QR Codes: More Than Just Barcodes Gone Wild

Chances are you’ve been noticing these mixed up looking little square things all over the place. They kind of look like a Rorschach test—you know the inkblot test that’s supposed to tell you if you’re a psychopath or just a really scary individual?

But that’s not what the squares are. They’re called QR codes or Quick Response codes, and they’re a 2 dimensional matrix code. Not the Keanu Reeves kind of matrix (although Neo would have been totally into them). They were originally created by the auto industry for cataloging because you can imbed large amounts of binary and alphanumeric data in them and they can be decoded quickly. Think of them as being like barcodes, only way better.

Since they’re so useful, other industries have adopted them and they’ve exploded to the point now where you’re seeing them all over the place—on store shelves, in magazine ads, on packaging and signage, etc.

To decode a QR code, you need to have something that can capture the code and decode the data. Both Apple and Android have free code reader apps that you can download to your smartphone. Once you have the app, you can use your phone’s camera to capture the QR codes and see the data that’s stored in them. 

“That’s really very interesting GLAD WORKS, but what does a QR code mean for my business?”

We’re so happy you asked because there’s a lot you can do with them! But before we go making it sound like they’re the most amazing things ever, they’re not going to be perfect for every business. The major limiting factor for QR codes is that only people with smart phones can use them, so this means that they’re only useful to a somewhat limited, but rapidly growing audience. Once more of the population adopts smartphones, this won’t be an issue anymore.

But because of the slight niche-iness, you have to determine if your customers are the sort to own smartphones. If you cater to folks who consider any and all technology as “newfangled hogwash,” then you probably won’t want to start sticking QR codes on all your stuff, ya know?

But let’s say that you DO cater to the smartphone crowd and you need a few ideas for how to use QR codes for your business. We wrote this post for you!  Here are a few great suggestions, but the list is certainly not limited to just these few ideas. 

Business Cards:  Lots of people these days have many ways they can be found beyond what you’d typically see on a business card. It’s impossible to fit all of your social media handles and accounts on such a small card—especially if you’re as plugged in as some folks are. This is a great way to stick all that info into a tiny space. What’s more is that people can capture the code with their phone’s camera and put all of your contact information into their phone in two seconds. Kinda cool, huh? They can’t say, “I lost your card” anymore.

Products, labels and signage:  You could put a QR code on your product labels and signage. When someone takes a picture of it, the code leads them to a mobile site with all kinds of information about your company and all of your great products and services!

Advertisements, promotions, and giveaways:  You can make your iPhone and Android patrons feel very special by offering discounts that are specific to QR codes. The codes can be run in print ads or posted throughout the store. This seems kind of unfair to your customers who don’t have fancy phones, so maybe you could throw them something special too so they don’t feel sad.

Fun and games: This wouldn’t be a QR code list without mentioning the fun that can be had with them! Scavenger hunts are awesome to do with QR codes! They’re slightly complicated to pull off, but they’re fun and engaging for customers. 

Put it on YOU: Put your QR code on a tee shirt and wear that baby to an event! You might feel like an über nerd doing this, but think about all the opportunities you’ll get to promote yourself when people notice you’re wearing a QR code and photograph it with their smartphone to find out what your deal is. You could have your whole staff wear them to an event and really go big with it!

Make it pretty:  QR codes don’t have to look like a boring old ink smudge. We can help you create a fancy designer one that can help increase the chances that someone will scan it in.  Click here to see some of the cool things that can be done with them!

Whether or not QR codes are the next biggest thing since toast has yet to be seen, but they do have some great possibilities to explore!

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