Will 2011 be the year of the QR code? It’s possible. They are gaining traction in major brand marketing, as well in B2B and individual vertical markets. I’m even starting to see them in my direct mail at home.
As interest in QR codes mounts, one of the questions I am hearing is whether there are case studies or examples of QR codes being used in the digital printing marketplace specifically. It is an interesting question. It is interesting because if you’re focusing on the production method, you’re missing the point.
It’s not about use of digital print or offset print. It’s about how QR codes are integrated into a marketing campaign. Short run, long run, personalized, not personalized — it doesn’t matter. It’s about understanding who you are targeting, why you are targeting them, what your target audience expects to see, and how to give them what they want.
When it comes to QR codes, that means understanding mobile marketing. In order to know when and how QR codes are to be used, you need to understand the mobile culture, the value QR codes provide to this audience, and how to use QR codes to get them to do what you want them to do, which is to move from Point A to Point B.
We don’t learn these things from looking at case studies by digital printers. We learn them by looking at successful marketers and how they are integrating QR codes into sophisticated multi-channel marketing programs. The Ace Group, for example, did a phenomenal job with a campaign it did with Time Out New York using QR codes as a bridge to a mobile site that worked extremely well.
In my QR code primer, I have a long list of best practices and examples of best-in-class QR code campaigns, and as far as I remember, there is not a single mention of production technology.
I have the same response to people who complain that marketers are not releasing quantitative data on response rates, sales revenues, or bottom line profits using QR codes. Like personalized URLs, general URLs, social media, telephone numbers, and tear-out forms, QR codes are merely a response mechanism for the campaign. Again, they are a way to get the recipient from point A to point B. The key is to use the right response mechanism for your target audience and your campaign goals. To do that, we’re back to where we started. You have to understand marketing.
Unfortunately, that’s a much harder transition than just putting a QR code on marketing piece.