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December 5, 2012
QR Codes: To Support or Promote?
 
When using QR Codes in a campaign, marketers need to ask themselves this critical question: When the QR Code is scanned, is the ensuing experience meant to support or promote the product or service, or both? It's a simple question, but after reviewing literally hundreds of QR Code-based campaigns, it seems as though most marketers never seem to ask it. How can I tell? Because, within the campaign itself, there is often such a disconnect between creative, copy, scan resolve content, and the interactive experience as a whole. And, because there is such a disconnect, I always wonder if goals and objectives were set for the campaign from the onset. 

QR Codes to Support
To support a product or service, the experience generated by the QR Code does just that, supports. By support, I'm referring to a company providing existing or prospective customers with additional and/or hard-to-find information about the product or service via the interactive code scanning experience, and nothing more. This additional information can take the form of deep product/service information, competitive comparisons, customer reviews, customer service contact details, warranty information, repair information, product recall information, retail location finders, map directions, phone numbers, etc. The goal here is not to promote or sell, but to enhance the overall user/customer experience by providing relevant, valuable and beneficial information.

QR Codes to Promote   
To promote a product or service, the experience generated by the QR Code does just that; promotes. By promote, I'm referring to a company providing existing or prospective customers with an incentive to purchase a product or service or, at a minimum, to move further down the purchase decision path via the interactive code scanning experience, and nothing more. This incentive or motivation to purchase can take the form of a mobile coupon, contest entry, limited time offer, rebate, etc. Additionally, the experience can offer product or service information (e.g., features/benefits, storytelling, testimonials, etc.) that speaks to a consumer's needs, wants, desires, emotions, expectations, etc., as all of this plays to the purchase decision. The goal here is not to support, but to truly engage the consumer on such a level that they want to purchase the product or service sooner than later.  

QR Codes to Support and Promote
Because it's not a matter of choosing one objective over another (i.e., to choose support over promote or vice versa), marketers need to recognize which objective or objectives they wish to accomplish via a QR Code-based campaign and work towards that end game. Again, it all goes back to strategic and/or tactical goals and objectives, which must be put in place for a marketing campaign, regardless of channel, to work effectively and succeed.

Key Takeaways 
Whether a QR Code is meant to support, promote or both, it's essential for the interactive experience to happen in an optimal way and, to make this happen, it's necessary to create and develop a mobile optimized website and/or landing page. No ifs, ands, or buts. If a mobile-based technology is being used the website or landing page that's triggered via the technology must be mobile-based as well. If a marketer tries to repurpose desktop content for the mobile screen, then he/she needs to ask themselves an even bigger question: how committed are we to mobile?

Lastly, the thought to use a QR Code to promote or support or both needs to happen whether the campaign is B2C or B2B.

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Roger Marquis is CEO and Founder of Mobile Strategy Group, a New York-based marketing consultancy that advises brands and advertising agencies on the strategic, tactical, and integrated use of 2D bar codes, and other print-to-digital technologies, for advertising and promotion purposes. Mr. Marquis also authors 2d-barcodestrategy.com, a blog that provides strategic commentary and analysis on the real-life use of print-to-digital technology.
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