Have you heard about QR Codes? Not surprising that many people have not, and if they have seen them they sure don’t know what they are all about. Not yet anyways, but it won’t be long!
So what is a QR Code? It stands for Quick Response, and ultimately it is a 2D Bar code. Typically a square shape that is a series of small black or white squares attached to each other in a seemingly random display. But there is a method to the madness – namely, it is a direct link to a URL – or website. Just like each and every website has a unique address, the information included in the address is then translated into a unique bar code that can be printed.
To make all of this work, one must photograph the QR Code using a mobile phone – as long as it is web enabled and has a camera feature. Of course this is not too much of a problem now days, as almost every new phone that is released is a “smart phone.” And this is really the whole driving force behind the QR Code phenomenon – linking communications directly to our individual phones! Like it or not, the future of marketing will revolve around 1 to 1 communication linked directly to our mobile devices.
The strength of using QR Codes will be that you can use this very simple link to drive people to your website, your contact information, a video, coupons for retail locations, detailed information about products and much, much more. And since it is an integration with digital devices, the response rates can be documented and tracked. How many individuals actually scanned the QR Code and visited your website from a specific print promotion? No problem – get real-time statistics on the number of leads generated. Maybe this is through a newspaper ad, a direct mail campaign, or via a poster campaign – or all three. Once you know which medium performs best, then you concentrate future efforts accordingly.
Ultimately the QR Codes are just one more example of cross-media marketing solutions. And they are a great example of how print works best within the many media options. As we are beginning to find out, the real strength of print is in driving prospects to the digital world – whether online at your home computer, work computer, or via your mobile phone.
It is interesting to note, that QR Codes have been around for some time now. They were originally developed by the auto industry as a way of tracking parts inventory. Currently they are much more prominent in Japan and other Asian countries, and just now beginning to be utilized in the U.S. markets. Hang on tight though, because you will begin to see these on a very regular basis. I think you will see that we are just now beginning to scratch the surface in functionality for them. In fact, with the latest reprint of our own business cards, we have now incorporated a QR Code that contains our individual contact information – once scanned, this information can then automatically be saved to your contact file on your phone!
Here is a sample of a QR Code linked to the C L Graphics website. To try it out, simply print out this blog post and then using your camera on your phone – photograph the code. You may already have a scanning software included – if not, then visit a site such as www.scanlife.com, or www.codezqr.com and download a program for free. Give it a try, and let me know what you think!