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Throw a QR Code on it!

Recently, I have had the privilege of participating in some great discussions on LinkedIn about how people, and organizations are utilizing QR codes to enhance their brand and message. I was surprised to see all the new, creative, and unique ways that QR codes are being used. Below is a list of most of those ideas, I hope it gives you some inspiration!

  • Real Estate signs- This is one I am seeing more of. I walk my dog quite a bit, and scan the QR codes on the signs all the time…this is genius! By linking the QR code to the listing, you are immediately allowing the buyer to make a decision if they want to see the house or not.
  • Business Cards- Input your information into the QR code so that it saves right to the potential client’s Outlook when they scan it. OR, link it to a short Youtube video that introduces yourself to them.
  • Catalogs- To me this is kind of a no brainer. With studies showing that a printed catalog doubles your sales, think about what the convenience of a QR code would do to increase your sales even more! Link it to your website, where they can easily order the products they want, whether they are on the go or just don’t want to jump on the computer…it would be an avenue worth exploring!
  • Publications- Offer this to your advertisers, anything you can do to help increase their sales and website traffic will only build more loyalty!
  • Devices- In one group, a gentleman said that a company that makes prosthetic devices was putting QR codes with them, linking them to a manual of how to utilize the device. Now that’s a great idea!
  • Packaging- I see them on food products everywhere now, most of the time linking to a URL….but what about a text message showing the health benefits of your product! That’s information I want to know, make it easy for me to find though!  I don’t want to have to search for it on the package!
  • Direct Mail- I am running a direct mail campaign right now that is based around a QR code which is linked to a short “skit” on Youtube. The idea, make it more than another “piece of mail” and give it a face.
  • Products- Link it to your Youtube commercial. If its a bow, show me a hunting video of the bow I am about to buy being used to shoot a 10 point buck….get me excited to purchase your product!
  • Restaurants- Try putting one on a menu, or your placemats.  If you do delivery link the QR code to your phone number.  That way I don’t have to keep searching through my junk drawer for an old menu that has your number on it!  If it’s a dine in have a welcome you tube video from the chef.

QR codes can be used in a variety of promotial, informative, and fun ways. Even better, they are easy to use, easy to get, and allow for a simple way to track your efforts. I don’t see how you could lose!

I told my wife today that I am going to find a way to put a QR code on my dogs name tag. If he were to get lost, someone could just scan the code and a text message would pop up of where to return him. I love my dog that much, I hope you love your business that much!

For great groups to join on LinkedIn where people come to share insight, ideas, and actually discuss topics (and played a vital role in ideas for this blog) check these groups out:

Sales Playbook!

Association Media & Publishing

Chicago Publishing Network

Advertisements

March 26, 2011 Posted by | Publishing, QR Codes, Social Media | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

What NYC Taught me about Social Media!

Back from my first trip to New York City…..WOW….what an experience!

 Here’s the thing. I grew up in a town of less than 2,000 people, live in a town with less than  5,000 people, and work in a town with less than 15,000 people. You get the picture, so there was some pretty big culture shock as I swam through the sea of people on 38th and 8th Street feeling like I was about to pass out from the rollercoaster cab ride just a few short moments ago.

“How am I going to find this coffee shop where I am supposed to meet him?” I began to worry. There it was, on the corner, just like he said. I ran in, happy to be off the street as I was feeling like a salmon swimming against the current. “Great, no place to sit! But no one has food on their plates, why don’t they leave?” the thought screamed through my mind. I stood there in the middle of the coffee shop for about ten to fifteen minutes, with my luggage, observing this “foreign culture”.

People were chatting away, oblivious to their surroundings, but as the observer in the middle of the room, it seemed to be the most beautiful choir I have ever heard. I have never been in one place with so many people, never heard so many conversations going on all at once, and never felt so small. Suddenly, I felt connected to all of them, and I began to enjoy being the observer. To my right were two young adults, one with a laptop, showing the other what looked to be a business proposal. To my left, were three co-workers laughing the afternoon away…..and the rows of people went on like this.

Finally, a seat opened up. I ran as fast as I could before someone else could claim it. I was quite excited to join the choir of white noise and looked up to see my client approaching my table.

Social media is a lot like this, isn’t it? There are conversations taking place 24 hours a day,
7 days a week, with hundreds of millions of people each chatting away making the most
beautiful choir we have ever heard. Where does that leave us as the advertisers, publishers, and corporations looking to join that choir? Standing in the middle of the room, with our luggage, looking for a table?

