Test Your QR Literacy

Take a quick look at the three questions below to find out your QR code literacy and go to the designated section to learn more.

Q1: QR Codes: What the heck is that B&W square I see popping up on direct mail, posters, and even the sides of buildings? Go to Section 1:

(insert timessquareqr.jpg here)

Q2: QR Codes: As a wide-format print provider, what are the applications of the QR code and more specifically, how can I profit from them today? Go to Section 2:

Q3: QR Codes: I am a master of two-dimensional Symbology, but what is the role of the QR code in the larger marketing picture? Go to Section 3:

Section 1: What are QR Codes?

QR code is a simple square image which can be snapped by a mobile phone user to automatically go any website (e.g. You Tube, www.yourcompany.com) without any typing. It connects print with the internet with the click of a button. QR codes have been around for about 15 years, but have been exploding in popularity in the past year. Using them is literally a “snap” Once you have downloaded a QR app (for those with the newest Iphone and Android, there is no need to download it as it comes pre-installed) from your phone’s app store, there are only three steps to experience the QR code:

  1. Find a QR code to snap (they are everywhere!)
  2. Open App (which will open a screen similar to the camera app on your phone)
  3. Line up the QR code in the center of the phone screen, press the “take picture” button and voila, you should have just experienced the magic of cross media marketing!

Section 2: What are the applications and where can I make some $$$.

The creation of the QR code is free so the ability to charge for them is going to be based on the ability to consult with your customer. Fees can then be assigned on how much time it takes for you to recommend when/where to use them, how to link them, how to output them and finally in helping to navigate marketing pitfalls associated with the QR code for your client.

Consultative selling is a big one for most of us and I do not want to make it sound too easy. Sitting across your customer, asking questions and finding out the need and then making a recommendation to solve their unique marketing challenge is a billable activity independent of the output.

Most service providers have a tendency to give this component away for the sake of getting the output business. It takes a few times to realize the impact of forgoing consulting fees, but the next time it happens, please note down what percentage of profit you bypassed on your total invoice by not seizing the opportunity to capture an additional $250-$1000 that was on the table. Was it 10? 25 percent, perhaps even more?

Applications for the QR code, specifically for the wide-format printer are everywhere. I have seen them on:

  1. Entire side of buildings - Google: QR Calvin Klein ad Times Square, New York.
  2. Event Posters- Enabled with QR code for a quick YouTube video on the event.
  3. Airport Signs- Smart phones are nearly ubiquitous amongst business travelers and they are a captive audience.
  4. Bus/Truck Wraps- Great application for ‘SMART’ QR codes, where you can change the message embedded in the code without changing the physical wrap
  5. Direct Mail Google: QR codes in my mailbox

Section 3: I am a master of Symbology, but what is the role of the QR code in the marketing picture and where is this going:

In order to read a QR code you need a smart phone, with a data plan, a downloaded app and the knowledge/interest on behalf of the customer to use them. Now throw in that using a phone without an auto-focus camera (most blackberry devices, pre-iphone 3gs) feels more like a science experiment than a smooth request for instant information. Finally, the segment with the greatest exposure to the QR codes is the cash strapped 18-25 year olds. All told, you can see the audience is quite small… for now.

But now consider three simple facts:

  1. Ninety percent of all cell contracts in the USA are two year or less in duration
  2. All new android 2.0 OS based phones and later, BBM 5.0, and the Iphone 4 have a QR barcode reader app pre-installed on the device.
  3. Smart phone market is the fastest growing segment within mobile.

The take away is that the ability to read a QR code is considered a basic functionality and has the support of all major mobile device manufacturers. It also shows that nearly all people with smart phones will have the ability to read a two-dimensional code for free as their contracts expire in the near term.

Where is this going? I feel this is going in the direction of the consumer. The consumer with his hand held super computer (aka mobile phone) gets the depth of information never before possible whether at the supermarket looking for the origins of a particular fruit, learning about the trailhead at a historical landmark or reading a magazine and wants to get pricing on the latest pair of designer jeans.

Our role, as cutting edge print service providers and marketers, is to connect with the various types of technology, especially QR codes, so we can more effectively help our clients connect with their consumers. The race is on to capture customers through new exciting channels and guess what? Large-format print featuring a QR codes is one of them.

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