QR Codes are a fast growing marketing force. They act as a connector between the physical world and the web. People see a QR Code, scan it on a mobile device, and are suddenly engaged in your message when it is done properly.
There are plenty of creative ideas for how businesses, non-profits and government entities can use QR Codes to market and communicate. I have included over 100 of the best.
- QR Codes on Business Cards- Rather than overload a business card
with all of your contact info, you could include the bare minimum for reaching
you along with a QR Code that leads people to your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr, Plaxo, Yelp, Digg, and Stumble Upon profiles or your corporate website.
- Labeling- A restaurant patron is enjoying wine from a particular vineyard with their meal. They notice the QR Code on the bottle and quickly scan it. A mobile site is displayed where they can learn more about your wine, your vineyard, and links to where you can buy a case for delivery, all before the check comes.
- Storefront Displays- Few retail businesses are open 24/7. Create a Visit Our Website Now! QR Code and put it in your store window. One quick scan and you’ve turned a potential lost sale into a happy online customer.
- Promotions, Discounts and Giveaways- If you want to encourage customers from among iPhone and Android users, you could create discounts that are specific to QR Codes. You could run these codes in advertisements or post them throughout your store.
- Laptop Stickers- Slap a QR sticker of your vCard or website to your laptop, making it easier for other geeks to connect with you. A side benefit is that it would be easier to return the laptop if it were lost.
- T-Shirts and Caps- Put your QR Code on your t-shirt and/or cap for self-promotion. Or, make a bigger impression by printing up multiple t-shirts and/or caps and have them worn by staff, interns or satisfied customers at a large public event.
- Scavenger Hunts- Scavenger hunts are fun and engaging, although easier to write about than to administer. For destination marketing, a scavenger hunt approach can be a great way to encourage visitors to explore places where they might not visit otherwise.
- Come up with a Creative QR Code Design- QR Codes allow a little wiggle room, meaning that you can “hack” the code itself. You can play around with the QR Code once it’s been generated in an image editing tool like Photoshop and work in your own logo or brand. Test your QR Code to verify it still works
before printing up a few thousand copies.
- Use QR Codes to get Likes and Follows- You can create mobile-friendly landing pages with Facebook like buttons or lead them to your Twitter page for a quick follow. Add a QR Code on promotional posters that upon scan, allows people to “Like” pages on Facebook. A new like or follow can create a long-term marketing opportunity. The Like buttons that QR tags generate lead to the Facebook website rather than the mobile app on a phone. A lot of people don’t log into Facebook’s website from their phone directly, so that requires extra steps the average person may not be willing to take. Newer phones often include ways to make Facebook and Twitter more accessible, so this may be less of a problem in the future.
- Supplement Your Retail Space– A QR Code can expand your virtual space into anywhere in cyberspace for additional information and sales options.
- Increase E-Commerce Sales- Since QR Codes can lead to URLs, you can create a code that will automatically populate a shopping cart with specific products, assuming your e-commerce solution can handle that.
- Build Your Email Subscriber List- Use your QR Code to send people to your email signup. Just make sure you give people a compelling reason to subscribe to your list.
- Get the Phone to Ring- QR Codes can also make a phone call. If you want to get the phones ringing–at your business or at campaign headquarters–you can create a code that will dial a predetermined number. Likewise, QR Codes can generate SMS text messages.
- QR Codes on Bus Stops, Train Stations and Subway Stations- Put them on signs whereby a quick scan would give you real-time information on bus routes and when the next bus, train or subway would arrive.
- QR Codes for Hospital Emergency Rooms- A quick scan would give the current hospital waiting time.
- Posted next to Paintings and Sculptures at Museums and Art Galleries- Great for visitors who want to learn more about the artist, the time period, and the reaction to the photo. Could also include links to other work by the artist, related artists, and even the ability to buy the image on a mug or poster at the museum shop and the actual work of art or related offerings at an art gallery. QR Codes could show items not currently displayed from the museum’s collection.
