Ask Mr. Marketing: What’s that black box?

By Rob Weinberg

Q: Please explain QR Codes

Troy Fogel

You’ve probably experienced QR codes in magazine ads or store windows without realizing what you were seeing.

First used in Japan in the mid-1990s, QR (short for Quick Response), is basically a bar code your smartphone can scan. Use it to lead visitors to websites, downloadable files, or add contact information to their electronic address books.

Most QR codes are black-and-white-patterned boxes, with many websites creating them for free. Codes can also be customized with colors, logos or artistic designs.

QR codes are useful when marketing real estate’s at a premium. They’re a creative way to provide additional information or to make a static medium like print more interactive.

When used well, QR codes can elevate the user experience significantly. Large and small businesses use QR codes to deliver promotional offers or exclusive web-based content.

Such offers typically can’t be accessed without your phone reading it. Post Cereals even developed a web-based sitcom for QR visitors alone.

And since QR codes are easy to scan (once you know how), unique looking, and easy to spot, they can work well on virtually anything.

At a conference I spoke at recently, I witnessed attendees on the go, smartphones in hand, snapping and storing QR codes for later reference.

This approach prevented booth visitors from quickly forgetting about the exhibit they’d just seen, while simultaneously reducing paper waste at the event.

I even saw a QR code projected onto a screen directing audience members to a downloadable version of the speaker’s presentation. Several business cards also bore them, as did numerous ads in the print program.

By the way — QR code is a catchall term for two-dimensional scannable bar codes. The term QR is actually a registered trademark of Denso Wave, a division of Toyota. Many other companies, including Microsoft and Google, offer their own 2-D codes.

As with any other marketing vehicle, QR codes should not be the entire solution to your communication needs. However, tying it in as a vehicle for a giveaway or as a lure for answering a survey makes it a solid addition to your marketing arsenal.

With that said, I wish you a week of profitable marketing.

Mr. Marketing has spent 30 years unlocking the secrets of reaching customers. Scan his QR code above for a special offer, or contact him at www.askmrmarketing.com.

Related posts:

  1. Ask Mr. Marketing: Paying for every click
  2. Ask Mr. Marketing: Making video marketing work for you
  3. Ask Mr. Marketing: Planning for the coming year
  4. Ask Mr. Marketing: Mapping your own opportunity
  5. Ask Mr. Marketing: Been there. Done that.

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Posted by Karen Brainard on Nov 26 2011. Filed under Columnists. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

3 Comments for “Ask Mr. Marketing: What’s that black box?”

  1. Al

    We think black and white codes will eventually be replaced with more colorful ones.

  2. QR codes are easy to generate.But creating an effective QR campaign may not be easy for non-marketing or tech savvy business owners since in addition to the QR code, a mobile landing page, effective graphic design, or custom marketing videos may be needed. So aside from DIY marketing, also consider hiring professionals to help you plan and execute an effective marketing campaign.

  3. [...] Ask Mr. Marketing: What's that black box? By Rob Weinberg You've probably experienced QR codes in magazine ads or store windows without realizing what you were seeing. First used in Japan in the mid-1990s, QR (short for Quick Response), is basically a bar code your smartphone can scan. … Read more on Ramona Sentinel [...]

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