Keep it Short and Sweet:
Resist the urge to cram every bit of information into one marketing piece, whether it is an email, flier or direct mail piece.
- Simplicity is Better: Provide pictures to help your customers visualize the products and services. You can also include a QR Code, taking the user to a mobile site that further engages them in your brand.
- Ask Questions: Pique interest by asking your prospects a thought provoking question. This method not only raises awareness about your products or services, but encourages customers to read more of the content. Example, “Did you know that Mail Print offers a Marketing Communications Portal?”
- Highlight Benefits: Do not just write about your products and what colors or versions they may come in. Your content should focus on the benefits of your products and services. Customers want to know how your product will influence their lives.
Follow these simple tips to convert more readers into customers.
Don’t complain about the rising costs of postage if your company didn’t register for last year’s USPS business discount by using QR Codes® (deadline was August 12, 2012). This is the third year in a row the U.S. Postal Service is offering discounts to encourage businesses to use new technology such as QR Codes to improve their mailing results.
This year the USPS is upping the ante by including a scan-to-call component to its QR Code promo. This means when a prospect scans the QR Code with their smartphone that they will be connected by phone to the business that did the mailing. And that business will get a 2% postage discount, which could mean hundreds of dollars in savings per mailing.
For example, a business that normally would have paid $14,750 for mailing 25,000 bounce-back coupons with QR Codes that cost .59 each would only pay $14,250 for postage with the 2% postal service discount.
That 2% would equate to $500 in postage savings. This is more than enough to pay for a celebration dinner for a marketing department when the mailing brings in $652,000 in sales by generating 1,000 purchases (4% of mailing) of a $652 product.
September 30 is the deadline to register your business to receive a 2% discount on mailings you send using one of three emerging technologies shown below:
Augmented Reality Component: Augmented Reality (AR) is a live view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input, such as sound, video, graphics, or GPS data.
Authentication Component: Authentication describes the process of verifying a unique customer using a combination of authentication factors (at least two).
Near Field Communication (NFC): Near Field Communication creates a two-way communication link between two devices with Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) capabilities.
Want a Deeper Understanding of Postal Changes and Discounts?
Pitney Bowes has produced a series of great webinars and slideshows that summarize the myriad of changes and rewards the postal service has to soften the pain of change.
I recommend starting by reading Pitney Bowes overview slideshow: Understanding the USPS: The Rewards for Change.
I hope by embracing the new technology and the discounts available to your business for doing so. If so you’ll be even more prosperous in 2013.
* QR Codes are a registered trademark of Denso Wave.
Regardless of how you feel about QR Codes® you have to admit when you get handed a business card similar to one of the 10 examples below, you think one or all of the things below:
- This person is on top of technology.
- This person is harnessing all the tools to start conversations and get me to reach out to them.
- This person is part of a forward-thinking company.
- This person knows his or her stuff.
- This person is successful.
- This person is a graphic design genius.
- This person is cool.
- This person is going somewhere.
- I want to know more about this person.
If you’re almost out of business cards, or better yet you just got a new title and a promotion, consider printing a QR Code on your new cards. Business cards are not dead, according to American Express Small Business. They are still as necessary as a driver’s license.
Hip to Be Square
A scan of the back of Michael Silber business card takes you to his portfolio.
The beauty of QR Codes is you don’t have to print everything about your business. Print the vital information and consider moving the ancillary digits like fax numbers and multiple Twitter handles to a mobile code…
Max Infield is a man of few words but has a story to tell nevertheless. He incorporates his QR Code into the design itself.
Max Infeld’s design from Flickr
Black and Tan Theme
In the home and fashion design world, black and tan is as classic as a half pint of Guinness topped with a half pint of pale ale.
Source: Mailtrade card from CoolestBusinessCard
Wrap It Up
Want to give your card reverence and value? Consider printing a slide sleeve holder that showcases your QR Code.
SOURCE: Linchpin from CoolestBusinessCard.
Musicians, podcasters, or politicians with something to say can use QR Codes on their business cards to link to audio.