- As Part of a Personalized Direct Mail Piece- Each QR Code can go to a PURL (personalized URL–Uniform Resource Locator).
- On Historical Sites and on Walking Trails- This should be very educational, perhaps with a Wikipedia entry, or a video by a local historian explaining the significance of the site.
- At Video Kiosks- QR Codes can appear on the screen as people interact with your kiosk, whether it’s at the mall or your place of business.
- On For Sale Signs- Whether residential or commercial, for sale signs could include codes that have all the information a sell sheet includes, plus video walkthroughs.
- E-Learning- Have your QR Code generate an email allowing someone to subscribe via an auto-responder. The emails would be sent periodically filled with lessons and related information.
- Next to Packaged Food in Grocery Departments- Give shoppers quick access to recipes that include the ingredients they see on the shelf.
- On Produce- You could include information about the farm, organic vs. conventional growing, best by dates, etc.
- In a Jigsaw Puzzle- This would create some real engagement as the user would have to assemble the puzzle before scanning the image.
- Buying Coffee (or anything else)- Starbucks does.
- At Restaurants– Find out you will be seated in 5 minutes scanning a QR Code next to the restaurant hostess/host. Scan a QR Code on a plastic sign on your table to find out your meal will be served in 5 minutes. QR Codes could be written
on the plates or napkins too.
- For Conference Signage- Next to the name of the upcoming sessions in each room would be the QR Code so you could get the full description, speaker bios, and see if there’s any room left.
- On Conference Name Tags- SXSW has been doing this for at least a year or two. Why trade business cards when you can just scan them?
- On Jewelry- Many examples abound.
- As Part of Interactive Maps- Check out this example from Town Graphics.
- At the Bottom of all Newspaper and Magazine Articles- Then you could quickly get to the online version and see the comments that other readers had left.
- On Liquor Bottles- Linked to drink recipes; this would be especially good for new drinks you’re bringing to market.
- On Building Permits- New York City has already implemented this.
- On the Fliers that you Find Under Your Windshield Wipers at the Mall- One example might be an offer for a car wash; the URL would give you the discount code and directions to the car wash offering the deal.
- On the Safety Bar Ads on Ski Chair Lifts- These days, everyone on the mountain seems to have a smart phone, and they’re going to be a captive audience for 5 – 10 minutes, sitting on that chair going up the mountain.
- Inside Elevators- For example dry cleaning service or something else that helps busy executives out could advertise inside elevators in tall buildings. Other good options might include flowers for significant others, discounts on takeout food, etc.
- In Bathrooms- Cab companies have advertised above urinals. Meanwhile, ladies rooms often have long lines – take advantage of a captive audience with a QR Code and engage them. This could be done in any heavily trafficed public restroom.
- Within a Video Game Console to Share Avatars- Nintendo is already doing just that.
- To Get More People to Sign a Petition- For example this petition for cleaning up the BP mess.
- At Bars, Clubs and Anywhere Else Music is Playing- Shazam is a great tool for finding music, and often you can even buy the track you discovered at iTunes or Amazon. But in a loud club you may not be able to hear the song and you might not remember what you heard the next day. If a QR Code appears above the DJ’s head, you could quickly scan the code and purchase that new song. Or a QR set list could be displayed at a screen on an outdoor concert.
- On Wedding Invitations Instead of RSVP Cards- Scan a QR, save a tree an and stamp and hopefully get a quicker response.
- For a Financial Firm- A QR Code could be included in an ad to give a link to the latest investment recommendations. This could allow the recommendation to be updated on the fly as conditions change. Or if it were mortgage rates, those could be continuously updated for new purchases or refinancing.
- As a Temporary Tattoo- Link it to your Facebook profile or Twitter account. These tattoos could be used in a trade show promotion.
- To Encourage Community Feedback- The library in Groton, CT utilizes them.
- As Wallpaper- It makes great decoration!
