Let’s face it: barcodes are an unappreciated lot. The only one who ever pays attention to them is the kid scanning your items at the checkout, and even that’s for only seconds at best. And we don’t blame you for finding that a little underwhelming, since all a UPC code does is provide a number to match a product with an item in the store’s database. Great if you’re a fan of inventory control…not terribly interesting for virtually everyone else. However, trade in the straight lines for boxes in a unique pattern, and you have a new medium for people to get your information, and if used correctly, can be part of a cutting-edge media campaign.

The Quick Response (QR) barcode has been around for roughly a decade. Developed by Denso Wave in Japan, QR-codes started as a way of tracking parts by vehicle manufacturers. With one quick scan, the user now has the make, model, and other information a regular UPC bar code wasn’t able to hold. Over time, this new form of barcode became popular in industries as a way of portraying instant information, allowing more complex information and instructions to be read by machines with barcode-reading abilities to do their job more efficiently. However, the QR barcode remained something of interest to industry and packaging only, due to barcode readers not being carried by the general user.

The thing is, there’s a fairly good possibility you have a bar reader on your person now. Really, we’re not kidding. It’s your Smartphone.

Take out your phone and look in your apps. If you have an Android phone, chances are very good you have a barcode scanner app already installed stock. If you’re an iPhone user and don’t see anything that looks like a barcode scanning app, do a search for “QR Reader” and download it (its free). For Blackberry, try http://www.mobile-barcodes.com/qr-code-software/ . In either case, if you do a search in your app store, you’re bound to find other QR readers, but not all readers are created equal. Save yourself the trouble and either use the stock reader (Android) or QR Reader (iPhone), and you can start checking out codes.

Got a reader going? Good. Now turn it on and scan this:

Cool, huh? Now you can save that information directly to your phone’s contact list, or from there call the number, get directions to the office, or send an email. No more fumbling around getting that new client and all his means of contact on your phone. These QR patterns can be printed on the back of your business card and will help your people on the streets make sure their clients get all their information.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, and QR codes can be used in more creative ways. QR codes are a huge benefit for targeting a young adult market, who is savvy to technology such as this, and has already been put to good use for forward-thinking retailers such as Best Buy. Imagine making shirts with a code that goes to your site showcasing your new product. Codes can be put into your print advertisements, perhaps linking to exclusive content not normally accessible via your site (cool technology usage + access to exclusive stuff = guaranteed click-through). At a trade show, have individual barcodes next to each of your products to let visitors take away information (without costly pamphlets) . If you’re into guerrilla marketing and want to drive some traffic to your booth at a show, perhaps set up a few QR codes throughout your convention center. One thing we suggest if you’re going to link to online content is to make sure that the content its going to is mobile-friendly. That may mean making a few extra pages that configures the information in a compact format, or making videos small enough for a mobile phone. You don’t want to lose your customer’s interest with a difficult-to-maneuver site once you got them roped in.

We at Del Padre have quite a few more ideas on how QR technology can make your business life a little easier and more fun. Contact us (you got all our contact info, after all…) and we can discuss getting these on your staff’s business cards, or making them a fun part of your next media campaign.


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