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QR Codes Can be Powerful Marketing Tools

July 25, 2011

This is an exciting development toward integrating print and mobile multimedia.

Business Tips Article
Jessica Lambert
ASU-SBDC Business Development Training Coordinator


Have you noticed odd looking barcodes popping up all over the place? These particular barcodes look like pixelated squares making up a larger square in what looks like a random pattern. Well, wonder no longer. These fancy boxes are called quick response or QR codes and they are spreading rapidly in the business and marketing world.

QR codes can be read by smart phones and when scanned they trigger various functions on your phone. Some of the actions it might prompt include pulling up a website, playing a YouTube video, event details, loading contact information, or creating an automated e-mail. And new functions and features are being developed daily.

This is an exciting development toward integrating print and mobile multimedia. It can also mean exciting and powerful developments for your businesses. Businesses can use a QR code to direct magazine readers to websites that include additional product details or purchasing information. Business people can use business cards featuring QR codes to share their contact information directly into the phone of a new contact when scanned.

QR codes also play nice with social media. QR codes can be designed to connect to a Facebook or Twitter page or produce a direct link to “like” or “follow” a page. No more typing in long and complicated URL addresses. Although examples are endless, one more example is using a QR code to bring up a video when scanned that plays a powerful short commercial on YouTube.

It is easy to create a QR code and many websites provide free QR code generators. Some websites even provide an array of personalization options, creative functions, and even tracking systems to see how often your QR code has been scanned. Two free QR Generator websites include and I suggest searching online for “QR Code generator” to find one that works for you. Similarly, search for a free QR reader in your phone’s app store and try a few out to find something you like.

If you are considering diving into this new technology you should be conscious of a few important points. To effectively use QR codes, those who see it need to have a smart phone and a QR Code scanner/reader application on it. Also, wherever you feature your QR code you should explain what scanning it will do and possibly, short directions to downloading a QR reader app. No matter how great your QR code is, it’s no good if no one uses it!

Some other problems can also arise with faulty QR code design. When a QR code is created, the more complex the function it triggers, or the longer a web address is, the more detailed the QR image has to be and the smaller the squares are that make it up. When you go to insert the QR code in your flyer, ad, postcard, etc. make sure you keep it large enough so it maintains its detail and can be scanned and read easily.

As smartphone use continues to rise and people become more aware of what QR codes are and how to use them, they will become a powerful tool for businesses to integrate mobile technology and advertising. QR codes are finding an array of uses and people are becoming more comfortable and excited about using them. It only takes a little bit of creativity and basic technology skills to start using them so don’t wait! Create a QR code today and start discovering what it can do for your business.

“Business Tips” was written by Jessica Lambert, Business Development Training Coordinator and Certified Training Coordinator of Angelo State University’s Small Business Development Center. Contact her at


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