Archive for March, 2012

Wine Sales, Weddings, and Other Wonderful Ways to Use QR Codes

Quick response codes (QR Codes®) are making their ways onto new mediums and usages every day that increase interest, engagement, and sales.QR Codes

Take concert ticket sales for instance. A concert merchandiser could run an ad in an entertainment guide, send postcards to patrons who have signed up to follow the band, and in addition they could be creative by posting “bills” on telephone poles like the one shown on the right for Jessica Lea Mayfield.

Using a QR Codes® to take music fans to an audio or video clip is brilliant engagement of the potential customer. Concert bookers can instantly increase pre-concert ticket sales through such a means of promotion. Any avid music lover walking by could scan the code and decide immediately if he or she would attend the event and place it on their smart phone calendar then and there on the spot.

I enjoyed viewing the You Tube video of Jessica Lea Mayfield singing that this QR Code® led me too. Seeing concert flyers is common when walking in any city but actually being able to familiarize yourself with the singer or band is not.

Qr Code (QR)Tell Me More Before I Take a Pour

QR Codes® on the side of wine bottles are becoming both hip and useful. Vineyards can’t possibly get all the information they want to share on the label. So using a QR Codes® to take wine lovers to reviews, wine ratings, varietal information, or even a tour of the vineyard makes good sense.

QR code

Sacre Bleu utilized QR Codes® as an additional means of social media marketing. They added QR codes to their bottle labels that when scanned, direct the consumer to a mobile-friendly site filled with promotions, information about the brand, special offers and even tips for matching the wine to food.

Sacre Bleu did not have the budget to run ads in Wine Spectator or Food and Wine magazine. So after studying up on the influence of wine labels and marketing avenues, it learned that its highest buying consumers were millennials who said they didn’t read those magazines anyways. They used social media.

Sacre Bleu uses QR Codes® to direct millennials to its Facebook page for various offers.

weddinginvite Wine Sales, Weddings, and Other Wonderful Ways to Use QR Codes“I Do” Plan to Attend Your Wedding Ceremony

Brides and grooms are leveraging QR codes® to keep their wedding invitations clean and show they are socially “hip.” With QR codes®, there’s no need to clutter the invitation with maps and additional details, which can instead be posted at a personalized URL (PURL) for attendees to find and save.

Graphic designers love it because it allows them the flexibility to create a white-space rich invite without trying to cram all the information into an undersized envelope. Brides like it because they can achieve the look and feel they want while giving details about wedding registry locations, wedding service location, and so much more on a landing page instead of the scrapbook worthy wedding invite.

Couples who register their wedding receptions on Foursquare and create Twitter hashtags for the event are using QR codes® for a range of tasks. These include sending guests to an R.S.V.P website and even automatically adding the ceremony to guests’ electronic calendars. Besides having the “cool” factor, it makes a bride’s life easier by not having to spend hours manually counting reply cards.

Weddings, wine bottles, and concert bills make good sense for QR applications. However, before you go too crazy with QR codes®, watch this slide show showing the 10 biggest what-not-to-dos when integrating quick response codes.


QR Codes® are a registered trademark of Denso Wave.


Three QR Codes® Answer More Than What Time Is It

Like our phones, watches have become smart. They do more than tell the time.

Some run without batteries. Some never lose even a fraction of a second of time. Other watches include compasses and measure barometric pressure.

Curious as to how three high-end watches wooed customers to the counter through QR codes®, I scanned the quick response codes on Citizen’s, Casio’s, and Bulova’s print ads

QR Codes, QR



Much to my delight, the QR code® for the Citizen Eco-Drive watch led me to an interest video showing how it uses natural and artificial light to keep on ticking without the need of a battery or the hassle of replacing a battery. The video nicely reinforced the print ads message that Citizen Eco-Drive watches are unstoppable.

I also liked that Citizen put a five-word descriptor beneath the QR code® foreshadowing exactly what you would see or learn if you scanned the code:  Discover the Eco-Drive Technology.

