I’m taking a break from the “Why You Should Run Your Business Online” series to bring you what many tout as the next big thing in marketing: QR codes.
This post will help you understand what QR codes are, the many creative ways you can use them to market your business and finally, how to make them to use for yourself.
QR (stands for “quick response”) codes have been around for a long time and were initially used for tracking parts in vehicle manufacturing.
Eventually however, some clever folks began to realize that QR codes could be used to link the offline and online worlds in a way that is unique, cool and very, very useful.
You see, once you install the appropriate app (on your iPhone, Android, Blackberry, etc.), these codes can be read by your mobile phone. Each code contains a hyperlink (yep, just a plain web link) which takes you to a spot online.
QR codes are printed hyperlinks that actually work in the real world.
But QR codes can hold more than just links! When scanned, they can give you a phone number, create an e-mail for you to send (e.g. “Send me more info on this product.”) and even allow folks to “Like” you on Facebook or “Follow” you on Twitter.
Yes, you can have a Facebook “Like” button on your store’s front window (and I have link below to a service which claims to help you do just that).
The uses for QR codes are only limited by your imagination.
One of the most common uses I’ve seen for a QR code is to provide a link on a home’s “For Sale” sign. The code contains a link that brings potential home buyers to an online virtual tour of that particular house. Neat, fun and effective!
We’ll explore many more ways to including QR codes in your own marketing strategies and tactics in the links below.
QR Code Examples
- The main image for this post leads to the Matt About Business home page.
- The one to the right leads directly to this post.
Feel free to download one or both of them for use on your sites and in print offline to link back to Matt About Business and this handy post!
Below, I’ve included links to much more information about QR codes including many original and interesting uses for your business as well as spots online to create your own.
Have fun and, if you do try, or have tried, your hand at these, please share your experiences in the comments section below. Thanks!
What Is a QR Code?
How to Decode (Read) a QR Code
To read a QR code (i.e. get the link embedded in the address), you need to have an app installed on your mobile phone. Below are links to lists of apps for the top phone-types.
Of course, you could also just search for, “QR code” in your phone app marketplace.
Lastly, if I missed any, please feel free to add the name and a link in the comments section below.
ZXing Decoder Online – if you do not have a mobile phone, or your phone-type does not support a QR reader, you can use ZXing to decode a QR code. You can either take a photo with your phone or camera and upload it or, if the QR code is online, provide the link to the image.
Ideas for Using QR Codes
There are so many interesting and cool uses for QR codes with more and more surfacing every day. That’s why the first link below is to a search of the latest QR code news on Google.
These links show ways to have fun with QR codes while effectively marketing your business and products. Hope this kick-starts your thinking in ways you can make use of them yourself.
Using QR Codes at a Tradeshow – good post on this topic plus, I pulled out the following 4 useful links from the post as well:
Facebook QR Code Page – lots of folks talking about QR codes and sharing ideas.
A First For Boston? – love this look at how QR codes can be used in restaurants to make for interactive, informative and really fun meal experiences!
Google’s Favorite Places QR Codes – Google included QR codes on the adhesive decals they sent to all the claimed and listed “favorite places” business locations in their directory. If you would like a decal for your own business, get started with Google Places and become a “favorite place”.
QR Code Makers
For people to read your QR codes, you have to create them first! Below are a few of the spots where you can do just that (and more).
One thing to note – some of these give you the code to use to link to the QR code, but if you want to just have the image, right-mouse click on the QR code that is generated and select, “Save image as…”. Then you have the QR code to use in any way you want and do not need to link back to another site which is hosting the image for you.
These three QR code generators are free and cover most of the bases you will likely need. They all include different options, some of which may be overkill, but many of which are fun with which to get creative.
QR Stuff – if you register here, you can get your QR codes in high-resolution files perfect for use with printers and others graphic artist types.
StickerScan – Not only can you create a QR code here for free, but you can order up products with your QR code on them. Example include: yard signs, car magnets, t-shirts, mousepads and even temporary tattoos (how cool is that?!).
Social QR Code – they bill them selves as the first QR code maker for social media. With statements such as, “By putting a Social QR Code in your business store front, you are putting a physical “Like” button at your front door as your customers walk in to make a purchase.”, this looks like an interesting, and free, service to explore. If you do, please share your experiences in the comments section below. Thanks!