What is a QR Code and How to Use It in Your Business

You may be asking yourself, what the heck is a QR code?  A QR code is funny looking square barcode such as the one in this article.  You've probably seen one before, and you're going to start seeing it in a lot of different places.   It's essentially a barcode, and I believe it's going to change the way your guests interact with your business (as well as a lot of other things). 

With the rise of social media, smart phones, and the importance of "right now" with your guests,  there is going to be a huge opportunity for you to interact with your guests in new ways.

Here's a great example:

After finishing her meal at your restaurant, you present your guest with a bill.  With the bill, you include a postcard with a QR code (that funny barcode) and a message that says something like "Did you like our meal?  Send your friends a coupon for a free desert right now.  Just scan this code!"  Your guest then picks up hey iPhone, scans the code and is brought to your Facebook page.  She tags 20 of her friends in Facebook with a promotion right there before they've paid the bill.   Now, when one of her friends redeems the promotion, you send a Thank You email (and maybe another promotion) to the person who did the referring.

Pretty powerful stuff, huh?  You've unlocked the ability for your guests to act upon their experience as it occurs.  A big part of this is the interface is the method in which the your guest can tie their smart phone into the process easily and the QR code is becoming increasingly popular.  Today's smart phones allow a user to take a "scan" of the barcode using their built in camera.  When the scan registers, it opens an application (usually just a web URL) for the user to interact with your business. 

Look around, I bet you'll see a lot of QR codes once you start looking.  I've seen them on magazine advertisements, restaurant signage, retail packaging, and even wine bottles.  These are all functionally different, but serve the same purpose: engage the customer in the moment.

So, where can you use QR codes?  Here's some ideas:

1) In store signage
2) Your menu
3) Table toppers
4) In the waiting room
5) On the bill
6) Many more!

You can then use this real time engagement to do all sort of different things:

1) Ask for a referral
2) Dish out a promotion
3) Provide more information about a product
4) Take a survey
5) Entertain the user
6) Any sort of real time marketing

Here is a YouTube video of a QR code in action:

(For the interested, if you have a mobile device, QR code scanners are often built in or you can do a search on "QR Code" to find a reader.  If you'd like to generate QR codes and real-time applications, Referral Circle would be happy to help.)

Where have you seen QR codes in use?  In what creative ways have you seen it used?