QR Codes, QR

The Pro Trek Casio watch is the iPhone of watches. I’m not a hiker and I’m not knocking through a list of 10,000 footers. However if I were, I’d buy the solar-powered, atomic timekeeping Casio with an altimeter, barometer, and compass for $480. They sucked me in with their bells and whistles, making me a raving advocate through their well crafted ad and its QR code that led me down their tech path as easily as their watch would have led me up a mountain.

Casio’s QR code® led me to three photo hotlinks about the Pro Tek. The first link took me to the white sheet, which told me price and how to make my purchase. The second link took me to a journal about an 8-day cycling trip thanks to the aid of the Casio. Finally the third link took me to the Facebook page, which didn’t force me to “like” it to get in and read the raving testimonials. Thank you for the access and information.


The Bulova Precisionist makes some bold claims, according to watch collectors and enthusiasts – calling itself the most accurate watch with a continuously sweeping second hand. And because the Bulova brand has built a reputation as being prestigious and collectible, the marketers may have been a little arrogant and assumptive. The QR code® on Bulova’s ad, which clearly stated it was taking me to the Facebook page, led me there but wouldn’t let me see a thing unless I hit “like.” I didn’t like that and did not oblige.

I found it odd that the $500 watch, which looks like something you’d wear to a high-stakes poker game in a roped off area of Vegas or Donald Trump’s boardroom, featured a diver. The watch was not waterproof, but Bulova was trying to drive home its marketing message of “breaking through” with the diver. Bulova’s poor choice of imagery did not reinforce the functionality of its watch.

The winner of this week’s QR critic is Casio with the runner up being Citizen and the bronze to Bulova.


QR Code® is a registered trademark of Denso Wave.

How to Project Your Business as a Giant with Two Marketing Technologies

marketing automation, email marketing, vdpThe Land of the Giants was a 1970 television show about a space ship that gets lost passing through a strange cloud and lands on an alternate Earth-type planet where the inhabitants are 12 times the size of its passengers. The show tapped the common conflict between the underdog and the giants (or corporate goliaths) of the world.

Small and mid-size businesses, though 12 times smaller than their competitors, can portray themselves as big or giant businesses through the use of tools like email marketing and marketing automation (MA) in today’s digital world.

MA or Email Marketing – Aren’t They the Same Thing?

To appear bigger, first you must pick your technology. Lauren Carlson at Software Advice finds many buyers mistakenly think that MA is a fancy name for email marketing. As a result these buyers evaluate vendors like Eloqua and Marketo (both of which provide a nice ROI calculator for bigger companies) against email services like MailChimp and Constant Contact that often support smaller organizations.

While both use email as the primary vehicle to talk to prospects or customers, email marketing keeps in touch with the prospect and tracks interactions based on a single campaign. Unfortunately email marketing stops there.  Marketing automation follows customer interaction through all marketing touches and triggers appropriate messages based on this information without the need for manual triggering.

Marketing Automation can go a step deeper by tracking the entire chain of interactions that buyers have with a company and helps you make intelligent actions based on these behaviors. Furthermore, MA systems don’t just track – they act. Based on what your prospects do, the system can automatically:

  1. Start a series of emails over the next few weeks
  2. Send that prospect to a different web page based on his or her lead score
  3. Or have a sales person reach out if the prospect is at a critical point in the decision making process.

Email tools don’t segment audiences or respond in this way without manual intervention. See the chart below from Lauren’s blog post, “Email Marketing vs. Marketing Automation: Which is Right for You?” for a breakdown of what you should be getting from your email marketing or marketing automation system.

