QR Code Me!

QR codes are being talked about everywhere. When should you use them? What can you put them on? How well do they work?

Or how about wearing one? Seriously, people are doing it.

QR codes on clothing used to be a way for college kids to direct people to their Facebook pages. Today, QR codes are morphing into traveling business cards. Consider the emergence of a company called iD Shirt. Their website lets you choose what you want to put on a shirt – your business or personal contacts; a link to your Facebook or LinkedIn profile, Twitter ID, or other URL – and simply hit “generate code.” You can then use the code yourself or have it printed on a t-shirt. You instantly become a mobile billboard!

To unlock the code and add contacts or view the content, someone just scans it with an app-equipped mobile phone. Their phone accesses the content and your contacts are automatically transferred to it. Check it out at http://www.idshirt.net/.

I’m tempted to purchase one and wear it around just to see how many people will scan it. It may seem a bit weird, walking up to someone and taking a picture of their shirt, but the wearer is a walking invitation after all.

The point here is the extent to which QR codes are beginning to integrate into our culture. From billboards to business cards, from student t-shirts to corporate trade show attire. Magazines, direct mail, coffee cups, restaurant menus, and college textbooks. Just look around; QR codes are everywhere — maybe even on you.

My Latest Thoughts on Marketing Print

  • Don’t overpromise and underdeliver. A printer in Ohio promotes PURL campaigns and touts response rates of 25% on their home page. Regardless of how it’s worded, that extraordinary success rate is what people will see, remember and expect. Why set your customers up for disappointment?
  • Extra effort matters. According to Seth Godin, it’s the last 10% of quality that requires the greatest amount of effort.  But it’s also the last 10% that will set your company apart from the competition; the other 90% is the easy part that everyone is doing. A little extra attention to your website, your phone routing system, marketing efforts, etc., will always give you a competitive advantage.
  • Useful content means competitive edge. Too many websites are short on great content and long on “blah.”  Not only does that type of self-promotion significantly impact search engine optimization, it also detracts from any competitive advantages your company may have. Your website must answer one central question: What makes your company unique? I’ll cover this topic more in future issues but for now, the message is simple. Start now (and don’t stop) adding content to your website that will offer value to visitors. Blogs, newsletters, and white papers are great examples.

I spend at least two hours of my day seeking out and reading articles that I think would be of value to the print community. It’s far too much info for me to be writing about in our Marketing Briefs, so I’ve begun posting a few of these each week on our company’s Facebook page. Please follow us if you’d like to read these.

QR Campaigns: A Surprising Success Story

More people are wondering these days: Do QR codes really increase response rates?

Insqribe, a company that provides a real-time QR analytics platform, recently published a success story. One of its clients, Letterbox Deals, used QR codes to launch their first print catalog in Sydney, Australia. The objective was to build awareness and promote the brand through a direct mail sweepstakes that gave away Dell notebook computers. Recipients could enter the contest either by logging directly onto the Letterbox Deals website or by using a QR code found in the mailing.

The results were quite interesting:

  • Fully 25% of entries were submitted via QR code to mobile site
  • 60% of QR code respondents downloaded a code reader to enter the competition
  • A 25%  of the QR code scans occurred within people’s homes

One of the perceived barriers to wider QR code use has been that not every mobile phone comes pre-installed with a reader. Yet with proper motivation (in this case, a chance to win something), nearly two-thirds of those who used the QR code downloaded a reader to do so. This suggests that not having a reader pre-installed on the user’s cell phone is not necessarily an obstacle — if the incentive is right. Admittedly, not every campaign gives away free PCs, but there are many other offers that would also work.

Also interesting is that, according to Insqribe’s data, one-fourth of the entries came from people scanning the QR codes at home. Most respondents could have entered through a home computer, but they chose to use the QR codes with their mobile phones instead. Was it out of convenience, coolness, or some other factor? Whatever the reason, the campaign was a success.

So again we ask: Do QR codes work? For the right campaigns and the right markets, you bet!

Dialogue Marketing: It’s All About Customer Communications

The following was excerpted from an article by Customer Communications Group.

Why use customer communications? Customer communications CAN impact your bottom line. The case to use customer communications mirrors in many ways the case to invest in relationship marketing. A customer communications strategy may be for you if your objectives are to:

  1. Enhance your relationships with your customers
  2. Upsell and cross-sell products and services
  3. Retain customers (especially best customers)
  4. Build loyalty and advocacy among customers

Build Credibility. Newsletters allow you to build your company’s credibility as an expert by providing customers with educative information.

