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QR Codes -- should you be using them?

Screen shot 2011-03-15 at 12.16.28 AMA Quick Response (QR) is a two-dimensional code that looks like the bar codes we’re used to seeing on products in the grocery store.  What makes them the hot new marketing tactic is that these codes can be scanned by smartphone cameras.  Once scanned, they automatically pull up text, photos, videos or URLs.

I can hear you now... more new fangled fiddle faddle.  (Okay, perhaps you didn't say fiddle faddle, but you did roll your eyes.)  But let's keep in mind these facts:

So smartphones continue to dominate and if the predictions are correct -- will only grow in their prevalence.   QR codes allow us to turn just about any experience into an interactive one.  They can add more context, drive a consumer to take an action online (sign up for an e-newsletter for example) and bring multimedia into the experience.

Check out this amazing example of QR code usage from NYC's Central Park (click on the link) and before you think this is only happening on the coasts -- our own Joseph's Jewelers recently used a QR code in one of their ads.

Here are some of the other ways they’re being used:

On business cards: A QR code on a business card could drive people to your LinkedIn account, your online resume, a Facebook fan page or a request information page on your website.

To route a crowd: Some colleges are using them during freshmen orientation as a high tech scavenger hunt.  Businesses can create a game with check in spots to make sure visitors to a new facility or an open house get the full tour.

Instant coupons/discounts: A great way to condition your customers to scan your QR codes is to tie them to discounts or deals.  Whether you display them by your cash register, e-mail or mail them to your best customers or let people draw a QR code card out of a fishbowl to see what discount they’ve won – the goal is to get their attention and have some fun.

QR codes are very new so don’t be surprised if many of your customers aren’t familiar with them.  But they’ll be commonplace in no time, so why not begin experimenting with them now?

* Give it a try -- scan the QR code on this post and enjoy a very creative list of 50 ways you can use QR codes in your marketing.




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I'd be a bit more enthusiastic about QR codes if smartphones could automatically scan these codes. As it is, users have to download a scanner app before they can do anything with the code.

I found that using a QR code as a picture on social networking sites can help direct people somewhere you want them to go - in my case to an about.me summary page. I use it on LinkedIn and Twitter:


Looks like another heaven sent opportunity for marketers to invade our lives.


Ryan -- for people with smartphones -- downloading an app is typically no big deal. They've already got on average 6 or 7 screens of them.

John -- great use of QR codes!

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