So how do we find that seat? Don’t be scared! Believe me, I was quite scared when I was
walking to my destination in the city, seeing so many people all at once, and feeling so small. That all went away when I realized we are part of something bigger. Don’t be scared to join in – add to the choir that is us.

How does your voice become heard over the other beautiful voices, or what others may call white noise? I believe it is consistency, keep showing up every day, and provide information/content that people want to read. If I went to that same coffee shop every day, I would know every single person who worked there, and then I would get to know who the other regulars are. From there, your branches can only sprout more leaves.

So NYC, at first you tried to scare me away with that insanely near-death experience with the cab ride, then making me feel so small like I didn’t exist, but in the end I see you were only teaching me a lesson. If you don’t join the choir, you have no voice at all. It’s ok to feel overwhelmed, we all do, but what isn’t ok is to not participate in the choir of the 21st century!

March 12, 2011 Posted by | Publishing, Social Media | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It benefits you, and if it benefits you, it benefits me to know about it.

I am known within my company as the “technology” kid for two reasons: first, my age compared to almost all of my cohorts – I could be their kid – and second, I get so excited about new technology, people begin to wonder how I could possibly be a print representative.

I was in a meeting earlier this week, we hit it off, and then I laid it on him and asked, “What are you doing to bring the web into your publication and bring your publication to the web?” He looked at me the way a dog looks at you – confused, kind of cockeyed. His blank canvas of a look was easy to read, “This guy couldn’t possibly be in printing if he is asking me this!”

After about 30 seconds of stillness, he said, “Well, I have a digital magazine.” As I nodded, he continued politely, “But it’s a free one. I know printers offer digital magazines, but I really am not interested in paying for one.” I immediately thought to myself, are printers only synonymous with digital magazines? I prodded a little more about his digital magazine. Did he see it as a way to engage his readers or a way to increase profits from his advertisers by being able to offer rich media and the like, or hopefully both? The conversation went on for a few more minutes about digital magazine capabilities and what he liked and didn’t like, etc. I asked again, “What else are you doing?” And again that look came over him, but this time I didn’t wait for silence to fill the air. “How about QR codes, Augmented Reality, PURL’s? How are you using social media like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to interact with people?”

He immediately said, “Are you sure you’re in printing? How does any of that benefit you?” I smiled and said, “It doesn’t, but it benefits you, and if it benefits you, then it benefits me to know about it.” Through further discussion, I found out that he creates videos for his website, and we spoke about how he could easily incorporate Augmented Reality and QR Codes with the skills he already possessed. And how he might be able to offer it to his advertisers for additional profits and create more market share for his publication. We also talked about his social media strategy, and I shared my point of view. When I left the meeting, he looked at me and said, “You really seem to be up on your stuff!” We shook hands and agreed to talk soon.

On my drive back to the office – it was a long, three hour drive back – I thought of a conversation I had a couple of weeks ago with my old boss. He is the reason I am in printing, the person who hired me without any background in printing, but knew I was a bill collector at one time and had no fears about picking up the phone and establishing relationships. He is now president of a major publisher/marketing communications provider.

At first, it was a conversation about how life was, but then I quickly realized what a great opportunity to get some insight that not many other print reps have into the publishing market. We spoke about iPad apps, and I learned they had just begun to create some apps for their magazines. I asked him, “What are you looking to do? Are you trying to go all digital or just supplement the printed magazine?”

He gave me the best answer anyone could ever give, and changed my view on everything when he responded, “Noah, I am not trying to dictate anything. I am giving the readers and advertisers what they want. Where they go, I go. If this is what they want, then this is what we will do. If it is all print, then so be it; if it is all digital, then so be it; but ultimately the market will decide.”

Now, driving back from this meeting, I fully understood what he meant. Why should a printer only educate, sell, and consult about print when there are so many integrated communications available to publishers? Why should a publisher limit themselves when the market is demanding all of these channels to be open to them? The answer is, they shouldn’t, and as a young guy in printing, I am confessing I am in love with print AND technology! We all should be, and we all should look at ways we can gain the most market share available to us.

Times are changing, print is still relevant, but even more there are now additional channels to use to create the most effective brand possible.

“I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.” – Helen Keller

March 3, 2011 Posted by | Digital Magazine, Publishing, Social Media | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment