Utilizing QR Codes Without Being LAME

lame-qr1I keep hearing marketers preach that you can position you or your company as “forward thinking” or “innovative” by using QR codes in your marketing campaigns.  Gag! It takes more now these days than a just a tiny black and white square to really make an inventive impression.  Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of  QR codes and while they are pretty cutting edge and all the buzz with digital marketers, if you don’t use some basic best practices with your QR promotion, you are just plain #LAME.

Below are a few truly innovative and interesting ideas I came across in research that will help make sure your QR campaigns go from lame to hall of fame!*

*Ok, that was pretty lame but nothing like a rhyme to set your point off

Please Play Nice with the Mobile Device

The biggest LAME mistake I see marketers and novices make is creating a QR code that when scanned on a mobile device, leads to a non-mobile friendly page or website.  Most people will be scanning your QR code from a smartphone.  While it is possible to navigate a non-mobile friendly website on your phone, it isn’t fun.  Links and text are tiny and “fat fingering” the wrong link happens entirely too often. Additionally, connection speeds may not always be best so all those images and iframes on your page = SLOW LOAD TIME! PC friendly sites are not mobile friendly sites and vice versa.  If you use QR, incorporate a mobile module into your CMS or direct your code to a separate mobile friendly landing page.

Target's Fat Finger Foe vs Fat Finger Friend

Target's Fat Finger Foe vs Fat Finger Friend


Have Some Fun While You Wait

Don’t just create a QR code that links to your website or Facebook page, that’s LAME.  Try to provide something useful to your scanners.  First Bank did a soft sell QR campaign on billboard in airports.  Instead of just promoting their products, they wanted to demonstrate their customer care by providing useful diversions for potential customers waiting for flights.  People who scanned the QR codes were directed to a mobile friendly page that allowed them to download a Sherlock Holmes book for reading or play puzzles.  Of course this landing page included some more self serving aspects such as buttons to find them on Facebook, contact customer services, and open their very own First Bank account (but that’s ok).  If only the DMV was as innovative.


First Bank QR's lead you to free books or sudoku puzzles


Before You Leave, Could You Tell Us More?


Survey or Contact Form QR

Survey or Contact Form QR

There is great potential for restaurants and hotels to use QR codes in their billing.  Add a QR code to your customer’s bill that directs them to a survey (SHORT SURVEY – remember mobile users are on-the-go) that allows them to give feedback while it’s still fresh in their mind.  It could also lead to a short Contact us or Sign-up form to receive email updates from the business.

Wufoo form’s aren’t 100% mobile friendly but I recommend them as a thrifty option for businesses to create quick and easy survey and sign-up forms.

Menu QR Code

Radisson Edwardian QR Menu

Restaurants who may not have menu real estate to showcase each of their entrees can use a tiny QR code by menu descriptions.  When scanned it could shows a picture or video of the food item.  The Radisson Edwardian Hotel put this QR practice in place on their menus and allowed patrons to see a video of the entree prepared by the Chef, all while sitting comfortably at their table.

Great For Print and Interns Too



AXA iAd - YouTube

I’ve seen QR codes in a number of print ads and on product labels, but most are pretty simple and more commonly they just direct the scanner back to their website or Facebook page, LAME!

AXA, a Belgium financial insurance company has been experimenting with mobile interactivity in TV and in print.  They used a QR code in a TV commercial, (Note: I haven’t seen much QR success with TV) and also created an iAd to be used in print.  While the example pictured to the left isn’t technically a QR example, it could just as easily have been a QR campaign with the same non-lame results. Watch the AXA YouTube Video for the full iAd effect.

QR CODE – Content-rich Resume from Victor petit

An intern in France, Victor Petit, used the same principles as AXA for his resume.  An HR rep turns to the back of his resume and they are greeted with his headshot and a QR code over his mouth.  Scan the code and place the phone on his face to get a real message from Mr. Petit himself.  Needless to say, he got hired quickly.

Business Cards for Personal or Professional Brand

qr-cardBusiness cards are nothing new to QR, but how you use them is.  Most the time, QR codes on business cards simply link back to a personal/company website or just link to a mobile friendly page where you can see contact information.  But isn’t contact information already on the business card?  Duplication of efforts = LAME!

Business Card Landing Page

QR Business Card Page

Take your QR business card to the next level by incorporating some more interactive elements.  Don’t just include your contact information, create a mobile business card with links to your Twitter, Linkedin, even Newsletter sign up form.  Give scanners the option to download your contact information directly to their phone contacts.  There are a number of sites out there that help you generate a mobile business card and QR code easily.  Check out QRSocialze.me or LinkBlots.  Businesses may have more luck with Google Sites’ new and pre-made mobile templates to help them create nice mobile friendly landing pages for QR business cards.

Need some ideas for QR Business card designs?  See some great examples of QR business cards on Webdesigner Depot.

Sorry I Missed You, But Not Missing the Sale

closed-qrRetail stores may find this trick helpful when they close or are away from their products AND have a mobile friendly ecommerce website (or Amazon, Etsy, eBay account).  Put a QR code on your closed sign to direct people to make purchases at your store online.

Also good for trade shows if you ever need to leave your booth.  Attendees will be able to scan any QR code you leave to learn more about your products.  A good example of this is in the video below (minus the kinda loopy guy).

Watch Brands Engaging With QR Codes In Retail (Spazio 24)

Let’s learn from our mistakes. What are some of the lame QR uses you have seen? Or what are some hall of fame worthy QR code campaigns?  Please share in the comments below.

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