10 tips for QR codes at Trade Show Booths + 3 bonus ideas

If you feel your audience is a tech-friendly group and thus decide to add QR codes to your trade show exhibit graphics, then do these 10 things:

    1. Don’t assume your audience knows what a QR code is.
    2. If your audience doesn’t use QR applications, don’t focus on QR codes.
    3. Always provide a short URL alternative (bit.ly is free)
    4. QR codes are not limited to one version. Use different codes to track different pieces of collateral.
    5. Use away-from-booth QR tactics. Think about lanyards, brochures, night clubs, hotel rooms.
    6. Encourage competition and entertainment. Scavenger hunts. Bingo Cards. Random Winners.
    7. Train your staff. If they can’t explain a QR code in 30 seconds, why have them in your booth strategy?
    8. Provide ‘click to engage’ functionality (appointment scheduling, info request, phone conversations.)
    9. Tell people what to expect when they scan a QR code.
    10. Make it enjoyable and fun.

BONUS TIP: make it social. When someone scans a QR code you should encourage with them to engage with you in the real world. Face-to-Face interactions are typically leaps and bounds more effective at generating a lead. Use the process of scanning a QR code to educate your event team to better understand who the person is, what they are interested in, and more effectively form a relationship with them.


#1 Don’t waste that fancy booth space.

If you paid thousands of dollars to have a spiffy booth display and have it manned by friendly professionals don’t waste your time, budget, and energy convincing your live audience to engage using a smartphone.
Talk to them! A good conversation will always convert better than a computer screen!

IDEA: This relates to using ‘away-from-booth’ tactics for your QR code initiative. Try to think of places were a QR code can provide a fast and effective way to reach the audience when your staff is not in your booth or cannot individually engage with them. This could mean using a t-shirt design so that brand ambassadors can engage groups of people at the same time or it could envolve paying hotels to have desk fliers in the attendees rooms (in one recent campaign, dozens of leads came from hotel room scans at 1 to 4 A.M.).

#2 Your QR code audience may not be attending the event!

If an attendee has a smartphone in-hand, engage with them on the smartphone and realize that they are connected to hundreds of industry professionals not attending the show. One of the key value points of using QR codes is that it extends outside of physical world. (Don’t think physical, think digital!)

IDEA: at the international security expo everyone is a security related professional. If you encourage smartphone using attendees to scan your QR code and share it with a social network online, you can extend your audience reach far past the real world limitations of the event. This could help you reach thousands of targeted leads outside of the physical show.

#3 Provide a value-to-click incentive.

Value-to-click is the idea that you have provided enought value, intrigue, or social validation to encourage someone to scan your QR code. If you haven’t created a situation that inspires someone to take action and click/scan your QR code, all you have is wasted collateral space with a black and white square.

IDEA: rather than educate someone with ten bullet points, try to be alluring, intriguing, or inspirational. Humans are emotional and reactive creatures with decision making processes controlled by a barrier of impulse control. If you can create enough value to overcome impulse control… they will scan your code.

FYI: This entire post could optionally use MS Tags as well. When weighing the choice between using QR codes or Microsoft Tags, understanding your audience is critical to your trade show success. In some cases you may find that one is preferable, that you should offer both, or neither.

Do you have any tips to share on using QR codes in your event plan?

Related articles by me:
QR Codes at Events
What is a QR code? (via barryhurd.com)

Trade Show Social Media