About a month ago, I wrote a post on Beneath the Brand about the potential of QR codes in marketing. What’s exciting about these little bar codes is that they can be placed virtually anywhere and “read” by a smartphone – as Hamilton Chan, CEO of Paperlinks & Paperspring, described, “Traditionally, hyperlinks live in browser windows on desktop monitors. Today, however, some hyperlinks are moving offline, where they can be ‘clicked’ by people roaming the real world.” They’ve been used in print advertisements, on billboards, on business cards, and even on NYC building permits. This trend is gaining speed, but it’s nothing new – QR codes have been a hit in Japan for years.
As Mark Sprague of Search Engine Land, explains, “This technology is blurring the distinction between smart phones, digital destination and content, and paper-based communication mediums.”
Creating a QR code is easy; there are a plethora of websites that will create a QR code for your chosen URL in seconds, for free. I just created these four for Ashworth Creative.
They don’t provide much value here, but adding these codes to things like business cards, postcards, stationery, etc. can facilitate communication between Ashworth Creative and its audience. You can even make a QR code that will send an SMS text message to anyone who scans it.
Sprague’s post at Search Engine Land also gives a variety of examples on how brands are already using QR codes, like:
- McDonald’s uses QR codes on its packaging in Japan so consumers can access nutritional information.
- Ralph Lauren began placing QR codes in print ads, store placements, and mailers, which gave consumers access to style guides, limited edition collections, and exclusive content.
- Real estate agents are putting QR codes on “for sale” signs.
- Fox TV is using QR codes to advertise TV programs.
What kind of effect do you think QR codes will have on marketing? Will this trend go mainstream, or is it overhyped?