QR codes are everywhere at the moment – they have simplified Covid tracking check-ins, they allow us to display a menu, and to order on our phone …and advertising is increasingly utilising these little black and white boxes to get more information, unlock a deal or just take us to a website.
Whilst almost magical in their capabilities, they are not the locked hidden bastion of the computer techs and mega companies – in fact you can create them for free online to use anywhere.
It is rare for small business to have such equal footing with the big marketing budgets …and they don’t have to always link to a web site or social media page. QR codes can be created to pass on your contact details, send an email or SMS with predefined text, and (my favourite) give Wifi access. Associated with a website, they can link to a product, donation, form, booking calendar, online courses and/or events – the possibilities rely only upon your imagination.
Think of it as a printable link or button that connects the real world to the technological world.
If you would like me to sign your petition, pay an account, sign up for something – or you want to share a recipe or point of view – a QR Code is the way to do it offline. Being printable, you can print them at home, print them onto labels – or even have them printed on a shirt, a mug or mask through someone like RedBubble.
Here are some creative uses for a Free QR Code:
Let’s first look at some uses utilising URLs, or links to web pages.
Directions to somewhere:
If you want it make it easier for someone to find your business, or your house for a party, you can create a link that can be made into a QR Code. What is ingenious about this is the directions will be specifically based on wherever you scan it. If you scan it whilst on the main street of Mukinbudin, it will give you the directions from Shadbolt Street to your business.
Whether you utilise the map directions feature from above or not, a QR Code positioned at points of interest could link to a web page or video giving more information, like museum and zoo tours. This would be handy in a nursery for expanding on plant information, through to local walks. Combined with map codes, it could be a town tour or historical walk.
Daily specials, offers or coupons:
There is nothing worse than receiving 10,000 of your printed menus and a shop full of posters, only to have your supplier for your daily special call and tell you they can’t supply it. A QR code on your menu for specials means that you can change it on your website any time you like, and your printed matter remains current.
A photograph of your dish, inset with a code linking it your recipe is an elegant way to display it and promote traffic to your site.
In a brick and mortar business, feedback can be a process requiring too many steps for most people to bother. Simplify it with a QR Code leading to an online form, or create a code that sends an email or sms directly to you.
To get reviews:
Many people don’t realise that you can create a link that connects a peer review site (like Google) directly to your business reviews. It is equally effective as an online button, but superb on printed matter and on display in your business as a QR Code. This is for a customer…
If you already have a payment gateway or ecommerce on your site, a QR Code linking to a donations page is very straightforward. If not, don’t despair, PayPal enables you to create a Donation Button which can be made into a QR Code – here’s one I did as a test (all proceeds go to my waistline).
Do you have the burning need to right a wrong? A QR Code could simply go to an online form to collect names, or use the email or SMS Code (read below) to get people to send a pre-formatted email or SMS to your local member directly.
We already see businesses utilising QR Codes on packaging and printed flyers to expand on product information, origins, processes, standards and compliance.
I was caught short without cash for a busker and came up with the idea of the donate button QR Code, but if I was still playing, I would have one on my drum kit with a link to a Patreon page or music.
Someone suggested labels with QR Code links to instructions for your electrical items – I have some (fridge, printer, drone, camera, etc.) on my computer already, but this is a great way to have instant access to the answer to that flashing red light and black smoke.
As well as being able to connect the real world to a web page, there are other tricks in the free QR Code toolbox as well, including my favourite…
Don’t you love typing in WiFi passwords? …particularly the ones with lower case L’s (or is it a 1?) and flicking between upper case, lower case and numbers on a mobile phone. Save 15-minutes by printing a QR code that not only adds the password, but also selects the right WiFi network.
The V Card format has been around for a long time as a method of exchanging contact details between electronic devices. You can create a QR Code to automate the process from a sign, brochure, vehicle (if your driving is indeed exemplary) or even your business card – yes the information is already on it, but with a click of the button, it is in their phone.
Ask for feedback instantly transferred to your phone, like this? Predefined text helps your customer fill it out, as well as giving you an idea where the text originated.
Or …instead of those tear-off phone number tabs on the bottom of your community noticeboard posters – print an SMS QR Code instead.
Printed invites can include an email RSVP pre filled with the subject line and details, and just like SMS, pre defined text emails can also be used for feedback straight to your inbox.
Have you come up with any other ideas you could add?
Creating a QR Code
I just googled “Free QR Code Generator”, and selected the first one that wasn’t an ad.
This one… https://www.qr-code-generator.com/ …and it looks like this
Here it is step by step:
- If it’s a website link code you are after, select the URL button,
- In another browser tab open your website/google search/form page, etc.
- Highlight the address in the address bar at the top, right-click on it and copy,
- Return to the tab with your QR Code Generator, right-click and paste the address where it says Enter your website,
- …and then click on Download. A box comes up to get you to sign on for a free 14-day trial of the premium features* (but you don’t need them until you get really serious).
NOTE: leave the box there until the file downloads. Another tip is that I rename them, because I create so many I would get confused otherwise, and they don’t have labels in the raw form.
The rest of them – the Card, SMS, Email etc. are the same – fill them out, download and plaster them everywhere.
*They have a premium paid version which extends the possibilities even more, but I will let you read up all about that on their site if you are interested. I am not paid by them, it was just the first one that came up.
So that is the magic of QR Codes. I hope that it has your mind whirring at the possibilities like it has mine. Please feel free to ask questions – if you are thinking them, then someone else probably is too – and leave feedback. If you have a particular topic that seems a little confusing, please tell me and I will endeavour to answer them on this blog.