I am writing this blog post from Leeds, England, where I am enjoying the final day of a three-week vacation to the UK. Tomorrow, I begin the long journey back home as I fly to the United States from Glasgow, Scotland. My return trip will require four flights. As I am traveling without my computer (and no printer), I will be using an e-ticket to board each and every flight. There will be no bits of paper to keep track of. Just a QR code on my iPhone, that is then scanned by the flight attendant before I board the plane. QR codes are being used by businesses everywhere. However, it’s not just big companies that are taking advantage of this high tech method of communication. Throughout my travels in the UK, I noticed tons of small businesses using QR codes to promote themselves. Just in case you’re not familiar with the term, a QR code is a special type of barcode that was first designed for the automotive industry in Japan. This barcode label contains digitalised information about the item to which it is attached. This information can range from a telephone number, email address, website address, etc. The sky is the limit.   Several weeks ago, when I was preparing our weekly newsletter, I noticed the email marketing program we use, MailChimp, allows you to generate a QR code to promote your email signup form. The QR code can be used on any marketing material you have (ex. brochure, direct mailer, flyer, etc.), allowing your customers to easily sign up for your email list. Of course, your customer will need some sort of QR/Barcode reader to scan the code.  However, with the widespread use of mobile devices, everyone has access to a scanner. Barcode reading apps are plentiful for any phone or tablet and are free to download. Simply do a search for “barcode reader” in the App Store of your mobile device. While I have been traveling through the UK, I noticed many small businesses using QR codes as a marketing tool.  Even in the remote Highlands of Scotland, I saw QR codes everywhere.  A small bakery I stopped at had QR codes on their business cards, price list, and even their car.  Everything supported the same call to action… “Find Us on Facebook'” If you are interesting in generating a QR code to put on your marketing materials, you might be wondering what you need to get started?  Luckily, it’s easy to create a QR code, and it’s free.  I suggest using a program called QR Code Generator, where you can choose to link your QR code to a wide range of materials.  Once your unique QR code is created, you simply download it as a graphic (Such as a .png or .jpg file) and place it in your document (ex. a Word file or web page).  Now anyone who has a digital device that reads QR codes (ex. mobile phone, tablet, etc.) can use any number of free apps to scan the code in. QR CODE GENERATOR In summary, it’s not just the big dog companies that can take advantage of these slick new marketing tools. Now, the little guy can too. There is no limit to where you can use a QR code. Well, except in your own imagination. Previously, on our drive from Utah to Washington for our flight to the UK, I noticed the proprietor of a gas station had posted a sign to generate feedback about the cleanliness of their restrooms. Instead of instructing visitors to submit their comments to the cashier, they posted a QR code. Smart thinking! I challenge you to think about how you too can begin using QR codes to market your business.

By Gillian Whitney

Communications Consultant

Launch4Life

gillian@launch4life.com