At some point, you've probably come across one of those funny little squares that look like something out of an early 80s video game. They're actually Quick Response (QR) codes, and they're fast becoming a popular marketing tool for many small businesses.

A QR code works much like a barcode in that it's able to store a lot of data in a small, two-dimensional space. But unlike barcodes, when a QR code is scanned it can trigger a specific action - like launch a website or downloadable file, or activate a phone or email function. You also need to have a special scanner application (which you'd download onto a smart phone) in order to access the information stored in the code.

The good news is, you don't have to be a tech whiz to create your own QR codes. There are a number of websites that will allow you generate a QR code that you can use in your marketing campaigns.

QR codes are a fun way to get people to interact with your brand. And what's really great is that you can use them pretty much anywhere. Business cards print advertising and brochures, receipts, signage, product packaging... some innovative marketers have even turned them into temporary tattoos!

If you really want to get maximum value from a QR code, have them link to something that's going to be useful to the customer and relevant to your product or service. For instance, if you're going to use them on your product packaging, have the QR code contain assembly instructions or directions on how best to use the product. Or maybe the QR code has a coupon offer so your customer can receive a discount on their next purchase.

The QR code is yet another valuable tool to add to your marketing arsenal - and the best part is, the possibilities it offers are endless.



What Next?

Mashable.com offers up more ideas on how small business owners can use QR codes.

Want to give QR codes a try? Download free software from pbSmart Codes here.

Learn about all the different ways Pitney Bowes can help you communicate better with your customers.

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