Little black and white squares, containing seemingly random patterns, are popping up everywhere. They are QR Codes (short for Quick Response Codes) and, although they’ve been around since the mid-1990s, they have recently attracted much attention within the business world, and for good reason.

Back in the mid-1990s, Toyota developed a new ID tag for car parts, to replace the barcode. The QR Code was born and was found to be faster to read and less prone to error.
Now, with consumers sporting hand-held barcode readers in the form of app’ed up smartphones, QR Codes are being used by businesses to attract and retain customers.
According to recently released figures from Mobio, during July to December of last year, QR code scanning grew a massive 1200%
Furthermore, the creation and placement of QR Codes is simple and cost-effective, if not free, while monitoring response, ROI, and campaign management is easy. It took me less than a minute to create the QR Code shown above using Kaywa, one of many free QR Code generation services.
So, how can you use these little black and white boxes to further your business activities?
1. Coupons – QR Codes are a fantastic way to get coupons into the hands of consumers and can be placed on products, shelves, point-of-sale or even on signage outside the store.
2. Consumer advice and information – QR Codes don’t just have to provide discounts and savings. They can be placed alongside products to provide additional information. For instance, wine sellers might place a QR Code alongside various varieties advising which foods they best accompany.
3. Competitions – QR Codes can instantly enter a consumer into a competition, or take them to a web page where they can register for prizes.
4. Games/Entertainment – QR Codes can be used to entertain consumers, perhaps on public transport or in waiting rooms. Branded games or game demos can be distributed via QR Codes, as can free music and video downloads.
5. Business cards and company literature – QR Codes can reduce the cost of in-store literature by allowing contact details and catalogs to be instantly accessed with a click.
6. Advertising – wherever a black and white code can be printed, or adhered to, can be turned into advertising space. It could be a temporary tattoo given out at festivals or exhibitions, a t-shirt, print ad, cinema trailer, drinks mat, napkins, till receipt, sports strip, race car, a pet’s collar, vehicle livery, or even be built into the very fabric of a building, such a this QR Code hotel.
7. Be open when you’re shut – use QR Codes in your store window so consumers can more effectively window-shop and browse your inventory, even when your physical store is shut for business.
8. Take real estate signage to new levels by adding QR Codes linking to video tours and images from the property’s interior, or information on the local area.
9. Charity donations – non-profits are increasingly using QR Codes to enable quick and easy giving to those in need, mostly notably used during the recent Japan earthquake disaster.
10. Connect consumers to your social spaces – use QR Codes to direct consumers to your Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social activity.
As you can see, QR Code use is limited only by your imagination. What’s the quirkiest use of a QR Code you’ve seen?
  1. Michael Palko says:

    I recently helped my 4th grader add some QR codes to his science project. Science Fair goers could scan them to get more details about some elements of his research and send an email to his teacher with comments and compliments.

    The possibilities are endless!

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