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QR Codes Are Not Dead But Some Marketing Expert’s Careers Are

Would you trust a financial advisor who steered you into a large investment that failed a short time later? How about a politician that promises no raise in taxes and then you’re paying more taxes? Of course not! That is why the articles, written by “experts,” that pronounced QR codes dead are so disturbing.

The presence of new articles claiming QR codes to be dead are fewer and fewer these days. Those who tried incorrectly and failed have either given up or stopped mourning their dead campaigns and those who voiced their expert opinions, declaring the codes dead are in hiding. It seems that savvy marketers used their imagination and expertise to use QR codes in new, wondrous ways and succeeded.

In the article, “Is the Refusal to Use QR Codes Digital Darwinism?”, the reasons so many campaigns fail is because the use of QR codes are not done correctly and those who give up will die off in the competitive field of business.

Looking Into the Future

One of the many facts that surround QR codes is the advice from those who have used them wisely and well. Another is the growing list of iconic brands that employ the use of QR codes in their marketing outreach, and still another is mobile device manufacturers pre-loading QR scanning apps in those devices. One has to admit those are at least good signs that QR codes are still at least breathing.

It’s funny, in a pitiful way, that just a year or so ago, trusted publications and their pontificating experts looked into the future and saw all the wrong signs. How many are still employed as writers specializing in marketing trends? Probably too many!

On March 26th, 2013, AdAge online ran an article by B. L. Ochman, “QR Codes Are Dead, Trampled by Easier-to-Use Apps,” in which she states:

[pullquote]“I was an early proponent of QR Codes, but now I have to admit that they are history. Invisible ink and augmented-reality apps are replacing the clunky codes.”[/pullquote]

While Ms. Ochman, who’s byline credits her as “president of” and is “an internet marketing strategist and blogger.”

While she does expect augmented reality apps to take over the marketing push, she is wrong 13 months later. Will her reputation suffer due to this misreading of the market? Maybe. Maybe she has also changed her predictions and the Earth will not spin off into a great black hole in space, pushed by the growing use of QR codes.

Mashable, the go-to source for business and technology, in their August 19th, 2013 article, “Microsoft Tag Shuts Down as QR Codes Struggle” by Lauren Indvik, is not far off in the reasons QR codes had so many detractors but, oddly enough, she didn’t pay heed to what was going on at tech conferences and press releases when she wrote:

[pullquote]“It failed for the very same reasons that QR codes have failed to gain traction in the United States: Code readers haven’t come pre-loaded on major smartphone platforms and users have hardly been incentivized to download them – most of the time, they send you to a poorly optimized mobile website featuring a branded video or some other form of advertisement.”[/pullquote]

[pullquote]“Buggy whip thinking!” my great-grandfather used to mumble about repeating bad ideas based on the wrong motivation, yet still be saner than some of these writer’s predictions. He told and retold the moral of the manufacturers of leather horse saddles and buggy whips who were smart enough to use their expertise and ingenuity to start manufacturing leather car seats for Henry Ford while other manufacturers died off. Business Darwinism at its finest![/pullquote]

The much respected Bloomberg Businessweek, in their June 28th, 2012 article by Mark Milian, “QR Code Fatigue,” states:

[pullquote]“Over the last couple of years they’ve become much more common; in December 2011 they appeared in 8.4 percent of all magazine ads, up from 3.6 percent at the start of the year, according to marketing firm Nellymoser.”[/pullquote]

However, the author goes on to say:

[pullquote]“As a result, advertisers’ ‘initial enthusiasm has tempered,’ says Chia Chen, a senior vice president at the Publicis Group’s Boston-based Digitas. He estimates that 15 percent of his clients still use the codes.”[/pullquote]

Of course, there are lesser known blogs and writers who are brutal in their beliefs and predictions on the future of QR codes, as well as those who debate the point on various LinkedIn marketing groups and article comment sections around the internet. How embarrassing it must be to make a prediction that has yet to come true, if it does at all. These predictions stick around on the internet, sort of like a picture of yourself looking stylish during the 1980s. They just can’t be unseen and will embarrass you for generations to come.

The Mistakes are Admitted

To their credit, the writers mentioned did include the problems with misuse of QR codes, but they also failed to have the creative vision that propel the proper use of QR codes and that is the biggest mistake QR codes face. Like using a hammer to make a peanut butter sandwich, every tool has a proper use but when a kitchen counter is dented and discolored by hammer-bashed peanut butter, does it make sense to blame the hammer?

Be Crazy, Not Cautious

Any technology will eventually evolve or be replaced. Seeing into the future doesn’t happen outside of a Harry Potter book and reading the trades just might misinform those who put their trust in the written word and a familiar author. It takes research, an open mind and the ability to see beyond what the crowd is saying. As Steve Jobs so eloquently said:

“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

Those who proved QR codes are not dead or even twitching are the ones who were crazy enough not to listen to the nay-saying pundits. They innovated and created new ways to use QR codes while steering away from the limitations of sound marketing through a tool with limitless applications.

Image ©GL Stock Images

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