Card on a Cloth
Comando Patches innovatively placed its contact information solely in a QR Code it hands out on a business sized embroidery patch. Does your business lend itself to printing on a different medium other than paper? Wood, plastic, chip board, tile?
A special thanks to blogger Oz Mendoza of strangenchanted.com for bringing most of these cards to my attention.
What’s on your card? What does your card say about you? Tell us in the comments below.
QR Code is a registered trademark of Denso Wave.
A QR Code® can either be the cherry or the sour grape on the top of your marketing sundae. When it comes to prospects interacting with your marketing materials, newsletter, or advertisement, they’re either going to swallow and smile or spit it out.
By including a QR Code, and a teaser foreshadowing where it will lead, you illicit engagement. Two companies engaged me this week by delivering the cherry on top by giving me something I didn’t expect or know. I like that.
A third company that ran an ad for migraine relief, used a QR Code that made me disengage rather than find relief for what ailed me.
AARP Gives Members the Banana Split of Information
AARP knows its audience. It knows seniors are still cutting corners in the challenging economy because of their income concerns. AARP addresses this key concern in its member magazine it published, “Can You Really Save $10,000 a Year?” The article summarizes eight steps excerpted from How to Retire the Cheapskate Way.
Obviously the article is a home-run content wise, and AARP takes it one step further by including an infographic that illustrates the eight steps in play. AARP takes it two steps further by including a QR Code with directions: SCAN THIS NOW. Below this call to action, AARP includes a TEASER: How Cheap Are You? See Jeff find some new uses for aluminum foil.
The QR Code takes readers to an entertaining and educational video about great re-uses of aluminum that seniors who like to squeeze every nickel out of products will love.
Infiniti Hands Prospect the Tiramisu Tutorial
In Infiniti’s advertisement for its backup collision intervention system, it includes a custom QR Code that leads to a YouTube video. I expected to see an accident being prevented by the technology, which I did. What I didn’t expect was to learn how advanced this technology is. The video demonstrates a lighting system on the sides of the interior of the car that would begin flashing on the side of the “threat.” It also demonstrates how the car automatically backs off the gas and applies the brakes.
I’m not trying to sell you an Infiniti, but to open your mind to how you can deliver more with your QR Codes and make that extra step the consumer is taking a worthwhile one. It does a great deal to enhance your organizational image with that consumer.
MyChronicMigraine’s QR Code is Vanilla in a Chocolate World
While MyChronicMigraine.com has an engaging visual on its advertisement (a woman asleep on a red couch on a beachfront), its QR Code leads the customer to a zip-code search page. There is no instruction above or below the QR Code and no “teaser” to make the reader want to scan.
If by chance they do engage and scan, it takes them to a screen to search for an office, which seems abrupt and non-helpful to someone seeking answers, research, solutions or justification they are among healers not spammers.
Because the ad talks about finding out if you have chronic migraines, it would seem a quiz or information packet link would be more appropriate in the sales funnel than trying to drive them into a franchisee’s office. Frankly, it seems pretty sales like and not helpful.
If you use a QR Code, be sure to take the extra step and do it right
If there is anything you gain from reading our QR Code reviews it is the hope that you understand that when using a QR Code in your marketing you make it a worthwhile experience for the consumer. Failing to do so, can mean more ill will than good vibrations.
QR Code is a registered trademark of Denso Wave.
Remember how fun it was as a kid to dig into a box of Cracker Jacks® caramel popcorn and get that treasured prize inside the box? Well history repeats itself with Alo’s Free Music in Every Bottle campaign.
Alo, makers of an aloe vera health drink, have a marketing tagline — Goodness From Inside Out ™. I like their juice drinks and occasionally pay the premium price of $2.50 a bottle to treat my taste buds to something “pure” for a change.
Now Alo has developed a multi-channel marketing campaign to enhance the user experience by adding a QR Code® on each bottle that allows you to download an MP3 compatible song that they deem as music made for the flavor.
