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Is the Refusal to Use QR Codes Digital Darwinism?

It never ceases to amaze anyone who knows the power of QR codes when someone in marketing declares that QR codes don’t work. Of course, that’s why some marketing initiatives do better than others. It’s not the codes themselves that spell failure but how they are used. The same can be said of any marketing push. If you don’t know the tools and how to use them, you can’t expect success.

Marketing History Before QR Codes

Even before QR codes were created, there were incredible marketing blunders and brands suffered greatly. The misuse of coupons and calls to action have always taken wrong turns by “marketing experts” and if you’ve ever sat in a conference room, mouth agape at a proposal for a marketing campaign you knew was doomed as it spilled out of the mouth of yet another marketing person in a long line of vice presidents who didn’t have the time in their position to even create a personalized butt print on their office chairs, those that refuse to use QR codes and declare them useless are akin to those who feared penicillin as a wonder drug for infections and venereal diseases.

It’s easy to mention venereal disease and foolish marketing in the same sentence as they are both the result of some “wangenstein” in the wrong place, at the wrong time. The pat answer to those who claim QR codes don’t work is that they haven’t been used properly.

The rules of marketing are fairly simple when boiled down: know your demographics and give them what they want and, most of all, create the need while using the product to fulfill that need.

Read: The Best QR Codes Ever!

QR Code Mistakes

It’s generally agreed that using a QR code has to have several important things to work properly:

  1. The code has to be scannable! Placing a QR code in an odd spot, high up on a billboard or a fast moving vehicle can’t be scanned. Codes that are made too small to save print area can’t be scanned.
  2. QR codes need a call to action to motivate consumers to scan them. The word “free” has a undeniable draw, as does the promise of discounts, more information and imaginative things that extend the product use (i.e., 50 recipes for that box of mac and cheese).
  3. The code has to be tied to a responsive design site so it will be easy to navigate on whatever device is used to scan it (i.e., a mobile phone, tablet and soon, Google Glass!).

Many marketing efforts use only one, or none of these rules and that spells disaster. So what is spawned from disaster? Failure and the laying of blame on the QR code because who wants to lose their cushy marketing job and paycheck?

Read: Why Do Some Marketers Hate QR Codes?

What Could Be Easier Than a QR Code?

There’s a reason smart phones now come with QR code scanning apps (and an app for the yet to emerge usage of NFC); consumers ARE using QR codes! Think about your own purchases. You stand in a store, looking at a package and you wonder something about it that’s not included on the box. Maybe there’s a URL you can key into your internet app on your mobile device. Here’s the steps you’ll have to take:

  1. Take out your phone, navigate to the internet app, hand key in the URL and land on the home page. How much time does that take you? Even if you have the newest device, you know it takes three or more minutes just to get to that point.
  2. Search for more information until you find the information you desire. How long will that take? Four minutes or more? That doesn’t include the time you’ll spend reading the information you desire.
  3. Get fed up because it really didn’t give you anything worth all of that time and effort.

If you’ve scanned a QR code and reported figures say that most people have, you know the steps involved:

  1. Take out your phone, hit the QR code scan app and scan the code. That’s about two minutes.
  2. View the information on the product (e.i., nutrition, recipes, video on the product usage and how it appears outside of the package, etc.). As with using a URL, the time you spend viewing the information called up through the QR code is quality time, but you’ve cut out four minutes of searching, which is an eternity when you’re standing in a retail store.

Read: Great Uses for QR Codes You Probably Didn’t Consider

Use the Power… or Wither Away!

The old saying is that there are two types of people in business; the quick and the dead. Add in increasing competition and the speed of the internet and you have to be quicker… or end up deader!

There is a plethora of articles claiming that scanning is on the rise. There are an equal, if not greater number of articles that have pronounced the codes to be dead. So, being a business person, looking for the best marketing methods, what do you believe to be true? Look at the evidence:

  1. Why would smart phone and tablet manufacturers continue pre-loading scan apps if the codes are dead?
  2. Would iconic, successful brands like Coke, Pepsi, Del Monte, Nestlé, Walmart, Volkswagen, McDonald’s and Adidas (just to name a few) use a dead technology for their marketing?
  3. QR codes are appearing on more products correctly, with unique and effective calls to action.
  4. There are more articles written about the success of QR code usage than there are about their failures.

QR codes have been established as the premier method to link between print and digital. Perhaps that will change in the future but will consumers wait for the future? Meanwhile, those who have given up on QR codes as a marketing tool are not fulfilling their brand potential and losing out to competitors. But, some brands have to die off. That’s Darwinism — survival of the fittest and QR codes are iron-hard tools while some marketers are stuck in the stone age.

Read: QR Codes are NOT Dead and T+ink is NOT the Killer

Image ©GL Stock Images

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