Features Email Marketing Marketing Automation
Lead capture green check How to Project Your Business as a Giant with Two Marketing Technologies green check How to Project Your Business as a Giant with Two Marketing Technologies
Basic segmentation green check How to Project Your Business as a Giant with Two Marketing Technologies green check How to Project Your Business as a Giant with Two Marketing Technologies
Email templates green check How to Project Your Business as a Giant with Two Marketing Technologies green check How to Project Your Business as a Giant with Two Marketing Technologies
Create & send emails green check How to Project Your Business as a Giant with Two Marketing Technologies green check How to Project Your Business as a Giant with Two Marketing Technologies
Automation & triggers green check How to Project Your Business as a Giant with Two Marketing Technologies green check How to Project Your Business as a Giant with Two Marketing Technologies
Reporting & analytics green check How to Project Your Business as a Giant with Two Marketing Technologies green check How to Project Your Business as a Giant with Two Marketing Technologies
Mass email delivery green check How to Project Your Business as a Giant with Two Marketing Technologies green check How to Project Your Business as a Giant with Two Marketing Technologies
Email campaigns green check How to Project Your Business as a Giant with Two Marketing Technologies green check How to Project Your Business as a Giant with Two Marketing Technologies
SEO management green check How to Project Your Business as a Giant with Two Marketing Technologies
Web behavior capture green check How to Project Your Business as a Giant with Two Marketing Technologies
Resource management green check How to Project Your Business as a Giant with Two Marketing Technologies
CRM integration green check How to Project Your Business as a Giant with Two Marketing Technologies
Behavior-based segmentation green check How to Project Your Business as a Giant with Two Marketing Technologies
Social media management green check How to Project Your Business as a Giant with Two Marketing Technologies
Lead Scoring green check How to Project Your Business as a Giant with Two Marketing Technologies
Multi-channel campaigns green check How to Project Your Business as a Giant with Two Marketing Technologies

Can a Small to Mid Size Business Afford Email Marketing or a MA System?

The price of email marketing is based on either the number of emails sent or the size of your mailing list – usually running less than $100 per month. According to Tom O’Leary of GroupMail, email marketing continued to provide a $40.56 ROI for every dollar spent in 2011.

The price for marketing automation systems on the low end start at $200 a month and go up to $1000  and sometimes much more each month.

While a larger investment, if it helps you close sales faster or land more accounts it is a consideration to take your one giant step closer to moving from an underdog to a big dog.

Read more in Lauren Carlson’s blog post, “Email Marketing vs. Marketing Automation: Which is Right for You?”


I’m Just Happy to Make a Contribution

marketing managementIn the 1988 baseball movie Bull Durham, Crash (Kevin Costner) mentors Nuke (Tim Robbins) about what clichés to recite to the media after a big win. Though not the brightest bull in the pin, Nuke, executes beautifully upon pitching his first no-run win in the majors by saying, “I’m just happy to make a contribution and be part of this team.”

Cursory clichés or generic reports don’t work in the world of marketing where marketing management is a must. Campaigns must be measured by something as concrete as hits, runs, and RBIs in baseball. Surprisingly with all the measurement tools available – landing pages, QR codes®, Facebook likes, Tweets, trackable phone numbers, and Google analytics – a number of marketing programs are still falling short when it comes to reported metrics.

I recently called a dozen advertisers randomly to learn if they would be willing to share their return on investment or success around a specific marketing effort. I was not surprised to learn that seven out of 10 had no idea what they were recouping from the thousands of dollars each month they were investing.

With marketing budgets shrinking to around 5% of sales, justifying the financial contribution marketing delivers seems imperative. However, recent research conducted by Lenskold and the Pedowitz Group showed that just one in three B2B marketers worldwide report financial-contribution metrics to senior management.

Financial metrics might consist of measurements such as:

  • Return on Investment
  • Average revenue per closed sale
  • Marketing-generated opportunity closed

Why are 66% of marketers not measuring how their marketing efforts are contributing to the bottom line? Why are those that are measuring not reporting it to management? Perhaps they need a marketing ally to automate and track their campaigns so the burden is reduced and results heightened.

Sometimes just breaking down a process in simple steps can put you way ahead of the competition. To use another sports analogy, Olympic track and field legend, Edwin Moses, went nine years and nine months without losing the 400-meter hurdles. He accomplished this by breaking down the race to specific steps and eliminating waste.

