June 1st - 2011

WIRED OFFICE: Secret codes or marketing tool Have you seen any white squares containing black dots and geometric lines lately?

Materializing with increasing frequency in magazines and on flyers, business cards, billboard ads and websites, these boxes with funky designs are known as Quick Response or QR codes.

QR code

QR codeMaterializing with increasing frequency in magazines and on flyers, business cards, billboard ads and websites, these boxes with funky designs are known as Quick Response or QR codes. The two-dimensional bar codes are readable by dedicated QR barcode readers and smartphones with built-in cameras. The information encoded can be text, a URL (Uniform Resource Locator – the address of a web page) or other data.

QR codes originated in Japan in 1994 when Denso-Wave, a subsidiary of Toyota, began using them to track vehicle parts. They were called Quick Response codes, since they were to be decoded at high speed electronically.

After a while, companies thought of new ways to use QR codes. The technology took off in Japan and South Korea. North America has been slower to adopt their use.

To read a QR code, you will need a smartphone with a QR code reader app to decode the code. These apps (for all platforms – Blackberry, iPhone and Android) can be downloaded for free from various sites including www.scanlife.com. Use your phone’s camera to scan the QR code image to display text, contact information, or open a web page in your phone's browser. You will also need a data connection to view the web from your mobile. As exciting as the potential of these codes can be, QR codes are merely an interface to a website.

QR codes have become a marketing tool. You can generate and print your own QR codes for others to scan and use by visiting one of several free QR code generating websites. Locate one on the internet by searching for qr code generator. A couple of sites that allow you to embed a URL, text or a phone number are: http://qrcode.kaywa.com/ and http://delivr.com/qr-code-generator. Google’s http://goo.gl/ allows you to quickly convert any URL into a QR code, and tracks the number of scans.

When using QR codes to direct people to a web page, make sure the web page is optimized for viewing on a mobile device. If using video, upload the video to YouTube (which is optimized for mobile) and use the resulting URL in your QR code. Provide the URL in small print below the code in case those who see your code aren’t able to read it. This way you provide an alternate route to your destination, and potential clients aren’t left out.

Where can you put QR codes? Business cards (front or back) are a good place to put a QR code. But before you run out to get new cards printed, figure out the destination for those who scan the code. You don’t want to bring them to a web page that merely replicates information already on your card. Take them to a web page on your site with content of interest (if your site has been optimized for mobile), a video you have created and uploaded to YouTube, or your blog. The content can change, but the URL embedded in your QR code can remain static.

QR codes on for sale signs outside of homes can provide potential buyers passing by with information about the house such as the number of bedrooms or bathrooms, square feet and asking price. Take an environment-friendly (and cost-effective) approach and print QR codes as stickers which you can attach to your signs. When the deal is complete, remove the sticker and reuse the sign. The QR code can take consumers to the listing on REALTOR.ca, a photo or video tour of the property, or other information about the listing that you may have on your site.

Add a QR code to your property info sheets or direct mail flyers. Like for sale signs, the code destinations can be the listing on REALTOR.ca, a photo or video tour of the property, or other information you have about the listing on your site. With “take-away” paper, people can view at their leisure. And with the QR code’s destination written in text below the code, those who don’t have the required tools to view it on the go can enter the URL in their computer’s browser.

It is still “early days” for QR codes as marketing tools. Because the codes rely on users who possess a smartphone with a camera, mobile web access and a QR code reader installed to be able to read the code, not all consumers will be able to take advantage of this technology. Thus, you should always post the code’s destination URL in text along with the code.

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For more information contact

Ontario Real Estate Association

Jean-Adrien Delicano

Manager, Media Relations

JeanAdrienD@orea.com

416-445-9910 ext. 246