What is a QR Code, you ask? Well, let me explain. QR stands for “Quick Response”. The code is a matrix barcode that is readable by QR-specific barcode readers or with an app on your smart phone. The code can contain a wealth of information, and can link a person to a number of areas, from a specific URL to a contact card, or to an information source. The code is widely used to link to company websites, but the potential extends to media links such as YouTube or Vimeo, Itunes, or any other social media page.

qr code
In the outdoor adventure world, there have been a lot of companies jumping on the QR bandwagon. The majority of the uses have been limited to print advertising, linking the user to a video, or to the company website. The potential to engage the user with a scan is huge, and I have been seeing missed opportunities with this technology.

Some good examples of effective QR code use:

•    Snow Board Canada uses the QR code on their covers, inviting the reader to scan and watch a behind the scenes video of the photo shoot that created the cover. Engaging and entertaining, this code adds value to the magazine and creates more interactivity.

•    Business cards with a QR code. Imagine your whole resume accessed through your card, or your art portfolio, or your film reel, or your personal website. The list is practically endless. You are trying to sell yourself or your company with your business card, why not make it stand out?

•    T-shirts! Kind of random, but a good example of how there are no bounds to creativity when it comes to QR codes.

How to use QR codes effectively

First: Make it simple. Draw the readers attention with a call to action (“Watch our pro athlete do x here”). Don’t just throw up a QR code in the corner of an ad and think it will sell itself.

Second: Make sure the link goes to an engaging place! I have tried a few scans where the link sends me to the YouTube channel, but not the video itself. If I have to search further, I am off of that site lickity split.

Make it interesting! Don’t limit the QR code to print ads. Put it on clothing tags, on stickers, on trade show promo materials. The sky is the limit. You could even make QR code lick-on tattoos.

Nothing turns a person off a new technology like a poor user experience. The potential to create engaging communications is great, as long as the first wave of QR code use doesn’t turn customers off forever.

What do you think of QR codes? Any cool examples or ideas you have to share?

Make your own QR code for free here.

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