After downloading the song off my bottle, I received this email from the company:
Goodness has arrived. Download your ALOtone track to your desktop and drag it into your iTunes. You can also take it on-the-go by syncing your iTunes with your iPhone. We think music is best enjoyed with friends, so share it with everyone and press play.
Download your free ALOtone™ here:
Free Music in Every Bottle
Surprisingly, I believe the company has nailed this one. When I purchased a bottle of Alo Enrich, the pomegranate and cranberry flavored Alo, I was compelled to download the free music “for my mind.” The iTunes compatible song, Optimistic Bloom, was a new age bubbly rendition that really did remind me of drinking the Alo juice that contains small, round alovera pulp that bursts on your tongue when your drink the beverage.
Alo is milking its campaign for all its worth with a PR and media blitz and goes the extra mile by including marketing copy on its bottles that promote the campaign and drink-specific song.
The ALOtones are marketed as “taking you to another place combined with an enhancing mix of pomegranate, cranberry and aloe vera. Together, they’re crafted to promote positive thinking and take on free radicals with a fresh boost of musical Optimism.”
The company describes its new multi-channel marketing combination of QR Codes, packaging and song as the “Free Music in Every Bottle” campaign. I call it pure brilliance and one of the first QR Code campaigns that makes sense, rewards the consumer with a true treat of value, and in addition to keeping them purchasing the premium drink, they probably will chat it up among their friends, fellow yogis, runners, or health nuts in their circles.
Congrats to Alo for its innovative marketing and award for the Best Functional Drink Consumer Campaign at the Beverage Innovation Functional Drinks Awards last year.
QR Code is a registered trademark of Denso Wave.
Cracker Jacks® is a registered trademark of Frito-Lay
If you follow this blog, you know I criticize advertisers that cram too much copy or too many visual elements into their ads. This week’s advertisers do neither.
Sleep Number Bed and Drugfree.org demonstrate how to execute a clean ad with a simple six-word hook as a headline and appropriately placed QR Code® that does a nice job of luring prospects into the next buying or emotional chamber of the sales process.
Sleep Number Bed Gets in Reader’s Head in Order to Get Them Into Their Bed
The headline, “This Is Not Just a Bed” begs to be answered. Then what more is it? The photograph of the bed in a reading or TV watching formation re-emphasizes that it truly is not just a bed because my bed at home doesn’t conform to that position. My traditional bed (mattress and box springs) has only one position: horizontal.
Sleep Number’s ad gives readers several options. They can read the headline, initial copy and scan the QR Code if they’re skimmers or they can do all of the above, plus read the next two copy sections on Sleep Number bedding accessories and how to avoid buying a knock off. This gives detail-driven shoppers more facts to absorb without overwhelming them.
I love the way the QR code sits temptingly to the left, not overwhelming the layout, but simply begging to be scanned so prospects can enjoy a video explaining the patented dual air technology that Sleep Number uses to ensure each person in bed gets a restful sleep because their side is adjusted to exactly their preference and pressure points.
Drugfree.org’s Ad Opens the Door & Gets You to Take a Seat and Listen
Hurrah for Drugfree.org for getting my attention with six mere but mighty words – “Your Story Can Change Someone Else’s.”
Drugfree.org then reeled me in to watch and hear from addicts who got clean after I scanned its QR Code and was directed to videos and testimonials galore.
There is not a more effective or budget conscious ad than a type-based ad that is well done and puts the QR Code in a quote bubble, which indicates there are stories waiting behind QR Code.
These poignant stories were worth my scan and can be read at “The Hope Share” campaign URL. Drugfree.org aims to share these stories of addiction and recovery to break through the stigma often associated with drug and alcohol, which some 13 year olds are now victims of.
The marketing campaign is multi-channel in nature with six billboard spaces secured pro bono in Times Square. What a great effort to reach a huge population (around 500,000 people on foot walk through Times Square each day). Keep in mind that addiction is prevalent; statistics indicate that each person is connected to someone through six degrees of separation that is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction.
