QR Codes: So Much Potential So Foolishly Wasted

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What began as a way to improve inventory racking for auto parts has become a tech savvy way to advertise that’s been embraced most avidly by businesses of all sizes… sometimes with less than stellar results.
QR codes are appearing in some pretty unlikely (some humorous, others downright creepy) places. Job seekers are being urged to add these eye-catching little codes, so easy to generate, to their resumes.
To read the code you need a mobile device that has a camera and a scanner app. To create one you need to use a free code generator. We’ve talked about QR codes on this blog before, and how promo products are the perfect backdrop for displaying the code because these items are known to last.
As they increase in popularity, QR codes are making some humorous mistakes as you’ll see at WTF QR CODES where you’ll find regular examples of some pretty crazy uses of these codes, and the not always optimal web experiences that follow. Using a QR code to bring people to a clip of the very ad they skip on TV isn’t the way to go — yet companies do this more often than you’d like to think.
And though during December 2011 QR codes made an appearance in 8.4 (up from 3.6 in Jan 2011) percent of all magazine ads according to marketing firm Nellymoser, the bloom may be fading as consumers get treated to a glut of advertising that’s just not worth the effort put in to scan it.
What to do?
Just as you would anything else — plan your QR code campaign with care. Your aim is not to be first with the latest ad technology, but to deliver something of value and leave the user with a favorable impression of your business. Be sure to test your QR codes on multiple devices and with different readers. Don’t put them in places where cellular service isn’t available (subway posters or in flight magazines come to mind). Ensure that the page your visitor sees is mobile optimized (apparently a different thing than mobile friendly).
Remember, QR codes are a tool… not the call to action. You need to have a benefit for scanning and make it obvious. Like a coupon, applying for a unique, time sensitive promotion or to get more information on a product or service.
To get your creative juices flowing, we bring you some interesting examples of how companies have used the codes to help build business.
Only after the all-important planning of a campaign should you be thinking about promotional products for displaying anything — including QR codes — right were customers and prospects will see them every day. And unlike a print piece that gets tossed, or a TV ad that gets ignored or forgotten, a promotional product is a tangible, physical, here and now presence. You can touch it, hold it, use it. See it. Scan it.

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