will link the iPhone to a site that demos a new product, or to a local store where the item is on sale. She says it’s become a form of entertainment, and it’s usually fun to see what hidden treasures the tags reveal. When she’s found something cool you may hear an “OooooooooOOOOOO!” A good indication that the product may get bought sometime in the future, or at least poked at in person when she’s out shopping.
Sarah is the kind of person these codes where designed for. She’s smart, tech savvy, thrifty, but willing to spend if the product or service is deemed useful. Normal advertising channels don’t reach her. She watches Netflix and Hulu, or she rents movies. News and other entertainment comes from the Web through her Mac or iPhone, and not from newspapers and magazines.
While nationally known companies can exploit Web-based advertising, local businesses are largely left out of this new media landscape. They must rely on ancient and dying methods to alert potential customers of their existence. Local newspapers will likely be the last to make the move to digital distribution, and as their readership shrinks, so will crucial advertising revenue.
But tags tie printed ads to the digital age by making it easy, even entertaining and rewarding, for potential customers to find out more about a business or service. And tags can be used by anyone, so local businesses can at least be on equal footing with larger companies that often have bigger advertising budgets.
If a small business takes the time to develop a good Web presence, then tags can be the key to directing local customers to them.
Of course, potential customers have to want to scan the tags in order to make this scenario work, and that’s where money saving offers come in. Offer a product or service that people might want at an initial discount and you attract the attention of people like my daughter.
Let’s say you’re a smart, tech savvy person, like my daughter, and are looking to save some money. You could download Mobiletag and start scanning adverts in your local newspaper or those coupon filled envelopes that appear in your mailbox weekly.
If you’ve used an app like Redlaser, or if you understand how a supermarket checkout scanner work, then you’ll get the principle behind Mobiletag and the other tag readers I’m going to talk about.
Basically, all you do is focus your iPhone’s camera on a product barcode, QR code, or Datamatrix code, and the app will decode the scanned tag and fetch the info contained within.
You probably know what a barcode is, but Datamatrix code? QR code? Whazat?
Datamatrix and QR Code Tags
Ever see odd little squares on products comprised of black and white dots? Those squares contain coded info about the product. Datamatrix codes are the ones with a solid line on the bottom and left side of the square, and QR codes are the ones that have four little square within the large square. The four little square are for positional and timing reference.
There could be any type of info contained in the tag: A phone number, website, a person’s identity or address, you name it. Mobiletag will let your iPhone reveal that info. Just fire up the app, point the camera at the code and budda-bing! You’ve got info!
I fired up Mobletag while I was in Best Buy recently. There was a poster with a QR code inconveniently located on the bottom of the sign, which placed the tag about three inches off the floor. I still managed to scan the code and it opened a YouTube movie about a new game. Pretty cool.
Mobiletag’s interface is pretty simple; choose between barcode or QR/Datamatrix reader, point the camera at the code and watch what happens. The app will create a history of scanned items for review later. That’s pretty much it.
Mobiletag is free and worth every penny.
iTagCode app is even easier to use. Fire it up, point it at a code, and it tells you what’s in the code and lets you decide what to do with it, and the app saves your scans in a simple history list for review. I like that.
Unfortunately I couldn’t get iTagCode to work all the time, especially with barcodes. Your mileage may vary.
iTagCode is suppose to also let you scan pictiures for identification, but I couldn’t get that to work either.
Anyway, it’s free and when it works it works well.
Like iTagCode, AveaTag lets you decide what you want to do with the information it’s read from a tag, presenting you with several useful options. AveaTag works great on QR or Datamatrix codes, but not so much on barcodes.
Again, this app is simple to use, point it at a code and you get the info. And it’s free!
Please be aware that all of these apps request location info.
So, grab one of these apps and start scanning.
That’s a wrap!
More free stuff below with direct links.