QR Codes- Why We Need Them
Have you ever seen an ad somewhere for a product or a service you absolutely needed. Then hours later, when you finally have some time at your computer to look it up, you discover your mind has generated this huge vacuum where absolutely no hint of what you positively had to have can ever reappear?
It happens to the best of us and it appears to becoming much more common as we get lambasted with more and more non-stop advertising. This continual barrage of ads, information, and general branding messages eventually causes us to try and forget more than we remember. Or at the very least numbs us to the majority of it. I would like to think this is what led to the creation of QR codes. It was all just to help the overwhelmed out there who are just like me.
So what exactly are QR codes and more importantly how can they help people remember those ads? Let me start by explaining what QR code stands for. It is an acronym for Quick Response code and is an extension of the bar codes found most often in retail establishments. This extension involves turning the straight bar code into a 2D code and I have an example below.
QR Codes – It Takes More Than Just The Code
Now the QR code is only part of the puzzle, or in this case the solution. The second part is a device that can read these 2D bar codes. We aren’t talking about anything as clumsy as one of those large hand scanners you find at Wal-Mart either. We are talking about that iPhone in your pocket, or that Blackberry you carry everywhere with you. The device more and more people cannot live without and carry with them everywhere.
By installing one of the many free QR code readers onto your smart phone, you are ready to scan away. This brings us to the next question which is, So What? What is the point of being able to read these codes?
This is where the people who get this, can really see the value, So pay close attention. Consider you are in the market for a new vehicle and just happen to be out for coffee and reading the newspaper. Suddenly you notice an ad for the vehicle you’ve been looking for. As you look closely, you notice the QR code in the corner of the ad. You quickly grab your smart phone, fire up the QR reader and take a picture of the QR code.
Within a few seconds, your browser on your phone opens and takes you directly to a link on the dealer’s website where you simply enter your name, phone number and you can book a test drive later that day. Right from where you are sitting. No need to call in, no need to write all the details down to as you can simply bookmark the page on your phone. All with minimal fuss and no vacuum affect where you forgot about it by the time you arrived home.
This is just one example. Other ideas may be a restaurant putting their QR code on their window. Instead of going inside to determine what the special is, you can scan it and have access to the entire menu, or even just determine today’s specials. Or maybe they put the QR code on their takeout menu. Now you can scan the takeout menu and the link there takes you to their online menu. Suddenly you can flip to your bookmark while you are riding home on the train and order your food ahead so it is waiting for you on your way home.
QR Codes Make It Simpler
Sure, you could easily have just typed the longer web address in your phone for either of these examples, but this is so much simpler. It is just so much cleaner and easier. But it doesn’t end there. You see QR codes don’t have to just direct people to a web page.
You can put QR codes on billboards, so someone can scan it from the street. You can put them on business cards, vehicle signage, almost anywhere. Even more interesting is understanding that it doesn’t just end with web addresses.
You can use the QR code to load a GoogleMap to help someone locate your business. You can use it to grab an email address or a phone number. You can use it on your business card to send your VCard information. Or even to direct someone to a YouTube video. The possibilities are endless!
QR Codes Uses
This is what is so exciting, especially to small business owners who can react to this and incorporate the possibilities into their business. Think about this from your business’s perspective. How could you use this to help your company do any of the following?
- Solve client problems
- Promote special deals
- Streamline providing clients with information
How is this for some quick answers? If you provide a product that has an FAQ to answer common questions, you could put a sticker with the QR code directing clients to the FAQ. If you business has monthly promotions you could include a QR code directing people to that month’s or weeks special. If you have just released a new product and want your clients to see it, create a YouTube video walking the product through its paces, then create a QR code you distribute out in your advertising that directs clients to the video.
I’m barely touching the surface here. Currently transit systems in Asia and Norway use QR codes to help people with bus routes. Some Realtors in the US are including QR codes on their listings signage to direct people to the properties info sheet online. People are using QR codes to direct clients or friends to their Facebook FanPages. The more you think about the potential, the more ideas you can come up with to market with QR codes.
I’ve included a couple QR codes in this article for examples, so if you have a smart phone, go load a QR code reader up and scan them in. Experience for yourself what can be done and how easy it can be.
The next challenge for you after you have thought about this is to leave me a comment and tell me a potential use for QR codes you can see happening. Or tell me how you are already using QR codes in your business and what your impression of the technology is so far. Our creativity is the only thing holding us back, so be creative!