Modern Marketing: QR Codes Burst onto the Scene

April 25, 2011 by   - () 2 Comments

Evanne Schmarder

A close relative to the ubiquitous UPC bar code, best known as the black and white bars scanned at almost every checkout counter in the U.S., QR codes are bursting onto the scene.

These 2-D bar codes had their genesis in Japan in 1994 and were created by Toyota subsidiary Denso-Wave to efficiently track and manage Toyota’s parts inventory.

QR Code sample

Today Quick Response (QR) codes are commonplace in Japan – even being used on grave markers – and are ready to sweep the marketing scene here in America.

These two-dimensional codes store information both vertically and horizontally, thus the 2-D moniker, as opposed to bar codes that only contain data horizontally – are like a UPC. This allows for a huge amount of information to be contained in a QR code – over 7,000 characters. Additionally, QR codes will work with up to 30% of the data obscured or missing. This allows you an excellent opportunity to drop your logo into the code using a photo-editing program such as Photoshop. If you are experimenting with branding your QR codes, make sure you test them prior to launching.

Businesses can create free QR codes directing users to a plethora of information. Smartphone users can download a free reader application (app), scan the code and be taken to the QR code’s designated link. For example, users can be directed to URLs and videos, download vCards, “Like” a Facebook page, receive a text coupon or offer instantly as they navigate your park, dealership or store, view a Google map, find geo-coordinates, connect with colleagues on LinkedIn, etc.

The possibilities are endless. As a marketer, certain QR codes can be tracked and even reused for new campaigns making them evergreen and measurable.

QR Codes Coming of Age

QR codes are popping up in a number of different scenarios. The “Living with Hurricanes: Katrina and Beyond” exhibit at the Louisiana State Museum is using QR codes throughout the show linking visitors to additional information as well as taking them to the exhibit’s Facebook page where they can interact and share their thoughts and experiences with others.

Businesses using Google’s Local Place Pages may receive a window sticker including a QR code for their Google Page that can provide a wealth of information and interactivity for consumers. Libraries across the nation are deploying QR code scavenger hunts to engage their patrons and create excitement about their “product.”

MGH, a large marketing firm in Maryland, recently released a QR code user study and found that 87% of those surveyed would use a QR code to get a coupon or discount, 63% to access additional information, 60% to make a purchase and 31% to interact with social media. The survey also showed that among those that have used QR codes, men and women are almost equally represented, 52% were between 35 and 54, 52% had a university education and 65% had an annual household income greater than $50,000.

Creating and Using QR Codes

As technology grows and QR codes begin to take hold in the public’s eye, their acceptance and use are expected to skyrocket. It’s your job as a digital marketer to offer relevant, interesting content. Provide a reward for scanning your code, offer information that makes their RV/camping experience better, make doing business with you easy, entice your customers and prospects to scan your QR codes again and again.

Help them understand what a QR code is and offer them direction in downloading a reader. Under your QR code you might add “download a free QR code reader at and scan this code.”

QR codes are free to create using what’s known as generators. While there are several to choose from, here are three popular and diverse QR code generators to take a look at:

  • • Kaywa QR Code:
  • • Kerem Erkan:
  • • QR Stuff:

Smartphone users can easily download a free reader to connect with your message and engage with your brand. Consider these QR code readers:

• BeeTagg:

• i-Nigma:

• Kaywa Reader:

Tracking QR codes gives you crucial information about how your campaign is performing as well as how your guests are adapting to this new technology. Several of the generators offer to provide this information – some at no cost, others for a small fee.

You can track URLs at no cost using the new URL shortener and QR code generator. Simply create a account, add .qr to a shortened link and you’ll receive a URL that is associated with a QR code. Click on the new URL and you’ll be taken to the page with the QR code to be copied and used in your marketing efforts. Google also offers a URL shortener and creates a QR code in the same few strokes, but the performance information through Google is public and available to everyone.

21 Hip QR Code Ideas

It’s a common lament from outdoor hospitality operators, kids (and many adults) and their tech devices are nearly inseparable. The genie is out of the bottle, so perhaps the old adage “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” applies. Here are 21 hip ways you might use QR codes to draw tech-savvy attention to your brand, bolster the image of outdoor vacations, encourage interaction and create buzz:

  • After-hours check-in: link to an after-hours, check-in page, instructions and/or an available sites map
  • Add to your print collateral: interact and create a call to action
  • Interactive site maps: help guests explore your park and your advertisers
  • Call: scanning the code could automatically call your res department
  • E-mail: scanning the code could automatically email your res department
  • Activity information: direct scanners to your activities page or videos of activities taking place at your park
  • Event registration: allow registration or sign up for events such as theme dinners or entertainment
  • Polls: ask your guests about their outdoor hospitality preferences, events that interest them, products to carry in your store, favorite café dishes, etc.
  • Fundraising: directly link to a donations page
  • Product/service information: link to information about cabins, rental RVs, bike or boat rentals, unique products and services
  • Scavenger hunts: scan a QR code for scavenger hunt clues
  • Nature trails or other learning adventures: educate and entertain with information from species of trees to why eggs are different colors to the history of the old barn on your property
  • E-mail subscriptions: link to your e-newsletter subscription page
  • Business cards: send folks to your website, LinkedIn profile, bio, etc.
  • Social media networking: amass Facebook “likes” and Twitter “followers”
  • Souvenir products: print QR codes on mugs, T-shirts, ball caps, blankets, etc.
  • Temporary tattoos: What kid doesn’t love temporary tattoos?
  • Survey request: link to your review page
  • RV and trade show booths: provide information about your park, area, attractions, specials, activities, etc.
  • To enter a drawing: scan this code and you may win a …
  • Conference name tags: networking with other conference attendees

With the rapid rise in digital marketing, QR codes may just emerge as a successful virtual tool that brings more awareness to your brand and interest in our industry. Starbuck’s, Best Buy, Ford, Pepsi and McDonald’s are counting on it. You in?

Evanne Schmarder is the creator of the RV industry’s first Digital Marketing Workshop – She’s also the owner of Roadabode Productions, outdoor hospitality communication consultants specializing in social media consultation, seminar facilitation and educational presentations, SEO copywriting, business writing services, newsletter production, and public relations and the producer and host of the RV Cooking Show. Contact Evanne at or (702) 460-9863 or visit her online at her B2B site- or her B2C site –


2 Responses to “Modern Marketing: QR Codes Burst onto the Scene”

  1. Lucas Hartford on April 25th, 2011 3:53 pm

    Nice article Evanne. We just started using the QR codes on Evergreen’s marketing materials and they work great. Good job on this topic!

  2. Evanne Schmarder on April 26th, 2011 11:27 am

    Thanks, Lucas, I appreciate the kind words and congratulations for grabbing the QR code bull by the horns so to speak. I look forward to seeing how Evergreen, often on the cutting edge in many, many ways, is putting these into play and hearing your success stories.

    I hope we’ll see more folks in our industry begin to take advantage of this relatively simply but extremely powerful digital marketing tool.