For example, many display ads on Tokyo subway cars (where more than half the riders seem to be using mobile Internet) feature QR codes. As passengers scan images of these codes, they're taken to mobile web sites that provide more information—and sometimes even discount coupons.
Several years ago, the Tokyo government started using QR codes to advise people about construction issues and provide other information. On a recent visit to Japan, I received several business cards that included a QR code, making it simple to download the person's contact information.
Real-time marketing with QR codes
The real-time aspect of QR codes is important. At precisely the moment a buyer is interested, you can deliver them to more information.
I adapted this technique myself for my live presentations to make it easy for people in the audience to download my content. For example, when I want to share my Marketing Strategy Planning Template (a free resource I provide for people to plan marketing initiatives) I just pop up an image on the screen of my QR code. Then those in the audience who want to download my template simply use their mobile’s QR code reader to scan the image and download the document.
This is a great way for anybody to take people from offline marketing (an advertisement, Yellow Page telephone listing, tradeshow booth graphics and the like) to a site where they can learn more.
Last week I was at Space Center Houston and many of the exhibits had QR codes so visitors could learn more about the artifacts that interested them.
A QR code can be a great way to deliver information to people via mobile wherever they are and at the exact moment they are interested—on the beach, at a sporting event, or in a theater.
Free QR code generators and readers
Here are is a free QR code generator and a QR code reader I have used. But there are many more options available.
It's no surprise that QR code technology was invented in Japan, because that country is at the forefront of many aspects of mobile marketing. This is partly because quality online time for many Japanese is the many hours they spend riding commuter trains. (Incidentally, this same need to squeeze quality time from a crowded train ride is what spawned the Sony Walkman.)
Cow image by Shutterstock / Fabio Berti