Say Hello to QR Codes
by Mark Anthony Germanos
Author, Escape the Cubicle
According to Wikipedia, "a QR [Quick Response] code is a specific matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code), readable by dedicated QR barcode readers and camera phones. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The information encoded can be text, URL or other data." (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QR_code)
QR Codes Relay Specific Information
I've seen people use QR codes to relay specific information such as web site links, text, phone numbers, and text messages. It provides a link that can get more information into someone's smartphone. If your brochures and marketing materials are too dense with text and graphics, you can create a web page with everything you want to say. You can then create a QR code that sends users to that web page. A QR code is usually a square and looks like this:
Beautiful? That is not the objective. It's not for the human eye. It's for your smartphone's QR code reader. iPhones have QR code readers built in. Others may or may not. I am using an app called ScanLife to test these examples. I also found and downloaded a free app called Google Goggles that read this link and opened www.cameronparkcomputer.com.
Launch your smartphone's QR code reader. Point your smartphone at:
to see my web site. Point your smartphone at:
(This will call 530-677-8864 or add it to your contacts.)
and tell me what you think of QR codes. Do not call between midnight and 6:00 AM, thank you. Point your smartphone at:
(This will send a text message to Mark Germanos.)
to send me a text message.
How to Create QR Codes
Small Biz Thoughts has a free QR Code Generator on this web site.
You can also search online for "QR code generator" and find free generators. I used Kaywa's. It always popped up first in my searches. Creating QR codes is remarkably easy. Here is your checklist:
- • Decide what you want to promote
- • Visit the QR Code Generator on this web site or http://qrcode.kaywa.com/
- • Choose the Content Type of code you want to generate
- • Fill in the Content
- • Click the Generate button
- • Save the generated code or graphic to your computer
- • Treat this code just like any other graphic. Insert it in brochures, on your web page, or in signs. I've seen some people put QR codes on the back of their business cards.
- • Resize the graphic and test it on your smartphone. I made the graphics here 1.75" wide and high. Tweak as you choose and then test them again. A QR code with 252 characters of text did not work as a 1.75" square, so I did not include that particular code here.
How to read QR codes
As mentioned above, your smartphone needs a QR code reader. If you have an iPhone, you already have one. If not, look in the apps folder on your phone or find one for free. You can also go online and search for "QR code reader." Choose one for your phone's operating system and then download/install it.
QR codes have an obvious shortfall: they only work with QR code readers and the user has to know that the image is a QR code. You could have folks asking, "What does the black and white image do?"
That's OK. Smile and introduce them to QR codes.
How and When to Use QR Codes
As QR codes become more popular in the United States, I'm sure they will become more commonplace. I receive one or two pieces of bulk mail each month with QR codes. I view those vendors with more respect than those who haven't embraced QR codes. Adoption will only grow.
QR Codes are merely tools. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, blogs, web sites, and newsletters are also tools. I already showed you how to write a blog entry that sends shortcuts to these social networking sites. You can add QR codes to the mix. You need to work backward. Here is a QR code checklist:
- 1. Define your task. Example: I want people to watch my sermon explaining why you do not have competitors. The video is on YouTube.
2. Decide what landing page you will use. I will use my YouTube video discussing why you do not have competitors.
3. Grab the URL. This video is at www.youtube.com/watch?v=RpsZElbR16U.
4. Create the QR code. See above.
5. Save it to your computer. I saved mine to the My Pictures folder.
6. Create an e-mail.
7. Add the QR code.
8. Send this e-mail to your blog.
9. Verify that the shortcuts at your social networking sites either link back to your blog or present the QR code.
Maybe you're creating a brochure. Back in the 1990s, my wife volunteered her time creating a brochure for an organization that runs a midnight bike ride in downtown Chicago. The organizers give her a masthead, text, sponsor logos, and a sign-up form and asked her to squeeze all of that on a double-sided 8½"x11" brochure. To make it work, she reduced font sizes, logo sizes, and white space. She managed to get everything on the brochure, but I told her it was too dense. The organizers were trying to pack too much information onto one sheet of paper.
Imagine if she were creating the brochure today with QR codes. She could focus on making the brochure beautiful. She could create a page on this organization's web site and put all the fine print on that one page. She could create a QR code that links to the web page and insert that QR code into the brochure. The brochure would look better, since it was not overloaded with content. The QR code would send people to a web page with all the additional details.
Use this checklist when creating QR codes for print media:
- 1. Define your task.
2. Decide what landing page you will use.
3. Grab the URL.
4. Create the QR code (I use QR codes generated at http://qrcode.kaywa.com/).
5. Save it to your computer.
6. Create the brochure.
7. Add the QR code. Resize it to fit with other elements.
8. Print the brochure.
9. Test it. Launch your smartphone's QR code reader and take a picture of the QR code. Verify that the reader can interpret the code and take you to the landing page.
Play with these before reading my next section about passwords. Launch your smartphone's QR code reader and see where these QR codes take you. Scan one at a time.
About Mark Anthony Germanos . . .
Mark Anthony Germanos is a business author and speaker. His second book, Escape the Cubicle . . . How to Leave Your Corporate or Government Job for Something Better, is for those who want to quit an unfulfilling job and for those who need help running their businesses.
Mark started his first business in 1997. He moved from Chicago to California in 2000 and restarted his business with a cell phone and a Honda Civic. Mark is a graduate of Michigan State University. He is an active triathlete, is married, and lives in Cameron Park, California. Mark is available at www.markanthonygermanos.com.
For more information on Escape the Cubicle, visit . . . SMB Books