5 Creative Ways to Use QR Codes
You can find them on print ads, storefronts, cars, billboards and more.* Those black and white squares that look like an aerial view of a corn maze. Some say they look like a barcode, but they’re square so you might call it a box-code. Allow me to give you a visual:
As those in the tech savvy industry know, these bar-codey-thingys are Quick Response Codes or QR codes.
QR codes can be scanned into a Smartphone like a Droid or iPhone (but you’ll need an app for that). The codes direct consumers to a specific web address built by the company who created the advertisement. Often, QR codes are used to direct the consumer to the company’s website, yet there are ways to be more creative with QR codes, and many businesses do not take full advantage of the possibilities. Here are 5 ways you can use QR codes to get the attention you want from consumers.
Number One: Special Promotions
If you’re going to use a QR code in a print ad, make sure the code doesn’t direct the consumer to the homepage of your website. You probably already have your company’s URL already listed on the ad, and anyone can Google search your company’s name to get to your webpage. Having a QR code that does the same thing is, well, redundant.
Instead, give consumers access to special discounts and promotions. Have the QR code take them to an exclusive offer on your website. Consumers like to feel like they are part of an exclusive group, and they love discounts! (If I may state the obvious.) The point is to get consumers to interact with your print ad and encourage them to purchase.
Number Two: Scavenger Hunt
One of our clients, the City of Miamisburg has already put this idea to the test. They held a “ScanVenger Hunt” to get people to explore the businesses of Downtown Miamisburg. The idea is to place QR codes around a city at various businesses. Teams of people scan the QR codes to get clues to the next location. How you come up with the prizes and challenges for the participants is entirely up to you. Be as creative as possible. It’s a fun event, and a great way to get new customers to step foot inside your business.
Number Three: More Media
Direct consumers to more interactive forms of media in places were the consumer may be bored or may have time to kill, such as on the subway or on a bus. Give the consumer something to do. If you have a new commercial promoting your product or perhaps you are advertising a play or movie, have a QR code that links the consumer to your commercial or preview. Don’t just tell, show!
An advertisement for a new kids’ show might lead parents and children to a fun interactive game that can be played on the show’s website. Parents will be grateful to your company when you engage restless children in a public place.
Number Four: Inspire Investigation
Get your consumer curious about what lies beyond the barcode. Reel the consumer in with a sexy tagline like, “Get it Uncensored,” “What is Victoria’s Secret?,” or “Not for the faint of heart,” but be warned. If you disappoint on the other end of the QR code that creates negative brand recall. Whether you follow through on the riskier content or surprise the consumer with some kind of twist, like a play-on-words, be sure the consumer is pleased, not disappointed. It’s a riskier form of advertising, but with big pay-offs if your strategy delivers.
Number Five: Bar Coaster Challenges
Coasters, napkins, disposable cups – take your pick. Create cheesy pick-up lines, dares, jokes, etc for the consumer to view when they scan the QR code on the coaster. For example, “Go up to a woman and ask her this…[a question in a different language].” More than likely neither party will know what it means, and this can spark a discussion. Get people talking and they enjoy a social experience that they wouldn’t have otherwise had without your QR code. This creates positive brand recall whenever the consumer thinks about your brand. They will also be likely to tell others about this unique experience, and word-of-mouth advertising is your best friend.
QR codes are a great way to get consumers to interact with your brand. Just don’t bore them! Go beyond the, “Get more information here,” and use the code to create a mystery consumers can’t wait to solve.
*Please note that these are examples of where you can find QR codes. Schlegel Creative does not endorse the use of QR codes on cars, billboards, television ads or websites. QR codes are best used on your stationary print materials.
One for One: Blake Mycoskie Re-invents the Wheel
Sitting on a metal folding chair on the gym floor of the University of Dayton’s Rec Plex listening to Blake Mycoskie’s speech on how he founded TOMS Shoes was a defining moment in my college education, and one I reflect upon often. Blake was charming, funny, charismatic and not to mention, good-looking. The crowd hung on every word he spoke. His story was inspiring, and I left the gym that day thinking I had witnessed a true genius. And I had, just not the one I had made out in my mind that day in the Rec. Having been in the workforce a year, my experiences have elevated my opinion of him to a new level of appreciation.
Let’s start with a little back-story on TOMS Shoes. Blake founded TOMS Shoes after a visit to Argentina where he went to recharge while working on his fourth entrepreneurial startup, an online driver’s education program for teens. What started as a cultural exploration soon became another business venture, unlike any Blake had started before.
