QR codes – what are they and what will you use them for in your business?
At the start of a new year, there are always attempts to guess what will be the breaking trend for the coming year. One recent discussion I’ve been involved in with some of my colleagues is whether QR codes are going to be a trend for the coming year.
The first thing I had to do was to find out what they were – I kept seeing the acronym mentioned in articles about the ‘next big thing’, so found that it stands for ‘Quick Response’ codes. It’s like a Bar Code for a product, but a QR code is generally used to direct you to a website. So if you see a QR code printed somewhere, you need a QR Code reader to decode it for you.
The QR Code I’ve featured at the top of this post is the Quick Response code for this website, www.susanmcnaughton.com.
As both a small business owner and a consumer, my next thought was – how will I use these?
How to obtain a QR Code for your business information
It’s easy to do this. I’ve looked around at various sites which can generate a code for you, and the one I liked was GoQR.mewhere within minutes I discovered that you can store not just a web address, but lots more information too – so you can have your essential business information all encoded in one graphic, like this one.
Decoding QR codes when you see them in print or on a screen
Luckily I do have a smart phone, so I’ve downloaded some QR code readers for it. I found a couple of free readers available for my iPhone4 – one is QRReader and the other i-nigma4. Both work in decoding a QR Code by using the phone’s camera to view the image and then to provide you with the information which is stored. I liked the i-nigma4 because when a QR represents a website, the app launches the website straight away with a comforting ‘pinging’ noise. The QRReader app takes a photograph of the code you are viewing, then decodes it for you.
I had issues with sharing the QR code via Twitter from both apps, but am not sure yet why I would want to do that.
I think the i-nigma4 would be my free app of choice simply because it has more functionality built in, and can read bar codes too.
Possible uses for QR Codes in promoting a small business
I read recently in Josiah Mackenzie’s Hotel Marketing Strategies about a hotel using a QR Code for its Facebook Page to encourage guests and passers-by to ‘like’ their Facebook page.
As the owner of a holiday cottage in the centre of a city I wonder whether this might work if I put a similar sign in my window? Might be something to think about. In the meantime, I’m wondering whether I should really be using this as a gimmick to put on my business cards which are just about to be printed. It might make the cards a bit more interesting if I’m ahead of the trend here.
Do you have any ideas for using QR Codes in your business?