Digital Original: QR Codes Present New Print Opportunities

Mobile marketing is the newest trend to reach customers using the Internet and it is one of the first that actually generates printing. By adding a Quick Response or QR code to a printed piece, smartphone users can scan the code and instantly be sent to an Internet link. The new technology is quickly catching on and should soon be a standard practice in any marketing program.

Mobile marketing and QR codes have been around in Asia and Europe for a number of years. Any mobile phone with a Web browser and a camera can be turned into a vehicle to link to new information. The smartphone user needs a special application that scans and reads QR codes. Most of the smartphone manufacturers are now including a QR code reader as a preinstalled application.

Mobile marketing allows organizations to communicate with and engage their audience in an interactive manner through mobile devices. Smartphones are quickly becoming the “third screen” in the communication world, joining television and computer screens as a major source of information.

Studies report there are more than 45 million smartphone users in the U.S. today. That is about 20% of the mobile phone user population. By the end of 2011, that number is expected to grow, with smartphone users making up 50% of the mobile phone user population. For many of those users, the phone screen will be their primary interface with the Internet.

Marketing professionals are integrating print material with information on the Internet. For example, you could add a QR code to a brochure. When the QR code is scanned, the user would be sent to additional information residing on the Internet. The Internet information could be text, video, or audio. For instance, a product brochure might send readers to a website that includes a YouTube video on how the product works. Some QR codes send you to sites where you can actually order products, make donations, or ask for a specific download of information.

Interactive Print Opportunity

Anyone with a website is a candidate for QR codes and mobile marketing. Most businesses with websites are trying to get more eyes on their sites, and promote their websites in a variety of ways. Adding QR codes to printed material is an inexpensive way to point viewers to a website. More importantly, it will help the printed material have a greater impact on the reader.

Printers should suggest that their customers discard older marketing material and reprint new material with QR codes. Also recommend that customers review their websites to make sure they have printed collateral to push viewers toward specific pages.

Printers should already be using QR codes on their own printed information in order to direct customers toward their websites. Basic QR codes are easy to create with online QR code generators. If you want to offer more sophisticated marketing support for QR codes, there are a number of printing vendors offering QR code support and marrying the technology with personal URLs (PURLS). Mindfire, EasyPurl, Printable, and interlinkOne offer printers support for creating and tracking QR codes.

You should already be seeing QR codes. A number of magazines are including them in their advertisements so readers can get additional information quickly. USA Today has used QR codes in ads for the NFL and its website for logoed items. During the final episode of Lost, HBO promoted the new season of True Blood with the first QR code on TV. HBO hoped that viewers using DVRs would freeze the frame and scan the QR code from the screen. The code sends the viewer to a trailer for True Blood’s upcoming season. Many museums are using QR codes to send visitors to their websites for more information about exhibits and displays. Airlines are using QR codes as boarding passes. Target department stores are using QR codes to promote coupons for sales.

The possibility of linking the print from the physical world to anything in that is stored on the Internet is endless. In additional to URLs, QR codes can also contain text messages and contact information can be automatically uploaded into contact management software. You can expect to have customers wanting to have QR codes printed on their business cards so the person who receives the card can easily include their information in their PDA (personal digital assistant).

The Internet has eroded the need for some types printing over the past few years, but mobile marketing and QR codes should create a demand for more printing. Print is still the most economical way to spread a message, and it will be the driving force behind mobile marketing. If you want to compete in the future, you are going to have to know what your customers are doing on the Web and how to integrate the printing material that will be needed to support their activities.

Problem Solving Book from PIA

Printing Industries of America has released “Printing Production Management, 2nd Edition” to help printers solve print production problems. Written by Gary Field, the book provides a systematic treatment of the problem solving aspects of production management. The topics include plant capacity planning, equipment investment analysis, digital press scheduling strategies, layout planning techniques, and production scheduling dynamics.

“Printing Production Management” can be purchased for $75 by PIA members and by non-members for $99.

Workflow Gets New Configurators

Enfocus has announced several new configurators for Switch 09. Switch enables users to automate repetitive tasks, standardizing their work and reducing errors. Configurators make the process even simpler, allowing users to integrate applications they already use and automate third party software application tasks without the need to manually launch those applications.

Among the new configurators is one for Microsoft Word files. It allows all Word documents to be automatically opened and saved in PDF, XPS or PDF/A formats on Windows (using an add-on) and some other popular formats, directly from within Switch. It delivers automated file conversion from most common text formats—including doc, docx, txt, and rtf—into press-ready PDF files.

The new Switch 09 configurators are supported in FullSwitch and PowerSwitch 09. If you are not a Switch 09 user, a fully functional time limited evaluation version is available at no charge from the Enfocus website as well.

Online Videos Train Prepress Staff

Adobe may have eliminated its print provider program, but its website is full of training videos that walk users through the tasks its software can complete. Every prepress person should bookmark The videos demonstrate the key benefits of almost all of the programs sold by Adobe. Subjects include how to preflight a PDF file using Acrobat, how to use Adobe Bridge, how to use the various tools in Illustrator, getting started in InDesign, and much more.

Xerox Helps Printers Measure ROI

Personalized marketing campaigns can be powerful, but whether or not you get them may rely on how well you can estimate the expected return on investment (ROI). New software from Xerox can help you to measure the effectiveness of transpromo and direct mail campaigns, even before anything is printed.

ProfitQuick Direct Marketing ROI Planner, one of the latest additions to Xerox’s ProfitAccelerator portfolio, predicts the effectiveness of a direct mail campaign and provides an ROI assessment. Information such as the number of mail pieces, cost per piece, and revenue per item or service sold is put into an online calculator. In turn, print providers and marketers receive financial data that can drive new business or convert an existing customer’s static campaign into a more targeted, personalized approach.

Two other new tools—the ProfitQuick ezBusiness Planner and the Wide Format Essentials Kit—are also available now.

John Giles is the author of “12 Secrets for Digital Success” and “The DTP PriceList.” He is technology director and a consultant for CPrint International. Contact him at 954/224-1942 or You can also find John on (search for JohnG247) and You can also visit his website at and link to his blog. He is also a regular blogger at