Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
June 14, 201110:27 PM

QR Codes And The Great Lunchbag Letdown

Mobile Marketing professionals are very excited about QR codes and their marketing prowess. I'm a little less excited.

In theory, QR Codes sound awesome. Your consumer sees an advertisement that engages them, they whip out their mobile device, snap a picture of the QR code that sits on the advertisement and they're suddenly catapulted into an immersive brand experience that can live beyond the physical limitations of a print ad. This is what advertising integration has promised for over a decade. We're finally at a unique moment in time where capturing a QR code is becoming much more commonplace as people not only what it is (and how to get it), but it's no longer a really geeky thing to do. On top of that, mobile technology is solid. You can do some pretty amazing things in the palm of your hand.

Too bad we're mucking it up (again).

Shill, pitch or give up data. Is that the best we can do? I've been biting my tongue for months on this (and yes, there are always a handful of exceptions to the rule), but we're really missing the boat (err... opportunity) here (again). Every time I make the effort to launch my QR code reader and stick it in front of an ad, I'm confronted with either a pretty lame mobile version of a website (which is full of random calls to action that have no bearing on me and where I physically am) or it's some kind of loyalty scheme where I can sign up to get an e-blast or some such.

You have me. Create an experience.

Having a QR code on an ad simply to pander to the clients and checkbox the "mobile marketing" portion of your integrated advertising campaign is not only a bad advertising experience it's a really negative brand experience that lingers. Think of the additional effort and permission that a customer is giving you to take out their mobile and spend the time to access your additional goodness... and that's what you give them? Marketers have to up their game. A link to a YouTube video is simply not enough. Mobile - in and of itself - is a unique experience, so if you can't take the time to creatively think about how a QR code component to your campaign can really be something special for those who walk the extra mile with your brand - especially taking into account where they are when they access it - you may as well drop it from your marketing mix.

It's not too late.

As more and more people download QR code readers and tinker with the technology, it still has not been adopted by the masses. It's not as big/vital as text messaging and it's not nearly as popular as other mobile apps (yet). That's the good news. Let's chalk all of this really bad QR code marketing up to "experimentation", but it's time to move on. Let's start getting both strategic and creative in doing something that matters when people grab on to your brand from the palm of their hand. Think about utilitarian marketing, think about something unique, think about something captivating and think about giving them something exclusive (something just for them). The idea here is to capture them and make them want to share your QR code experience. Get them to talk about it and - ultimately - turn to everyone around them and say, "you gotta check this out!" The bar is currently set pretty low, so there's some good ground for some smart marketers to gain.

Mobile marketing needs to scream, "you gotta check this out!" Right?

(blog note: just saw this article on a flight: MobileInsider - How Not to Dig a QR Rabbit Hole... there must be something in the air).

By Mitch Joel


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