Posts tagged QR Codes
It still amazes me how much money marketing giants spend on flawed campaigns. This week I’m going to analyze three companies that ran full page, full color print ads with strong call to actions that lead their prospects down “the road to Abilene”.
The Abilene Paradox is when a group of people collectively decide on a course of action that takes them where no one really wanted to go in the first place. The concept was formed by Jerry B. Harvey who used this analogy to describe it.
A family is comfortably sitting on the front porch playing dominos until the father-in-law brings up taking a trip to Abilene (53 miles away) for dinner. The mother-in-law says that would be nice. The daughter and her husband agree. Four hours later they return exhausted and each confess this was a trip that not one of them really wanted to take.
Three Guilty Companies Lead Prospects Down the Wrong Road
This week, I pulled full page ads ran by UPS, SAS, and Reach Marketing. Each ad was well designed, eye catching, mostly benefit vs. pain front loaded and contained a QR Code®*.
The advertisements were artistically correct but imperfect in other areas beyond where the QR Code led prospects. Here is where each advertisement fell short.
The headline “Reach for Success” is not original; in fact some might consider it lame.
Putting the eight faces of Reach Marketing’s salespeople on the ad probably stroked their egos, but I wonder if it made the phone ring.
Finally, the fact that the QR Code lead prospects to a webpage with multiple options of signing up for a newsletter (Oh boy), testing the prospecting database or reading a bunch of bullets and copy is fairly vague. What do you want us to do, Reach Marketing? Focus on the SINGLE action you want your prospect to take. Take us there, not to Abilene.
Hurrah UPS for using the power of three. They quickly offer up three proven ways to generate customer loyalty in the growing online shopping world with an emphasis on their ability to ensure easy returns – a big hot button for online shoppers.
The UPS ad is clean and uses white space brilliantly. The eye is immediately directed to a tempting QR Code right after you absorb the three benefits of working with UPS. Unfortunately, the QR Code leads you to a place worse than Abilene. It leads you to this message, “The server understands the request but is refusing to fulfill it. Error 403: Forbidden.” I think we’ll all agree on this one, that’s the wrong message for a fulfillment and shipping company.
SAS used the David Ogilvy philosophy of, tell a compelling story in your ad and the prospect will read and respond regardless of the length of the copy. The headline “Big Data” ties to the custom URL “SAS.com/BigValue,” which leads me to believe there will be a big price tag for their services.
Nevertheless, I love the meaty callouts on the right side of the ad that show big time results of reducing calculation times from 96 to 4 hours and optimize pricing down from 30 hours to 2. That screams tell me what you can do with my bloated database.
So I was happy to scan the QR Code and be taken to a YouTube video featuring a Bank of America executive, Jim Goodnight, giving a testimonial. Unfortunately Mr. Goodnight nearly put me to sleep with his dull, all-talk, no-graphics presentation. However, of the three companies, SAS’ QR Code was the closest to not leading me down the road to Abilene.
Where are your QR Codes taking your prospects?
*QR Code is a licensed trademark of Denso Wave
At 17 Johanna (the daughter of one of our team members) is receiving at least 17 pieces of mail a month. Colleges and universities have her number and want her signature on their enrollment papers.
Postcards, letters, self mailers, and view books are coming in from Ottawa University, Iowa State, Park University, the University of Kansas, Washburn University and even Montana State, all attempting to woo Johanna.
Iowa State Tempts Students and Tracks Results
Iowa University’s mailing may look old-fashioned in its #10 window envelope containing a pre-paid return envelope and information request form. However, look closer and you’ll see great bait – The Essential Guide to Finding Your College! It can be Johanna’s by simply going to URL and typing in her easy to track User Name and ID. If she enters this micro-site, she’ll also gain access to a dashboard that allows her to pick the campus activities she might like. Doing so will further arm Iowa State with personal info to use to push Johanna’s buttons in the next touch point or direct mail piece.