With the successful execution of these two ad campaigns by this retail and nonprofit giant, I’m surprised more entities aren’t including a QR Code as a measurement and sales funnel mechanism in their ads. After all, a QR Code just takes up a very small portion of your ad. Yet it can convert, trace, inspire, and depending on the landing page — change lives and give hope.
QR Code is a registered trademark of Densowave.
We pitted three corporate giants against one another this week. Between Microsoft, Dassault Systemes and Boehringer Ingelheim, which company do you think did the best job with its mobile tag usage (QR Codes® vs. Microsoft Tag) and advertising composition (copy, layout, call to action)?
Boehringer Ingelheim Gets Wordy
Reading this ad makes me happy I don’t work for a pharmaceutical company. They obviously must be wordy because of disclosure requirements. I can see that it would be a challenge to be a designer for a pharma. I would hate to think my designs had to be blessed by the legal department.
The strongest copy point is how the product “reduced stroke risks by 35% or more” is buried. The QR Code leads to a lot of repeated safety information about Pradaxa® rather than the promised tools and tips for caregivers and is not web mobile optimized. The QR Code landing page seems to be designed for the “eyes” of caregivers who are hopefully in their 30s or 40s rather than seniors 50 and older. It is important to match your QR strategy to the target audience. Keep in mind that only about 14% of boomers even use QR Codes as shown in the VentureBeat graphic below.
Age Groups Using QR Codes
Microsoft Pushes Its Own Tag Technology
Microsoft does a great job of making mom or dad want to run out and buy a new PC, loaded with Office 2010 and OneNote so this lovely teen can have her shot at making valedictorian. The ad isn’t too wordy and has a great offer with a deadline for purchase.
And even though QR Code usage is somewhere around 72% vs. the 24% usage of Microsoft’s mobile tag technology, it remains steadfast on pushing its tag. So I downloaded the free reader as instructed and was quite pleased with how easy it would be to share this offer with a friend. It seems odd that Microsoft would not go for the high percentages guaranteed to give them more conversations by using a QR Code. Are they going to continue to ignore the stats below in 2013, too?
- QR Codes accounted for 61% of all codes used in the first quarter, growing to 72% in the fourth quarter of 2011.
- Microsoft Tags lost share, falling from 39% of all codes in Q1 to 25% in Q4. All other tags accounted for only 1% each in the last quarter.
SOURCE: Nellymoser Study as reported by Finger Food, Feb. 13, 2012
Dassault Systemes Dazzles in its Print and Digital Execution
Dassault Systemes shares a compelling story of how the billion-dollar fashion industry can tap its 3D technology to turn a design sketch into tomorrow’s hottest boutique seller.
I was thrilled that the QR Code took me to a web-optimized page that I could actually read without increasing the screen size, and it took me further down the education and purchasing pipeline and offered three exit buttons to clearly flag where I was in the sales process.
So who won this week’s face off? Dassault Systems with a score of 72 out of 80.
Here are my tabulations and scores based on a scale of 1-10 in eight categories.
|Wordiness||2 (600 words)||8 (100 words)||7 (300 words)|
|White Space Use||0||9||8|
|Call to Action||1||10||10|
|Mobile Tag Usage||1||5||9|
If you haven’t read Sabine Lenz’s Printing Impression guest post, “These Business Cards Are Crap,” read it now because she’s created quite a stir. Lenz is the founder of PaperSpecs.com and doesn’t mince words about the cheap, flimsy stock, off center cards she collects every time she networks.
She rightfully asks where is the quality, the beauty and the usability of cards that are UV coated on both sides, so she can’t jot notes after meeting someone. Perhaps because it’s her business to sell paper, she says she’d like to see the use of extra thick paper stock, foil stamping, unusually-sized designs, and cards with an additional fold – perhaps that touts in 10-words what the company does best.
Digital Haze or Just Plain Lazy?
Has social media made us go soft by not having a nice card to present our best foot forward? Are we overly considered about our Linked In page and choosing the right Facebook cover photo?
