What is this thing exactly?
The simple answer might be an odd looking black and white square that looks more like an inkblot from the Rorschach test than it does a marketing tool. They are now gaining ground, mainly being displayed in magazines, brochures and other types of print media. Out of the box thinkers are even taking it a step further and displaying their codes on city street posts, billboards and even rooftops (At this point you may be thinking “Why would someone display one on a rooftop?” I thought that too. Apparently Google Earth picks them up. Pretty creative if you ask me).
The real answer, a QR (Quick Response) Code is a two-dimensional bar code which has information encoded in it. This information can be anything from a URL to a viral video. These creative tools link offline information to online content and have the potential to do amazing things for a company.
The above articles give creative ways to get started using these codes. They also show how to convert these codes into a complete marketing campaign.
The main takeaway with QR Codes, just like any other Public Relations or Advertising campaign/tool, is knowing the target audience. After all, targeting the wrong audience with these things would be completely useless and it would waste time and effort.
Here is an example of this: This summer, I tried to implement a campaign at my workplace. (Unfortunately it was just a seasonal job. So when I left to return to school the idea fell apart. Anyway). It was an apartment community. My goal was to create 10 different codes, one for each of our floor plans at our property, with a different video embed in each one that contained a virtual tour of each unit. We would then place these codes onto signs in front of select units. The overall goal being a prospect could walk the property with their Smartphone, scan these signs/codes and watch a virtual tour of the inside of the unit without help from the staff.
An obstacle? The Smartphone.
Why is this a target audience issue? Well, Smartphones tend to be held by people with a little exposable income on their hands. Even my Blackberry struggled with the video. An iPhone would be much more useful in this case.
Our property is one of the more expensive properties in Columbus, Ind. Almost everyone there has a high paying job and they don’t mind shelling out money for the best technology. So, our campaign relied on the fact that people had the correct phone. If we went ahead with this campaign in a lower income property with people that don’t have the correct phones, it would have failed. No doubt about it.
So knowing everything about you audience and the tools they use is crucial when using QR Codes just like in PR and Advertising. Many people will just throw these codes on a brochure and be done. This isn’t creative and will get lost in the shuffle. Although QR Codes are easy to make, people still have to have a specific goal to truly take advantage of them.
Some people may label QR Codes as a simple fad that will die out. The same thing was said about Social Media and we all know how that turned out. Plus if these did turn out to be just a fad that company with a QR Code on their roof would be highly upset.