While Moses’ competitors blasted out of the blocks and took 13 steps before jumping the first hurdle, he used his 9 ft. 9 in. stride to eliminate one step between each hurdle – therefore crushing his competitors for nine years.

Thumbnail BenefitsBook CaseStudy I’m Just Happy to Make a ContributionOne of our clients did nearly the same thing by analyzing its performance around employee benefits catalogs that weren’t being personalized and were taking 7-10 days to get into the hands of their prospects. By tapping into variable data printing, this Fortune 500 provider of insurance products was able to personalize more than 1300 fields in their product catalogs around age, salary, compensation-related variables and they were able to automate the process to ensure that more than 352,000 were printed without error. Now they get catalogs into prospect hands in 2-4 days, error-free, and with the specific data they need to make instant enrollment decisions.  This effort increased policy enrollments by 5%.

When B2B marketers fail to connect financial metrics to marketing and operations, they fail to connect some pivotal dots that CEOs and CFOs are watching.

What can you do to sharpen your pencil, tie your marketing campaigns to both marketing and financial measurement results, connect important financial dots, and put better metrics in play?

  • Take a webinar on analytics
  • Read up on data-driven marketing
  • Download ROI spreadsheets
  • Attend quality control meetings outside of marketing to learn the big picture and see what programs or tweaks are needed to make a difference for your company

The most indispensable players on any team are the ones making a true financial contribution. How are you managing your marketing assets or more importantly, measuring them?

QR Reviews: Think of Your QR Codes® as a Scavenger Hunt Your Customers Cash in On

From cars to kids, my QR Code® scanning scavenger hunt this week leaves me more hopeful than last week’s swiping adventure. For the most part, I was taken to a landing page that nurtured me and piqued my interest in a future purchase –- well three out of four times at least.

Here’s where four advertiser QR Codes® took me this week.


QR codes, QR in ads


The University of Kansas Hospital had me with the kids in sunglasses. While most hospital advertising features doctors and nurses in white or kids with casts and sad faces, this pediatric ad used child’s play to reel me in.

The ad had a cleanly placed QR Code® with plenty of white area around it to make the scan work the first time. The code took me to an equally well-designed generic URL (GURL) that matched the ad and provided a list of all the specialty services the Hospital provides to kids and links to even more information on those specialties. Nicely done and worthy of the tiara in the ad.


BIG DEAL – 4 StarsQR Code, QR in print ads

Big Deal Kansas City is a knock off of GroupOn or Living Social, offering a deal a day at a substantial discount if enough people opt in to purchase the coupon. While the layout of the ad was underwhelming, with no rhyme or reason why they placed the QR Code® where it is, it did take me to a clear call to action to buy two for one concert tickets for an upcoming performance.

I wondered why Big Deal Kansas City was sticking to a two-color ad in a four-color magazine, perhaps they were going for a retro look but again it was underwhelming. I give them high marks for technical execution and driving readers to a clear offer. I suspect their ROI was fairly strong.


QR Codes, QRB/E BOUTIQUE – 1 Star

Looks and layout matter, as was the case of B/E Boutique, a high-end gown company for special event attire.  B/E Boutiques/ QR Code® looked “well styled” in the ad, not too gaudy and large like other ads I see. However, where the code led me was as disappointing as being stood up for prom.

Upon scanning the code, I expected to be enticed with more Bob Mackey worthy dresses, only to be taken to a subscriber box asking for my email with no further explanation or enticement. Not happening B/E Boutique. Throw me some cubic zirconias or reasons why because I rarely sign up when I’m on my laptop let alone on the fly swiping for more info. Give me something before you ask for my precious email address.



QR code, QR

Mini Cooper’s German division ran a spot-on ad that matched its brand and image and led its prospects to pricing, location, and selection. Simple, but brilliant just like the car. You’ll note the QR Code® in the ad appears to have enough white space around it to make the scan technically executable.

