Tuesday, August 30, 2011

What's that Square? Using QR codes for marketing

Have you seen these black and white squares - on flyers, posters, labels, etc. - and wondered what they were?  They're QR codes, or quick response codes, a type of bar code that when scanned by a camera enabled smartphone (iPhone, Android, etc.) takes the user to linked content on the web, or activates email, IM, or SMS.  Essentially, it's a quick way of sending someone to content that you want them to see or getting them involved in communication without first having to get to a computer (by which time they may have forgotten).

The second image shows the QR code for PA MarketMaker.  Whenever someone scans the code they are taken to the homepage for PA MarketMaker (  For us, this is an easy way to show someone this marketing tool without being at a computer.

There are numerous potential marketing uses for QR codes including:
  • Take folks directly to a page for them to sign up for your email list
  • Link to coupons or special offers
  • Link directly to a product or event page that you're promoting
  • Take folks directly to a page with product information or uses
  • Creating a QR code that allows folks to remotely "like" your Facebook page (not your profile)
Places where QR codes could be used:
  • Your business card
  • Brochures, flyers, and other marketing materials
  • Sides of trucks and trailers or bumper stickers
  • Product labels/tags and packaging
  • Signs at your market or farmers' market stand
Creating your own QR code is relatively simple.  There are several free QR code generator sites that assist you in creating one.  A quick web search will lead you to them.  Reading QR codes is equally simple.  Smartphone users simply need to download a QR reader from their phone's app store or "marketplace."

While creating QR codes may be easy, don't go overboard in your use of them.  Just as with any other marketing tool, be strategic in how you implement their use.  Choose one or two high profile or important aspects of your business that you really want to get folks involved with or to get their input on.  Mix it up too.  Let's say that after a few months of using QR codes for a couple of things, say an annual Halloween Fest and a featured product, choose two new aspects of your business to highlight with a QR code.  This will keep people involved and interested.

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