Using QR Codes to Enhance Your Events

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Christopher Lower
Minnesota Meetings + Events
Fall 2011

Quick Response, or QR codes, are popping up in all sorts of places: newspapers, magazines, billboards, drink coasters and even on the walls of restrooms. What started as a simple bar code stamp to track inventory parts for the auto industry is sweeping through many other industries as a tool for marketing, advertising, promotion and sales.

Sadly, many QR codes lead to material that is not very unique and engaging of the audience; more often than not, they lead to an advertisement.

If QR codes are done well-with creative applications, content and engaging materials-then they can drive the success of your desired business outcomes. This holds especially true for trade shows and events. Here are five unique ways to integrate QR codes into your trade show or event:

1. Pre-registration, registration, and selling tickets
QR codes can link users directly to a landing page or online target of your choice. Think of it as a shortcut, taking the user directly to content they are interested in. With a QR code going directly to a registration page, users won’t get lost on your site as they try to navigate around to the desired page. You can lead them to sign up pages, information on the show/event, e-commerce pages so they can buy tickets and so on.

2. Link to calendars and schedules
QR codes can link users directly to the speaker track, schedule, itinerary, agenda, or calendar you create for the event. This can even be leveraged for post show/event contact with the attendees. If you keep an up-to-date calendar of future events and use a QR code as a shortcut to bring people directly to the calendar page, you are creating opportunities for people to reconnect with you after the event.

3. VIP event invites
If you are sponsoring a side or VIP event, QR codes can help link the VIPs to a landing page that contains the info or password on how to get into the private event.

4. Integrating with other social media tools
QR codes can link directly to a venue check in page on sites like Foursquare, Gowalla, SCVNGR or Loopt. You can leverage the marketing power of Foursquare, Facebook and Twitter by having attendees click on a code that takes them to those pages.

6. Trade show swag and giveaways
Instead of the branded jump drives, pens and sticky notes, why not use QR codes creatively to promote your business. QR codes can be on stickers, reuseable tote bags, temporary tattoos and on almost anything you can think of.

Christopher Lower is co-owner of Sterling Cross Communications, a PR, social media, marketing and web design firm in Minneapolis and author of Checking into Foursquare - Strategies for Retail and Restaurant Marketing with Social Media.

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