How QR codes work to market your business

Episode 316 of the Toronto Real Estate Musing daily video blog.

They’re not messages for extra-terrestrials – these square black and white symbols are being increasingly used by businesses to connect with mobile customers. George O’Neill shows you how.

These symbols are called 2D barcodes, and are used for camera-equipped smartphones to analyze and access bits of information such as website URLs and phone numbers. One of the most popular forms of 2D barcode, called a QR Code, is heavily used in techo-centric Japan since 1994 but has only just recently grown in popularity in North America. “QR” stands for “Quick Response”.

The big marketing advantage to QR codes is convenience. Customers can, for example, instantly access your website from their mobile phone without having to fumble with a touchscreen or tiny keyboard to type in the address.

O'Neill Real Estate sign

One of our For Sale signs

At O’Neill Real Estate, we put a QR code on every For Sale sign, so that passerby can quickly pull up information, photos and video on the property. I put one on the back of my Smart car too. This way, when stopped at a traffic light, someone behind me can take a photo of the barcode through their windshield.

QR codes can also be placed on flyers, business cards, posters and even websites and videos. (If you pause the video at the right spot, your phone can even recognize the QR code on the trunk of my car!)

With more and more people adopting smartphones, you will see QR codes more and more often in mobile marketing.

How to make your own QR codes

Visit this QR-Code generator to make your own QR codes as JPEGs.

How to read QR codes

First, you need a QR code supported device, such as:

  • An Apple iPhone or a camera-equipped iPod Touch
  • A Blackberry device made since 2009 (i.e. Blackberries running Blackberry OS 5.0 or higher)
  • An Android smartphone
  • A Nokia S60, Palm or Windows Mobile smartphone

Second, you need a barcode reading app on your phone. Most of them are free. Here are our recommendations:

  • Apple: I use Welt Kompakt’s QRCode, a free, fast and no frills app.
  • Blackberry: It’s already built into Blackberry Messenger 5.0.
  • Android: Download the free Barcode Scanner app.
  • For other makes and models, try the free ScanLife application.

To access a QR code, activate your barcode reading app and position the camera over the code. Depending on the lighting, you may need to move closer to the code for the program to recognize it.  And that’s it!


  1. Hi George,

    I see you ate following us and your post on QR codes. Are you aware of how much easier and far reaching a simp,e text keyword is to accomplish the same thing? Nothing to download, one keyword to direct to either a listing or a Mobile App in our case, etc, etc. And, QR codes can’t capture mobile phone number leads when accessed like SMS/text. Try our latest App by texting JANEAGENT to 25665. Note as we we also do automatically generate a QR code to compliment each of these for those that want to use them. But again, nothing beats the reach and simplicity of SMS hands down.

    Check it out!



    • Hi Brian,

      Thanks for your reply and suggestion. Three years ago I tried a text service where prospects would call a number and enter a code to get property info sent to their phone via SMS. Perhaps not the same as your service and since this was now a couple of years ago when this was rather new perhaps your experience would now be different, but of the properties I tried this on for a period of about 6 months, I only received two inquiries. One from me as a test and one from the homeowner as a test.

      So perhaps today would be different, but I do like QR Codes since the prospect does not have to enter anything. All they have to do is run the application and they are taken to the page we direct them to. Fast and easy. We can track how many people access the site via the code, but we cannot capture their phone number, and I am not sure how many people really would want to be bothered. I would rather have them find the site and information informative, and reach out to me.



  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by O'Neill Real Estate, Scott Harrison. Scott Harrison said: How QR codes work to market your business | O'Neill Real Estate … [...]

  2. [...] use QR codes on our real estate signs, and our own metrics confirm these findings – QR code usage, like the Internet 15 years ago, [...]

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