Have you been noticing these odd little geometric designs popping up more and more all over the place? Wondering what the heck they mean or what they’re meant to do? You’re not alone!

QR (quick response) codes have actually been around for quite a long time: they were developed by Toyota back in 1994 and were used to track vehicle parts through the manufacturing process. Since then QR codes have been widely adopted across all types of businesses that have recognised that they are an effective way of engaging with an audience.

QR codes are essentially a more advanced style of barcodes. Both are information encoded as a two-dimensional graphic, but a QR code encodes information both vertically and horizontally so it can contain more e.g. a short message, voucher or a link to a website. They appear on food packaging, posters, adverts, in newspapers, in fact just about any print media, and anyone with a smartphone can scan the code and connect to interactive digital media online. QR readers are free to download and any smartphone with a camera can access information via QR codes.

It’s rather like clicking on a link within a website to go to another page/site where you can find further information and so satisfy one’s need for valuable content – only with a QR code you’re capturing that desire before someone has even visited your website.

The great news is that generating your own QR codes really isn’t rocket science. Just go to a QR code generator site (Kaywa is a good one), fill in the relevant details and your code is instantly created. Within moments you have produced the means with which people can discover new and valuable content.

So from a marketing point of view this opens up all kinds of exciting new opportunities for connecting with an audience. And it’s something that even small businesses can take advantage of. As long as you direct people to interesting information (not just your website Home page!) or a great special offer, you will be communicating dynamically with your audience. The trick is to decide how QR codes can fit within your marketing strategy. Do you want people to sign up for your email newsletter, do you want to give more details about a specific product/service, are you selling a product at a reduced price for a limited time, do you just want to get them to your website video or blog?

However you choose to use QR codes it’s always best to actually draw attention to the code. Explain why it’s there and why people should scan it – at least until the purpose of QR codes becomes second nature to the vast majority of people.

Are you using QR codes already? It would be really good to hear about your experience and if they’ve been of benefit to your business.