Iowa knows from a Cappex study that the most influential recruitment channel is a campus visit (74% surveyed students) followed by a college’s website (59%). So Iowa is handing out tools that seem altruistic, but are intended to lure the student to their campus for a look/see.
Park University Pushes Benefits
Park University mailed Johanna a series of self mailers boasting its student benefits of being adult-friendly and transfer-friendly. Unlike Iowa University, the direct mail pieces contained QR Codes® that take prospective students to information about its eight-week and 16-week programs that help students complete their studies for less money in less time.
Park’s pieces are professional looking and sized in such a way that they can’t be ignored in Johanna’s mailbox.
Ottawa University Hurls Purls
Of the three schools, Ottawa University had the least professional looking direct mail piece though it utilized several tools well – variable data, a personalized URL, and a strong call to action. Johanna was personally invited to Ottawa’s June’s Sizzlin’ Summer Search Day where she’ll get a tour of the university and a free gift. To get a student to trek out to a small town of 12,000 in Western Kansas to tour or commit two-to-four years of her life might require a bigger carrot or stronger strategy.
Finding the Stealth Student
It is estimated that across the U.S., approximately 30% of all college applicants for the fall 2008 semester applied to their college(s) of choice without ever filling out an inquiry card at a college fair. In the world of admissions, these applicants are commonly referred to as “stealth applicants.”
The national rise in stealth applicants, which is expected to increase to 40% in the next year, means that universities are slowly losing their ability to communicate with prospective students at the inquiry level. As a result, universities must evaluate the ways in which they are communicating with applicants, and they must make sure that these strategies are in alignment with the elusive stealth applicants’ preferred mode of communication.
So which University is Johanna leaning toward in these very early stages? None of the above, at this point. Johanna should be considered part of the stealth student population because she’s considering a two-year community college and then finding a university with a good transfer program. Park University wins the communications award for mentioning this benefit.
QR Code is a registered trademark of Denso Wave.
Thanks to three luxury brands, QR Codes® are officially vogue. Fendi, Ferrari and Ferragamo, are flaunting them in their multi-channel marketing, on their products and in their fashion museums. More importantly they’re doing so with style, finesse, and technically flawless integration into their brands. Applause.
In 2011 the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts created a QR-code-collage portrait of Picasso for its exhibition Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris. The custom QR is a work of art in itself.
Look how this Fendi handbag print ad uses a QR Code sparingly, which screams class and clout in just four words and two images. It doesn’t get much cleaner: Brand + Image + QR Code. The code takes users to a simple nine-menu website for their easy entrance into boutique locations, breaking, news or online shopping.
Interestingly and daringly, Fendi uses the QR Code as the only call to action in this advertisement that it ran in the U.S. and U.K. No ULR, no personalized URL (PURL), no 800 number, no boutique addresses – the ad totally banks on QR as the only call to action.
From a fashionista’s perspective, Jenny Oh at Jen Rocks Fashion, QR Codes resemble the classic hounds tooth print so they blend perfectly into the direct marketing of fashion brands like Fendi and Ferragamo. Perhaps with this observation in mind, you’ll never call a QR Code ugly again.
Ferragamo Museum Educates Visitors with QR Codes
Situated in Florence, the Ferragamo museum opened in 1995 to delight the senses of museum visitors, show the history of Ferragamo shoes, and educate attendees through QR Codes. Critics say the exhibition is worth exploring, not just by lovers of fashion but also by anyone interested in interactive museology.
Besides photographs, patents, sketches, books, magazines and wooden lasts of various famous feet, the museum boasts a collection of draws 10,000 models designed by Ferragamo from the end of the 1920′s until 1960, the year of his death.
The Gucci Museum follows in the steps of Salvatore Ferragamo by opening its own museum to boost its image in an increasingly competitive global luxury market. Gucci uses QR Codes in its museums and image ads. Notice once again, the code is the only call to action in these ads that showcase the power of QR is all the information can be packed in the destination of the URL if the image and headline is powerful enough to drive the CTA.