QR code, QR

Technically it should work, but not in the real world.  Mini Cooper’s American division gets three swats on the tailgate for being clever but clueless. Mini Cooper’s agency obviously did not test the ad before running it because upon scanning your smart phone gets confused both because the ad does not having enough white edge around the QR Code® and the wave in the magazine makes it not scan flat and go into an endless cycle of not being able to complete the scan.

The ad was supposed to take prospects to an iTunes download that enabled them to place a Mini Cooper anywhere they wanted: visualize

This month think of your QR Code® placements as a prospect scavenger hunt. Make it fun, make it match the original piece, and make what they find worth the search. it in their driveway, on top of a mountain, in a restaurant chair beside them. However, many readers may have given up before successfully getting to the download link and installing the app that the QR Code® was supposed to take them to. In short, a lot of money spent on a full-page magazine ad to leave the prospects with an incomplete experience.

Are you managing your cross-channel marketing efforts through testing and analytics? Hope so.


QR Code® is a registered trademark of Denso Wave.

He Who Personalizes His Incentives Tees Up for Success

teeing up for great direct mail and VDPIf we’ve learned anything in the past few years, it’s to give away information to nurture relationships. E-books, whitepapers, and reports have become a standard carrot on blog and website menus.

Any successful company has a content-rich digital presence with a highly trafficked download area that is quietly capturing and developing relationships with customers who are not yet ready to engage.

To differentiate themselves from the pack, companies in several vertical market segments are getting really personal with their prospects to earn their business by offering more unique incentives to reward the action they want their customers and prospects to take.


A Hole in One

Pinehurst Golf Academy, a golf resort in North Carolina, wanted to drive enrollment to its Golf Academy. In a multichannel marketing campaign, it mailed a postcard that drove recipients to a personalized URL to take them to an online self-assessment of their golf game. Almost 12% went to the PURL and 26% of them completed the survey.

Based on their answers, responders were sent an eight-page roll-fold brochure with personalized and customized information regarding the weaker part of his/her golf techniques. Imagine the engagement upon receipt to get a tutorial to help their swing vs. a generic image piece or whitepaper.


Best Seat in the House

The Fulton Theatre in Lancaster, Pennsylvania executed a direct marketing campaign to sell tickets and solicit donations. Through a direct mail piece that incorporated more than 120 fields from the subscriber database, their campaign was a winner. It resulted in a 2,466% return on investment, 60% renewal rate and more than $661,000 in renewals and donations.

A color-seating chart was included so subscribers could view their seats and decide to upgrade or not. More than 5,000 different combinations were possible in the variable print piece. And though Fulton Theatre didn’t give subscribers a reward, they succeeded by personalizing the solicitation piece to the point each recipient had ownership in the Theatre and took pride in maintaining their stake in that season’s experience.


Designer Tees

NewPage, a paper manufacturer, wanted to drive attendees to its trade booth at the HOW Design Conference. Its pre-show mailing offered designers a free t-shirt that they could personalize with one of four phrases and choose male or female tailored styles. The result was 47% of recipients visited the landing page to complete the survey for the shirt. Response was off the charts. NewPage had to take down the landing page temporarily to order more shirts.

NewPage’s one size doesn’t fit all approach was a hit with designers who like any new means to express themselves.

At the same conference another vendor built customer relationships by doing a mailing that directed attendees to a landing page to sign up for a free ride from the airport to the conference. Approximately 214 people requested a ride from the airport via the Personalized URL. An additional 42 people signed up for a ride via other channels.

This demonstrates an incentive doesn’t have to be something tangible or even printable. A free ride is just as desirable as a t-shirt, upgraded seat or golf swing intervention.


Best Practices

Is your brain spinning with great personalization ideas? Use these takeaways from the personalized approaches above to connect with your customers this year.

