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QR Codes Make Print Campaigns Jump Off the Page

John Jantsch, Duct Tape Marketing

August 27, 2012
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In the evolving world of marketing we live in right now, traditional advertising mediums like radio and television are being passed over in favor of Internet-based marketing.

Print collateral still serves an important role in any marketing communications plan because it can be one of the best mediums to target very specific audiences. Its drawbacks, however, include limited space for messaging and lack of two-way communication.

Enter the QR Code
Print shops have moved aggressively into the world of print-on-demand, variable printing, bar coding and other digital models as a way to hold on to market share and provide more integrated offerings.

“Print is best for grabbing your customers’ attention,” says Art Coley, president of printing franchise AlphaGraphics. “But once you have it, digital products can make messages literally jump off the page, furthering the communication with your target consumers.”

Quick Response codes, or QR codes for short, are markings similar to bar codes which businesses use on print advertisements. A consumer can use their smartphone to scan the code, which will send them to the company website for more information or a special offer.

There are more than 50 million smartphone users in the United States alone; so including a QR code in your print marketing products can bring you positive results faster. According to a study by Chadwick Martin Bailey, nearly 20 percent of adults in the United States have made a purchase after scanning a company’s QR code.

Conversions happen faster since consumers can move farther into the buying process in as little time as it takes to snap a photo. The QR code offers an instant way for people to take action.

When you are ready to start using QR codes in your print campaigns, here are a few steps that you must take in order to maximize their potential.

Define Your Objective

What purpose do you want your QR code to serve? Is it going to be a one-time campaign that offers a single piece of information to a consumer, such as a coupon? Or will your code provide new information depending on the day or time, like daily or weekly sales promotions. You need to know the purpose behind your code before integrating it into your campaign.

Create a Mobile-Friendly Site

When you choose to use a QR code in your print advertising, you need to make sure that the page the consumer lands on is optimized for mobile content. Your standard website will not translate well on a smartphone, so take steps to create a mobile site and include the most valuable information for the user.

Give Them an Exclusive

If the consumer can get the same information on your website that they get by scanning your QR code, then what is the point? Offer them something truly unique that only a person who scans the code can receive, such as a free recipe, a 20 percent discount off their first purchase, a free song download, etc.

Entice With a Call to Action

Don’t just place a QR code on your ad and expect everyone to just scan it automatically. Remember that there are still many consumers out there who aren’t even aware that a QR code has a purpose. Leave a clear call to action next to the code so that they know what to do and why. For example:

“Scan for an instant 20 percent off your first purchase.”
“Scan now for a free music preview.”

All businesses big and small can benefit from the use of QR codes to maximize their print campaigns.

One small wine business that has integrated QR codes is Sacre Bleu, which has placed a QR code prominently on the front label. They understand that today’s consumer gets most of their information from the Web instead of wine magazines. By scanning the code, consumers are taken to a page with information about their products, events, promotions and special offers.

Big businesses such as Macy’s, Home Depot, Starbucks and Ford have all been using QR codes in their print ads in order to reach out to more consumers. You can flip through any magazine and see dozens of brands using QR codes.

From magazine ads to direct mail, subway platforms and grocery carts, you can find businesses integrating the digital with the more traditional print advertising. With them, you will encourage greater engagement and more conversions from your targeted consumers.

John Jantsch is the creator of the Duct Tape Marketing System and Duct Tape Marketing Consulting Network that trains and licenses small business marketing consultants around the world.

Photo credit: Thinkstock