Convey Information. Got a lot to say? Have plenty of information to share? Customer communications work well if you need to convey complex information about your products or services on an ongoing basis.

Break Through the Clutter. Customer communications can be an excellent tool to break through junk-mail clutter. If it offers valuable information to the customer, rather than just trying to sell products, a newsletter can become something that the customer anticipates, especially when sent frequently and regularly.

Deciding Whether to Seek Help or Go Out of House. Don’t have the resources in-house? Consider taking your project to an agency. Being consistent is the key.

Musings on Marketing Print – Part II

  • More print providers are effectively utilizing social media as part of their marketing mix. Those that do not will be at a competitive disadvantage.
  • Marketing content is now about creating two-way discussions with your audience. Dynamic content on websites helps engage customers and improve SEO. If your website is not as good as those of your top five competitors, you will be at a disadvantage.
  • Many print providers are now promoting the use of QR codes (I’m averaging one free consultation per day!) QR codes can drive new opportunities and are a great way to show that your company is on top of the latest trends and technologies. Customers seek that assurance. Be seen as a leader.
  • Marketing is going mobile, and faster than most of us even want it to. Pay close attention and seek out the opportunities.
  • The use of communications programs as a way to engage customers is no longer a nice to do – it’s a need to do. More than half of my B2B vendors have a vehicle to engage me on a consistent basis. It’s even more prevalent in the B2C market.
  • Don’t discount human emotion and its role in sales relationships. A motivated competitor will often promise your customers better quality, service and price. At the very least, make sure that you communicate with your customers as often as your competitors do. In the end, it will come down to who’s better at building trust and making the customer feel wanted.

As we enter Q2, things seem to slowly be improving. I recently received this feedback from a new client that I wanted to share. I’m happy to discuss our programs and send samples – please feel free to contact me at anytime. Best of luck to all!

“Patrick: Quick update on our first release of the newsletter. I got a call from someone who had given us one job previously. After seeing the newsletter, he said he wants to hire us as his company’s marketing department now because it’s clear we ‘do things first class.’ Please convey our appreciation to your staff – we are delighted!”

Yes! You Can Care About “Green” Again

I hope you’ll indulge me and let me get on my soap box for a minute. I recently released a new report in my Marketer’s Primer Series, “Greening Print Marketing: A Practical Guide.” One of the most surprising pieces of feedback I’ve gotten is, “My clients don’t care anymore.”

With all the media discussion about green these days, my first question was, “Are you sure?”

People do care about the environment. In fact, studies show that consumers are committed to green products even in a down economy. In addition, they are often willing to pay more for them. It’s a hot topic in the news media and B2B world. How can clients not care? Of course they care.

So what’s going on?

In the raging debate about what’s greener than what, it’s become confusing. There are real solutions, but it’s just too hard to know who’s telling the truth. One company says this. Another says that. They all contradict one another. So why even try? It’s easier to throw your hands up in the air and forget about it. If green evangelists on every side are going to make it this difficult, we’ll just tune it out completely.

Does this sound familiar? Most likely, it does. But rather than suggesting that clients don’t care, it suggests they are simply paralyzed into inertia.

What if you could offer them a way to green their print marketing that nobody can argue with? What if it actually cost them less money and made their marketing more effective? Now you’re talking, right?

Here it is, and it’s not rocket science.

Targeted marketing and personalization are green printing. How? By their very nature, they reduce unnecessary print volumes. (Key word here is “unnecessary.”) Why send a 64-page booklet filled with irrelevant information when you can send a 16-page brochure with targeted, relevant material? You make your marketing program more effective while saving the planet at the same time. Or how about this? Cleanse your database on a regular basis. Run it through NCOA. Why mail to people who don’t live there anymore?

Is this the be-all and end-all for greening? Of course not. But greening and personalization go hand in hand. If you’ve been looking for a way to move your clients into targeting and personalization, this is another reason to get them to do it.

