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What are QR codes and how are they used?

glerin_url_qrcodeIf you aren't familiar with QR codes, I can pretty much guarantee that you've seen them around and just didn't know what they were.  QR (Quick Response) codes are similar to bar codes but can hold much more data; they enable you to pass along information to clients and prospective clients who are able to scan them with a QR code reader, usually a smart phone.  The codes can hold data such as: a web url, contact information (vcard), a Google maps location, and SMS message composers.  The sample at right contains the url to this website:  http://www.glerin.com.

QR codes were invented in Japan, originally to track auto parts. and are much more widely used there than in other countries.  You'll find them on McDonald's wrappers, t-shirts, billboards, product tags, and on and on.

Some of the ways I've seen them used in the US are:

  • a Calvin Klein billboard on a skyscraper in NYC that linked to an uncut version of a racy ad
  • real estate "for sale" signs that use codes to link to detailed information about a property
  • on concert tickets, to be scanned at the entrance door
  • the small town of Manor, Texas uses them extensively to pass along information to it's citizens; exanmples are:
    • each town truck has a code that ties in to the work order system so you can see why a truck is in your neighborhood
    • a code is on each town property that links to details about that property
    • parks use the codes to communicate hours, etc.
  • in new vehicle manuals to link to information about specific issues, like how to change a tire
  • on the back of business cards, to make it easier for people to add your contact information into their phone.

Most of us rely more and more on our mobile devices and typing in long url's or setting up new contacts can be cumbersome; incorporating QR codes into your marketing and products can help make it easier for clients and prospects to actually get to the information you want to share with them.  The codes themselves are free and easy to generate; as with many things, the hard part is figuring out the most beneficial ways to use them and how to effectively incorporate them into your materials.  That's where creativity and ingenuity come in, and that's something that can't be easily taught or learned.

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