QR Codes: The Opportunities for Printers

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Quick Response (QR) codes continue to generate a lot of buzz in our industry. In talking with printers over the last few months I’ve come to the conclusion that in our excitement to make use of their marketing potential, many straightforward QR code opportunities are being overlooked. Here are some that come to mind:

  • QR codes are the bridge that links the printed piece to the Internet. That capability alone is an easy way to get clients thinking about redoing existing sell sheets, marketing collateral, corporate brochures, etc. There’s a lot of low-hanging fruit out there. Start picking!
  • QR codes can contain static and dynamic URLs; launch YouTube videos (think product demos); include contact info (think business cards); highlight event dates; and even deliver text messages.
  • QR codes are simple to explain, have a “wow!” element, and require no significant expense. Those attributes are the perfect ingredients for a great in-person sales call.
  • QR codes give printers an opportunity to show how they’re staying abreast of the latest trends and technologies. Customers seek that assurance. That combination makes them a powerful branding opportunity.
  • QR codes are a highly effective way to increase direct marketing results and are rapidly gaining exposure. A national furniture chain had one in its flyer last week. If you’re the first to talk about them with clients, you’ll be seen as a leader.
  • QR codes offer a reason for a sales call, a customer education event, webinar, etc.

These ideas are just scratching the surface. But at a time when print sales are harder to come by, QR codes offer the opportunity for sales people to CREATE low-hanging fruit and foster their brand at the same time. I’m happy to discuss this with anyone.

Some things to ponder as the fall selling season quickly approaches

With many printing companies cutting back on sales and marketing efforts, going out of business, merging, having layoffs, etc, there’s a tremendous opportunity for companies to win new business and build loyalty with existing clients. But you have to be positioned to take advantage.

Start building and strengthening sales relationships today by utilizing meaningful content. Outbound communications such as newsletters and postcards, social media outlets like Linkedin, and inbound strategies that utilize web content are all highly effective ways to increase sales success.

  • If repetition isn’t at the core of your marketing communications strategy, your efforts will fail.
  • Too many organizations get bogged down by taking a committee approach to producing marketing materials. Trying to create something perfect often becomes an excuse for doing nothing.
  • The average person can only keep 3-5 brands per category in memory. If you want to introduce your brand for consideration, another must be pushed out of consideration.
  • It takes at least 5-8 points of meaningful communication to convert a prospect to a customer.
  • Develop a series of informative touch points and deliver them to your contact list in a repetitive manner. The good news is that most CRM and contact management programs can easily facilitate a strategy of repetitive communications.

I’ve been providing offset and digital printing companies with highly effective marketing programs for over 15 years. Our programs are customizable and area exclusive. I’m happy to provide samples of our various newsletter programs based on their availability.

Are You Reflecting Best Practices?

Are you positioning yourself as a marketing services provider? If so, you are putting yourself out in front of your customers as more than an output provider. You are positioning yourself as someone they can trust to handle the marketing—as well as production—aspect of their campaigns.

In your self-promotion campaigns, this means that you need to be using industry-leading best practices.

Here are four best practices from “Digital Printing: Transforming Business & Marketing Models.” How many of these were in your last self-promotion campaign?

1. Don’t think “technology.” Think “solutions.” In your marketing message, did you focus on digital output? 1:1 printing? personalized URLs? Or increased marketing effectiveness?

2. Traditional marketing rules apply. How much expertise did you bring to key marketing elements of the campaign, such as the mailing list, segmentation, and understanding customer psychographics? Was the copy professionally written? Was it copy edited? What was the level of the graphic design?

3. Go multi-channel. Digital and 1:1 printing can be powerful tools, but they don’t work in a vacuum. Marketing is a complex world of multiple channels, including email, SMS text messaging, social media, and more. How much thought was given to these other channels and how the print portion of the campaign would fit within them?

4. Make a long-term commitment. Was this a one-shot deal? Or have you made a long-term commitment to building relationships with your customers? How often do you send out communications? Regularly? Or just when you need to boost sales?

We ask our clients to follow these best practices. If we are marketing services providers, we should be following them ourselves.

For more on digital printing best practices, check out “Digital Printing: Transforming Business & Marketing Models.” Training and educational primers also available on 1:1, personalized URLs, and Web-to-print at www.digitalprintingreports.com.

Why Use Customer Communications?

The following was excerpted from an article by Customer Communications Group. With the exploding adoption of client engagement as a marketing tool these days, I found this article worth repeating.

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:

  • Enhance your relationships with your customers
  • Upsell and cross-sell products and services
  • Retain customers (especially best customers)
  • 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.

Published by Customer Communications Group, Inc., a full-service agency specializing in relationship marketing and customer communications. Our comprehensive, turnkey services include data analysis, customer segmentation, strategic consulting, account management, creative execution, print production and multimedia solutions. © 2002 Customer Communications Group, Inc.

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.