It seems like everywhere I look these days, there’s a QR code…magazines, bus stops, t-shirts, menus, Facebook ads (riddle me that!)—even on dogs.
As they continue to grow in popularity, I’ve been left wondering if they’re really worth all the hype. Like many trends, there seems to be a lot of people jumping on the QR code bandwagon. Some are into it for the right reasons, and some just want to be part of the new, hot craze. I’ve seen tons of articles by staunch supporters who think QR codes are the coolest thing since Facebook, as well as skeptics who debate it’s a whole lot of fuss over nothing. My take on the QR code conundrum: it’s just another tactic that should only be used if it fits into your overall marketing strategy and aligns with your goals and audience.
Some companies have figured it out and know how to incorporate QR codes appropriately. For instance, MasterCard just launched their new “Priceless New York” campaign. Their goal is to broaden their reach, encourage people to share their positive interaction with MasterCard, and increase brand awareness. To do so, MasterCard put QR codes on 20 seats at Yankee Stadium with a simple prompt to scan them. The code takes fans to the installation’s Facebook page, where they enter to receive tickets for MasterCard’s cafe at the stadium by checking in, “liking” the page, or opting in to a email list. The promotion is catchy, has clear instructions, and fits their target audience and campaign goals.
On the other hand, there are those who seem to have fumbled the ball. Jay Baer recently posted a great example of a QR code fail. The Crowne Plaza could have done a better job at taking design, relevance, simplicity, and purpose into account when they used their QR code. They could have thought more about sizing the code appropriately, giving the consumer a clear call to action or good reason to scan it, making sure the landing page works, and most of all, ensuring the code aligned with their purpose and goals. Instead, the QR code campaign actually creates barriers to getting people to sign up for the promotion.
The moral of the story is QR codes aren’t a total waste of time, but as with any other trend, think it through before using them. You may be convinced a QR code campaign will make you look cool and cutting edge, but be careful to not try so hard to look awesome at the expense of being awesome.
In the end, it all comes back to the basics: avoid jumping into a new marketing tactic until you have a solid understanding of your audience, strategy, and message. You need substance and style. Your customers don’t need another place to hear what you have to say. They need a clearer, more compelling message. They’re craving a brand that quenches their thirst for inspiration, identity, and creativity instead of one that just creates more noise.
What’s your take? Do QR codes win your heart or fail to deliver?