- On the Bottom of Flip Flops- They leave an imprint on the beach which can leave an imprint on your bottom line.
- On Coffee Cups from your Local Coffee Shop or Pizza Boxes- There are plenty of advertising opportunities here especially for promotions with local targeting.
- On Posters Linking to Free Books- 1st Bank is giving away free copies of these out-of-copyrighted classics.
- On a Ball Field or Playing Surface- The audience can find out additional information on the team, players or sport while following the action!
- As Wrapping Paper- One company is already customizing this with unique videos attached to QR Codes.
- On Recipes in Magazines- Quick link to videos, reviews and feedback at the
- For Self-Guided Tours at Factories- Scan a code, learn what that widget does.
- Posted on Car Windows at Dealerships- Great for after-hours shoppers and browsers.
- On Movie Posters- QR Code takes them to a preview of the movie or other related content.
- In TV Ads to Make Them Interactive- AXA is a leader in this area.
- In the “Autos” Section of a Newspaper/Flyer/Magazine- Put a QR Code for people to see the Autos of the Week
- In Photo-Books– Add QR Codes that drive people to the LinkedIn Profiles of people in the photos.
- For Realtors- Put a QR Code in your ad to see the details of the House of Week. Use a QR Code on your for sale signs to show videos/virtual tours of the house. QR Codes can also be used to promote open houses.
- For Store Daily Specials– Allow people to scan a QR Code that directs to the
daily specials website. They can easily return to that URL each day from their
barcode scanning app.
- For Construction Projects- Add a QR Code on the sign that you
leave outside current or completed projects. Upon scanning the code, people are
directed to more information about your company.
- Make it Easy for People to See Your Customer Testimonials – Put a QR Code in your next newsletter that drives people to an online page of written or recorded testimonials.
- Make Your Weekly Flyer in the Sunday Newspaper Interactive- Allow people to scan QR Codes to easily learn more (or place an order!) for your featured products.
- Pay for Stuff! QR Codes can be directed to sites that will automatically deduct money from your account for a purchase.
- Make it Easy for People to Assemble Your Products- Put a QR Code on the box or on the directions that allow them to see videos that show how to put something together.
- Promote a Band or Events- Add a QR Code to their poster that enables people to view tour dates, videos, and more. A major wrestling organization
could have a QR Code in their magazine where you can scan and see their
upcoming event schedule.
- Get the Most Out of Your Promotional Items- If someone’s going to keep a coffee mug or calendar with your logo on their desk, add a QR Code so they can easily access your company’s website.
- Promoting a Movie- Put a QR Code on the poster to allow people to see show
times in their local area.
- For a Costume Shop- You can have signage with QR Codes to give directions on how to apply matching makeup for a particular costume, such as a Zombie Ninja. This will help sales of related items.
- For Directions- Put a QR Code into your print ad that connects people to Google Maps. Or if online directions to your store aren’t always correct, link to the valid directions. Perhaps you can update your directions based on traffic.
- For Tourism and Destination Marketing- Add QR Codes that can provide
video tours of your attractions.
- Make Re-ordering Your Products Easy- Put QR Codes on labels, boxes,
and other packing materials that direct them to online shopping for your
products. QR Codes can also be added to invoices.
- On Event Tickets- Put a QR Code on the back of a ticket. Often people save tickets. The QR Code on the back will allow them to instantly access more information about a performer or performance whenever they would like to.
- In Waiting Areas- Give people something to do while they’re waiting. If you have a captive audience waiting, put a QR Code on a sign, poster or billboard that is nearby. They can find out about your product or service while they are waiting.
- On a CD or DVD Cover- A QR Code can link to other related items or additional information about the CD or DVD. It can also link to an audio or video preview.
- On or In a Book- A QR Code can link to other items by the same
publisher or author. It can also highlight bonus content and promotions.
- On Billboards on the Side of the Road- For people in a nearby parking lot,
scanning the code can direct them to more information about your business or
even to the business!