I have certainly left meetings too many times to count where professionals didn’t have cards at all – a cardinal sin just five years ago. Sure we can bump our smart phones together and share contact info or email VCards, but the tactile experience of receiving a card, looking at the name, making a visual connection between your mind, the giver’s company and the person himself is lost. We learn and remember through touch and spending a moment experiencing the interaction.
Bad Business Cards
So let’s not overlook the business card interaction. This is your chance to dazzle them or bore them to death. For example, take a look at the six cards I quickly pulled off my desk. The three on the left side underscore Lenz’s crap rant.
There is too much information on the first card. It’s not a brochure, it’s a business card. The second “bad” card has unreadable mice type on it – stick to 8 picas or large not under 6, please. The third “bad” business card is lackluster. My guess is it was designed by the doctors and not by a professional graphic designer.
Good Business Cards
Now take a look at the cards on the right, which show great thought, design, a QR Code®, unusual sizing, thick paper stock, color washes on the back with no UV coating so you can write notes and an overall look and feel, so you leave with an impression about the business and the individual. These three good business cards even show off some creativity with their titles: Director of Awesomeness, ROI Generator, and Creator.
So put it on your calendar to review your business card this month. Does it need a re-design? Do you need to add your Facebook page, Twitter handle, a QR Code or blog address? Don’t be caught in a digital haze by ignoring what could be your best ally – your finely dressed business card.
QR Code is a registered trademark of Denso Wave.
ComScore, a company that follows and measures the digital world, released a study that shows QR code®* users are skewed heavily to young, affluent men.
ComScore’s research showed that in June 2011, more than 14 million U.S. mobile users scanned QR codes. Altogether, these mobile users make up 6.2 percent of the total mobile audience. Of these 14 million, 60.5 percent were male, 53.4 percent were between 18 and 34, and 36.1 percent made $100,000 or more annually.
What does this mean to your efforts? That QR Codes are far from mainstream. If you determine they make sense for your business then they need to be integrated into your multi-channel marketing with an understanding that those who do scan are more like to be affluent men.
ComScore’s study also revealed that the most popular source of a scanned QR code was a printed magazine or newspaper (50%); followed closely by product packaging (35.3%) and websites of PCs (27.4%). So until QR Code engagement in the U.S. increases from 6.2 % of the total mobile audience, your marketing planning should probably take into account a higher success rate with QR codes placed in magazine or print advertising targeted at young men.
But even more important than using that intelligence as a conversion edge, the most important factor in QR Code success is having something extremely valuable at the end of the QR scan for your customer to indulge in – a buy one get one free coupon, a invaluable piece of information that only a select few gain access. No longer will a link to your opt-in page work, or a link to your web page. You must have a plan to encourages the user to give up information so that you can continue to stay engaged.
More Data on Who is Scanning QR Codes in Magazines
Four percent of magazine readers who saw ads with 2-D barcodes actually scanned something at least once, according to research conducted by GfK MRI Starch Advertising Research in 2011. The research showed that 15% of people they surveyed who noticed any magazine ad in the first half of the year took action by going to the advertiser’s site via their address bar. The research also revealed that:
- QR Codes got a better response with men: 6% of men who noticed ads with codes scanned at least one ad, while 4% of women did the same.
- Younger people were more likely to swipe the QR Codes than older people: 6% of readers between 18 to 34 years old who noted ads with the codes followed the code, compared with 3% of people age 35 and up.
Now for the fun stuff, which ad(s) outperformed the others. A Porsche ad in Men’s Journal, a Microsoft Office ad in Working Mother (see add below) and a bedding ad in Hemispheres (an airline magazine) made the top performing ad list by earning up to 17% QR Code scans off their print ads.
Perhaps the Microsoft Office ad pulled well because it targeted women with a “senior executive attitude” of running their home office like that of a big corporation. What’s your takeaway?
Does this woman look like she is the head of the household and is that why it attracted women who scan 2d barcodes?
* QR Code® is a registered trademark of Denso Wave.