Ron Gifford – Ever wonder what those little black boxes with a bunch of squiggly lines are that you see everywhere lately? Driving down the street recently, I noticed a large billboard with a very large picture of one of these boxes, which I later learned is a QR Code, the letters standing for Quick Response. Presumably, if I had the right app on my Smartphone, and the good sense to stop and park my car first, I could have captured this box and whatever information was contained therein on my Smartphone for later usage.
You like me have probably noticed the proliferation of these QR codes over the past year. I
have gone from the “I don’t know what these things are and don’t care” attitude to the “I still don’t know much about this, but everyone seems to be using them, so I better figure out why” mode. A recent survey by Chadwick Martin Bailey found that 81 percent of consumers acknowledged that they had seen a QR code, but 79 percent said they really did not know what they were. If you pay attention at all, they are on grocery products, business cards, brochures, flyers, marketing tools, and a myriad of
other locations. So what are these codes, and what use might your business make of them?
A QR code is actually a barcode that encodes data, invented by the Japanese auto industry and now
expanding its usage here in the United States. The use of QR codes has grown in popularity, and they
hold lots of information, so their use is limited perhaps only by your own lack of creativity.
The most obvious use of a QR code is on your business card. After making a contact who supplies you
with a business card, you have a few choices on what to do with that card. You can add the card to all of
the other cards you have gathered over several years, tie them up in a large rubber band, and throw
them in your desk drawer, hoping you can find the right one when you need to do. Option two is to use
special software that allows you to scan the contents of the card into your computer or Smartphone.
QR codes give you a third option of using a Smartphone app to instantly transfer the data on the card to
your list of names and addresses. Or, if you are wedded to the past, you can painstakingly copy the
information from the card to your computer or Smartphone. If you plan on using QR codes on your
business cards, try several of the apps that are available to create these codes, and make sure that your
data can be read by several.
QR codes are also used to drive people to your website by including those codes on all of your marketing
materials. They are also commonly used to direct people to your Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter pages.
If you have some special promotion or event coming up, they can be used to provide information about
that or send someone to the direct page on your website that contains additional information. A quick
check of the internet quickly discloses a number of different uses for QR codes, like airline boarding
passes, banners, t-shirts, name tags, and sales receipts among many others. There really is no limit to
possible uses, so get those creative juices flowing and figure out how they might help your business.
Since there are any number of free online websites that allow you to create a QR code, there is no huge
cost to consider before you adopt this technology.
The moral of this story – before you reprint any business cards or other marketing tools that you won’t
use up for quite a while, consider using a QR code to direct your customers to where you want them to
be or where they can get more information about your business or the products or services you sell.
Just be sure to think out beforehand what you are trying to accomplish with such use.
Ron Gifford is a Business Advisor for the Northwest ISBDC. Ron can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.