3 Factors Why Marketers Should be Using QR Codes in 2011

As you look ahead to 2011 and what you should consider to be a part of your marketing tactics, the time has come to begin using QR Codes. The following reasons may help you validate that decision.

#1 The Convenience Reason

Would you agree that one of the greatest challenges marketers face today is differentiating their product or service from stiff competition?

As the famous Harvard Professor Michael Porter has outlined in his seminal book, Competitive Advantage, if you want to change the game in business today when every one of your competitors has matched you on price, product functionality and reliability, your best option is to differentiate by adding MORE CONVIENENCE.

That’s where QR (Quick Response) 2-dimensional Bar Codes linked to a network come in. 

The method of scanning a bar code which then links to a network has it origin as a marketing idea going back to 1994 when a U.S marketing services company executive (Frank C. Hudetz, now VP/Sales at Strathmore) realized how much more convenient it would be to input long URL’s which appeared on marketing materials into a browser if they could be scanned as bar codes.  Coincidently, also in 1994 the Toyota company in Japan was in need of a better way to track automotive parts within their operations and they hired the Denso Wave company to create a two dimensional bar code that could satisfy this matter. Denso Wave coined the term QR Code. Fast forward to the new millennium when simultaneously U.S. Patent #6,199,048 was issued to Hudetz for scanning a bar code to reach a URL and the increased use of camera phones in Japan created the perfect combination for making this convenience idea a reality. Marketers in Japan embraced these codes immediately after the single largest phone operator there, NTT Docomo and the majority of device makers collaborated to enable QR Codes to be used by every Japanese citizen. Today over 75% of all Japanese citizens have scanned a QR code. Throughout the last ten years, the U.S lagged in its adoption of QR codes due in large part to the inertia of some device makers and phone operators.  There have also been some patent infringement battles and development of interoperable standards which are still unfolding. It was not until the beginning of 2010 when many of these U.S. issues were resolved and Google made a big plunge into QR Codes.  The US market started to rapidly adopt this new convenience tool.  (Putting Dots On Paper) Today marketers around the world are implementing this new trump card that helps them differentiate on a convenience level.

#2 The Data Analysis Reason

Every good marketer knows the importance of measuring and analyzing data related to marketing campaigns that are proposed or executed. With 2-dimensional bar codes, those measurement needs can be satisfied in ways never thought of before. Unlike one dimensional bar codes (i.e. UPC product codes) which can only hold 30 some characters of information, 2D codes will allow over 4000 characters. This feature not only allows for  the convenience factor of a shorter URL to be satisfied, but also allows the marketer to embed URL sub-domain characters and other tracking information.  These robust codes now enable real time data gathering methods by redirecting a scanned URL through a server which may capture marketing campaign analytics before the end user ultimately ends up at the primary URL destination. On a basic level, using simple analytic tools, a marketing services company like Strathmore can provide marketers the metrics of bar codes scanned, the location of the scanner and the website pages viewed. This level of information gives the marketer, at a very low cost, the intelligence needed to tweak future campaigns and some degree of measuring campaign results. On a greater scale of comparison of mobile data metrics versus Internet measurement tools, are the points made in this link which creates another compelling argument on why you should consider 2D codes to capture your mobile measurement data.

#3 The Doctors Advice Reason.

The phenomenonal growth around the world of scanned bar codes connecting users to a URL is in many ways akin to how a new wonder drug takes off after many people speak about its benefits.  However, like a wonder drug, you need to listen to your Doctor’s advice whether you should use it or not. The Doctor advice Strathmore subscribes to is:  “With a new drug you don’t want to be the first one to use it and you don’t want to be the last.” In our opinion, Japan was the first one to try this new wonder drug and they are having no side effects after testing it for five years……..in the United States, we don’t want our customers to be the last ones to try QR codes and be left at a disadvantage against their competition.

There are many other reasons why QR codes make sense for 2011, however considering these three reasons with your marketing team may be all you need to get everyone in the game.

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