Print’s New Frontier

Looking for a way to connect print to the Web? To increase the relevance of print among younger consumers? To add a “wow” factor to your marketing collateral? Think QR codes.

You are starting to see them everywhere. They look like jigsaw puzzles, sometimes in color but most often in black-and-white. They are on magazine advertisements, posters and billboards, business cards, and just about everything else.

They are quick response (or QR) codes, and they act as mobile shortcuts
to websites, discount coupons, videos, and other content. Point at them with your smartphone, snap a picture of the code, and you are zipped to a video, a coupon, a Web page, contact information, or other content. A static medium suddenly turns into a dynamic, interactive one.

Immediate Response!
Whether you are a corporate marketer placing a magazine advertisement or a small business doing a sales promotion, QR codes are particularly appealing
they capture viewers’ interest at the very moment it is piqued: See. Snap. View.

You don’t lose eyeballs by asking people to manually input URLs or scribble them down onto a piece of paper that might get lost.  

Plus, QR codes cost little or nothing to add to your print campaigns. There is no reason not to use them.

So make those static printed pieces interactive. Add “live” product demos to sell sheets. Send trade show attendees right to your website. Let viewers download your company contact information and “save the date” information right to their phones. It is no wonder so many of today’s top brands are using QR codes. These include GMC, Ford, Google, Pepsi, Ralph Lauren, The Weather Channel, Best Buy, Chevrolet, Starbucks, Facebook, and countless more.

They’re Trackable
Wait! It gets better. Because these codes resolve to Internet sites, QR codes are an easy way to track the interest level of many of today’s mobile consumers.

How many people snapped the code from the brochure you distributed at the trade show? Were mobile users more likely to respond to the trade show graphic or the magazine ad? Track this and more with QR codes!

Where Did QR Codes Come From?
Although many people are just being exposed to QR codes, the codes themselves are not new. In their most basic form, QR codes have been around for years.

QR codes were first created by Toyota subsidiary Denso Wave in 1994. Since that time, they have been extensively used in Europe and Japan. Now their use is exploding in the United States. You see them in Times Square, in the pages of Entertainment Weekly, as well as on CD cases, point of purchase materials, business cards, and a wide variety of marketing collateral.

Creating QR Codes
Intrigued? You should be. The best part is that creating a QR code is simple and costs little to add to any print marketing program. There are a variety of QR code generators on the market. Among them:
• Kaywa QR-Code Generator
• ZXing QR-Code Generator
• Nokia Mobile Codes Generator
• QR Stuff

To create the most basic codes, you simply go to the site, input the URL to which you would like the code to point, and hit “generate code.” You’ll get back a .png or .jpg image that you can save and insert into your print or online materials.

Yes, it’s that easy. Using more complex software, you can also create personalized QR codes (say for generating personalized URLs); codes with embedded logos; or codes that provide extremely detailed tracking and multichannel integration capabilities. Some QR codes are even “smart codes” that can customize the content based on the date, location, and model of phone that is reading it.

You may also want to test the codes to make sure they are created properly, follow QR code “best practices” to maximize their effectiveness (see the end of this paper), and are compatible with multiple readers. If you would like help with any of these steps, talk to us and we’ll be happy to help you.

1.    Optimize for mobile sites
2.    Make the codes easy to read and keep the URLs simple
3.    Test. Test. Test. Use a variety of readers with a variety of quality phones.
4.    Make the QR code worth decoding. Don’t just send people to your website. Provide deep content. Sweepstakes. Coupons, etc. Make it worth their time.
5.    Make it serve a purpose
6.    Include multiple paths to response
7.    Include instructions for using the code.

Conclusion

In today’s marketing world, it’s all about spontaneity, mobility, and instantaneous gratification. It’s easy to envision a world in which all marketing and corporate identity materials and packaging include QR codes by default just as they include URLs, email addresses, and Twitter IDs.

Imagine a world in which consumers routinely snap the information on the way out the door to work. Grab a breakfast bar and snap a code for the road. It’s happening today. Do you want to be part of it?

Talk to us about where QR codes can help to accomplish your marketing goals and where they make the most sense for you. Let’s see what QR codes can do for your next print campaign!

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