When I think about bar codes, not that I do very often, the first thing I think about are little vertical bars that remind me of a prison jump suit circa 1935. I’m referring to the UPC codes that have been used commonly since the 70’s, but a new bar code is changing my first impression. An evolution of the bar code had dropped the prohibition era fashion and took the appearance of something appearing similar to Space Invaders.
With new QR Codes (Quick Reference Codes), aka 2D bar codes, information is now encoded horizontally, and vertically. By creating a specific orientation of squares that can be read by today’s smart phones hundreds of alphanumeric characters can be stored in a QR code versus 20 numeric digits in the classic bar code. It’s the data encoding capacity that has made the new QR Codes such a versatile tool. You can of course store pricing info in the QR code like the old bar codes, but it the ability to encode a web address that is freeing the marketing potential of the 2D Bar code.
With the incredible level of sophistication in our own electronic chains scanning a QR code with an encoded web address opens the phone’s browser, automatically directing your prospect to your website or a personalized landing page. The QR code is the key to unlock a multimedia experience limited only by the capabilities of the smart phone. Videos, survey forms, special offers, are all put in the palm of a customer’s hand, literally. I know my phone is one competent user short of running a small country so a little creativity applied to this new tech is a breeding ground for viral advertising.
Catching their attention and getting a potential customer to take action is the fundamental job of advertising. QR codes create a great opportunity to do both. To get the attention of the cash carrying demographic, especially those under 30 you need to engage them with something new or clever. Print advertising alone is just not enough anymore. Adding QR codes to a print add creates another level of involvement. With a good creative team you get the fun cool factor that unlocks a wallet. Or even if you don’t get the sale, at least you get someone to a landing page giving you data that your print ads are getting read, or not.
When you start gearing up to create another print campaign you might think about adding a QR code. It can help catch the interest of the technologically inclined, add ingenuity to a very traditional marketing medium, provide a way to verify your mailings are getting read, and connect to potential customers. Perhaps most importantly it can let you know how efficiently you’re spending your print money.