  • Know your customer. Researching your audience and truly knowing what will move them into action is the key to your campaign.
  • Move beyond a first-name basis. Make sure you personalize your call-to-action pieces using rich variable elements far beyond a prospect’s first name. Your data field drop ins might be their favorite magazine, trade journal, years in the industry or golf club brand, the more you can speak to them one-on-one the better chance you have to hit a hole in one.
  • A good carrot gets eaten every time. While it’s easy to give customers rims of informational pieces on your industry or niche, take the time and spend the money to build an incentive that speaks directly to them such as a golf swing fix. There are hundreds of directions a ball can go upon being struck, but Pinehurst Golf Academy was fully vested in making sure their new member’s hit their ball straight up the middle.

QR Review: Two Home Runs, a Walk, and a Strikeout

Are you using QR Codes® in your direct mail and promotional materials because you think you should or to thoughtfully engage your prospect on a deeper level? Are you using these two-dimensional codes to engage your prospects on a three-dimensional level or are you just incorporating QR Codes® because it is the thing to do? The results I saw this week reminded me that not every marketer has a defined strategy for response.

This week I scanned four QR Codes® from promotions I saw on the street, in a newspaper, magazine, and on a postcard. Two of the codes led me to a URL that positively influenced my opinion of the company or produce, one led me to a web page that didn’t support my decision making, and the last led me to a disabled URL. Let’s take a closer look.


QR Codes, QR

Burlap Events — 5 Stars

In response to wedding budgets lower than Kim Kardasian’s, a video company called Burlap Events recently ran a well-crafted advertisement in a female dominant magazine with a QR Code® strategically placed beneath its phone number. With a quick scan, my smart phone redirected me to a mobile-compatible screen with a personality-rich video.  The experience made me want to give the company a try in future and refer it to my friends who might have a special event that’s worthy of a video.


Cates Auctioneers — 5 StarsQR codes, QR

Looking for repeat business, Cates stays in touch with real estate agents and investors. Cates sent a postcard that was well designed, just enough photos and text, and a QR Code® strategically placed next to its social media mentions. I scanned the code and conveniently was led to virtual tour of the home making me even more confident of the value and location of the property. Cates gets five stars for creating urgency and using both channels extremely well.


Jane Iredale Makeup — 2 Stars

Flipping through a woman’s magazine I’m surprised to find only one ad in 140 pages with a QR Code®. The advertisement is for a makeup line that is highly buzzed about for its natural ingredients, natural look, and is only carried in high-end salons. I scan the QR Code® in hopes to learn more and fall upon the company’s home page, which is not optimized for my small smart phone screen. Nothing references the ad and there’s no offer, just a couple of You Tube videos demonstrating how to apply the makeup.

I would have expected more for the price point of this makeup. Even hosting a video showing before and after shots of a woman wearing the makeup would have been more persuasive. Nothing deterred me from the product but nothing moved me further down the sales pipeline either.


Subdivision Notice– No Stars

Walking my subdivision, I decided for the first time to swipe the entrance sign. Perhaps I’d learn information about my property value, when the next community get together was, or something else of importance. The QR Code® took me to a URL that no longer existed. No confidence boost there. Perhaps I should notify my homes association or the developer.


It’s interesting to see how different companies in different industries are using QR Codes®. Check back for another QR code® review – good, bad, or ugly. In the meantime, remember these four important points before you publish a QR Code® in your marketing materials.

  1. Test the code. Sounds obvious but make sure it works and continue to check it on a regular basis.
  2. Give the prospect a payoff. A coupon, video, juicy information they normally would have had to work really hard to get qualifies.
  3. Mobilize the experience. Make sure the QR Code® leads to a landing experience tailored to a small screen size. Dropping a customer on a flash-heavy, slow to download page is counterproductive.
  4. Track the scan. Which ad pulled your prospect through to the landing page? If you’re going to use a code, measure the response.

QR Codes® are another tool to allow us to think through the experience and give our customers one more reason to work with us or buy our product. Otherwise, what’s the point?



QR Codes® are a registered trademark of Denso Wave.