QR codes aren’t dead. They’re just misused

by Tony Fannin, President, BE Branded  |

I’ve read a few articles lately stating that QR codes (“Quick Response codes” for those who may not have known what QR stands for) is dead. To some, it’s a passing fad or just a novel idea with limited staying power. In my view, it’s less about QR codes being a fad and more about it being misused.

Too many marketers misuse the QR code. Consumers are often disappointed when they put in the effort to scan their codes to only be taken to the business web site or shown the latest ad they probably have already seen. The unique power of the QR code is to convey something important or special all in a single square. No need for a paragraph of text to tell you what is special or having to buy additional media space to convey a second message. It’s communication shorthand. Here are a few pointers in using QR codes:

• Make the content unique and special that can only be accessed via your QR code.

• Give viewers something of value whether it’s monetary, information, entertainment, or all three.

• Do explain why it’s worth their time to scan your code.

•  Make sure it’s an integral part of an overall marketing campaign, not just a stand alone tactic.

• Provide a wonderful and meaningful incentive for consumers who take the time to scan your QR code.

• Don’t just take customers to your web site or show them an ad that they can see elsewhere.

• Just slapping a QR code on your package, ad, etc. without a clear strategy doesn’t mean you’re progressive. It means you don’t know what you’re doing.

• Don’t put them in places that make it difficult for customers to scan (billboards, TV ads, etc.). Not only will it frustrate the viewer, but it may even cause physical harm.

• Don’t use a proprietary code that people will have to download a specific scanner just to read yours. That’s annoying and most people won’t do it anyway.

Using QR codes effectively takes creative imagination and staying in alignment with the social media ecosystem – give something of value away. It can be convenience, discounts, unique content, and a host of other things. The important key is to offer something of value that can not be attained anywhere else.

A few good examples:
• Putting a QR code on a real estate sign that gives the viewer an inside tour of the home. It allows prospective buyers to window shop without feeling pressured.

• U.S Marines offers their theme song as a ringtone download if you scan their QR code off their display ad in malls.

• Starbucks teams with Lady GaGa in a scavenger hunt using QR codes in various places for clues. Customers can win prizes and drinks along the way.

Keep in mind, just because a tactic is misused doesn’t mean it’s worthless and just because you use a new technology tactic doesn’t mean you’re progressive.



About Be Branded

Tony Fannin is of President of BE Branded, an integrated marketing firm who helps clients BE Somebody to their customers. If you aren't somebody, then you are commodity.

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