QR Patchwork Post

I made this. Just for you. Using my QR code for this blog.
Because I'm good like that. : )

A little of this, a little of that. I've got QR codes on my mind.

Maybe it's because I read an interesting post about them yesterday.

Some marketing pundits have dubbed 2011 "the year of the QR code," and those quirky mazes of pixel-ly thingies (not to be confused with pizzelles - which do seem to look like they have QR codes on them, and why couldn't they?) have been spotted on everything from business cards to t-shirts, billboards and even in sand.

Are QR codes hot or not? Should marketers be basing entire creative campaigns on them? Probably not. Including them in their campaigns? Sure. But don't overestimate the power of a QR code. It ain't nothing compared to a great headline when it comes to getting prospective consumers to "act now."

David Weineke hits the nail on the head in his June 8th, 2011 article Why Marketers Shouldn't Waste Their Time With QR Codes:
"QR codes can actually impede the conversation. First, you have to assume not everyone knows what they are, so you have to explain how they work. Then, you just hope people are willing to download the app and go through the hassle of getting it to work. Then and only then will they be exposed to whatever brilliant website you have put together. And the majority of the time, this process neglects the critical issue of why someone would want to do any of this in the first place. Right now the answer to that seems to be, 'Because marketers thinks it's cool.'This is a dead-end technology. This is a transitional technology, and other options are headed to market that will quickly displace it. Improvements in mobile search far outpace QR capture. Near Field Communications will provide richer machine interfaces. Google Places has already abandoned QR codes for NFC chips .... It's not all bad though. There are some good QR uses. These are the ones that actually make people's lives easier -- like displaying a boarding pass on a smartphone to a ticket reader. But the day of huge billboards that are nothing but QR codes is definitely past."
Yeah, it's kind of like how artists would take mother boards from dead computers and make them into jewelry or sculptures. Looks cool. And a QR code, in the right designer/artist's hands CAN be a visually stimulating thing, which I'll get to later.

Still, David makes some very valid points in his article. but I think it's even simpler than that:  Machines read QR codes, not people.

To me, QR codes represent "high tech" in advertising. They are becoming less of a curiosity to a significant segment of the digerati/wired-for-business professionals so as to warrant the inclusion of these quirky symbols on marketing materials that connect with a tech-savvy audience. Instead of keying in a website with multiple keystrokes, one click takes you from ad to web. Bookmark the page, save it for later - you're in. What could be easier? That's what QR codes are all about, really.

In direct marketing, we love to give the audience a choice of ways to contact the product or service provider - call a toll-free number, visit our web site, fax us, or return the reply form in the postage-paid envelope provided. QR codes are just another one of these options. A QR code can help facilitate response but it alone can not generate it. It's like having an ad with a giant toll-free number and nothing else - no reason to call. Curiosity will only get so many calls. Even Tommy Tutone knows, you gotta ad the line "for a good time call..."

So don't mistake a QR code as a strong enough impetus to generate an inquiry or sale or use it to replace a headline. Strong headlines and copy speak to people, not machines.

On the other hand, design crowd - do you think an ad that has a great photograph or illustration coupled with just a QR code could do the trick? Could that be enough to drive traffic to a website? Sure! Get creative. Just look at this awesome example ...

And here's another from Macy's ...

And yes, I did in fact recommend adding a QR code to a client's piece this morning. Adding it. Not centering the whole piece on it. Because that's how I roll.

Post it, Dano.

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