QR codes can be great tools for marketing, training, and any wealth of uses for providing more information and better experiences. They are limited only by the imagination. That’s both a good thing and a bad thing.
They’re new … ish. Over a decade ago a company came out with a little scanner device in the shape of a cat. It attached to computers and was given away free. It allowed regular people to “cat scan” a bar code in an ad or magazine or anywhere to get more information. They were, as it turned out, the first step towards taking bar codes to the interactive world. QR codes are the latest incarnation.
QR codes are better because of the mass distribution of the tools to scan them, smart phones. They are not limited by device, brand or manufacturer. There are, of course some limitations. There are different readers for different types of codes but more readers are serving a dual purpose, and all readers are free for download. But as with any platform, knowing how your audience uses them is important to the overall strategy. Remember, people use their smart phones to scan QR codes, so make sure you take that into consideration.
QR Code Don’ts
- DON’T have your QR code go to a dead page
- DON’T have your QR code direct to a site or page that isn’t optimized for mobile reading.
- DON’T place advertising with bar codes in places known to have no or spotty cell service.
- DON’T make users enter boatloads of text on tiny keyboards to get to the content you want.
- DON’T overcompensate for the previous point and not collect user information at all!
- DON’T require your page content be printed. (Most of us don’t have wireless printers).
- DON’T put your QR code on a billboard on a highway, unless it’s in an area notorious for congestion so your viewer has enough time sitting in traffic to pull out a cell phone, hold it steady long enough to scan your code from a distance, and then have time to be instantly directed to your webpage.
Duh, right? You’d be surprised.
QR codes are a tactic, and a useful one. When used appropriately. QR codes, like any other tactic, should be used with the full scope of the strategy in mind. But of course QR codes can be dangerous. They can lead to neck cramping and injury due to instant reactions that make you tilt your neck so quickly in a short move causing a type of whiplash as you wonder WTF were they thinking.
QR codes on moving vehicles and building rooftops (probably something to do with accepting the dominance of google maps or trying to communicate with alien life form who presumably have smartphones) are ridiculous.
I’m sure you’ve seen or heard of others, but the one that deserves a blog to itself is the QR code-enabled condom. Really?
Take a moment and think about that. It’s funny, bizarre, and utterly incomprehensible. I briefly scanned some words about it, something about promoting safe sex, but the words didn’t matter once the headline sunk in. It’s just too ridiculous. Just let the thought process go, and what comes to mind?
- Mood killer
- You’re checking in where?
- Foresquare? Yeah, no … those two words should never be used in the same sentence as condoms.
But wait, how funny would it be as a joke, to put it on a few that a friend had that you took while said individual was passed out or not looking and you created a taunting web page so that when the person scanned the code the individual saw a picture of all his or her friends sending taunting or encouraging words?
QR codes are used to engage your customers with your brand. If your brand wants to promote not engaging with something else, then I guess perhaps it would appear you have a strategy in the works there.
Just not a good strategy.
If you think that the lure of a QR code on a condom package is more enticing to engage with than, well .. whatever other option is available at the moment, it’s a good bet your strategist has memorized all episodes of the Star Wars movies and doesn’t know the original Star Trek series was intended as a comedy.