20 ways to use QR codes correctly

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Every business or startup positioning itself around QR codes will be out of business in four years. Venture capitalists who invest in these companies are first class suckers. Look, it's obvious that QR codes are increasingly being used to capture consumers' attention; you cannot swing a dead cat in San Francisco without hitting 10 of them. However, the barriers to universal adoption are just too high for them to be anything other than a tool, and a clunky one at that. They are a tactic, not a business strategy, and tactics are only useful as long as there are creative uses that inspire and delight people.

Before you engage in any creative digital strategy, ask yourself: What does success look like? That question will help inform how you should be connecting with your consumers, what the purpose of the efforts is, and what the barriers to adoption are. Whatever you do, do not ask the question: What could we do with QR codes? This question informs nothing. It is a solution looking for a problem, and that type of thinking is the myopic purview of those who understand little about technology and even less about what marketing, advertising, and digital strategists like me do for a brand.

It is not about QR codes, it never will be. "QR code" is never the answer. Connecting with your consumers in a meaningful way is the answer. QR codes will never be more than a conduit to that answer. If you do not understand that, then please hire and listen to someone who does.

But what if you have decided that QR codes could be a solution to how to connect to your customers and you are just struggling with how? You just want to know if the presented ideas are viable. How do you determine that? Let me provide you with 20 lessons you can learn from campaigns that have implemented QR codes well. Remember, whatever you do, do it in a way that helps your brand. Do it in a way that connects to your customers in a unique and delightful way.

Are you doing any of these things with QR codes?



Marcelo Di Franco
Marcelo Di Franco May 15, 2012 at 5:25 PM

Hey Sean,
I have to say this is by far the best article I've read on QR. Most of the stuff out there is just about good examples and basic best practices. I think you nailed it.

Sean X
Sean X May 10, 2012 at 6:57 PM

It was actually student at The Miami Ad School that did the Victoria Secret idea for QR Codes. May VS should hire them to do their guerrilla advertising.

Sean X
Sean X May 10, 2012 at 5:39 PM

Turns out I may have been giving Victoria Secret a little too much credit. That example is a concept from ad students. Nice to know the next generation of ad creatives is as fascinated with boobs as my generation. Ugh ;)