QR Codes Go Zoom Zoom
A Ferrari (Risi Competizione’s F458GT) sported a QR Code on the hood and rear of its million-dollar body at the Sebring International Raceway, Florida. The QR Code also appears on team uniforms and when scanned takes enthusiasts to its website. The website is not mobilized but who cares it’s a Ferrari!
How are you glamming up your multi-channel marketing with QR Codes? Are you shining the light on your brand and letting QR lead them to the next step?
QR Code® is a registered trademark of Denso Wave.
Many restaurants across America are asking diners to leave their phones on during their meals. These restaurants are using multi-channel campaigns to entertain you and even talk to you while you wait for your meal to be prepared.
Applebee’s with its QR Code® enabled campaign is one of those restaurants. While there are many organizations using QR Codes in their cross-channel marketing, few are leading diners to a landing page that is buzz-worthy like Applebee’s. Printed material at the table utilizes a two-dimensional code that delivers a page with a Persian cat that tells jokes for two minutes.
Applebee’s campaign and the landing page don’t disappoint unlike so many QR Codes® that lead you to a page that makes you wonder why you bothered. Too many campaigns lead to a page asking you to opt-in to a list but offering no reward or incentive?
Applebee’s multi-channel campaign was developed to increase lunch sales among that targeted audience that wanted food fast and good – think about the quick stop at Chipolte or Panera because you don’t want to be late returning to work. Staff members told the diners about the promotion as they were seated and shown a three-sided tabletop tent featuring a 2D code where the cat’s mouth should be. Those who scanned the QR Code® were immediately taken to an animated video of the lower half of the cat’s face.
By holding up their phone to the table tent, they watched and listened to a cat entertain them for two minutes – all part of filling the precious gap of time while their drinks are being retrieved and meal prepared in less than 14-minutes.
Table Cat QR portion of the campaign has seen a very high level of activation — 30,000 in the first months, and 65,000 to date — indicating its popularity with the public. The agency that came up with both the lunch guarantee and QR campaign reports that their client saw a 10% increase in lunch traffic and nearly a 5% rise in total lunch sales during the campaign.
To avoid frustrating rather than entertaining diners, the agency put the You Tube URL just beneath the QR Code so patrons could access the video even if the scan failed to render the video properly.
Applebee’s also included the Table Cat video on its Facebook page where it received 6,000 likes.
Other Ways Restaurants Can Engage Customers with QR Codes
These little 2D barcodes are helping to reshape the way restaurants communicate with customers. Beyond Applebee’s successful lunch campaign, here are eight other ways restaurants are educating and engaging customers.
- History: Be it a national chain or local mom and pop diner, customers love to know the history. QR Codes are a great way to connect customers to that information.
- Nutritional Facts: Patrons appreciate being able to make well-informed meal selections. Because nutrition facts can take up a lot of inventory, use QR Codes to take them to the ingredient lists and nutritional facts.
- Recipes: If you’re not guarding the recipes, share them with a QR Code that takes patrons to a video showing the preparation of the meal or the complete recipe.
- Coupons/Specials: Consider creating a QR coupon that can be scanned to reveal special discounts or offers. The patron can show their smartphone displaying the ad to the cashier or server to get the deal.
- Customer Surveys: Add a QR Code to the customer’s receipt that leads him/her to a survey to complete along with a reward for doing so. This is an invaluable way to learn more about their experience so you can make improvements.
- Location: QR Codes can link to Internet sites, which include Google Maps. Consider creating a webpage that has your contact information and a Google Map to direct patrons to your eatery.
- Events: Lead your patrons to a web page that displays your upcoming calendar of events. The QR Codes can allow easy access to events and allow consumers to download the calendars to their phones, ensuring they have the info they need to attend the event at the time of the event.
- Education: If you own a restaurant that does something special and sets it apart you can share these attributes or any distinguishing techniques in a promotional video that makes for efficient, ongoing marketing.
So the next time you eat out, don’t leave your smartphone in the car. You may need it for a coupon, entertainment, a free download or entry into a drawing. Prepare to scan, drink and be merry.
