Using QR Codes for Creative and Interactive Marketing

qr code on building

Using QR Codes for Creative and Interactive Marketing

What is a QR Code?

Originally an innovation designed to track Toyota cars through the manufacturing process, QR codes have now spread worldwide. The patent holders (Denso) have decided not to license the technology meaning it is free to use.

Quick Response codes are a matrix barcode that can store virtually any type of data. When scanned (usually through a smartphone), they can link to a webpage, an email message, a map, contact details, a Buy Now link, and more. You can even brand any kind of physical object. This is nicknamed ‘hard linking’.

The great thing about Quick Response codes is that they suit “the new consumer” (Susan Baker, 2003) and their buyer behaviour. They are time-poor and experience-seeking.

qr code on building

Interactive Billboards

Clothing retailer Sportsgirl recently created interactive billboards in which a user could purchase advertised products.

Virtual Store

Tesco in South Korea recently plastered a subway with QR codes and effectively turned the commuting experience into a shopping one as well. Watch their incredible video. It really is worth a look.

Wine Review

For the discerning wine buyer, the usual gumph on the label about “herbaceous notes” and “chocolatey finish” may not cut the mustard when you are making your purchase decision. A link on the label to an independent review, however, just might.

Ideas to Copy

Have you received a favourable review for your business or one of your products? If you have, you could code. After all, other people saying how good we are is more valuable than us saying it.

Code it. Link it to your advertising and business card.

For example: In real estate? Selling or renting out houses?

Link the landing page with all the details, virtual tour, prices and a sign-up form to the sign you plant out the front as well as the flyer in your window. And you know what? It’ll only take two minutes to do.

qr tshirt

Spread WOM

Do you want to get people talking about something you’re ding? Word-of-mouth is the genie in the bottle. How do you stimulate it?

Here is an idea. Get attractive people to wear your QR Coded T-shirt. Or you could hand out free coffee with the QR  code emblazoned on the cup. Or the coaster. Napkins. Whatever.

Having a sale? Make the code Red and add a call to action like “TODAY ONLY!” Remember the old adage ‘What’s In It For Me?’ With the ubiquity of QR Codes – you need to give a reason to make it worth bothering.

How to Create One

I have found a good website. Go to the website  (not affiliate). From here you can select the type of data you want to encode. For example, a web page.

Enter the URL that you want the scanner to hit.

Select a colour from the colour picker. Maybe your corporate colour (unless it’s too pale).

Then with one press, you can download the image as a png. Paste this into your marketing material, email message, on your car, your coffee cup, whatever campaign material you have at hand.

A word about planning. Think about your target audience. What are they doing day-to-day? How can you reach them in a familiar environment that is convenient to them? Don’t just flog it everywhere for the sake of looking cool. And don’t have it interrupt your message, plastering over your core product, basking in the glory of early adoption. Be a bit cool about it. Prevalent, yet subtle, is the way to go.


There are many paid and free apps that can ‘read’ the code and activate its embedded instruction. iPhone and iPad have QR Reader, which is a free download. Just search for it in the App Store.

Blackberry and Android phones also have scanning apps.

qr code websitesThanks for reading. Have you seen any good examples of QR being used creatively? Please let me know.