QR codes – what can they do for your company?

Quick Response codes (QR for short), are becoming more and more popular, and I for one, am a big fan of them. For those who do not know what they are, they are a type of barcode (depicted below) that is designed to be read by a smartphone. The idea is that it will redirect you to a webpage or phone number. They are advantageous for the consumer and the business (in most cases), not least because they  give you an easy way to link to a product, brand or information while you are walking around town, at the bus stop or in a store, but also for businesses because it gives a valid qualification to the effectiveness of your adverts.

As with any advertising QR codes are about a ‘call to action’ – getting the consumer to do something. Often times, with traditional media this would be a phone number or url on a poster. What QR codes give is an instant, trackable result – without the consumer having to remember letters and numbers – they can instantly find out more. When set up with a unique URL so that you can track which users got to your site through the QR code – this becomes the beginnings of a very useful tool. Be aware – QR codes will give your advertising department something to think about in terms of effectiveness of their work – because it will be obvious if people are impacted enough by the advert to follow the QR code or not.

My first real introduction to QR codes was in a used-car lot. The salesman I was talking with had just been telling me how he would be able to  to give me a great price on a particular car – better than their internet price. After giving me his sales speech he said he would give me time to think about it and walked away to talk to someone else. What he was not aware of was that there was a sheet of paper attached to the window of the car with a QR code in it that linked to that car’s page on the dealer’s website. I got my phone out and used the code to get to the site and it turned out the “good price” he was willing to offer me and 25% more then the internet price ! As with many consumers I do not really have the time for dishonest people and so took my business elsewhere.

Another place I have seen QR codes used in an clever way is on the Operation Mobilization if the user was to scan the QR code they would be directed to a webpage advertising the need for IT professionals. This is clever – because they realized that IT guys are early adopters of technology and also it would show that any IT guy who found the page that way already understands the value of this technology!

There is however a fundamental problem with QR codes. It cannot be used to judge the effectiveness of all aspects of an advertising campaigns because you can not tell the effect of advertisements in terms of product / brand recognition, and you cannot tell if the person saw the advertisement but did not have a smart phone and so connected in a different way.Although this is not a new problem, as most traditional forms of media also have this issue.

QR codes certainly are not a foolproof way of tracking how advertising is working for your company or organization but they are a step in the right direction. I will leave you with a quote from Petri Mertanen says in his excellent article on the subject (hint hint – read it!) -

“QR codes are like hyperlinks for the physical world”

Are you using QR codes? Have you found them to be effective or just a passing fad?

QR code generated at

List of QR code readers for iphone 

List of QR code readers for android

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