You’re seeing them pop up everywhere around town—on commercial real estate signs by global real estate leader CB Richard Ellis (CBRE), in promotions at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for sweepstakes, and more recently in a full-page newspaper ad from Tom Wood Automotive Group. Why are QR (Quick Response) codes dotting the landscape and they a marketing gimmick or keeper?

Once this 2-dimensional black-and-white powerhouse box is scanned by smartphone users, they can get an online pop to a relevant URL—about your company, your product, or your latest promotion, or even a shopping cart to place an order. And with 47 percent of American adults using their cellphones and tablet computers to get local news and information, that’s a pretty broad reach.

Think retail that’s always open.

A QR code generator can embed a URL, phone number, text or ready-to-send SMS message for a marketing campaign. The genius of the QR code is that it’s easy to generate and simple to track. They’re in store windows, on signs, in newspaper and magazine ads, on business cards and conference badges, and the backs of laptops.

Tech Savvy Agent, a blog for real estate agents, advises some best practices. Some may seem simple and obvious, but other tips are worth repeating – like don’t have the exact same content of your biz card on the QR code. Instead, be a little creative. Record a quick video to upload to YouTube and then create the message you want to match a biz card intro: “Great to meet you! Here’s what I know about the neighborhood.”

The Detroit Red Wings made their games more interactive with the Kronwalled video to promote open skates. If you haven’t seen it, it’s worth a watch.

According to Red Wings’ Social Networking Coordinator Nicole Yelland: “The Wings have found mobile devices to be the Number One viewing medium fans are using to see videos accounting for an overwhelming 22 percent of fans viewing linked videos nearly 2,000 times all the way through.”

And smartly, the team is actually showing people how to use QR codes by playing brief instructional videos during game breaks.

QR codes, if used smartly, are good for:

  • Branding
  • Scavenger hunts for products, places or events
  • Promotions linked to discounts, limited or select supplies, giveaways or new product launches
  • Increasing your social media following by linking to your most popular places

QR codes also track for those who insist on metrics.

But as Terence Eden says in his UK blog, don’t be stupid with QR codes.

“Use QR codes wherever they seem appropriate – but make sure that they’re scannable, work for everyone who scans them, and lead somewhere useful.”

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