Quick Response codes (better known as QR codes) can be a convenient way to quickly access content—assuming your audience:
- knows what they are
- knows how to use them
- has a smart phone
- has a QR code reader installed on that smart phone and
- has service when they want to scan the code
If all five of these criteria are not met, your “convenient” QR code becomes decidedly less convenient, creating barriers to your marketing message and frustrating your customers.
Even if these criteria are met, a QR code may still not be the best way to market your business. When they first arrived on the scene, QR codes were cool and trendy—now, several years later, they are overused (and too often poorly used, as illustrated by these QR code fails), to the point where they have lost any edgy impact they once had. This means if you are trying to market yourself as an industry-leading company, using QR codes can send the opposite message to potential customers. And if a potential customer does scan your code, you need to make absolutely sure that you are rewarding them with something they want to read, watch or buy—or else you run the risk that their response to your marketing will change from “why not?” to “why did I bother?”
That’s not to say there aren’t instances when a QR code is the right choice—instances like this virtual storefront, when there is a convergence of ideal placement and highly valuable content that creates a perfect storm. But more often than not, that little square of data isn’t going to do your marketing much good.
A final note of caution: once your QR code is out in the world, it’s very important that you continue to manage the content it links to for as long as that code is out there for people to click. Heinz learned this lesson the hard way, when they let a URL that was linked to a QR code on their ketchup bottles lapse, only to have it picked up by a company that…um…well, let’s just say they don’t make ketchup.