Are QR Codes Worthy of the Hype?

Services for Real Estate Pros with Marketing with Kate

Over the past week I have read no less than ten separate blog posts about QR codes.

It seems that these little codes are supposed to free us from the chains that bind us and somehow make our contact and marketing information fly into the hands of ready and waiting clients.

I've read about people wanting to replace fliers and even about replacing business cards with QR Codes.

There is no questoin that QR codes offer some unique and exciting marketing opportunities. That said, the United States buyer has to adopt the technology before it reaches it's full potential here in the US. The QR code was first adopted in 1994. It is widely accepted in Europe and Japan, but most US buyers don't have the software embedded in their phones - yet! While that is changing quickly in the US, we are not there - YET.

What Are QR Codes:

QR Codes stands for Quick Response meaning that a client can snap a picture of the code and be quickly be given more information about a product or topic. They allow everyday things such as business cards and signs to hyper-link to a website where more information can be provided. QR Codes can hold up to 7000 characters (both vertically and horizontally) so they are powerful marketing tools.

It's important to know that not all US phones have cameras and most are still not embedded with the necessary software that allows users to read the codes. In our 2010 marketing environment, users have to download an app that allows them read the codes. This means that the user has to adopt the technology. In the next few years this will change. Phones will come pre-loaded with QR readers and allow for easier adoption. Until that happens marketers need to blend old technology with new technology. We cannot risk ignoring clients who have not yet adopted the technology.

Some do's and don's on using QR Codes:

  • DO implement and incorporte the QR code into your marketing.
  • DO be an early adopter
  • DO educate the consumer on the QR codes value and how it will help them.
  • DO include information and call to action information in your QR Codes - aka add value.
  • DON'T replace what we know works with a technoligy that is still in it's infancy.
Remember the saying, make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold. Those fliers and business cards are still gold, don't throw them away just yet.


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I am Kate Bourland. I help people like you get out of debt. Debt Settlement, Mortgage Acceleration, and practical suggestions for eliminating debt. Call for a Free Debt Evaluation.

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Comments (97)

Cynthia Larsen
Cotati, CA
Independent Broker In Sonoma County, CA

As usual, the U.S. is slow to pick up on something that has been widely accepted overseas. Sure, QR codes are fun, but they will never replace a working phone number. IMHO.

Nov 08, 2010 03:34 AM
Daniel Andrade
Century 21 My Real Estate - Los Angeles, CA
Friendly Los Angeles Realtor

I'm glad you have a more realistic view of QR codes. I read about agents wanting to drop everything and wanting to just put one big QR code on the house instead of everything else. It's an add-on to our marketing, an extra tool that we can offer our sellers

I've been using them on my flyers for about 2 months now and I have not received a single click from them. I'm sure one day, I'll get one buyer from it but I'm not holding my breath

It is very early technology and I don't think it will ever be more than a small percentage of higher end techie buyers using it. You can say that buyers brace technology but how many of you were really actiive in "Second Life" or know what that is? I still have buyers that don't even use email

Nov 08, 2010 08:08 AM
Kate Bourland
Marketing with Kate - Redding, CA
Onlilne Marketing Mobile Marketing

Karen, QR Codes have value, it just seems like they are being given too much attention right now.

TY, exactly, QR codes are a tool or a tactical marketing position, nothing more, nothing less.

Trish, that's a funny story.  I think that the learning curve will ramp up but I guess that is't 12 - 24 months before we start seeing recognition and ROI on time and investment.

Chery, thanks.  I'll be writing a series on them. Clearly they are hot hot hot.

Yes Lori, I took a day off, my bad.  I completely agree with, learn now but don't abandon what you know works.

Gordon, I missed that insert.  I'll have to go check it out.

Teresa, you bring up a good point.  It is predicted that by 2013 a good 50 - 75% of us will use our phones to access the internet as a standard.  The world is changing again.

Cynthia.   I think that part of the reason we are slower to take things up is because our infrastructure is better.  My brother just moved to Europe and things that we take for granted they don't have so they adapted faster.

Daniel, that kind of sediment is what prompted this post.  It's too early to drop everything in lieu of QR Codes.  QR codes a simply a tool, they are not a silver bullet.

Nov 08, 2010 10:51 AM
John Bunka - Colorado Springs, CO - WordPress for Real Estate

So true! It's important to remember that QR Codes are only a small piece to the very large marketing/technology puzzle!

Nov 08, 2010 10:59 AM
Brad Rachielles
CENTURY 21 Peak, Ca BRE# 01489453 - Upland, CA

So, what are you affixing the QR code to, and where does it take the user?

