How to Use and Price QR Codes

For some printers QR codes are old hat, but for others they are still just strange looking squiggles, so here’s a short overview on what they are and how to use and value them.

A Quick Response (QR) code is a matrix barcode. It operates similarly to a barcode on a milk carton, but it’s read with a smartphone application program. The user takes a picture of the code with the app and it automatically fires up the Web browser, which takes you to a website or landing page. QR codes can do other things, but this is their primary use. Microsoft Tags are similar, but use a different program.

The function is to get the reader (you) from here (looking at a product with a code on it) to there (landing page, via your smartphone, for more information).

For example, a tag on a shrub in a garden center had a QR code that took me to information on the planting and care of the plant. A QR code on a real estate brochure or For Sale sign could take you to a 360 degree video tour of a house. A QR code in a restaurant ad could take you to a full menu.


Trackable results

But there are different QR codes with different properties. Some can easily be generated from the Web without cost, but are limited in function. There is also a difference in resolution between the ones used for offset and digital output.

A trackable QR code adds to functionality in that it tells the customer how many times someone has used the code. A redirectable code allows the landing page (or website) to be changed at will without changing the QR image.

Does the customer need these features? It depends. Tracking is universally important in marketing, so practically every QR code you provide for a commercial client should be trackable. At the very minimum, the customer should be made aware this option exists. So, how do you make it trackable and redirectable? You subscribe to a website service that allows you to do it; to find one, just Google it.


Valuing the service

In pricing QR codes, it is usually not the price itself that is at issue. The issue is whether the seller can differentiate and justify the price. No one knowingly pays more than they have to unless they feel it is worth it. Another way of saying that is, if all things are equal, then the lowest price wins. So, never ever allow all things to be equal.

So, how much are printers charging for this service? In our survey of printers, I used the data from the 50% of printers who do charge for static QR codes. I found that the charges ranged from $5 to $500 (with landing page construction).

When pricing QR codes, do consider the size and sophistication of your market area. But also remember to sell them based on the true value they offer, rather than as a commodity.