Are QR-Codes a successful event marketing tool?

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Heidelberg, 03. April 2014. For our BarCamp ‘HimEventCamp’ I chose ‘QR Codes’ as a topic but the reaction in class as well as at the actual BarCamp, well I would say: SOBERING. So I asked myself if there might be already everything said. But both discussions in class showed: not really.

Since 2011 there has been an increased use of QR-codes within marketing campaigns but less during events. However, QR Codes store almost 3000bytes of data, either static or dynamic, for various purposes:

  • Website linking
  • Contact information
  • Emailing
  • Messaging
  • Geographical information
  • Text
  • Phone number

The only tool a smartphone­-user needs is a QR Code Reader. For that, there are multiple free options available for iTunes and Android. Also, there are many free as well as at cost QR Code creator available. Everyone just has to find his or her favorite.

The widely used (mostly black and white) squares which look like some random labyrinth on promotion and campaign posters and flyers can add real value to your company, your staff and event provided that they are implemented and put effectively. Looking back at the HimEventCamp we have learned that storytelling, speed, content and dramaturgy are proved crucial elements to a winning event. So why not supporting these elements with QR Codes during the three different stages of an event?

First stage: Pre-Event

Already at this stage the event marketing ideally starts building up dramaturgy starts telling the story of the event. However, due to the increase of printed advertisement a QR Code could help provide more information on the event (content) more quickly (speed) by only scanning the code instead of typing in a long and maybe difficult URL.

Second stage: the Event

During the phase the most common practice of QR Codes is for ticketing reasons. Here, the event attendees have either their entrance ticket on the smartphone and the code only has to be scanned or the code is on the name tag which also represents the ticket. However, besides the ticketing purpose QR Codes can also be used for gamification (scavenger hunt), for orientation (e.g. floor plan information, stand information, etc.) or for contact approach reasons.

Third stage: Post-Event

As every Event Manager knows, the post-event phase is as important as the pre-event and event. Because the follow-up of an event is as important for participants as it is for event managers especially if there pictures have been taken during the event. There are always post-event announcement to be made even if it is a ‘safe the date’ only.


Pre-Event Event Post-Event
Linking to

  • Event homepage
  • Previous event pictures/videos
  • Separate event information
    • Floor/stand plan
    • Program
    • Exhibitor index
  • Gamification
  • Ticketing/Name tag
  • At stands
    • Company data
    • Contact information
    • Email
  • At presentations
    • Speaker information
    • linking to presentation
  • Gamification
Follow-up with

  • pictures/videos
  • thank your notes and announcements
  • feedback survey

Coming back to the initial question if QR Codes could be an effective event marketing tool? Yes, BUT only if they create an added value not only for the event but also for the participants.

QR Codes can support the essential elements of an effective event –storytelling, speed, content and dramaturgy- due to its simple creation and usage. However, as with every marketing plan the use and goals of QR Codes need to be defined beforehand. In addition, they should NOT exchange any important information on a poster or flyer etc. as not everyone has a smartphone yet or does not use a QR Code reader. But most of all, the use of QR Codes should represent an added value for your event participant!!

-Vanessa Baumann-

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