Blake met a woman in a café who was volunteering on a shoe drive, and Blake’s curiosity led him to accompany her on her organization’s shoe drive. He soon discovered that children in Argentina do not have shoes to protect their feet from serious infections and diseases. Some cannot make the walk to school because of these infections. With a simple pair of shoes, these children could get to school to get the education they need to make progress in their country. After seeing this need, Blake came up with the idea for TOMS Shoes. He decided to start a for-profit business to help provide shoes for children in developing countries. Blake told the audience at the Rec that day that to him, the solution came down to entrepreneurship, not charity.
The concept for TOMS is simple. Buy a pair of shoes, and a second pair gets sent to a child who cannot afford shoes. One for one. Blake – a man who didn’t know anything about the shoe business – created a company (it’s not just shoes anymore) that shows no signs of slowing down. Blake’s over-all message to us budding college students was this: incorporate giving into your business structure and “start something that matters.”
I thought his ideas were revolutionary, but admired them for the wrong reasons. It wasn’t until I got a part-time job working for the Epilepsy Foundation of Western Ohio that I began to fully understand Blake’s message. I spent my first days at the EFWO calling local businesses for raffle prizes and silent auction donations for our fundraising events. I suddenly became acutely aware that many businesses, large and small, already leave space in their budgets for charitable giving. They already incorporate giving into their business model. That idea is not revolutionary. Blake’s strategy is revolutionary. He created a brand based on philanthropic ideologies. It’s an emotional call to action on steroids.
Once people hear the TOMS story, they can’t help but tell everyone they know about it. Blake spends very little on advertising, and when he does, it’s exclusively through social media. Blake realizes that his best marketing tool is the consumer. TOMS is a brand built entirely on word-of-mouth advertising, and the whole world caught on quick. One for one. Blake sold 10,000 pairs of shoes that first summer out of his apartment with the help of just three interns.
It’s a great lesson in marketing. The emotional appeal in this campaign clouds the consumer’s logic. Consumers can almost ignore that fact that they are paying top-dollar for a glorified slipper. While the consumer buys an adult pair of shoes, a smaller pair (which uses fewer materials) is donated to a child. The one for one model doesn’t really match up when you break it down this way.
However, it is also true that providing “good-quality” shoes is not a part of the TOMS’ message. He set out to create a company that would be able to provide a constant flow of shoes to those who need them. A for-profit business does not have to wait on donations like a non-profit business model. No one said Blake had to give away a pair of shoes for every pair he sold. There’s no law requiring any business to give back. Blake made that a requirement in his business model, and he did it in a creative way. And that’s the message Blake really wanted us to take away – to think differently and creatively about how we incorporate giving in the for-profit sector.
A business built around philanthropy is one the world can embrace. A strong, consistent brand is often key to any business, and TOMS is no exception. Giving back is the message, giving back is the brand. And it’s a powerful one. At the end of the day you can walk around in your classic pair of TOMS Shoes and take pride in the fact that your purchase made a difference in someone’s life. The story became the brand, and you carry the message on foot. That feeling is priceless.
More Productivity than Talk
Your Initial Meeting with Schlegel Creative.
Pulitzer Prize winning author and humor columnist Dave Barry once said, “If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be ‘meetings.’” At Schlegel Creative Resources, we oppose this viewpoint by being more proactive with our meeting agendas. We like to give prospective clients a list of questions to start thinking about before we even hit square one.
Disclaimer – this is not a homework assignment. We do not expect you to have every answer spelled out to a tee, but we also don’t want our initial meeting to be the first time you’ve had to ponder these questions.
So please take the time to, at least, skim the following questions. This way we will better ensure that your company will be able to reach its full potential. We’ll let someone else worry about the rest of the world.
Basic Marketing Assessment
What marketing tools are you employing now at your company?
– Do you have name recognition?
– Do you have a logo?
– Do you have a website?
– Do you use social media?
– Do you use collateral (brochures, business cards, folders, etc.)?
– Do you advertise? (print, radio/tv, web, other)
– Do you promote by being a sponsor of a group or an event?
What is working?
What is not working or could work better?
Who are your competitors?
Why do your customers/clients come to you over your competitors?
Who is your current target audience?
Who are you trying to reach?
What new audiences do you want to target?
How do clients/customers find out about you?