QR codes are an excellent way to not only embrace modern technology and make a move to support mobile platforms, but also to engage directly with your customers. Inside QR codes you can hide marketing slogans, brand messages, contest entry keys, audio and video segments, URLs or web addresses, and much more.
Customers can come along, scan the code and experience a level of interaction never seen before. It’s fun, interesting and in many ways a bit mysterious. Better yet, the codes can be used in an endless number of ways, in any market in existence.
What Are QR Codes?
Originally designed for the automotive industry to tag their products, similar to how a barcode works in retail, the QR code was eventually adopted by marketers. It quickly became popular, not only among advertisers and marketers but consumers as well. They loved the amount of engagement required to obtain information from a code.
It works like this: With a QR scanning app on their phones, consumers use their device’s camera to analyze the QR code in the wild. The code can be included on a table menu, billboard, advertising poster, a sticker placed on a wall or anywhere, really. Once scanned, the app will return the information obtained in the code. Often, this is either a marketing slogan, website address or URL or even contest entry key. Consumers will then use the obtained information as necessary.
Marketers and brands can get the information inside the code by using any number of QR conversion tools. It’s quick, easy to do and effective.
How to Use QR Codes
We’re going to take a quick look back at some of the more interesting ways QR codes were used in 2014. Hopefully, you can learn from some of these examples and come up with your own ideas for 2015, or you can recycle them for use with your own marketing campaign.
Andes Beer: Message in a Bottle
Everything is better with a beer in hand, right? That’s the same thought process the marketing team from Andes used with their “Message in a Bottle” campaign. What they did is pretty ingenious, yet remarkably simple.
Every Andes beer bottle includes a unique QR code on the label. As a consumer, you can scan the code on your bottle and leave a 20 second video message — a la a proprietary app similar to Snapchat — to be watched later. Then, you can leave the beer for the intended recipient or just put it back in the carton. Later, when someone gets ready to drink the beer, they can scan the code and watch the message you left.
Andes used some humorous ads to show off the feature, which works quite well. Customizable messages are nothing new, mind you, as we’ve seen similar ideas in the wild, such as Budweiser’s writeable labels on their Bud Light bottles. It works great and gets customers interested, entertained and interacting with one another all thanks to your brand.
Build a Talking Museum Using QR Codes
A small group of elementary faculty put together a talking museum of sorts using QR codes. They recorded the messages beforehand using a computer software application and then associated the audio files with custom QR codes. Then they mounted the QR codes near pieces of art students had created, and when visitors scanned the code they were given a brief lesson on each piece.
It’s a pretty unique and awesome idea, if we do say so. If you’d like to know exactly how they achieved this, head on over to the Interact Cafe post on the subject.
You could do something similar for your own brand in your home office, or even out in the wild with various marketing materials. Consider a marketing poster that includes a QR code on it, that when scanned will play an audio message, video or display a photo advertising your brand. Arguably one of the most of efficient ways to manage any marketing initiative involving QR codes / mobile reporting is with a content management system. A CMS allows us to easily manage QR codes as well as implement them across various mobile content areas, such as a blog, banner, header, etc. Think of any digital form your content may be seen – that’s exactly where you QR code integration may take form, so QR codes can be adjusted based on locations, times, devices, and mediums.
3D Printed QR Codes
Forget printing your QR codes on boring, flat surfaces. What if we told you that you could produce a physical, 3D model of any custom code? Sounds pretty cool, right?
You can take that 3D printed QR code and hang it on the wall outside your headquarters, in your office or even create a bunch of them to ship out to retailers. There is an endless list of possibilities of what you can do with these. Anything you can do with a traditional QR code, you can also do with a 3D printed one.
All you need in order to generate a 3D printed QR is a digital .jpg copy of your code. Once you have it, you can head on over to Embossify to convert your digital .jpg file into a usable .stl file, which is compatible with 3D printers. Don’t worry, Embossify will walk you through the entire process, and it’s pretty simple.
After, you’ll need to use a tool like FreeCAD to add a base to your QR code. Then you take the final .stl file and pop it into a 3D printer to create your physical copy. Once complete, you’ll get something that looks just like this.
It’s a fresh, and innovative way to use QR codes, at least until everyone starts doing it.
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About the author: Jesse Aaron is a community manager and freelance writer. He runs a blog and forums about social media marketing on Mashbout.