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Bar Code Yourself

April 1, 2012

QR code usage is on the rise at associations.

[*Here’s a great video explaining QR codes from Cnet:
http://cnettv.cnet.com/use-qr-codes/9742-1_53-50085349.html?tag=mncol;2n]

If you know what a QR code is, consider yourself tech-savvy. If you’ve actually used one, consider yourself ahead of the curve.

Regarded as the missing link between the real world and the Internet, these bar codes (which deliver up to 4,026 characters of text or link to a Web page when photographed by a mobile phone) are steadily becoming mainstream. There was a 1,200 percent jump in QR (Quick Response) code scanning from July to December 2010, according to data compiled by JumpScan, a QR code generator.

Think of QR codes as hyperlink Post-it notes that can be stuck to practically anything in the real world. (The new term is “object hyperlinking.”) For example, hold your mobile phone camera up to the QR code on the train platform to receive the exact location of your train. Photograph the QR code on a package at the supermarket to receive a recipe or a coupon. Snap the code on a business card and the contact information is automatically entered into your phone’s contact list.

A recent article on QR codes in USA Today cited the use of these codes in the real estate market: “Real estate agents are placing them on front lawn for-sale signs, enticing prospective buyers to hop out of their cars, scan the tags and receive all the listing information, including photos, to help them make a purchase decision.”

QR codes and associations

By using any of the free QR code generators (there are dozens online), associations can create bar codes to print on marketing flyers, magazine ads, Web pages, business cards, and more.

Gina Barajas, AE with the Lompoc Valley Association of REALTORS®, Calif., has been spreading the word to her members. “I have explained the value of using the QR codes and I’ll be generating flyers and other communications with QR codes.”

Katie Shotts, marketing and events manager with the Memphis Area Association of REALTORS®, uses the codes on printed material promoting events, which link to the Web page (and registration form) for the event.

The San Mateo County Association of REALTORS® has added QR codes as an event sponsorship benefit. “We’ll create a QR code for any of our sponsors that goes to their choice of landing page,” says Julie Ziemelis, the association’s communications director. “We put the QR code on a banner at all events to encourage REALTORS® to ask what QR codes are and then the affiliates can actually teach the REALTOR®.”

If you haven’t noticed codes yet on NAR materials, you will see them popping up there, too. The AE Professional Development department has started using them on its RCE marketing materials.

QR Code How-To

Step 1. Download a QR reader to your mobile phone (if it doesn’t already have one). Here are some app suggestions: for iPhone, QuickMark; for Android, Barcode Scanner; for Windows phones, MicrosoftTag; and for BlackBerry and Palm devices, NeoReader.*

Step 2. Start scanning. Practice on the codes in this issue of REALTOR® AE magazine.

Step 3. Generate your own codes at http://zxing.appspot.com/generator. Save the code as you would any photo. Post it on a Web page or for printed material make sure that it is print-quality size and in .eps format (you may need to use a photo editing program, such as Photoshop, to convert the image into an eps file).