A “Q and A” About QR Codes

Question: Just what IS a QR Code?

Answer: “QR” stands for “Quick Response”. Indeed, QR Codes are 2D (two dimensional) codes that provide immediate smartphone access to online information via a printed resource. QR Codes can appear in print publications, on business cards, on window signs, etc.

What can you do with QR Codes? Learn that and more when you find out the answers to 9 more questions about QR Codes:

Q: How long have QR Codes been around and why were they developed?

A: QR Codes were developed in Japan in 1994 by Denso-Wave Inc., a Toyota subsidiary. Originally, they were used to track vehicle parts in manufacturing.

Q: How do QR Codes work?

A: Think of a QR Code as the bridge between printed information and online content. By scanning a printed QR Code with your smartphone, you can, in seconds, view and interact with a website, “Like” a Facebook page, access contact information, etc. Because QR Codes are 2D, they can store much more information than those UPC bar codes you might find on products in the grocery store. In fact, according to JumpScan, a single QR Code can store up to 4,296 alphanumeric or 7,089 numeric characters.

Q: Are there similar codes in use?

A: Aside from the familiar product bar codes, the QR Code appears to be the most widely used. Microsoft has a “tag” that uses lines of colored triangles to embed information. (USA Today, for example, once used the Microsoft Tag.) And keep your eyes on Google Goggles: this new application lets you take a picture of an item with your smartphone to generate search results.

Q: How could a QR Code help my business?

A: By generating and placing a QR Code on your marketing collateral — including business cards, brochures, ads, signs, and even T-shirts — you can extend your brand beyond the constraints of physical media. Think of QR Codes as a kind of virtual Cracker Jack box. When the consumer sees your QR Code, the inevitable reaction is to scan it; in other words, to open the box to find the prize inside. The prize within your scanned QR Code can be your contact information, your website, your Facebook or Twitter page, a YouTube video, a page from which your book can be downloaded or purchased, a contact form, and on and on.

Q: Is anyone really scanning these things?

A: Oh yeah. A study from early 2011 by Mobio Identity Systems Inc. found that QR Code scanning had increased 1,200% in the last half of 2010. Women and those in the 35-44 year old age group are the most frequent scanners.

Q: How can I get a QR Code scanner?

A: If you have a smartphone, access your “app” marketplace, search for QR Code scanners, review the ones available and download one. I use the ScanLife app for my Android phone and it has worked very well.

Q: Who is using QR Codes to reach consumers?

A: Just about all major companies and organizations – including Nike, Best Buy, Starbucks, McDonalds, Pepsi, Ford and many more – use QR Codes to reach mobile consumers. And by the way, according to recent statistics, more than half of all U.S. adults use a smartphone.

Q: How can I generate QR Codes for my business?

A: You can generate QR Codes for free at many sites on the Web, including <a href=”http://qrcode.kaywa.com/”><b>Kaywa</b></a&gt; and <a href=”http://Qricketcodes.com”><b>Qricket</b></a&gt;. Qricket has a tracking feature that enables you to see how many times your code is scanned.

Q: Can QR Codes be customized?

A: Yes. Sort of. Although QR Codes contain critical information in certain areas of the code’s design, they do have some flexibility, particularly in the center section. You can also embed the QR Code inside another design; just don’t hide it too well.

Bottom Line:

QR Codes can be a great way to extend your reach to an increasingly mobile consumer marketplace. I have embedded QR Codes for clients on a business directory cover, individual listings and ads, as well as on business cards, magnets and bookmarks. Your applications will, naturally, depend on your business growth and marketing goals.

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~ by Bob Chenoweth on 05/11/2013.

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