What is a QR code?
Short for Quick Response Code, a QR code is a specific matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code) that is machine readable and designed to be read by smartphones. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The information encoded may be text, a URL, or other data.
Common in Japan, where it was created by Toyota subsidiary Denso Wave in 1994, the QR code is one of the most popular types of two-dimensional barcodes. The QR code was designed to allow its contents to be decoded at high speed. (Source: Wikipedia)
(The image above is www.matamata-info.co.nz 's unique QR Code)
In essence, a QR code is a sophisticated bar code. So what makes QR codes different from typical bar codes you see on food products and other items?
Typical bar codes are linear one-dimensional codes and can only hold up to 20 numerical digits, whereas QR codes are two-dimensional (2D) matrix barcodes that can hold thousands of alphanumeric characters of information. (Source: How QR Codes Can Grow Your Business [http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/how-qr-codes-can-grow-your-business/]).
Actually, it is the QR code’s ability to hold significantly more information, as well as their user-friendliness which makes QR codes practical for individuals and businesses of all sizes.
QR codes can be scanned and read by camera-equipped smartphones via software that's already installed on your phone, or with an application that you download such as Lynkee Reader (http://lynkee.com/tryitout.htm) or i-nigma Reader (http://www.i-nigma.com/Downloadi-nigmaReader.html), which are compatible with a wide variety of modern smartphones including iPhone, Blackberry, Sony Ericsson, HTC, Motorola and Nokia. The readers/scanners give smartphone users the ability to read a QR code without special equipment.
For example, you could walk into a shop and use your smartphone to scan an item that has a QR code on it, and have immediate access to the information.
Following are some ways you can use QR codes to promote your business:
*Increase Website Sales. Did you know QR codes can lead to specific URL's? You can create codes that are specific to certain products on your site. For example, new or slow-moving products - or new product launches.
*Build Your Email Subscriber List. You can build your email subscriber list by creating a link to your email/newsletter signup form. Try to ensure you give people a compelling reason or incentive to subscribe to your newsletter
*Business Cards. Rather than overload your business card with an excess of information, you can just include the bare minimum, then create a QR code that leads people to your Website, Twitter Account, Facebook Page, LinkedIn pages etc.
*Contests, Discounts, Sweepstakes and Giveaways. These are a great draw card and can be very effective when used in conjunction with QR codes. For example, you can create promotions that are specific to the QR codes. You can place these codes in your advertisements or post them on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn, where they have the possibility of going viral.
*Direct Mail. In America the Post Office is giving bulk mailers a discount on the postal rate if they include a visible QR code on the piece(http://www.yaffetidbitsblog.com/advertising/). So, perceivably it could be something that NZ Post may do in the future and this will certainly benefit those using direct mail to promote their businesses and may be worth considering for others looking for alternative marketing avenues.
*Flyers. Yes, flyers are still used to promote business. For example, suppose you own a restaurant. You could create a QR code that goes directly to a URL (a page on your website) that gives a discount on a meal and directions to your restaurant.
*Scratch and Win Cards Promotion. People love them and get excited by the sheer possibility of winning something. May the future will see even more excitement generated by making people scan the QR code to see if they are a winner.
*Free Downloads. If you use e-books or software to promote your business, you could use QR codes to distribute them. When customers scan the code, give them a free e-book or software download. You could also offer customers the opportunity to receive future specials if they signup for your newsletter. It’s all about incentive!
*Customer Service Help. You could use QR codes to give customers more information about your product (on the label or packaging) or service (on a business card or flyer). Create a QR code that leads to a FAQ page or a page with detailed information on the product or service. You could also use this to promote other products/services or new products/services which will be available in the future.
To generate and distribute your own QR code is easy, just go to http://qrcode.kaywa.com