Think about this: you’re at a conference, meeting dozens of new people each day and collecting piles of business cards. What if you could quickly and easily add your new connections’ contact information to your phone without having to keep track of every single card or manually enter each piece of info?
With QR codes, you can.
What’s a QR code? You’ve almost certainly seen one:
QR codes, or quick response codes, are nothing new. They’re basically bar codes that store information to be decoded by a special reader. Apps are available to download for most smartphones that can scan these codes and pull up the information instantly. Sometimes QR codes take you to a website or landing page, and sometimes they pull up a person’s contact information. Then there’s an option for you to add this person as a contact in your phone. It’s sort of like a virtual Rolodex.
This practice is fantastic in theory. It should be an easy way to collect and organize new contacts, perfect for trade shows and business conferences.
As I said, you can download an app in order to read QR codes, but most smartphones don’t come with a built-in QR scanner. That means that when you actually see a QR code you might want to scan, chances are you don’t have the app already installed. So you grab the card and think, I’ll install the app later. But later comes and goes and your pockets are stuffed with little paper squares.
Consumer Pulse surveyed a group of people in 2012 and found that almost 80% of respondents had never heard the term “QR Code.” However, when they were shown a picture of what a QR code looks like, 81% of people said they had seen one before. Even still, only half of the respondents said they had ever actually scanned a code.
So, what does this mean for QR codes on business cards?
I like the idea that you can have someone’s contact information at your fingertips without having to enter it manually. Deciding whether to include a code on your business card is about understanding the people you’ll be giving your card to. Do you think they would actually use it the way you intend, or do you think it will just be taking up space?
If you do decide to add a QR code to your business card, consider adding a call to action so that people will clearly understand what will happen when they do scan the card. For example, above the code you could add, “Add me to your contacts.” You could also point out the code when you hand someone your card and encourage them to add you.
Overall, I think that the trend of adding QR codes to business cards is here to stay. As people begin to see the value in easily adding lots of contact information to your phone, their usefulness will increase even more. Now, go download your QR scanning app so you’ll be prepared!