Nov 08, 2010 01:09 PM
Jen Edwards
RE/MAX Unlimited - Ponte Vedra Beach, FL
Broker Associate

Sounds like TMI to me!

Nov 09, 2010 01:03 AM
Sandy McAlpine
Search Lake Norman Homes For Sale - Lake Norman NC

My client I just met yesterday still has an old motorola flip phone (no camera) and he said as long as it still works he is not replacing it. So, I agree, don't replace, adopt.

Nov 09, 2010 03:47 AM
"The Lovely Wife" (Broker Bryantnulls Wife) The One And Only TLW.
President-Tutas Towne Realty, Inc. - Kissimmee, FL

Hi Kate...

In our market the Consumer hasn't caught on yet. They are just now starting to use FB. Throwing bar codes at them right now doesn't make sense. I'm sure there will come a point when it does. For now I'm delighted to say we can put this on a to do list and leave it to simmer :)

Besides, I'd rather not just pretend to be savy. You either are or you're not :)


Nov 10, 2010 03:53 AM
"The Lovely Wife" (Broker Bryantnulls Wife) The One And Only TLW.
President-Tutas Towne Realty, Inc. - Kissimmee, FL

Talking houses?

Lol. We used to use those. We were pioneers in our market with our "This Message Will Self Destruct" promo ad :)


Nov 10, 2010 03:56 AM
Tom Waite
Thomas Waite Real Estate Broker - Cypress, CA
So Cal-Apartment Bldg Investments

QR Codes will be more powerful than the soon as the phones work with them.

Japan is ahead of us in many things.

Their Great Recession started in 1993 and still continues to this day because...

The had a Japanese Bernanke!


Nov 10, 2010 04:57 AM
Liz Piazza
Kissinger Bigatel & Brower - State College, PA

Are QR codes worthy of the hype you ask?  YES! They are terrific and have endless possible uses in marketing.  My brokerage, Kissinger Bigatel & Brower, State College, PA, has started incorporating them in our marketing of both our own website, and more importantly of marketing our listings. I prefer the Microsoft version (need the app because they always scan flawlessly. I agree that you need to continue with other traditional venues of marketing, but this new tool is too cool to ignore. 

Nov 10, 2010 02:37 PM
Lane Bailey
Century 21 Results Realty - Suwanee, GA
Realtor & Car Guy

Good strategy to incorporate them now... even if TLW doesn't agree.  I wouldn't kill myself getting them on older materials, but start rotating them into new printings...

Nov 10, 2010 03:42 PM
Karen Anne Stone
New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County - Fort Worth, TX
Fort Worth Real Estate

Lane:  I might be careful talking like that.  I think she might have a shotgun with your name on it.  <smile>

Nov 10, 2010 04:22 PM
Kate Bourland
Marketing with Kate - Redding, CA
Onlilne Marketing Mobile Marketing

This is the most amazing dialog.  Thanks again to everyone who has made comments.  It's not surprising that the more urban markets are having greater success with QR codes.  No question that they are here to stay.

Nov 10, 2010 06:30 PM
Kate Bourland
Marketing with Kate - Redding, CA
Onlilne Marketing Mobile Marketing

@Karen, no shotguns.  I embrace this technology, just don't think that we are ready to replace "old school" stuff like brochures and fliers.  Maybe in a year or so, depending on the market.

Nov 10, 2010 06:37 PM
Michael Delaware
North Sky Realty LLC - Battle Creek, MI

I think QR codes will take awhile to catch on with the public.  It will be like when URL's began to be broadly used in advertising in the late 90's.  Most people had no clue what they were.  Now they are as common as a toll free number, and often used instead of one in advertising nationally.

Nov 14, 2010 06:57 AM
Lisa Broadwater
Cascade Sotheby's International Realty - Sisters, OR
GRI, CDPE - Bend, Sisters, Tumalo, Redmond

Thanks for the heads-up on a technology that definitely hasn't hit my mountain town of 2,000 yet. But now I'll be prepared when it does get here. Because I have no doubt it WILL get here, probably sooner than I think.

Nov 15, 2010 11:53 AM
Dustin McClure
Mossy Oak Properties Outdoor Realty - Mooresville, NC

It will be at least 5 years before this technology takes off enough to make it worth spending time and effort on it.

Nov 16, 2010 03:41 AM
Kay Horacefield
UTR-Texas Realtors - Clear Lake City, TX
Houston-Clear Lake City-League City, TX

You are correct in my thinking.  Always learn from the new and embrace it and at tthe same time "don't throw the baby out with the wash." 

Nov 17, 2010 01:59 AM
Not a real person
San Diego, CA

It won’t be long and we’ll all be coded and microchipped, all in the name of public safety and security.

Nov 18, 2010 01:02 PM

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