- Fundraising Donations- A QR Code can drive people to a contribution page as well as offer additional incentives and information.
- Home Improvement Store- A QR Code could link to how-to videos of how to use specific power tools successfully.
- Electronic Retailers- A QR Code could link visitors to reviews sites to get unbiased reviews of the stocked product.
- Supermarkets– A QR could link to pages that talk about how the products were sourced, and perhaps to interviews of the farmers who grew the food. Packages could have a QR that allows people to view the freshness or expiration date.
- Interactive Trade Show Booth- QR Codes could be added to panels and other materials so that visitors can scan a code and interact with your brand even after the show is over.
- Contests- Allow people to scan a QR Code that drives them to a mobile-optimized registration page making registration faster.
- Libraries- Add a QR Code to a poster that allows people to read reviews of certain books.
- Speaking or Presenting at a Conference- Include a QR Code in your handout so that people can learn about you, your company, and the topic. This way they will be able to see it long after your talk.
- For Nurseries- A QR Code on the product tag may let people see what
their vegetation will turn into, along with the best ways for helping it grow
- For Emergencies- QR Codes can be put into the emergency protocols. They can lead to the Emergency Hotline and/or website.
- For Directories- QR Codes can be added to a listing, so the user can look up more information about a specific person or item.
- Promote Exercise or Other Healthy Habits- Add a QR Code to the bottom of a poster to provide additional information on the topic including videos.
- Make it Easy for Someone to Check-In to Your Business- A QR Code outside your business can allow someone to scan it and check into Foursquare or other location based communities.
- For Outdoor Events- QR Codes on signs and posters can direct people to a mobile-optimized festival guide and schedule.
- Promote Local Businesses- The Chamber of Commerce could include QR Codes for each member on printed materials, so that residents can easily learn more about ones that they are interested in.
- Protect Your Equipment- Put QR Codes on tools and machinery with proper usage instructions and warnings.
- Enhance Your Customer Service- In release notes or training
manuals, include QR Codes to link people to online tutorials and videos. Contact
information for the support team via mobile phone can also be supplied.
- Speed Service- Put a QR Code ontickets or boarding passes that makes the process of scanning the passengers faster. The QR Code could also offer additional benefits to the ticket holder.
- On bills and invoices- QR Codes might direct them to an online site where
they can view information about your products and services, as well as perhaps
learn about what else you offer. They could also offer a more detailed explanation of the bill or invoice.
- Ad Tracking- Running an advertisement in multiple magazines? Create a unique QR Code for each magazine. This will help you find out which one is driving the most traffic/ROI for you.
- Location Tracking- Put QR Codes on products that have a wide distribution. Track where the scans are coming from to see what your best locations are.
- Personalize Communications- A QR Code on a greeting card might allow them to see a personal video from you.
- Instruction Manuals- Put a QR Code on the product with a link to the website containing the instruction manual. This is convenient for the customer and saves time for customer support. Steelcase has one on an office chair.
- Press Releases- Add a QR Code to press releases to provided additional up to date information.
- Resumes- Allow potential employers to learn more about you online through videos, or links to projects that you’ve worked on in the past.
- Recruiters – Can use a QR code to show the latest positions that need to be filled.
- The Ultimate QR Code to Increase Your Sales and Profits- Scan this QR Code.
- Healthcare Marketing– QR Codes can be used for online appointments,
facility tours, patient testimonials, and patient education.
- Sneak Into Google Maps– According to a posting on Mashable entitled Rooftop QR Codes Aim to Infiltrate Google Maps, an Austin, Texas firm will install QR codes on rooftops in an attempt to sneak into Google Maps. Google Earth has been downloaded 400 million times and “by integrating a readable code into the space-accessible profile, mobile users can access dynamic marketing programs, videos, digital coupons and other content while viewing the specific geographical location. In addition to showing up in Google Earth, the codes would also surface in Google Maps, which makes use of the former with Earth View.
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