Maybe you’ve heard of or seen a few QR codes. Those little funny square 2D bar codes you see popping up in magazine ads, online and even on consumer packaged goods. They look like this silly thing, yet they’re really a sophisticated and smart marketing tool.
You have probably seen them already — and likely didn’t even notice them or weren’t sure what they were. Well, turns out they are pretty cool little tools that open the doorway to a whole new level of information. QR stands for “quick response” and these funny little guys began their life as a tracking system for vehicle parts in manufacturing, created in 1994 by a subsidiary of Toyota in Japan. But they’ve come a long way from the boring grey of the assembly line. Out of the factory and into the limelight as more and more commercial applications are cropping up for the QR codes.
Why does this matter? Well, QR codes deliver information. Easily. They can store data – lots and lots of data. Things like URL links, geo coordinates and text. You can get the calorie content on McDonald’s Big Mac over in Japan by scanning these codes. They are on billboards and store fronts. If you use your reader to scan the QR code at the top of this post, it will take you to the section of our website that talks about mobile marketing and the services we offer. Kind of cool, no?
Our friend, Scott Townsend who handles marketing for United Linen in Bartlesville, OK, just did a marketing campaign using QR Codes and we can’t wait to see the results as they roll out in the next few months. You can scan the QR codes for individual items and have your phone tell you in-depth information about the product–the kind of stuff you get on the website, only much faster and more efficiently delivered than if you had to find the site via your mobile browser. You can get phone numbers, store hours, contact information and more. You can find a code in your magazine, scan it and get access to extra content that didn’t make it into the hard copy. Not only is it smart marketing, it can also create “special” opportunities that only those tech savvy enough to be using QR codes take advantage of. And people like feeling special …. see, more smart marketing!
You can get iPhone apps like Tap Reader or even Android apps like QuickMark to instantly see on your mobile device the Place Page of the location on Google. I use Neo Reader on my iPhone to scan QR codes and love it. And since QR codes are super handy for quick reviews, I smell a HUGE spike in local reviews as the QR codes really take off.
Check out this video on the multipurpose codes here:
The Kansas City Business Journal’s recent edition featured a piece on QR codes, pointing to local realtors using the codes to get information easily into the hands of prospective buyers. Instead of the hassle (and waste) of printed flyers hanging off real estate signs or having to remember a web URL, house hunters can simply scan a QR code affixed to the sign and download information quickly and easily. Even better, the QR codes are reusable from property to property, so from a signage standpoint for the real estate firm, they’re efficient and cost-effective marketing tools.
I think we’ll see QR codes more and more and look forward to seeing more innovative uses of them. What about you? What kind of innovative use of QR codes have you seen? We’d love to hear about it.
**Image credit, Dave Kaup, KCBJ