Haven’t heard about QR codes? You will. QR (quick read) codes are similar to bar codes, but easily readable by mobile phones. They also contain significantly more information than bar codes.

I can hear the yawns now. You’re thinking, “So what? Who cares? How does this help me?”

It’s true that QR codes are not a magic pill that will rectify your call shortage. However, they do offer a way to leverage and extend your marketing in new ways.

QR codes allow you to pack a lot of information into a small space that can be instantly read by a mobile device. QR apps are available today for Androids, iPhones, Blackberries, and other smart phones. They will basically work with any mobile device equipped with a camera, which accounts for roughly 70% of all phones sold.

Where would it be beneficial to pack extra information in a limited space? How about a business card? By printing a QR code on the front or back of a business card, you can deliver more information than the card’s footprint allows. What would you add to the business card? Here are a few ideas:

• Make a special offer

• Tell your company story

• List all of the products and services

• Share customer testimonials

• Link to positive articles written about your company

• Link to an article about selecting a good contractor

• Link to your Facebook fan page

The ability to use a QR code to link to a web address offers the potential to promote a daily special. If you still have a yellow pages ad, put a QR code for the daily special. When call volume is light, you can make the daily special more lucrative. When call volume is heavy, reduce the offer or change it for major purchases. Adjust the offer based the weather or local events. Get creative.

If you don’t want to change a webpage, make the QR code a text message. You reply with a text containing the daily special.

The daily special can work with any permanent or semi-permanent advertising. This includes yellow pages, billboards and other outdoor advertising. Put one on the back of your truck for people stuck behind you at a traffic light.

QR codes offer a lot of potential for home shows. Hire someone to stand in front of the entrance wearing a sandwich board with a QR code. The message could invite them to your booth for a special offer or gift. It could direct them to an online map of the show, with your booth highlighted. You could ask a question, such as the following:

• Does anyone in your house suffer from allergies or asthma? If so, come see us at Booth 555.

• Do you run out of hot water? If so, we can solve the problem. Come see us at Booth 555.

• Are any rooms in your house too hot or cold when other rooms are comfortable? Don’t put up with it! Come see us at Booth 555 for a solution.

• Are there seniors or infants in your home? Are they at risk of scalding? We have the safe solution at Booth 555.

Because QR codes are easy for mobile devices to read, they can become an easy way to get your phone number into a prospect’s phone. Print the QR code for your phone number, above or below the number. The code serves as a form of speed dialing.

To increase your local search rankings, include a QR code on your invoice with a link to your Google Places page. In the copy besides the QR code, ask people to go to the site and write a review.

Dozens of free QR code generators have sprung up on the Internet. Simply enter the desired information and the QR code is created. Free QR code apps are also readily available for Androids, Blackberries, iPhones, and other smart phones.

QR code usage is growing, but still at the novelty stage for most people. This can work to the advantage of the contractors who are early adopters. Put a QR code on your trucks or a billboard and see what happens. People who recognize it are likely to scan it because it is still a novelty.

If you would rather sit back and wait, keep an eye out. If you start seeing QR codes in the newspaper and in your community, it’s time to reconsider.

This article is an excerpt from Matt Michel’s blog on the Comanche Marketing website. Read this story and many others at http://comanchemarketing.blogspot.com.

Matt Michel is the CEO of the Service Roundtable. He welcomes your social media connections on Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, his Comanche Marketing blog, or you can simply email him or call him at 877.262.3341.