Everything You Need to Know about QR Codes and Your Small Business

Everyone knows that the pen and paper is pretty much dead. Aside from a post-it note or two on my desk, my pen and paper are really of no use to me. For this reason, the pen that was once in my purse has gone missing, the paper that was once in my kitchen drawer has not been replaced, and you can forget about any clipboards. For most, this is the new reality, and marketing departments have certainly taken notice. In order to cater to technology lovers of today’s world, marketing departments have created something that just might put the pen and paper into a permanent coma—quick response codes.

For those who are unfamiliar, quick response codes, or QR codes, function similarly to barcodes in that they can be printed on virtually any surface. The codes started in Japan and were seen on the sides of buildings, in brochures, and even on the sides of buses. The little codes quickly became popular in Japan, and soon after other countries wanted in on the action. According to the Mobile Barcode Q2 2011 Trend Report, there are 20,000 new QR Code application activations every day. The way QR Codes work is this:

How QR Codes Work

1. Consumers download an application, sometimes called the barcode scanner app, on their smartphones (many of the latest smartphones already have the app set to go).

2. When consumers see the code, they take a picture of the code on their smartphones.

3. Consumers are then brought to whatever website the code is promoting. In other words, specific companies use these codes to help advertise their products, so each QR code is connected with a company. In most cases, a company will link back to their website.

Many times consumers see advertisements and want to know more information, but simply do not have time to pull out a pen and paper. Even pulling out your phone to type a message can be a hassle when you’re commuting to work, so QR codes truly are the perfect solution. In other words, QR codes are quickly becoming a marketing and advertising department’s best friend. Consider a few of the ways your small business can benefit from QR Codes:

Benefits of QR Codes

1. Pricing—Creating a QR code for your company is completely free. If it helps you put this into perspective, think of a QR Code just as you would think of a URL back to your website. The only difference is that your message will look like a barcode as opposed to a URL, and consumers do not have to write down the address; just take a picture of it.

2. Lasting Impression—These codes can leave a lasting impression on a potential client or customer because they transfer directly to the person’s phone. With an advertisement on a bus or in a newspaper, you are relying on the fact that someone will write down a website and then go type it into their phone or computer when one is available. With QR Codes, you skip the middle man. It may not sound like a lot, but this will make a world of difference to someone in a rush (and that always seems to be most of us, doesn’t it?)

3. Branding—Now that QR Codes are becoming more popular, companies have begun to give the codes a unique look. If you’re interested in customer recall (and who isn’t?), consider putting your company logo into the actual code to create a design.

4. Integration—These codes are a great way to integrate all of your marketing efforts. A QR Code can link to anything a company wants. If you are looking to increase your number of Twitter followers, link to your Twitter account; if you’re looking to promote something special, link to the press release. If you’re looking to promote that special Sri Lanka Holidays on your travel related site, link to the landing page about holidays. The possibilities can really help you target these efforts.

How to Create a QR Code

All you have to do to create a successful QR Code is generate a code, make sure that the URL you are linking to is suitable for a mobile phone, and then scan the code you’re your company advertisements. It’s as easy as that! To generate the code, visit qrcode.kaywa.com, type in the URL you want to link to, and hit “generate.”

If you’re still a little bit confused about the whole concept, download the QR app onto your smartphone now, and try taking a picture of the QR code I generated above (you should find yourself at an “employee background check” webpage!).

[tip]Now that you are more familiar with QR codes, you should know that all businesses, specially those offline, are always at risk. Having a proper risk management procedure in place, not only can provide you financial support, but can also be your life saver should a potential and unexpected problem arise, where you may be held legally responsible for, while conducting your business. Online public liability insurance explained, provides a pretty good overview of how you can avoid such risk from happening to you.[/tip]

Check our disclosure policy


Amanda DiSilvestro is the Editor in chief for Plan, Write, GO. She has been writing about all-things digital marketing, both as a ghost writer, guest writer, and blog manager, for over 10 years. Check out her blogging services to learn more!

13 thoughts on “Everything You Need to Know about QR Codes and Your Small Business

  • While QR codes are great, but I bet most people probably don’t know what they are or what to do with them. My wife just asked me about them the other day, and gave me a funny look when I told them what they were.

    It will probably take some time before QR codes really take off, but once they do then it will be great for businesses.

  • I have seen many QR Codes but like Paul says it seems many companies are still struggling with how to use it to their advantage. One time my wine bottle has one, it says scan for special deal and it gave me nothing but a crappy website they own. I think it has potential but the marketers have to find better ways to implement it for business and sales.

  • I absolutely agree with you both. If companies advertise something and then link the QR code to something different, this will actually turn customers away from the codes (especially for the specific company). However, they have great potential.

    In my opinion, all companies should have a brief description of what a QR code is and how a customer can try it right under the code. Most people don’t both with them, but it is because they don’t understand them. I see nothing wrong with a company putting a little explanation under each code.

  • QR codes have become very popular, very quickly. I spot a QR code on most things i come across, and its a great way to interact with your audience. Sometimes it doesn’t work out great as u said they can be down sides like directing you to irrelevant sites.

  • I’m with Ayesha on the fact that you can spot these codes almost everywhere lately. I think they can also be used to identify whether a certain product is fake, which is very important to me as a client.

  • You’re absolutely right, QR codes have been catching on (especially recently) and usage is spreading like wildfire. It will be so interesting to see how many different ways they will be used as more people use it to market the bridge between digital and physical.

  • Totally agree with Paul. QR codes are great, but few people seem to use them. Even some one like myself, who knows what they are and has the QR app on my iPhone, doesn’t use them much. For me, I find they are most effective when they link to something that I can’t find otherwise (like a QR-specific discount).

  • QR Code is certainly the future. Good to see that the print media has also started using it for Apps and Videos.

  • It’s a great breakthrough but I think most people still relatively do not know the functionality of it. I remember one folk who talked to me in the bus and asked me why does every page in the magazine/newspaper have this funny looking squarish design.

  • In my opinion, all companies should have a brief description of what a QR code is and how a customer can try it right under the code. Most people don’t both with them, but it is because they don’t understand them. I see nothing wrong with a company putting a little explanation under each code.

  • I’m glad that so many people see the value in QR codes (and Ricardus..I’ve had a lot of people ask me what those square things are!). For this reason, I think balimbing56 is right–all companies should have a brief description of what a QR code is under the code. If all companies did this, the word would spread and they would be used by more for their intended purpose.

    I also think it is interesting what Ayesha said about the downsides to QR codes. Unfortunately, this is absolutely correct. Companies can link to irrelevant sites, and for this reason it is important that more companies utilize QR codes correctly. They have such potential; it would be a shame to see that ruined because of companies abusing them.

    Thank you all for the great comments!

  • I only recently started learning about QR codes. I am in San Francisco CA and would like to put together small meetings for businesses I insure and comsumers to make them all aware of what QRs can mean in one’s business and for the consumer. I want my insureds to use this new tool in my business to communicate with them and I see it as totally doable.

    To do so to start with small, local meetings for businesses and consumers.

  • its really good trick to provide QR codes as comparison to bar codes, this has new complicated patterns which is difficult to copy.

Comments are closed.