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What, Why, and How of QR Codes | Mary Biever | One Writing Mother

What, Why, and How of QR Codes

At yesterday’s Indiana Social Media Summit/Smackdown, 1 Indianapolis attendee wore a t-shirt with a giant QR code printed on it, challenging friends to scan his  code. Last night, I tried explaining this to a friend who is neither a geek nor a marketer. He had never heard of QR codes. That’s when I realized most normal people don’t know what QR codes are or how they will be used next year. 

What are they?

You may have seen the graphics attached to packages, on flyers, or in other information without realizing what they are. These are 2 dimensional barcodes.  They were developed in 1994 for use by car manufacturers as a Quick Response code.

Why do people use them?

If you scan a QR code into a SmartPhone or other device, you access information faster. Instead of manually typing in a web address, I can scan in the code and immediately get to the website. It can be set to immediately provide the scanner with contact information and text. Imagine the possibilities for your business card.

Think of this as a faster way to get coupons, special offers, and more.

Marketers love these because they can measure ROI on different parts of a campaign. Put a different QR code on different media branches of a campaign. They can then measure response rates and make smarter purchasing decisions in the future.

Artists are including QR codes in their artwork so those who scan the code can access new information, Easter eggs, and more.

At yesterday’s Indiana smackdown, trophies were given to statewide winners. Evansville’s Ameristamp Sign-a-rama donated the name plates for the trophies and included the QR codes of winners beside each winner’s name. A QR code can be included on any printed material or signs. Some business owners print and post them to better reach their smartphone customers.

How can I get started?

The first step to printing something with a QR code is to generate a unique code for your information or website. If you Google “QR code generator,” several options will be listed. Mashable recommends considering  Kaywa, iCandy or Stickybits.

Right now, 1 in 4 Americans uses a cell phone with applications.  By this time next year, 1 in 2 Americans will have a SmartPhone.

Smart businesses will find ways to use QR codes to better reach their customers. The smartest ones will find new ways to use them.


4 Responses to “What, Why, and How of QR Codes”

  1. Pat Alexander December 31, 2010 at 8:58 am #

    Mary, this is the best layman explanation I have seen for the QR code. You have also given me an idea for my insurance agency clients. I have been struggling with how they would use it. I would love to use this as a guest post at http://insuranceecosystem.com to kick off the year. Let me know if that is OK with you. Thanks so much for sharing.

  2. Mary Biever December 31, 2010 at 9:07 am #

    Pat, you’re welcome to use anything I write any time as a guest post. 2011 will be a very good year. Happy new year!

  3. Kevin Mullett December 31, 2010 at 9:21 am #

    A very clear article for those who are not yet familiar with QR Codes. By the way, unless there was another guy at one of the the other locations, I was the guy with the QR Code t-shirt.

    I have been pushing and exposing the many uses of QR Codes or Microsoft Tags to our clients for years, but the sad truth is that they are just now starting to gain anything that resembles traction here in the United States. Even at events like Blog Indiana earlier this year, where I handed out Moo cards with a QR Code on them, I found very few geeks that understood what they were.

    Thanks for noticing and helping to push the knowledge out there.

  4. Amy Stark December 31, 2010 at 9:30 am #

    Whenever anyone asks me what a QR code is, I will direct them here. BTW, the QR code on the @SignARamaEVV plaque found on the large and impressive trophies directs you to the #IN_SM10 hashtag stream. Brilliant idea for a bunch of social media geeks. =)

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