Marketers Don't Quite Get QR.

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I try to write about three times per week. Most of it is pretty good and will probably help you grow your business. If it doesn't, then I probably can't help you.

You can use a traditional RSS Feedreader with this fancy-dancy link. I think this approach is harder but if you want to do it the hard way, who am I to say otherwise?

You can use a traditional RSS Feedreader with this fancy-dancy link. I think this approach is harder but if you want to do it the hard way, who am I to say otherwise?

posted this on Friday, December 2, 2011 at about 8am.
Boston Market QR

In 1994, a Toyota subsidiary (Denso Wave) created a unique type of barcode called a QR code. QR stands for Quick Response. It was a great tool for tracking inventory (in their case, vehicles during the manufacturing process). It didn’t make sense from a marketing perspective because the masses didn’t have the QR scanners.

In the last few years, as smart phones have had the capability to scan these codes, marketers have started to use these codes more and more.

Most marketers are not using them properly.

The first application of a QR code for me personally was a year ago as I was buying a hard drive from Best Buy. I went online and found they had the best price but I decided to go buy it in the store. When I arrived at the store, I found the product was $30 higher than the online price. Upon asking for the price match, they weren’t sure if they could so I started browsing on my iPhone. I looked at the sticker on the shelf and noticed a QR code so I scanned it with my phone… it took me right to the product page online which showed the lower price. They matched the price.

It was a spectacular tool for me as a consumer.

I like to view the QR code as a way to link our analog and our digital worlds together. It’s like putting a hyperlink on a piece of paper.

The biggest problem, however, is that many marketers that are starting to use the QR code haven’t quite figured out the fact that if you scan a Web link with your smart phone, your webpage to which it links should be mobile optimized.

Recently, I was in two restaurants… one did it right and the other did it wrong. (I love both of these restaurants so I’m not disparaging them in any way).

Costa Vida

The first restaurant (bad example) is Costa Vida. On the left in the image below is the table tent that shows a call to action. It says, “Join the revolution.” I’m not sure what that exactly means but, notice the bottom right corner of the left image, it says, “Just scan with your smartphone.” It then provides a handy QR code.

On the right is the screenshot from my iPhone. It took me right to his blog. It took me to a page that was not optimized for my smart phone. I could leave a comment on the blog, if I wanted. I’m not sure how to join this revolution or even what the revolution is. This video was loaded by “admin” on Sept. 21, 2011 and, as of the date on my post here, there were no comments on the blog. I’m not sure how many people actually scanned the QR code in their 43 locations but I think that the minimum expectation for people scanning the code is some sort of joining in via an email list, Facebook page, community something-or-other.

Costa Vida

Boston Market

The second restaurant (good example) is Boston Market. On the left is the table tent that shows an even more clear call to action than our Costa Vida example. The QR code is far more prominent. Boston Market also did a much better job of making the call to action very obvious as a benefit to the customer. You’ll notice on the left side is the screen shot of the page that I saw on my iPhone after scanning the QR code. You can see that the page on my mobile device is optimized for this experience. Big buttons and clear text. I know exactly what they want me to do when I get there.

Boston Market

In the end…

There are many other uses for a QR code but linking to a webpage is the most obvious for marketers right now. I think we still have a little way to go before we see QR being using extensively well in marketing in the United States… but I don’t think we are too far. It’s used extensively in other countries like Japan. I think it’s really going to come down to enough companies using it properly.

Your next step is to try it out on simple marketing pieces… but you want to test it every time to

Corey Smith and his wife are the proud parents of five wonderful children and live in Meridian, Idaho. He is the president of Tribute Media, a Meridian based Web Consulting firm.

He is the author of two books, "Do It Right: A CEO's Guide to Web Strategy" and "Tweet It Right: A CEO's Guide to Twitter." You can learn more about his books here.

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