Top 15 Uses For QR Codes

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Have you been seeing funny looking images like the one above popping up in stores? This is called a QR code or Quick Response Code. They are great tools for connecting the real and the digital worlds. Microsoft has a competing technology called tags. My prediction: it loses.

Use your smartphone QR reader app to take a photo of the QR code and you go to a website for more information. (Feel free to follow the above QR code link and give My Creative Team a thumbs up when you get there.) Or, a QR code can spark a number of other actions, ranging from opening a map on your phone, sending a text message, displaying on-screen text, even dialing a phone number.

We just used a QR code for the Lowe’s Gift List Builder project, which we covered in a recent post. We designed in-store signage containing a QR code that linked your smartphone to our mobile site to search for a friend or family member’s gift list.  Once you find the list, you can walk around the store with the images on your screen, picking up the items off the list that you want to buy.

Since then, I’ve been thinking about other ways we might use these in advertising, PR, marketing and business communications. Here are some ideas:

  1. I don’t know how long QR codes will be appropriate for print advertising, but if you drop one of these unusual looking QR codes into a newspaper or magazine sometime soon, it will be the only one there. People will be curious and will want to follow the trail. So, bring them to a beautifully designed landing page for the product or service you are promoting.
  2. How about placing one on a billboard or sidewalk signage? You click on it and up pops a map taking you right to the advertiser’s door.
  3. Magazine and newspaper publishers could use QR codes to take mobile readers to augment content.
  4. Our local Goodwill Industries is using QR codes on its annual fundraising piece, as well as in its stores. The QR code leads back to this thank you video.
  5. Convention and Visitor Bureaus could use QR codes to provide additional information about its attractions. For instance, you visit a historic site, scan a QR code and get an audio tour of the site via smartphone.
  6. Use QR codes in virtual scavenger hunts. This could work very well in tourism.
  7. Another tourism idea, have QR codes printed on table-toppers for local restaurants. Scan one and it dials the local CVB so you can ask questions about other local attractions and events.
  8. Realtors could use QR codes to provide instant information to people who visit one of their listings.
  9. On your business card, place a QR codes that takes people to a page where they can download your vcard contact information, learn more about your organization, read your blog, any number of things could go on this page.
  10. Conferences could cut down on printing cost by handing out only a name badge containing a QR code. This takes you to a web page where you can download or review all the conference papers and presentations.
  11. Get a Google Favorite Places window sticker for your restaurant. Have the QR code take people to your Facebook page.
  12. Musicians could have a QR code at their concert that provides fans with a free download of a song.
  13. Create QR code coupons that give mobile customers special deals.
  14. Develop retail shelf talkers to provide recipes – and ingredient lists – in the grocery store.
  15. I could see Lowe’s having a project area that offers QR codes with links to how-to videos, shopping lists outlining everything you need – from tools to lumber.

OK, those are my top 15 ideas. What ideas do you have for using QR codes?

Update: Just ran across an article from Joan Stewart on the PR uses of QR Codes. Give it a read.

Related Articles:

QR Codes: The Future of Marketing

11 Must See QR Code Campaign Videos

The Benefits & Pitfalls Of QR Codes

QR Code Infographic

About the Author

Harry Hoover
Harry Hoover is a partner in My Creative Team, the agency that makes Fortune 1000 clients look good. His communications career spans 35 years and runs the gamut from print and broadcast journalism, government and corporate communications to advertising and public relations agencies. He is the author of Born Creative: Free Your Mind, Free Yourself and Moving to Charlotte: The Un-Tourist Guide.

5 Comments on "Top 15 Uses For QR Codes"

  1. Stickybits is going to run this into the ground. It’s based on existing barcode technology and is already embedded in social.

  2. Good list, Harry. Here are a few more possibilities:

    1) Links to product reviews (even video reviews) by other customers. Put the QR codes next to or on the products.
    2) In restaurants, videos of the chef preparing a dish (for your inner Food Channel geek)
    3) QR code on product or packaging that links to a support article archive, user support forum, or live customer service chat page

  3. Thank for the additional ideas, Scott. Jim, thanks for wading into the discussion. What do you think of the Microsoft tags technology?

  4. Good list and thanks for the link.

  5. Don’t know if this would interest any one but I created an image processing app that processes QR codes via email/mms message. I originally wanted to use QR Codes for a few of my clients but didn’t want to leave those with out smart Phones high and dry so I created Durban ( I have thought about setting it up for free use but that could get pricey over time with little to gain. Any thoughts on monetization?

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