illustration of several phones reading a qr code


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Have you noticed these little guys are showing up in lots of places? It’s no wonder. Although they have been underused for years, they are little powerhouses. Used correctly they can drive interest in you, your products, and your business. Take a few minutes and learn about them!

“QR” by the way, stands for “Quick Response”.


Back in the mid-1990’s, barcodes had become all the rage. Stores were using them on all their merchandise. However, many users needed more than simple alpha-numeric coding. A developer of barcode readers, Denso Incorporated, was contacted with the request to devise a way to have a barcode that would hold more information. A team (actually just two people) at Denso Wave, a division of Denso Incorporated, set about the task. The genius who had the initial idea was Masahiro Hara.


Barcodes provide information in one dimension, i.e., one direction only. QR codes, on the other hand, allow for two-dimensional reading, both forward and backward. This allows for more information to be packed into a code.

Why are they squares? It was determined this was the best way for a reader to “see” the code quickly. Rather than making the code of dots, it also is a combination of square shapes, along with a carefully determined ratio of white-to-black patterns.


QR codes became all the rage. So much so, that by the second decade of the 2000’s, articles began appearing which eschewed the value of these little powerhouses. “They’re everywhere”, sniffed an article from LinkedIn, written in 2013 (Leslie Nienaber, Digital Marketing Sepcialist at Appris Retail, June 6, 2017. ). “People don’t want to install a code-scanning app on their phones-they either don’t want to take up space, or they are in too much of a hurry to stop and download it. This becomes even more of an issue in areas without free wifi. Add poor location into the equation, such as a code high up on a building or in an area with a lot of foot traffic, and people will find it impossible to even scan it properly.”

The article went on to push this poor little guy even further in to the trash can. C’mon Leslie! Where’s the love?

I have been a fan of and advocate for QR codes for well over 15 years. When I learned more about them, I realized their usefulness in my world of marketing consulting. QR code reading apps were available for free. The codes could be used to as a “director” to important information. In fact, my business cards have had a QR code on them for many years. Why? Because I learned that if you make it simple for people to do something, they will do it.

My wife was a mainframe programmer and for years resisted PC’s. “Toys”, she said. Then I won an iPad at a trade show and tentatively suggested she learn how to use it. After a few months she gave in, and we unboxed it. I had her go through the process of setting it up by herself as I looked on to coach her, and viola! She has been a techie ever since. Well, I knew my little friend the QR code had achieved “highly favored” status when one day we were in a garden center and my wife called me over. “Scan this QR code” she said. “It has the care instructions”. Wow. Just wow. I mentally patted my little friend on the head.


The pandemic of the last few years brought redemption to this little guy. “Touchless” became the watchword. But how? How do you curate a lot of information (think restaurant menus, for example), and then make it readily accessible? Our little friend was off on the side, flexing his muscles, saying “Me, me! Here I am!” And so the humble little QR code has again found new life.

One important factor is that we have moved beyond the flip-phone era. With practically everyone owning a smartphone with more capacity than the computers that landed the lunar module, QR code reading apps are available for free and make all this information readily accessible.


As I mentioned, I’ve used it on my business cards for years to direct people to my website. I’m about to have new cards made. I’m going to record a video about myself including information about my professional speaking, public speaking engagements, marketing consulting, business advisor, seminars, webinars, and podcasts. My friend, the QR code, will happily direct people to the archived video so they can watch it on their smartphones.

Just before, I told you about the QR codes at the garden center. Brilliant! How about in YOUR store? Product information, archived videos about the product, testimonial video from happy customers…the list is limited only by your imagination.

How do you produce these little powerhouses? Just Google QR Code generator. You will find sites that make it as easy as inputting your URL, and a QR code is generated as a jpg or png file. Just copy and paste into a document or sign.

They can also be cut from vinyl sign material, or digitally printed on a large decal. Placed in a store window, or on a tradesman’s truck, they can do their work unattended night and day.

What can you use your QR code for? I’d love to hear!

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