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QR Codes: A Beginner’s Guide to QR Codes for Business Owners

By Kaitlin Olcott

What is a QR Code: 

Funny looking, yes.  Incredibly useful, YES.  A QR Code (short for Quick Response code) looks like the classic barcode you see on any regular in-store item, but unlike a bar code (which can only hold up to 20 digits), a QR code can hold thousands of characters of data.  Within the two dimensional matrix barcode is encoded information that could contain things like text, pictures, video, or a URL.

How It Works:

Designed for high speed decoding, when a QR code is scanned by any Smartphone’s camera, it instantly opens the phone’s browser to a specific web page.  Today, you’ll sometimes see QR codes in magazine advertisements, on business cards or bus advertisements.  You can generate your own QR code for your business with QR code generators available on the web.  Google has released a free QR code generator and there are several other free code generators as well.

Using QR Codes for your Business:

QR codes can be used for businesses in a number of different ways.  They are effective because you can share multiple pieces of content as well as provide a direct link to what you want customers to see. Instead of a basic “Find us on Facebook” message which often includes a long website link, you can eliminate the time that someone may or may not take to go to your site by providing them with a direct pathway to your Facebook available in a QR code. What makes QR codes even more useful is the fact that web services are enabling business to track the success of their QR code campaigns.

Whether you have an online store or a brick & mortar, you can use QR codes in several different ways.  You can make them a part of promotions and discounts by creating QR codes containing special discounts.  You can also combine the use of QR code discounts with efforts to increase e-mail subscribers or Facebook likes/Twitter followers.

Another interesting, yet seemingly obvious concept to implement in a business plan is using QR codes for labeling purposes.  Putting a QR code on products or on the product tag enables people who like your product a way to find out more information about it.

Finally, the most simple and to the point way to include QR codes in your business strategy is placing them on business cards.  You can still keep all of the essential information on your card while putting other supplemental Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn contact data in a QR code.

Kaitlin Olcott is the marketing coordinator at, an online children’s boutique that sells crib bedding, children’s clothing, room décor, diaper bags, and everything else mom & baby.

Posted in Marketing & PR

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5 Responses to “QR Codes: A Beginner’s Guide to QR Codes for Business Owners”

  1. 1
    Judy Helfand says:

    Thank you for this concise, easy to understand QR definition. About three weeks ago my husband suddenly became aware of QR codes. He made me stop everything that I was doing to explain their purpose and to create one for our business. Then he happily added it to the signature line of his outgoing emails! Great!
    About a week later he was struggling to assist a new client with opening an email attachment and she kept calling and saying there is no attachment, just a strange black art piece below your name!!!

    Anyway, if you don’t mind, I am going to refer our clients to your post. Thanks again.

  2. 2
    Amy Kinnaird says:

    Hi Kaitlin, I have a lot of clients using QR codes now, and always like new examples of how people are using it. Great idea to use on hang tags! I have heard a similar example of a restaurant using them for nutritional information on menu items.

  3. 3

    Originally deploying them for a scavenger hunt for a local non profit, we have been using the QR code for 4 or 5 years now. They are indeed extremely useful and benificial if not abused. They are up to 30% editable meaning you can get creative and add a logo,etc. You don’t have to settle for the boring Black “blob” colors are available as well… Red, Blue, Lime Green. Mobile Commerce & Marketing your customers/clients with special promotions such as loyalty/reward programs and coupons. Extending to Digital Video media advertising. The possibilities are endless. More documentation…

  4. 4
    Susi Schuele says:

    QR codes are extremely popular now and very useful! We do use them and put it on our business card, printed flyers and signs for trade shows. A word of caution though, the QR code must be at least 1″ x 1″ to be readable. We found that out the hard way after 750 cards were printed! Thanks for the great information!

  5. 5
    Kaitlin says:

    Thanks everyone for all of the great responses.

    And Susi, that word of caution is definitely helpful, I wish I had included that in my article so I’m really glad you commented!

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