Using QR Codes for marketing

I’ve been doing some research this week on the use of QR codes in marketing.  I’ve been aware of QR codes for a while as a marketing device for print material but there are some really creative ways of using QR codes being developed at the moment.

QR codes are those 2D bar codes that can hold a variety of information including any of:

  • Website URLConcise Training QR Code
  • YouTube video
  • Google Map location
  • Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook
  • link to App Store or iTunes
  • Text
  • Telephone number or Skype call
  • SMS message
  • Email address or Email message
  • Contact details
  • Wifi login
  • Paypal buy now

You read a QR code using an internet enabled phone with camera and QR code reader app (e.g. BeeTag).

I firmly believe that these days if you are producing printed material, brochure, leaflet, etc, you should seriously consider producing a QR code to offer more information, email interest, enter a competition etc.  Not everybody knows how to use them at the moment, but I think this year they will become more main stream.

For example, I have included a QR code in the latest edition of my book, Social Media Made Simple, to encourage people to enter a draw for a free Skype session with me in return for an email address.

This week, I have discovered some exciting creative uses of QR codes including:

  • A sandwich shop allows customers to order and pay for food using QR codes to avoid queues.
  • A resturant has QR codes in the menu.  Scanning the QR codes shows a video of the dish being prepared or a picture of the dish.
  • A fast food restaurant is using QR codes on their packaging to inform customers what is in their food.
  • A company in Brazil has included QR codes on their special bottles for father’s day. When dad scans in the QR code they get a personalised video message
  • A restaurant selling sushi includes edible QR codes on their food to allow people to get more information about the fish they are eating.
  • Special panels have been installed at First World War memorials enabling the public to learn about the history of the service personnel who lost their lives.
  • Teachers use QR codes in the classroom to add interest to quizs, research or learning.

QR codes are really easy (and free) to create.  Use QRStuff to create your QR code next time you print any marketing material.  Do create them for a purpose though and think about how they are going to be used.  Make sure you add value and link to a specific page or message rather than just directing people to your home page.  Other things to avoid:

  • including QR codes in websites or emails – the recipient is already on a computer – why would they want to use a Smartphone as well?
  • using QR codes as an Individual LinkedIn (or other Social Media) profile picture!
  • using QR codes somewhere with no internet access e.g. on a plane or in the parts of the underground without wifi
  • displaying QR codes in places impossible to scan (either very high or on a lorry moving very fast)

So what do you think?  Where have you seen QR codes being used successfully?  How are you going to use QR codes in the future?