5 Great Ideas for Using QR Codes to Build Your Network

MelAclaro.com QR CodeQR Codes have graced the list of discussion topics lately in some of the marketing meetups I’ve  attended.

Although they’ve been around since 1994 and have gained some traction overseas, QR Codes have only recently begun gaining increased traction here in the U.S.  Mainly because of the proliferation of smartphones.  (Gartner: 172 million smartphones sold last year; up 24%.)

How To Scan a QR Code

For my friends who haven’t heard of QR Codes, let alone having ever scanned one before, I took the liberty of placing a little quick reference tutorial through the image link below.

How To Scan a QR Code

Download the Tutorial Above (Free)

If you want to download the tutorial above, here’s the link on the left.  (It comes with no express or implied warranties… yadda yadda.)

It’s free.  No signup forms or other strings attached.  Just download it and extract it.

The particulars

It downloads as a zip file.  When you extract the zip file, it expands to include two files (index.html; engage.swf) and a folder (engage_content).  If you plan on uploading it to your server to play in your own blog, feel free to do so.  Just make sure to keep the same relative file structure.

The file that launches the tutorial is the index.html file.

The Problem With QR Codes

Why am I making the tutorial available as a free download?  Because, one problem with QR Codes is that, although 172 million smartphones were sold last year, the thing of it is, there are still a lot of folks who have never scanned one before.  So, you can implement the great tips I’m going to tell you about below, but if the person who drives by your yard sign with the QR Code on it (for my real estate agent friends) or the contact who picks up your business card with the QR Code on the back of it, has no idea about how to scan a QR Code, then it’s sort of a moot point.

What I’ve found is that it helps to also include a little knowledge enabler, along with the QR Code image placement.  It helps those folks who are still trying to wrap their head around the idea of what the heck this funny looking dotted-square-thingy is all about.

The tutorial above can be that enabler.

I’m making it available for you to download and place on your own site if you want because I figure some of you may not want to use my blogsite as the knowledge enabler.

Don’t worry, I get it.  It’s a branding thing.

So, download it.  Then, put it on your site and include a small bit.ly link to it in small type somewhere visually near where you place your QR Code in your marketing collateral.  (Full disclosure, I tried to keep the tutorial relatively brand-free so it would be of use to you.  ‘Fact is, though, I needed a couple of examples.  So in a couple of panels, it’s actually my QR Code image that’s included.  Also, there’s one panel that has a snapshot of a website; the snapshot is one of my (this) blog.  But, other than that, I think I did a pretty good job of keeping it fairly brand neutral.)

5 Great Ideas for Using QR Codes to Build Your Network

Now, if you know how to create a QR Code (should I write that post next?), then here are some ideas you may want to consider.

1.  Place it on the back of your business card. Have the QR Code link back to, say:

  • your LinkedIn profile,
  • a web page where your VCF card can be downloaded,
  • a YouTube video,
  • an About page on your blog
  • or, better yet, a contact signup form.

2.  Print one on a custom name badge. Wear it at your next trade show or industry conference.  (Same link-back examples as above.)

3.  Marketing collateral. Place a QR Code on your yard signs, flyers, postcards where the buyer / prospect can find out more about the property or product.  (Tip for my trainer-colleagues, place a QR Code on your handouts.  Have it linke back to a resources page on your site.)

4.  Products. Place a QR Code on tradeshow trinkets like cups, T-shirts and other giveaways.  (Tip for restaurateurs:  Place QR Codes on your menu and have it link directly to your business page on Yelp.com.)

5.  Your car. (Hmmm… your car?)  Well, Danica Patrick has a QR Code on the hood of her car.

Your Turn

What other ideas can you think of for the use of QR Codes for small businesses?

Can this help someone you know? Share it.

Comments (11)

  1. Mel,

    It’s great to see the Engage tutorial in your site. I’ve done a few and will be doing more this year. I like how you had the iPhone screen shots in there.

    It’s interesting to see you make your Engage freely available. I like the concept. You’ll have to let me know if you get many takers and what problems they may have. It’s not as easy to embed an Engage as say just copying YouTube or Slideshare embed code. Once you get the code though, it’s not hard at all. I’m even working with a client who’s embedding Quizmaker files in their WordPress blog.

    It’s just a shame that Engage and Quizmaker don’t play on iOS devices.

    As for the QR codes, check out Moo. They’ll print a sticker book with your QR codes for you. It’s great to create these and just stick them on business cards–they even fit on their little mini Moo cards too.

    • Mel

      Hi Scott.
      You and I are tracking, my friend. I, too, plan on dusting-off my ‘ol Articulate suite in 2011. Being a Mac guy myself–and Articulate being a PC-based product–I haven’t really had much occasion to use it much last year since many of my projects didn’t require me to venture too far beyond Camtasia (Mac) and Final Cut (when needed). 😉 But, I took on a couple of projects recently where Articulate works really well and have since re-acquainted myself with an old friend.

      I agree it’s a shame that the Articulate stuff doesn’t play well on iOS. But, I think they’re working on an upgrade for that.

      Thanks, too, on the pointer to Moo. Will definitely take a look.
      Thanks for taking time to comment. I always value your contributions. Best to you in 2011.

  2. Hi Mel,

    As I noted in my @mention of your tweet, QR Codes just doesn’t convey what this technology does for people. I realize my point is probably wasted in the uptake of it. Nevertheless, consider the following point:

    Calling visual tags (v-Tags) 2d barcodes is like calling YouTube a video database, Flickr a photo database, or Del.icio.us a favorites list. Literally, the description is accurate. Functionally, it is meaningless.


    • Mel

      Hi Larry. Thanks for your tweet on it. I tweeted back my agreement: I do like “v- (visual-) tag” better than “QR.” Though, I do see how “QR” evolved from this technology’s roots… but, then again, that’s what happens when we leave it to engineers to come up with a name for something cool and exciting, eh? 🙂 (No offense to engineers.)

      • My initial idea for the term v-tag comes from the folksonomy concept in Web 2.0. If you think about it, a v-tag allows people to access dynamic web addresses without the lengthy urls. I still haven’t seen any v-tag graffiti yet, but I’m keeping my eyes peeled for them.

        Sooner or later…as I noted previously.

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  4. Mel,
    I love this post and the embeddable tutorial on QR codes. I will definitely write up a post about it and use it to educate all my PR peeps. Thank you so much.

    P.S. Due to the SMMOC discussions about this topic, I added a code to my business card.

    Happy New Year.

    • Mel

      Thanks, Cindy. I’m glad it helped. Please send me a link to your post after you’re done. Would love to read it. 🙂
      Best to you.

  5. Pingback: Add Quizmaker interactivity to blogs | SkillCasting

  6. Nice post, if you are interested in creating your QR Codes, I recently launched http://www.SocialQRCode.com and it designed for local, small, medium and large businesses in connecting customers with their social media for their business!

    Please give it a try!

  7. Pingback: 5 Great Ideas for Using QR Codes to Build Your Network « Pegwright's Blog

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