Editor’s note: Torsion Mobile kicks off a daily feature – QR Code Hit or Miss (check it out). We are gathering QR Code uses large and small and analyzing them for effectiveness. Our goal is learning from both successes and mistakes already made in deploying a key component to the future of mobile marketing. What follows is some observations about QR Code use to date by Torsion Mobile’s Chief Marketing Officer Brooke Benschoter.
After recently spending a few days with some of the best and brightest in the advertising agency world at the BOLO 2012 conference — it dawned on me that QR Codes are getting a bad rap. A few of the folks I was with actually blamed a QR Code for the failure of a campaign they had launched for a client. Some declared they were giving up QR Codes and would never use them again. All I can say, as the mobile explosion is about to go off, is that is like giving up print or online in the advertising and marketing tool box. And as a fellow marketer, I have to ask — who in their right mind would do that?
The QR Code or the Quick Response Code was invented in 1994 to track the manufacturing process at Toyota – Japan. It wasn’t until about 2009 that anyone thought to use it in marketing or more specifically, to tie the world of print and internet together at time when they were clearly going head to head for a share of the marketing and advertising dollars spent.
Is Slapping a Strategy?
If you look at the use of QR Codes since that time, they are often slapped on materials from t-shirts to freeway billboards (now come on, scanning at 65 mph?) with little thought to the strategy and what experience actually scanning the code delivered to the end user – the customer – the person we are all here to persuade to do something.
Many brands were guinea pigs for the mindset that just using QR Codes was enough to make the brand appear cool. No thought was given to the landing page or website the consumer would be experiencing. When QR Code-driven campaigns failed, it was the fault of the odd little square rather than the creative and account management people at agencies who made the decision to use the tool in the first place.
Time for Honesty
No marketing executive would use any other tool in his or her toolbox with such lack of regard or gay abandon. No advertising guru would place a billboard or buy a radio spot without thinking about what exactly the purpose was and what the expected return on investment would be. Perhaps because QR Codes cost little or nothing but ink to deploy, decision makers diminished the investment as well. Using a disruptive technology for the sake of disruption is poor judgment, no matter what business you are in.
QR Codes are finding their way into other areas of life as businesses see them as a strategic way to deliver information, take orders or connect with their target customer on a more operational level. QR Code integration may well be led by the commerce that will be generated as mobile use grows.
If we are honest with ourselves as marketers, we had the first chance and we blew it. To have a “do over,” we need to be educating consumers, telling them what they will get by scanning a QR Code, offering the a url to type in if they prefer and then delivering a quality mobile experience once they get there.
I believe we advertising and marketing people owe the QR Code an apology and more importantly, a second and more strategic thoughtful chance.
Brooke Benschoter, APR has more than 25 years of experience in communications and integrated marketing including award-winning branding, advertising and public relations with organizations such as Pioneer Hi-Bred, Meredith Corporation, ITAGroup, National Pork Board and Drake University. Her career started in broadcast journalism as a reporter, producer, and anchor and grew to include agency management and consulting experience at what is now Meyocks Group and Strategic America. Brooke calls herself a branding geek, having worked with brands that include Kraft, Home Depot, Compaq Computer, Better Homes and Gardens, Tone’s, Frito Lay, USS Iowa, and Mary Engelbreit. Most recently, Brooke was Senior Strategic Consultant for Strategic America, a premier channel and field marketing agency.