You may have seen them around town: odd black-and-white squares on signs, brochures, and product packaging.  QR codes (Quick Response codes) function similarly to UPC codes, which most of us are familiar with.  Two major differences between a QR code and UPC code are the type and amount of information contained in the code.  UPC codes consist of a limiting twelve numbers; QR codes can hold more than four thousand characters, including numbers, letters, and symbols.

Where They Originated

QR codes were invented in Japan in 1994 by a subsidiary of Toyota.  Although fairly new in the United States, QR codes have been used extensively in Japan for years.

How QR Codes Work

Here’s how a QR code works:  a potential customer spies the distinctive square and uses a mobile phone application to scan the QR code.  The code is interpreted and the phone screen displays information, such as a web address, link, or even a phone number.

Marketing Idea: Pizza Delivery

For example, let’s say that you own a pizza delivery company.  As part of your marketing strategy, you paste your contact information and a menu on every pizza box to encourage future sales.  Use a QR code generator to create a code that leads directly to your website, where customers can view current coupons and specials.  Add this code (which is simply an image) to your menus.  As the coupons and specials expire, no need to generate another code; simply update your online specials and the same code will take customers to your website.

Marketing Idea: Real Estate Agents

QR Codes are powerful; they connect the physical world to the virtual world.  A tech-savvy real estate agent may add a QR code to the property information sheets provided for potential buyers.  The QR code could link directly to a real estate website featuring a virtual gallery of the inside of the property.  A QR code could also be printed on a “For Sale” sign, leading clients to a website that displays all of the properties listed by an agent.

Not every potential customer will have a phone that can scan QR codes; however, these codes are becoming more and more popular.  As the public is educated about QR codes, you will find them popping up all over the place.  Why not generate a free code for your business to see if you can bring in additional sales?  In this economy, you need every competitive advantage you can get.

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