QR Code® is a registered trademark of Denso Wave
QR Codes® are now being placed on tombstones. There are even smart phone apps that read tombstone QR codes and allow family members to read biographies, see family photo albums and a family tree showing which trunk the deceased resided followed.
If your company is currently using QR Codes to take prospects to instant gratification such as a time-sensitive coupon or seasonal offer, terrific. However, consider the long-term as well as short-term ROI?
Imagine it is 2112 and your company is celebrating its centennial anniversary. As part of the big day your public relations agency sponsors a citywide geocaching treasure hunt to unearth a time capsule that can only be unlocked with a QR Code that will lead the winner to corporate prizes of historic value tied to your products or services.
Levi Strauss could use QR Codes to lead geocachers to 100-year old jeans worth up to $17,000 according to some recent eBay bids or a bank or investment firm could lead treasure hunters with QR Codes to buried collectible coins dated the same year as the anniversary of their company.
The beauty of QR Codes is the landing page or microsite you lead your customer to can be updated and changed as often as needed over time making your campaign timeless.
Is the founder of your company forward thinking enough to be followed, quoted, and covered in the media through the decades? If so consider building a microsite you can lead admirers and analysts to through a quick response (QR) code that summarizes the high points of those business beliefs.
Print QR Codes on bookmarks that can be given away in the biography section of local libraries or bookstores near your headquarters, franchises or stores. Are you thinking strategically in your use of QR Codes as they can be used in public relations campaigns, not just in direct mail, multi-channel campaigns, and integrated marketing? Think about QR usages in 5, 10, and 100 year increments for product or corporate anniversaries.
Timeless Uses of QR Codes
While QR Codes are great to illicit a quick response, what applications can you imagine to unharness a huge response – even if it’s planning years ahead? Below is a possible list of timeless uses you can incorporate with the use of two-dimensional bar codes.
- Mapping for scavenger hunts and geocaching events
- Marketing of museum exhibits
- Commissioning of artwork, murals, new logo announcements
- Announcing of corporate time capsules
- Releasing of corporate anthologies, biographies
- Showcasing of info on headquarter rooftops, (like Phillips in Austin did below)
- Unveiling of leadership bronze statues or corporate headquarter signage
Yes QR Codes can pay dividends in your cross media marketing right here, right now, but what are you doing to land your company on the cover of Deliver, Fast Company or in marketing history books for forward thinking integrated marketing or out of the ballpark PR? Wouldn’t it be a coup for your company to be referred to every time QR strategy is mentioned 50 years from now just like Steve Jobs is in every innovation lecture?
Look into the future and build the ultimate content campaign for generations to enjoy and talk about. The potential of QR Codes in your business’ future is immense; far bigger than a one by one square on a postcard.
QR Codes are a registered trademark of Denso Wave.
Fast Company is the gospel for entrepreneurs wanting to learn success secrets from entrepreneurial greats such as Jack Dorsey of Twitter and Mark Crumpacker of Chipotle. Dorsey was featured on the front cover of Fast Company’s March 2012 issue, which covered the 50 most innovative companies in the world.
In that same March issue you can do a quick flip through 150 pages of “fast” companies on the leading edge and see who is hunting, who is skinning, and who is showing marketing moxie using QR Codes® that make Fast Company readers want to scan, engage, and perhaps buy.
I loved the advertisement by Manta in this Fast Company issue. And, at first I didn’t want to read the text-heavy advertisement by PNC bank, but found myself reading every word of Eric Abbey’s story (Eric is a fast growing manufacturer of pet products).
Manta Drives Sales with QR Code
Manta is an online directory geared to small businesses that want to increase Internet-driven sales. Manta’s ad features Larry, owner of Grandma’s Italian Cheesecake, smiling with a scrumptious cake in hand and QR Code cleverly placed on the oven’s dial begging prospects to turn up the heat on their business by hearing Larry’s success story.
