QR Codes – Why You Should Get to Know Them

I signed up for a QR code about 10 months ago, but never used it. Until now! That’s because I didn’t recognize its value at first. I just got one for the Inn because I was learning as much as possible about all the new social media options and QR codes were among the growing list of things to use to promote your business.  Now that I understand how to use it better, I see what a cool tool it can be.

What is a QR Code?

According to Wikipedia, the technical definition of a QR Code is a two-dimensional barcode, sort of like the barcodes you see on store items that identify what they are and how much they cost when you scan the code into the register. The QR code is shaped like a square and can be encoded with text, data, or in my case, the URL the the Blake House website.  It’s my business’ fingerprint. This is the QR Code for Blake House:

How is a QR Code used?

It is used by the camera function on your smart phone.  First you have to download a FREE QR Code Reader app onto your phone. I have an iPhone so I downloaded the QR Code Reader app from i-nigma. You can use other versions or readers. From your iphone, click the App Store icon and do a search for i-nigma. There is an app for the new iPhone4 and one for the rest of us who still have the iPhone 3GS or lower. Once you download the app, you can start reading QR Codes for any business that has one. It is literally that simple.

You’ll see QR Codes in store windows, on printed material, Facebook Pages, emails, etc.  You may have already seen them, but like me, didn’t know what they were and haven’t paid much attention to them. Now you do.

When you see a business with a QR Code (like the Blake House one shown above), you click the QR Reader app on your phone and it opens your camera.  Hold your camera up so that it sees the QR Code and as soon as it registers the code, it will take you to whatever online information has been programmed into the code.

The Blake House Inn QR Code takes you to the Blake House Inn website. Other QR Codes may be set up to take you to the business’ website or a coupon page or their Facebook Page.

What is the value of the app?

Here are 2 examples:

  1. Let’s say you pick up one of Blake House Inn’s rack cards in the Chamber of Commerce Visitors Center, but you haven’t been to our website.  The rack card only has so much information and you think you’ll remember to check out the website when you get home later. Maybe you will, but maybe you’ll forget.  If the rack card has a QR Code on it (mine don’t right now), you can use your phone to very quickly get to my website, just by opening your camera.  And instead of having to wait to look at my business, you can access it immediately.
  2. You’re at a restaurant and you notice they have a QR Code displayed on their menu or in the window. By clicking on it, you find out that they are offering a discount, but only for patrons who reference the promotion on the QR Code.

Of course, there are many other uses for the QR Code, but its greatest purpose is to allow people on-the-spot access to information about the business they are interested in. It can be used for informational purposes only or it can be used to promote specials or promotions for those who access it.

If you own a business, you should consider getting a QR Code (or multiple codes) to help promote your business.

For everyone else, you should start reading QR Codes for the businesses you patronize that have them because you never know what kind of deal you just might score.

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