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What is a QR Code?

If you don’t know what they are, I’m sure you’ve wondered.  What are those weird looking checker-board looking codes all over advertising nowadays?  It’s a QR Code, also known as a matrix code.

Did you know that you can take any website address and quickly and instantly convert it into a QR Code?  Check out this link for creating your own QR code.   Just enter the website address that you want to create a code for in the URL bar and hit “enter” on your keyboard.  Done!  The tool then allows you to download the file as a small image file on your desktop.

So then how do you read these codes?  You download a free app (there are several, I chose Bakodo) for your iPhone or other device, assuming your device has a camera.   All you need to do is essentially aim your camera at the code until the app recognizes it , and then and you can then go and visit the linked information.

If you imagine that newer phones will come with this capability pre-installed,  you realize that it’s really a much handier way of getting people to a website, rather than them having to type in your website address (which is an awful pain – especially on an iPhone – I still typo about every second word – because I hate auto-correct).

A bit more research into QR Codes revealed that they are very commonly used in Japan, with entire billboards and signs being filled with nothing but a QR code.  Now, we would tell you that simply designing an ad as nothing but a QR code is not the best use of a billboard …because you still have to give people a REASON to bother scanning it….at least with a quick headline or grabber statement.  But still, what a powerful, easy way to get people to investigate for more information.  You can also use QR Codes to link people to a special web page you’ve set up just for that purpose.  Here are a couple of samples you might want to try after downloading your own QR Code app to your iPhone.

Happy Scanning!

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Jacqueline Drew
About the Author - Jacqueline Drew
Jacqueline M. Drew, BComm, MBA is CEO of Tenato Strategy Inc., a marketing research and strategy firm with bases in Calgary and Vancouver. She loves to use her superpowers "to help the good guys win" and is also an energetic supermom, songwriter and cross-country skier.