QR codes – making them work for you

April 30, 2018

Excerpt from 'How to Wrestle an Octopus: an agency account manager's guide to pretty much everything'. Available now!


The benefit in using the QR code must be greater than the effort required to scan it.” (Jason Jarvis) 

QR codes have been called many things, including ‘pointless’, ‘occasionally useful’, and ‘obsolete’. Love them or hate them they are not dead - yet - and won’t be until something else comes along that can successfully bridge the gap between paper and the internet. 

QR is an abbreviation for ‘Quick Response’. A QR code is similar to a barcode in that it holds information, and you access this information by scanning the code with a compatible reader – a dedicated QR code app which you can download free on any smartphone, tablet, or any device with camera and app capability. 

One of the biggest challenges QR codes face is the end-user. Many people simply do not know how to use the codes and may refuse to use them after a first failed or disappointing attempt. Some countries have a greater QR code uptake than others, which may contribute to the stigma or lack of knowledge surrounding their use.

Another challenge for QR codes is that many agencies and marketers are not sure how to use them to benefit their clients and projects, so here are some QR code ideas for you and your clients:

  • On-pack prompt to receive further information about a product such as instructions; how-to-install video; warranty; ingredients; background history; point-of-origin information; or as a coupon/reward. 
  • Accessing a special code for a contest or giveaway. 
  • Free digital download. 
  • Place an order. 
  • House-for-sale ads, signs or window cards. Receive more detailed information or watch a walk-through video. 
  • Print advertisements. Encourage people to move to the next step in the purchase process; sign up; product information, competition entry. 
  • Signage. Tourist information; bus timetables; opening hours. 
  • Books. A link to the publisher or author website; further information; videos; interactive material. 
  • Social media. Link to other social, company or product sites. 
  • Supermarket or restaurant flyers. Recipes; food history. 
  • Events and event marketing. RSVPs; directions to the venue; conference manuals and materials; course content; speaker bios. 
  • Tradeshows and expos. Floorplan layout; programme guide; digital brochures. 
  • Recommendations for other complementary products. 
  • Retail store. Loyalty card scanning; manufacturing information; general marketing.
  • Online ticketing for movies theatre shows and other events.
  • Airline ticketing and boarding passes. 
  • Bus shelter advertising. 
  • Billboards. 
  • Inventory tracking. 
  • Product scanning. 
  • Shipping and logistics. 



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