If you own a restaurant, bar, coffee shop or any other retail location that uses napkins, you might be interested in an innovative use of QR codes brought to my attention by 60 Second Marketer contributor Lucky Balaraman from The Magnum Group.

By putting QR codes on napkins, you can engage your patrons in some fun and innovative ways. Here are just some of the ideas I came across in doing research for this post:

  1. Take-Out Menu: When patrons scan this QR code, they’ll be sent to a page on your mobile site that has your delivery information. They can bookmark this page for later use or forward it to friends.
  2. Nutritional Information: This is particularly good for restaurants that cater to healthy eaters or to high-end foodies. Given an increasingly health-conscious society, this is perfect for select restaurants.
  3. Specials: Provide bounce-back coupons via QR code that can be redeemed on their next visit to your location.
  4. Surveys: This is a great way to get instant feedback from patrons. The more you use mobile tools to connect with your customer, the better feel you’ll have for their likes and dislikes.
  5. Recipes: If you’re still worried about people stealing your recipes, let me relieve you of that fear. People won’t stop visiting your restaurant because they have your recipes. After all, food is only one of dozens of reasons they’re visiting your location. So give it a try — it’ll act as a reminder of how much they like the menu items at your restaurant.
  6. Mobile Apps: You can use QR codes to drive people through to your mobile app for iPhone, Android, Microsoft or Blackberry. Once they’ve downloaded and used your mobile app, they’ll be more likely to come back with increased frequency.
  7. Trivia: This is always a fun way to keep patrons engaged while they’re in your restaurant. I’d encourage you to have two trivia games tied to your QR code — the first would be family-friendly, and the second would be for singles who are on a date.

How to Create a QR Code. All this begs the question, “What are the steps I need to take to create a QR code campaign like the ones you mentioned?” Here’s your answer.

  • First, mobilize your site. By now, you should have a mobile version of your website. If you don’t, call up your ad agency or web design firm and get them going right away. Or, if you handle your own web design, read this post to learn how to set one up.
  • Then, create a new page on your mobile website. This new page would accomplish the tasks outlined above. In other words, it would have the recipes, the nutritional information, the bounce-back coupons or whatever built into the pages.
  • Once that page is live, copy the URL. Once you’ve copied the URL, paste it into the QR code generator we have on the bottom right-hand page on our site. In seconds, you’ll have generated a QR code that is unique to that page on your mobile site.
  • Copy the QR code. Drag (or right-click) the QR code from the generator to your desktop. Then, email the QR code to your printer (or to ScanNap, where we found the image used in this post) and they’ll deliver your napkins to your doorstep.

Sound good? Remember, your main goal is to find a way to help customers interact with your brand. The more ways you can get them engaged, the more likely they’ll become repeat customers. And that’s what it’s all about.

Posted by Jamie Turner, Founder of the 60 Second Marketer and co-author of “How to Make Money with Social Media” and “Go Mobile.He is also a popular marketing speaker at events, trade shows and corporations around the globe.