Manta’s QR Code leads to a terrific one-minute testimonial from small business owner Larry positioned by the waterside sharing how sales have jumped from 10 to 50 orders a week because of Manta. It doesn’t hurt that they sprinkle in that Larry went from banker to baker in part of a layoff and has hit the kitchen running thanks to Manta’s jump-start.
Until next week, happy skimming, planning, testing, and engaging your prospects with great content and QR Codes that seamlessly take your prospect from curious to customer.
PNC Bank Engages Readers with Good Story and QR Code
PNC Bank takes a similar advertising approach by showcasing an existing customer who has overcome an obstacle.
In this copy heavy but thoroughly engaging ad, PNC shares how Loving Pet’s owner Eric Abbey was enjoying astronomical growth accompanied by the need for more cash to fill orders for fast selling products like the 330,000 Bella Bowls ordered that month.
The QR Code leads to a full menu of customer videos, including Eric’s. The ad’s successful formula problem/solution was accentuated with a small move clip sharing that month’s happy ending about fulfilling those huge orders thanks to the help of PNC bank.
The moral of the Manta and PNC ads are the power of a well crafted consumer experience. Give readers the opportunity to relate to the characters in the ad, how those characters had a problem and how the advertiser solved that problem. It is simply an ad that becomes a case study – or vice versa.
Until next week, happy skimming, planning, testing, and engaging your prospects with great content and QR Codes that seamlessly take your prospect from curious to customer.
QR Code® is a registered trademark of Denso Wave.
Who says an old dog can’t learn new tricks. Zig Ziglar, 82-year old motivational maverick, salesperson, and author just published his 12th book, Find Your Success Code: Born to Win, which features a QR Code® that takes up one third of the front cover.
Ziglar is no doubt pulling out all the stops to hit another home run just as he did nearly four decades ago with See You at the Top, which sold 1.6 million copies and is currently in its 25th edition.
Like Madonna’s tactic of staying relevant by doing duets with Brittany Spears, Christina Aguilera, Nicki Minaj, or Cee Lo Green, Ziglar is staying relevant by using today’s technology to drive his point home – find your success code. According to Publishing Perspective, QR Codes might become commonplace with publishers.
Vibe Magazine Tries to Push the Needle with QR
Last year, Vibe magazine introduced its first digital magazine, available only via a QR Code on the cover. Though the hip hop magazine had been featuring QR Codes inside for three months, this was the first time it graced the cover. Unfortunately, somebody forgot to test the code, which was without the http:// necessary for most readers to open the link in a browser.
Learn the lesson… TEST, TEST, and then RE-TEST with lots of different phones and in lots of different ways.
Other Uses of QR Beyond the Cover
If you are authoring corporate coffee table books, CEO biographies, company history books or success stories like Steve Jobs, there are many other uses of the emerging technology to consider.
Here are a few starts on how you can leverage QR codes in your publications:
- Use a Twitter QR Code so readers are prompted to follow the author or tweet comments about the publication
- Link to templates or applications for tracking personal improvements (think Self Help)
- Link to a shopping list of ingredients the reader needs (think Recipe book)
- Link to a map and describe the location (travel books)
- Link to an audio file demonstrating pronunciation (think Language guides)
- Link to a video demonstration how to perform what you’re describing (product guides)
- Link to additional content relevant to the article, game, contest (think Facebook)
- Conduct surveys, gather feedback (think readership studies on your corporate magazine)
Obviously as a marketer, uses of QR Codes are endless. If you decide to use them in your materials, here are the five golden rules.
- Provide some instructions to the reader so they know how to use the code
- Drive to mobile friendly content that enhances their learning
- Include the URL in case the reader prefers to gain the information via a computer, not a mobile device
- Add value to the reader by making the additional content relevant
- Track the performance of your codes or what’s the point
- Test the codes before publishing (do we really need to say why you have to test… see the Vibe comments above)
For nine more ideas on how to turn your book or magazine into a multi-media experience, visit Start a Wildfire. Now take a 15-minute brainstorming coffee break to re-think and re-invent your existing publications and approach, just like Ziglar did.
QR Code® is a registered trademark of DensoWave.