How to Use QR Codes in Your Marketing

If haven’t already…after reading this post you should start to notice them all over.

Those little black and white checkered squares.


Technically, they’re a 2-dimension bar code, commonly referred to as QR Codes. The QR stands for “Quick Response”, and they’re quickly gaining popularity in marketing as mobile plays a bigger role in our day-to-day use of the Internet.

In fact, a study by comScore, a firm which tracks online activity, indicated that approximately 15 million people scanned QR codes in June. What’s interesting is their profile: 18-34 year-olds with household incomes of $100,000 or more.

It’s (surprisingly) easy and fast (like seconds) to create a QR Code for your business — just use a QR code creator online.   In that code, you can store a website URL, a telephone number, contact details (VCARD), an event (VEVENT), Google Maps Locations, download for a mobile app, coupons, and more.

You can then print the image on nearly any surface: promotional items, product packaging, clothing labels…really the possibilities seem to be endless.

By using a free code reader app on a smartphone, anyone can scan a QR Code and access the content you stored there.

Now your customer or prospect has access to your information from anywhere they are! Instant gratification!

The novelty of this new technology provides a compelling call to action – the curiosity and the fun of using a new app (toy).

Here are the TOP 5 promotional marketing uses of QR Codes I’ve personally noticed in the 2 weeks prior to this post:

  • In a high traffic pedestrian area, a bar/restaurant posted a large QR Code in the window with the simple headline: Scan this code for a special offer for dining in Shar (Restaurant).
  • For the SXSW (South by Southwest) Music + Film Interactive Festival in Austin, nonprofit marketer Annie Lynsen included a QR Code to her website on a business card she had designed and printed specifically for networking at this event.
  • On a back-to-school, oversized postcard, retailer Bed Bath & Beyond drives traffic to their website by including a QR Code to a College Checklist
  • As part of a membership renewal mailer, Bally Total Fitness included a QR Code with the headline, “Scan For Your Special Member Coupon!” at the top of the letter. The coupon was for a one year subscription to Men’s Journal magazine for renewing — A $9.97 incentive to generate a sale of $120.00.
  • The Greenbuild Expo included a QR Code on the address panel of the self-mailer conference information packet they send to prospective attendees. The scanned code takes you to a short promotional video that captures the excitement of the event. Their headline, “Join Us In Toronto To See What’s Next!: Scan This Code To Experience The Excitement”

    The most unique application I’ve come across so far was from an article in The Seattle Times headlined, “’Living headstones’ use technology to honor dead”. A monument maker offers “living headstones” where the QR Code provides an online link to the person’s life history.

    Here are additional resources on QR Codes that you will find valuable:

    Top 14 Things Marketers Need to Know About QR Codes

    50 Creative Uses of QR Codes


    Interesting use of a QR code – Fill This Glass With Guinness, Get a QR Code

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