QR codes are everywhere. Resembling square jigsaw puzzle pieces, most often in black and white, they are found in magazine advertisements, on packaging, on billboards and on business cards. Quick response codes, generically known as two-dimensional bar codes, and commonly referred to as QR codes, act as immediate conduits to websites, videos, discount coupons or other marketing messages.

What makes QR codes so compelling is that they are an immediate response mechanism. By simply snapping a picture of the code with a smart phone or cell phone with camera, or a web cam on a computer, a tradesman has immediate access to additional information—typically in the form of a unique landing page on a company's website.

The smart phone must have a "reader" to translate the code information, in order for it to direct the user to the end result that has been built into the code. There are many different code reader apps available such as QuickMark, QR Reader or I-nigma.

QR code technology is becoming more pervasive in the U.S. consumer world with codes showing up on print ads, packaging and in airports, to name a few. But, QR codes have begun surfacing in the mechanical trade industries, and at the end of 2010, RIDGID began utilizing Microsoft Tags, a proprietary form of quick response codes on all of its ads.

Research shows that a large percentage of contractors use Web-enabled phones on a daily basis. Utilizing the technology that contractors already have to get more information on a product as soon as they have been made aware of it (in a print ad, packaging or other marketing materials) makes the use of QR code tag technology the hot new way to reach the professional trades.

As we know all too well, time is money. Contractors are busy. Anything that can be done to help contractors spend less time in the office and more time in the field adds to their bottom line. With the use of tag technology, in less than 30 seconds a contractor can get a wealth of content from product specs to video and opportunities to ask for more info and request demonstrations on products and supplies.

We are living in an immediate gratification "always on" society that has blurred the lines between work and home. QR code technology simply feeds that desire to have the latest information right at your fingertips, when and where you want it. In the same way that contractors are already digesting other information like news and sports, the use of QR code technology is an exciting and engaging way to provide trade professionals the data that they need in a way that they are already absorbing other information. It's a matter of getting that information into the contractor's hands quickly and efficiently — the same way they are striving to do business on the jobsite.

Steve Dyer is director of marketing communications at RIDGID, a manufacturer of innovative tools and equipment for the professional trades. RIDGID is part of Emerson Professional Tools, a business of Emerson, which brings technology and engineering together to design and produce some of the highest quality tools and equipment in the world.