You’ve seen ’em popping up everywhere. The little barcodes on your ketchup bottle or your hipster friends business cards, but what are QR codes and how should you use them?

use QR codes to drive your businessQR codes are a type of two-dimensional barcode used to share information. You can see a sample here.

Most people use them in conjunction with a “smart” cell phone. They make certain things easier. Consider typing in an email address or website address. It’s much easier to scan a barcode than it is to type even the shortest website address.

There’s quite a few “out of the box uses” for these things but here’s some Do’s and Don’ts for you to consider if you are going to start using them in your business.


  • Create the barcodes using a “clean” free resource

Lots of websites out there will create a QR code for you but they will link to their site and then bounce a user to your website. You can tell when you scan the barcode if it doesn’t list your site as the URL; consider switching who creates your codes for you.

  • Create a barcode for each of your marketing campaigns.

By creating a separate code for each of your marketing campaigns, you get to track which campaigns and media types are more effective in promoting your business.

  • Make them BIG

A small barcode will just frustrate your potential customer. A barcode on a vehicle should be at least 3 feet square (depending on the complexity) if you want passers by to scan it from their car or the sidewalk. More complex codes require more space.

  • Use them to save time

A code that contains contact information to be added to a phone is a great addition to a business card. A QR code that can hold your place in line or generate a return phone call is great too!

  • Use them to create “special” content or offers

The technology savvy crowd loves to be treated well. Create promotions or special offers that cater to the crowd and watch them share your codes.


  • Put them everywhere:

Don’t¬†over-saturate¬†your potential clients with QR codes. Sure you can create all sorts of novelty QR codes that do lots of things, but if it doesn’t help your customer, you are confusing them unnecessarily.

  • Make them “The only way”

Using them is great, but they can’t replace printing your phone number on your business cards, for example. Don’t rely on everyone to have a smart phone or to understand what QR codes are, or how to use them. Technology is not natural for everyone.

  • Make them too small to be scan-able:

Yes this sounds a lot like Make them Big. Test your QR code before you send it out into the field. It may take a little extra time but it’s better than looking foolish with an unreadable code.

  • Count on them to “fix everything”

Like any marketing tool, it has a potential to be effective. It will not turn 6 months of inactivity into overnight success, nor will it be viable as “the only way” you market your business.

Hopefully these Do’s and Don’ts have helped you evaluate QR codes as an option to market your business. As always – you can rent a smart guy to get help building a marketing program that suits your needs.