rmQRLast week I wrote about how to use QR codes for audience development in your event marketing programs. QR (Quick Response) codes are like barcodes in that they carry data and can be scanned. But they’re an improvement because the second dimension allows them to carry more data and – more importantly – many smartphones have the capacity to use the built-in camera as a scanner. Launch a QR scanning app in your phone, point it at a QR code and see what happens. Some QR codes carry a URL and automatically launch your phone’s browser and point it at a website. Others deliver a message to your phone’s screen. You can also use a QR code to send a text message to a pre-determined recipient. I’ll stop there because you’re a marketer and therefore probably no longer paying attention to what you’re reading, dreaming instead of all the ways you can use QR codes for your own purposes.

The big breakthrough facilitated by QR codes is their ability to bring offline people online, or to deliver digital content in an analog environment. A QR code at a bus stop might deliver GPS information on the bus you’re waiting for, or a code next to a stereo receiver in the electronics store might pull up press and consumer reviews of the product. Wherever you have people in a physical space to whom you’d like to deliver targeted content, QR codes can offer some innovative solutions.

People in a physical space to whom you’d like to deliver content? That sounds an awful lot like a conference or trade show, doesn’t it? Last time I wrote about how to use QR codes to bring people to your show. Here are some ways to continue using QR codes at the event itself to enhance the On-Site Experience.

QR Codes for On-Site Experience

Some event marketers might not have any direct responsibility for a show’s on-site experience, leaving game day in the hands of the operations and programming folks. But every event marketer benefits tremendously from when a show goes well. A remarkable, memorable and productive event is much easier to fill the following year. Even if your role ostensibly ends with the last registration reminder email, any energy you can lend into the quality of the event itself will pay off handsomely next year. So go ahead and be help your own cause for next year – take the QR code expertise you built in your audience development efforts and apply it on-site as well.

mmaybioQRSpeaker Bios: Adding every speaker’s bio to your program guide is time-consuming and expensive, and all the added copy leaves your agenda or program guide harder to read. Instead, why not use a QR code for each speaker to deliver a brief bio for the audience members who want more information about who is on stage? The code graphic also provides some visual variety on the page, breaking up big blocks of text. Scan the example at the right to read my conference bio.

Detailed Exhibitor Info: You know those signs with each exhibitor’s company name hanging above each booth? Add a QR code to them or on a card someplace else in the booth, to be used to deliver more information on the exhibitor or to direct booth visitors to a subscription page on the exhibitor’s site for lead generation.

Sweepstakes: Just because many of your attendees have smartphones that are QR code ready, does not necessarily mean that they are actually using them to scan QR codes. If you are integrating QR codes into your on-site experience, it is a good idea to provide some incentive for your audience to start using them, particularly if their phones require an app download to scan QR codes (iPhone and Blackberry both require an app). Sweepstakes are a great way to incentivize and educate on QR codes. Set up a giveaway of an iPad or another highly desirable prize for your audience where the means of entry is to scan a QR code that generates an email used to enter the drawing. Create a specific email address for the giveaway so you know that any message that hits its inbox is an entry. This way, all the attendees need to do is fire off the email generated by the QR code, and not enter any other information about themselves. Promote the sweeps early in the event and even by email before attendees arrive, giving them ample opportunity to download a QR scanning app if they need one. (You may need to allow an alternate means of entry, as entry by QR-generated email only limits participation to those attendees who have smartphones, which some states prohibit. Print out some forms to fill out and drop in a box for manual entry and keep them right next to the QR code for entry as well, and you’re fine. You just need to make sure you include the manual entries along with the QR code entries when drawing a winner.)

Ring Bell for Service: Despite the best intentions of exhibitors, not all booths are staffed 100% of the time at a conference. When this happens, exhibitors can use a QR code in the same way as a “Ring Bell for Service” sign. Create a code that automatically generates a TXT message that goes to the phone of the booth’s on-site contact. Booth visitors who have questions but find the booth empty can then simply scan the code which immediately buzzes the phone of the exhibitor. He or she can fire off a quick TXT in response and head back to the booth. The attendees’ on-site experience is improved because an empty booth doesn’t necessarily mean their questions go unanswered, and exhibitors are not left waiting around in a booth during times of little or no expo hall traffic.

A strong QR Code program at the event is pervasive and well-communicated. The more places QR codes exist at the show, the more likely people are to use them each time as the process of quickly scanning the code becomes integrated into the show experience. Communicating the program in advance to show attendees, exhibitors, speakers and any other stakeholders helps promote wider adoption and a more successful program.

If you have any questions on how to use QR codes at your next event, just:

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