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QR Code Ideas for Small Business and Non-profits

Page updated September 25, 2018

The QR code is the most significant tool developed in a long time and just may point the way for print media to reinvent themselves. There are plenty of creative ideas for how businesses, non-profits and municipalities can use QR codes to market and communicate themselves better to their stakeholders.

The original iteration of the QR Code got off to a slow, painful beginning since it was way ahead of its' time. At the beginning for it to be truly effective, cell phones had to be ubiquitous, nearly everyone had to have one. Also, the phones originally available didn't automatically come with the application to read the codes, and the phone cameras weren't of sufficient quality to read a code from more than a couple of feet away.

That has all changed and now the QR code is finding its' place in everyday life.

There are also variations of QR codes available today. One of the most interesting is ZapWorks. Download the free reader app by clicking on the store link just below the code.

Get the ZapWorks Android app here at Google Play.

Or, get the Apple version from the App Store.

My thanks to for the bulk of these ideas, :

1. Coupons - “Virtual” coupons are a quick way to offer both online and offline discounts or rewards. Include a QR Code on your printed ad and your customers simply “scan and click” to take advantage of the offer

2.Website – Use them to drive traffic to your website. Put the code on all marketing materials in order to make it easier for your mobile customers to keep in touch.

3.Business Card – This should be obvious.

4.Travel / Maps – Make it easy for your customers and prospects to get to your location. Include a QR code that links to an online map and they'll be at your door in no time.

5.Personalized URLs (landing pages)- Include this code in individual mailing pieces to point to custom landing pages for direct action by your customer.

6.Simplify online ordering – Use them in catalogs, menus, price lists and other promotional materials and your customers will scan, click and order online.

7.Calendar schedules - No need to miss an appointment again. Use one to link schedules, transit timetables, event sessions, etc., directly to your mobile phone calendar.

8.Branded marketing materials – Quick Response codes give your customers and prospects real world hyperlinks that connect your printed materials with online contents such as video, audio, special landing pages and much more.

9.Bus stop, train station, subway station, and airport signage – Use them on signage to link travelers with appropriate content, whether product or service information, or up-to-date schedules, delay information or any other pertinent travel information or advisories.

10.Post next to paintings or displays in museums – The code links to extended information such as, more info on the artist, the time period, in depth information of any kind. The code can also include links to other works by the artist, related artists or even to the museum shop to buy a poster or other related materials.

11.Historical sites and nature trails – Post the codes to link to video or other extended information for the specific location at the site.

12.Video kiosks – QR codes can appear as people interact with your kiosk, whether at the mall or at your place of business.

13.Realtors can post them on for sale signs – The code can link to the complete sales data sheet as well as a video walk thru.

14.Email newsletter signups – Build subscriber base by providing quicklinks to subscriber signup forms.

15.E-learning – The code can generate an email that starts an autoresponder, sending periodic emails with lessons and related information.

16.Post next to or on packaged goods or foods in groceries – Provide shoppers quick access to nutritional information, recipes, or special offers.

17.Onsite mobile payments – Already used by Starbucks and others, it becomes a mobile credit card. Scan the code generated on your smartphone at checkout and go on your way. This is growing in popularity.

18.Conference signage and name tags – Include with conference event room signs to link to presenters bio, time of presentation and room still available including the ability to register for the session on line. Incorporated on name tags as a type of mobile business card.

19.Interactive maps – Check out an innovative use by . Town Graphics in Seattle

20. Newspaper and magazine articles – Use to link to more robust material such as video, audio interviews, extended documentation or any other pertinent information readers may wish to pursue. This could be a turning point for print media to reinvent themselves.

21.Use on building permits – This is already in use in NYC. Read about it here.

22.Bars, clubs or any other music venue – Extend point of sale presence by projecting a QR code for each individual song as it's playing. Audience members who want to buy the particular song can simply click on the code and make their purchase immediately.

23.On the back of tractor trailers, roadside signs and billboards - Any number of messages can be delivered. The negative with this is the distraction factor which can be dangerous if the driver is doing the code reading.

24.Use on invitations – No need for an RSVP card, just click and confirm.

25.Trade show drawing – Instead of dropping a business card in a fish bowl, booths win because they'll get all the pertinent information by scanning the code on the attendees name tag. The event managers could then give prizes to the attendees who get scanned the most.

26.Encourage community feedback - The lbrary in Groton CT provides a good example.

27.Include in TV ads to make them interactive - If this example from AXA doesn't get your creative juices flowing, nothing will!

28. An example used by Chase Bank on their statement envelopes.

While we're on a creative spree, try some of these ideas

1.On cocktail napkins – The code could link to the club's site, a beverage site, or even a networking site to connect with other customers who frequent this location.

2.Movie posters – Link to teaser clips.

3.Wrapping paper – This is already being done by one company with unique videos attached to QR codes.  

4.On a human billboard – Sandwich boards, Tshirts, hats; you name it.

5.On the bottom of flip flops – 3-D impression will be left in the sand and readable with the phone app.

6.On coffee cups or beer mugs -

7.How about wallpaper? - You think I'm kidding? Talk about thinking outside the box. Encourage people to sign a petition – See the BP petition.

8.As a temporary tattoo – Link to your Facebook or Twitter account.

9.On the safety bar ads on ski chair lifts – How's this one for thinking outside the box?

10.On jewelry – Numerous examples. Here is one example.

11. Write in calamari ink on dinner plates – You want innovation?  

If you want to continue this discussion, go to the Mobile Marketing page

Have a question? Contact us.

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