As I look around the world around me, whether that world is real or part of a wide web, I find myself seeing QR codes. It’s kind of like when you hear a word for the first time and find out its meaning. Suddenly that word is everywhere, used by everyone, and you were late to the party (I’m looking at you anthropomorphic). While most of the time the QR codes are in the places you might expect them, like menus and catalogues, every once in a while I see one that sticks out if not because I wouldn’t have thought to put one there, because of the targeted traffic you can get as a result of using QR codes in this way. Here are some of the best examples:
This might not be the most groundbreaking idea, but when I saw this at work, I thought “What a great idea!” We didn’t hire the kid who put it on his resume, but he did get an interview despite some reservations. Even though all this took was looking up a custom QR code generator, the thought process was that this candidate for the position was at the very least up-to-date on technology, and it can’t hurt to have someone like that. The code linked to a gallery of his previous work, and it got me thinking of all the ways someone could use QR codes to beef up their resume. Any digital media that represents you, whether you made it or not, will add personality to your resume, and make your resume memorable. Trust me, when you’ve already been through 30 resumes, 31 doesn’t have a great shot, so anything you can do to set yourself apart in case your resume is at the bottom of the pile is well worth your time. Knowing how to make a qr code might just get you employed!
Here’s the thing about putting a big ole QR code on a t-shirt… you better not be linking to the contact for your candle wick manufacturing company. I’ve seen online people with t-shirts that feature a big QR code, and in real life I saw a smaller one that was part of more information on the shirt. Either way, you are going after a specific audience here, and that was the first thing that struck me. While I wanted badly to scan this guy’s shirt, I didn’t have the guts to just walk up to him and scan him (not my type) but when I think of people who would have the guts, I think of young people on skateboards. That, combined with the fact that I just realized I could have been arrested for scanning that young man’s shirt if someone took it the wrong way, just made me feel really old.
3. Retail Clothing Stores
I might be one of those suckers born every minute, but I saw pretty much the coolest place to put a QR code. I wish I could say what store did this, but I asked if I could mention their name on my blog and was told no (I guess not everyone likes free publicity). Regardless, I was shopping in their not-so-surprisingly small store when I saw a QR code on many of their clothing displays. Apparently, despite the fact that they were a mom and pop shop, they knew someone who could develop apps because it took me to one that I can’t download any other way, and it blew me away (their developer must have the same marketing instincts as the store owners). What it did was to give you a picture of that article of clothing and allow you to paste it to a picture of yourself. For someone like me who ends up trying on things forever, this was perfect, and it got me out of the store much faster by not letting me waste my time.
This article inspired another one as I wrote it. Next week “5 of the Dumbest QR Code Uses EVER,” but you’ll have to wait for that gem of a QRticle (I’ll be here all week… tip your waitress).
I guess I’m lucky that I started a blog about Quick Response (QR) codes over anything else because it seems like everywhere I go I see them used in interesting ways. This gets me thinking of other interesting ways to use them and away we go. Over the weekend, I was out with friends for the first time in what feels like years (mostly it feels like this because it has actually been years since I had the time) and at the bar we saw QR codes on the menu. After explaining to my girlfriends what those weird little boxes were, and waiting for them to download QR code readers on their smartphones, we found out that the QR codes simply took you to a site with the ingredients and nutritional information of each drink. Kind of like what this guy’s talking about:
While the girls were pretty impressed with this technology, I wasn’t. It was pretty simple… just the result of the owner knowing where to find an online QR code generator, and it just didn’t seem like the most effective way to use what can be an extremely practical tech, and though I understand that not having this information on the menu allowed them to go for a very sleek aesthetic, I began to wonder how a restaurant could better use QR codes.
I don’t claim that some of these aren’t already happening somewhere, but after taking a few minutes with a pen and a bar napkin, these are the ideas I came up with.
The Ultimate Food Network
Never forget… I can make chicken parm. What I mean by that is, most restaurants seem to forget that many of the people who are sitting down at your restaurant can put sauce and cheese on a piece of breaded chicken… that’s not why they walked through the door. People eat out because they want something more. They want an experience, a certain ambiance, and they have decided the best place to find that is your restaurant.
Now that you have them in the seats, prove to them that they made the right decision. Ever wonder why the Food Network does so well? It’s not because people love to look at food, but rather that they love to watch food prepared in ways they can’t at home. So show off your head chef. Looking to push that meal that gives you the best return? Why not show how your chef makes it better than anyone in town? Just look up how to generate QR codes and you’re off. Combined with a knowledgeable wait staff, a multimedia dining experience can make more of a difference than all the dish descriptions in all the world.
There’s a place down the street from me that serves the same specials every day of the week. It’s one of my favorite places to eat, but I can tell you I won’t be coming in for the specials on Tuesdays and Wednesdays because I don’t like salmon or chicken wings. Usually this means I don’t even bother showing up. If the owner of this restaurant wants to get me to think about his restaurant on the days that don’t feature something we would eat, he could make us come in, sit down, and have to scan the menu to find out what the special is. If it’s something I’m not all that interested in, there’s little chance I’m leaving… mostly because I’ve never been one to turn down a burger if someone else is going to cook it for me.
