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A Quick Start Guide to Using QR Codes for Marketing

December 20th, 2010 ::

The first time I noticed a QR code was in a magazine in September.  I had no clue what it was, so I ignored it.  Then QR codes were mentioned at the GrowSmartBiz Conference last month.  One woman even had a huge one stuck on the lid of her laptop!  Now Network Solutions’ Social Media Swami, Shashi, has one in his email signature line.

QR codes have arrived, and they are here to stay as we become more and more reliant on our cell…I mean smart phones for, well, everything.  Once scanned with a smart phone, the QR code, which looks like a square bar code, allows a user to retrieve content.   This is a really, really exciting marketing opportunity, because the possibilities of what that content might be are only limited by your imagination and creativity.

For all of you new to QR codes, here is a quick guide to get you started:

How do you scan QR codes?

With an app, of course!  Mobile-Barcodes.com provides a list of vendors that make code readers (instructions and compatibility are included in the list).  You can also just look up your phone’s service provider or manufacturer.  I have a BlackBerry, so I looked up their apps.  Here’s the list of QR code readers I got—561 in all!

Once you have an app installed on your phone, simply take a picture of the QR code using your phone’s camera (some apps allow you to scan it), and you should get an option to retrieve the information on your smart phone or computer.

How do you create a QR code?

There are a lot of companies out there that can generate QR codes, so I turned to Mashable for guidance; they like Kaywa. All you have to do is choose the content you want to share, test it, and save the code as a permalink (just like any other link). Then you can start sharing it!  Yes, it’s that easy.

What kind of information should I share with my QR code?

This is a very non-exhaustive list:

  • Brochure
  • Data sheet
  • White paper
  • eBook, or excerpts from one
  • Special offers
  • Page on your website
  • Blog post
  • Case study
  • Webinar or workshop information with registration link

Where should I put my QR code?

  • Email signature
  • Marketing collateral, including digital versions
  • Newsletter
  • Website
  • Facebook page
  • Business card
  • T-shirts
  • Canvas bags
  • Stickers

One mistake you don’t want to make:

Forgetting to add a call to action!  After someone scans your QR code and retrieves the content, add a message explaining how you can help them, and how they can best reach you.

A final tip:

I stumbled upon a really cool QR code service that is perfect for small business owners.  PingTag allows you to create a QR code that’s connected to your LinkedIn account.  Perfect for your business card, email signature and resume!

Image by Flickr user id-iom (Creative Commons)

The views expressed here are the author's alone and not those of Network Solutions or its partners.

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Posted in Marketing, Technology | 4 Comments »

  • Frandroid Atreides

    Why would anyone add a QR code to an email signature when a simple link would work much more easily?

  • http://twitter.com/ColinStorm Colin Storm

    I agree. The only instance that makes sense in my opinion is if you are linking to a map to get to your location, and want to let someone get that link on their phone. Otherwise, I don’t get it.

  • Anonymous

    Well, start getting used to QR codes, because they are here to stay! I just read that companies might start replacing their social media info (Twitter and Facebook addresses) with QR codes. They really have limitless uses.

  • Lisa

    A QR code look like cool.