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Code for 'Tell Me More'

  |  March 26, 2009   |  Comments

Quick response code instantly makes every piece of media an interactive one.

"Tell me more."

Isn't that the reaction you'd want a potential customer to have after seeing your ad (assuming they're not ready to say, "I'll take it")?

"Tell me more" brings you one step closer to a sale, but it's a request that traditional advertising channels have never been well equipped to answer. Print ads don't tend to be very talkative, for example.

But QR codes have the ability to change that.

In case you're not familiar with QR codes, here's the brief. QR stands for "quick response." Take a picture of one with your cell phone (once you have a QR reader installed) and you link to customized content, which can be text, a mobile Web site, audio, among other options. They're free to create, and easy enough to make that I did this one. (That means they are extremely easy to make, by the way.)

Quick Response Code

QR codes now make it possible for your ads to tell consumers more. Find a way to work them into your ads and QR codes will positively impact your marketing in two ways.

  • QR codes instantly make every piece of media an interactive one.

  • The process of working QR codes into your campaign will inspire a new level of integrated thinking.

So let's talk about the first, most tangible benefit of using QR codes: now your ads can instantly satisfy that "tell me more" consumer. Because the data behind the code can be anything from text to audio to Web content, there's almost no limit to what you can say.

Your job as a marketer is to think of the key questions that customers struggle with before buying your product, and embed the answers in the code.

It all depends on your brand, product, or service, but here are some thoughts:

  • Billboards promoting complex shows like "24" or "Lost" could have QR codes that distribute clues that explain or extend the story.

  • Magazine ads announcing U2's new album could use a QR code to link to the first single.

  • QR codes could be placed on the packaging of Oreo cookies with coupons that could be redeemed on the spot.

  • For larger, considered purchases, like the washing machines on the Sears showroom floor, QR codes could link to product reviews and customer testimonials.

Best part is, the content the code links to is dynamic and easily changed, so what you tell customers is as fluid as the marketplace. Coupon values can be adjusted based on how eager you are for the sale; the product reviews can stay current; the clues from "24" are always about the most recent episode.

The second benefit is less tangible, but even more valuable: the process of working QR codes into your marketing efforts will help make you a better integrated marketer. QR codes by their nature mean you have to think about what information consumers want, and when, and how media channels can work together.

Instead of thinking just of a clever ad that gets someone's attention, you must think in terms of a back and forth conversation, and attempt to craft it in advance.

Just imagine you decided that a QR code needed to appear on every piece of physical media your brand appeared on. You'd then need to challenge yourself to figure out what content to link a newspaper ad to versus what an ad on a commuter railroad platform would connect to versus what you'd try to convey to a customer holding your product in her hand in an aisle at Target.

The QR codes become the connectors between your various channels, and make you think about how it all works together.

The only downside to QR codes is that they're not widely adopted, but that's not a reason to avoid them. The cost to create them is negligible, they don't require additional media expenditures, and they'll help your work your integrated marketing muscles.

From a consumers point of view, they're both fun and useful -- a combination that's tough to beat. And when your potential customer says "tell me more," QR codes ensure you have something to say.

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Adam Cahill

Adam Cahill is the EVP, Media at Hill Holliday. You can connect with him on Twitter at @adamcahill.

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