Am I running low on printer ink or is that a QR code?

Photo credit: @mcaulaypics
Photo credit: @mcaulaypics

As with most things ultra hip and cutting edge, QR codes originated in Japan.  Those who don’t have a smart phone they may indeed mistake a QR code for a square blob of ink that dried in an odd pattern.  In reality, the QR (quick response) code is a powerful marketing tool that can direct customers to a special landing page on a mobile website.

In a way, the QR code uses the same technology as a barcode that you’ll see on any product bought at a store.  The difference is that the QR code can contain much more information and is easily scanned by any smart phone.

How do you use it?

Download a QR code reader app for your smart phone.  Here is a list for BlackBerryAndriod, and iPhone.  Once you down load the QR code reader app, open it and take a photo of any QR code.  The photo will take you to a landing page that can promote anything and everything.

What is the benefit of a QR code?

By December 2011 one in two people will have a smart phone.  Right now, more people get their news and information online, rather than from newspapers .  Combine the two of those and the future impact of QR codes will be massive.

Imagine a QR code in an advertisement on the bus or in a newspaper that leads consumers to a special coupon for buy one get one free.   On your business card the QR code can take possible employers, clients or networkers to a landing page that highlights what you want them to know about you.

Some realtors are using them now to highlight houses that are for sale.  The landing page then has videos of the house and a printable brochure of the property.  Think of any position or industry and you have an instance where a QR code can be an asset.

You can get free QR codes online, but those codes may or may not suit your needs.  The free ones will have less flexibility than paid codes. With paid codes you can move the URL, correct errors once the code is established and other ways to get the most from your marketing dollars.

QR codes have not achieved mass acceptance yet.  However, you have seen them everywhere, haven’t you?  Half of the population will have smart phones by the end of the year and you have the ability to highly target your customers on the go.  They may take a little bit of explaining now, but QR codes are here to stay.

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Follow Katie Wagner:

Katie is the President of KWSM. Before opening the agency, she spent more than 15 years as a journalist, working for CBS, ABC, Fox, CNN and National Public Radio. Katie works with clients across the country and is a popular public speaker.