All Press is QR Press
We’ve all been to places that take great pride in the press they’ve gotten over the years. They frame newspaper clippings and hang them on the walls to impress their customers, and that’s all well and good. It shows pride in your product, and no one’s going to begrudge you that. However, I haven’t read a newspaper in about 5 years and I can honestly say I don’t know anyone who still has a newspaper delivered to their door that is under the age of 45.
If restaurants want to take advantage of the effects of good press, they have to get with the times, and there is no better way to do it than with QR codes (and the best part is, most QR code sites have free QR code generators). Trying to impress the customers you already have? Put a QR code linking to that good online review right on the menu. Looking to get more people in the door? Put a QR code on your advertisements.
Customer Feedback Cards are Dead
Finally, customer feedback cards are great. A lot of people, thankfully, are too nice to say anything when their food is a little subpar. While I can say from experience that the restaurant staff appreciates this, it doesn’t allow the restaurant to make the subtle changes needed to achieve at the next level. Rather than asking people to go online and fill out a survey, why not digitize the old style of customer feedback cards. Just find the best QR code generator and put a QR code on the receipt that takes them to a simple survey or long-form cards. Strangely, you have a better shot than those annoying “Fill this out and win $1,000.” Does anyone actually fill out those things?
3 Fun Ways to Use QR Codes with Kids
When I was a kid, I don’t remember my mother particularly caring if I liked what she liked. Of course, I would have had to be into Matlock and chain smoking, but it didn’t seem to bother her that I didn’t like what interested her. This is one of the many ways we are different. I always try to get my boys, Josh, 6, and Max, 3, interested in what I like. This wasn’t too tough when it came to baking and being outdoors, but QR codes are another matter. Josh thinks they’re cool for about 30 seconds (which is pretty good for him), but Max, understandably, couldn’t care less. This got me thinking, though:
How can kids use Quick Response (QR) codes?
The things are pretty versatile and people are finding new ways to use them all the time. I even read about people who put a QR code on a freakin’ wedding cake, so why can’t they be used with kids too (QR codes… not wedding cakes)? After scouring the Internet for as long as the kids would allow (see Josh’s attention span above) I came up with three things I plan on using to continue in my sad desperate attempt to have my interests validated by people who, not too long ago, couldn’t have spelled QR.
School is COOL(ish)!
Okay, I know I have no control over this one, but what the hey. There are teachers who actually use QR codes in the classroom as a way to keep kids engaged, which I imagine is at least half the battle. Sure, the teacher might be able to write the homework on the board, but what if the homework was scannable. I admit it would make little difference to me, but considering how eager Josh and Max are to use my iPhone most nights, I know it would make a difference to them. While neither of them have smartphones yet (I’m crazy about the boys, but not crazy enough) older kids might get a kick out of this, so it might be worth bringing up at the next parent-teacher conference.
In an effort to avoid boasting about the exceedingly clever title of this section, I’ll dive right in. Josh’s third birthday was the first that included inviting friends from daycare. Being the proud mama I am, I went out and got the most ridiculously overpriced birthday invitations in all of Boston. They were pop-up, and when you opened them they played the Happy Birthday Song and glitter went everywhere. They were… to put it mildly… freakin’ awesome… but Mark, my husband, who almost had to get a second job to pay for the things, made me solemnly swear never to do that again. Ever since, we have printed our own cards, and for Max’s birthday this year we added QR codes. You can never say enough in the invitation, so we put the basics on the card and on the back printed a QR code and a url for those who didn’t have a smart phone. On a basic WordPress blog, we put the information about theme and food and other stuff on there (like asking the parents to email if their kids had allergies… another lesson learned from that first party). Don’t worry if you don’t know how to generate QR codes, it’s simple… just look up “online QR code generator” and go from there. And remember… the best QR code generator is a free QR code generator. Pretty awesome, if I do say so myself, and Josh thinks it makes him look cool too.
Skanz Jr Bandz
Hey! Remember MySpace? Remember Silly Bandz? Imagine if they had a baby! After you get done screaming, go ahead and read on.
MySpace was cool in its day, until its thunder was stolen by Facebook. Now, I admit I haven’t signed into my MySpace since I last cried over the senseless murder of Hedwig (if you get that, you get me) but the one thing I remember it having over Facebook was the ability to customize. My background, my All About Me section, everything right down to the Harry Potter theme music playing in the background, it was all me… the apparently sad, pathetic me… but still me.
Skanz Jr Bandz takes the idea of MySpace and makes it a little more kid friendly. Basically, they are bracelets with unique QR codes on them, and at 10 bucks a pop they’re significantly less expensive than Silly Bandz (God help the people who invented those things if I ever meet them). Kids get a code to put into the Skanz Jr site, and then they are able to customize their own site for anyone who scans their bracelet. And don’t worry, the site doesn’t give kids spots to put any personal information up. Just kid stuff like favorite foods and music. The kids can go to town and be as creative as they want, and since you can only access the site by scanning the code, it encourages them to do the crazy thing their mom used to do… ya know… go outside and talk to other kids.
And here’s an added bonus. Here’s a link to a lady who put a QR code on a cake! Might only interest one of you… but I like to add recipes and stuff to my posts. And below… a video of a bakery that uses QR codes on their cakes.
Spread the love (and the frosting)!
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