For more information on “Greening Print Marketing: A Practical Guide,” visit www.digitalprintingreports.com/marketer_primers_green.htm

Some Musings on Marketing

  • The cost of implementing an effective marketing program is trivial compared to the cost of not implementing one.
  • Taking a committee approach to marketing often ends in failure. A group of people agreeing to disagree combined with diluted accountability rarely produces a positive result.
  • “My many years in the printing industry have taught me that the pursuit of trying to craft the perfect marketing piece often ends up being the reason for doing nothing.” – G. Jacobs
  • The average person is only capable of retaining 3-5 brands per category in their memory. If you want to introduce your company into someone’s consideration, you need to push another company out of consideration. Repetition is fundamental to success.
  • The abandon rate for social media is very high. Beware of creating marketing graveyards.
  • Whether or not you’re marketing to your customers, you can be assured that your competitors are.
  • Don’t discount “little things” like birthday cards and notes of appreciation. Sales relationships are more influenced by emotions than pricing.
  • People will give business to companies they want to give it to and after awarding the job, find ways to justify the decision. Price is often the excuse rather than the reason.
  • Well perceived brands command a price premium of nearly 9% over brands perceived as just average.
  • The most popular way to lose a customer is to lose touch with him or
    her. Industry-specific data indicates that 60% of customer loss is due
    to lack of communication.
  • Irrelevant communications contribute to customer defection and alienation.

If you’re interested in utilizing a highly effective marketing program to help grow your sales, I’m happy to email you some samples and info. It’s easier and less expensive than you probably think.

Patrick T. Whelan

Great Reach at DSCOOP 5!

DSCOOP 5 was in Dallas, TX this year, and we were there. It was great to see some new faces and meet many of our clients. Thanks to HP for putting on another great show!

Simple Change, Big Results

Want to get your customers to print more this month? Present them with the opportunities offered by QR codes.

Design requirements for adding QR codes to print are minimal. Simpy use a free QR code generator, download the .jpg or .png, and find space to put a 1×1-inch square. The result could be a complete reprint of their corporate identity materials and marketing collateral.

QR codes are barcodes that look like boxes of black-and-white squares. People with cellphone Internet access and QR code reader software simply point to the codes and take a picture. They are automatically directed to a website with a promotional offer or other marketing content.

QR codes are one of the hottest applications being talked about in marketing today. They are everywhere in Europe and Japan, and they are just now starting to take serious hold in the United States.

They hold a lot of appeal for reaching mobile, tech-savvy consumers. Who has time to stop and jot down a URL on a poster? Or manually type in someone’s contact information into your cellphone? Instead, just point and click on the run. QR codes remove one of the biggest barriers to response — time and effort. Their value is easy to understand.

On your next sales call, try suggesting the addition of QR codes to all of clients’ corporate identity materials and marketing collateral. Especially if they have been thinking about updating their marketing collateral anyway, this may give them the perfect way to justify the spend.

Until next time,
Patrick T. Whelan
Heidi Tolliver-Nigro

Who Cares About QR Codes Anyway? (Answer: You Should!)

There’s a lot of talk these days about QR (quick response) codes. These are basically two-dimensional barcodes that look like black-and-white puzzles, although some can be produced in color. When they are scanned with a smart phone or other mobile device, they automatically launch a URL containing marketing content.

You might have seen them on billboards, magazine ads, business cards, and even trade show banners where they take readers to a specified website or special offer. If they contain contact information, they act as virtual business cards, allowing the reader to download that contact info directly to their smart phone.

QR codes reap benefits because they do as advertised — provide quick response. There’s no need to remember or write down a URL or enter it in by hand. Just point and scan and a prospect can be taken to the content immediately.

Why should you care? Because QR codes cost little or nothing to produce and they put your company on the leading edge of technology. By offering QR codes, you position yourself as a marketing leader.

QR codes also do something very few marketing techniques can do. They tap into the extremely hard-to-reach Gen X and Gen Y cultures and the mobile professional culture. These are highly coveted consumer groups, and QR codes are being rapidly accepted among them. (Apparently on university campuses, it’s now cool to create t-shirts with QR codes that take people to your Facebook page.)

If your clients are selling into these demographic groups or if they’re marketing to high-technology buyers, it’s time to get on the QR bandwagon.

Once again: Why should you care about QR codes? Because it positions you as a marketing leader, it makes print increasingly relevant, and you need to do it before your competitor does.

If you’d like to learn more about QR codes, interlinkONE is presenting a free webinar on Jan. 15 at 2pm EST (http://ilnk.me/learnQR) or visit QReate & Track.