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QR Codes

What are they?
QR or Quick Response codes are barcodes used to convey information with the click of an image through cell phones that are enabled with downloaded applications.

Why get into QR Codes?
No one can doubt that the mobile market is increasing every day and along with this comes the opportunity for mobile marketing. Although QR codes have been popular in other parts of the word it is only recently that these codes have found favor in the United States.

How they are being used today and what uses do we see in the future?
Progressive marketing companies have already been using QR codes in their campaigns. For example in July 2010 Calvin Kline Jeans used a QR code in their “Get It Uncensored” campaign with outdoor advertising leading users to a racy video. Remember when we thought the 1980’s Brook Shields television ads were racy? Well, here is the new racy delivered in the new media.

Recently some large companies have been jumping on board; Macy’s, Target, REI, JC Penney and Best Buy to name a few.

The uses for QR codes are endless; from delivering basic contact information to landing users on web pages for e-commerce check out to manufacturers offering warranties and support information.

What about small businesses?
The simplicity, ease of use and low-to-no cost of QR codes makes the barrier to entry very low.

One of the largest industries to acquire this form of marketing are real estate agents. If you have shopped for a home lately you might have seen QR codes on realty sales signs posted in front of houses. The codes are linked to mobile friendly web pages or videos about the home. This creates a perfect way for home shoppers to jump out of the car take a photo then compare homes at their leisure.

Speed of acquisition of the technology
If you thought twitter was a quick explosion to market, my guess is that QR codes will be fairly close. The uses for QR codes are endless and will – in my opinion - affect every aspect of business, from marketing to customer support.

Will they work for your business?
QR codes will not only work for your businesses but will also work for personal contacts as well. For example, you could create a QR Code for yourself, print it on a tee shirt, coffee mug or sticker and link the code to your facebook page. Another way to get a date?

QR Codes for the Beauty Industry
Since Searchlight Designs has a lot of beauty industry clients let’s use some examples of how the beauty industry can take advantage QR codes.

QR codes for beauty product manufactures
Beauty product manufacturers can place QR Codes into their packaging design so professionals and consumers can understand the product, sign up for e-promotions, or receive tips on methods of use. The landing page of the QR code should be a simple mobile friendly page and can contain product fact sheets or even video tips on styling and use of the product. It is all about keeping customers engaged in every distribution channel, from manufacturing to salons and spas.

QR codes for salons and spas
Salons can use QR codes for coupons, discounts, promotions and services menus.

If your salon is located on a busy street front, placing a QR code on your window and linking it to a web page with your services list can let passersby check out your menu before or after hours.

To get the most out of print advertisement add a QR code to the print ad and link it to a web page for a coupon. This way when you view the analytics of the coupon page you can track the brand value of the ad and once the customers come in and use the QR code coupon in person, the return on investment can be further tracked.

Another advantage to linking QR codes with coupons is that you open up a new market. Younger audiences who wouldn't think about clipping traditional coupons don’t seem to mind using them in “their” media – mobile phones.

QR codes for cosmetology schools
Cosmetology schools can use QR codes on their “thank you” confirmation page after a school tour submission. This enables the prospect to take a photo of the QR code from the computer screen and populate their phone with the school’s address and a link to Google maps.

Adding a QR code to a billboard ad or bus station advertisement can be a great way to interact with prospective students waiting for transportation or getting a lift somewhere.

Cosmetology schools located near large universities can increase the school’s salon guests by using a QR Code on outdoor advertisement at or near the university. The QR code can link to a web page with a special promotion exclusively for university students.

QR codes for beauty trade shows
QR codes can be advantageous to everyone at a trade show – vendors, sponsors, speakers, event planners and attendees.

Event planners can use QR codes to post the schedule of events and show floor maps at registration. This frees up printing heavy and costly conference journals, saving money for event organizers and making room in attendees’ bags for trade show purchases.

To engage attendees further QR codes can be used for fun scavenger hunts. Codes can be placed all around the session and exhibitor halls with clues. The first to reach the objective wins a prize.

Vendors and sponsors can use QR codes on trade show displays linking attendees to web pages with information about the product or service. To keep costs down the same URL can be used if the message needs to be changed. No reprinting costs.

And finally the simplest use of QR codes is for contact information. No more lost business cards.

The best part of QR codes is that they are free to obtain, have unlimited uses and can be used to track return on investment.

If you have been using QR codes in a unique way and would like to share, please feel free to email me at

Dilsah Tercanli, Director of Marketing Strategies for Searchlight Designs
Posted April 29th, 2011