Intrigued, I visited yonanas.com and learned about a new kitchen gadget that can turn overripe bananas into delicious, healthy soft serve ice cream. This marketing seemed directed right at me. I’m often faced with the dilemma of what to do with the last banana in the bunch that I just don’t want to eat. And as someone who loves ice cream but hates how bad it is for me, I thought the marketing and product was a great idea. There was even a video on the website showing yonanas featured on The Today Show. A quick scan of the yonanas Facebook page reveals a few people who saw the stickers and plan on purchasing a machine.
While this is definitely an unorthodox marketing strategy, it was a critical reminder to think beyond the obvious marketing strategies. In the case of yonanas, using the banana peel as advertising space made absolute sense, and they used smart creative and a clear call to action to support their message. This is an excellent example of using an ad to engage rather than invade. Rather than being offended to find an ad on my banana, I actually appreciate how well the company understands their target audience.
For your next campaign, consider how can you reach your customers with an ad that makes sense in their daily lives. There is no limit or shortage of possible locations for your next ad.
Tom Hanks has nothing on me. Yeah, he was cast away on a deserted island for four years, but did he lose his iPhone? Did he survive a week without checking his email at every convenient moment? Did he suffer the inability to check baseball scores or the ESPN Fantasy Scoreboard? Did he know what it was like to not use a TV Guide app and have to actually flip through the channels to find a program? Did he go to his favorite coffee shop (Starbucks) unable to check in on Foursquare? Did he experience the anxiety of not being able to text friends and associates whenever the spirit moved him? Did he have a clue what it was like to be shunned by the mobile Facebook and Twitter communities? Did he stare into the eye of a QR Code knowing he could not scan and download?
No, Tom Hanks (aka, Chuck Noland, the FedEx systems engineer) had it easy. After all, I was one of those guys – one of those early adopters – who managed to secure the earliest version of the iPhone… the iPhone classic. And despite the crappy AT&T coverage and the grindingly slow speed at which it operated, it became a part of me. And I became a part of it.
So imagine the emotional pain of losing my right appendage.
Turns out it wasn’t that big a deal. Within the first 24 hours, I was back to my old routines (pre-iPhone). Within a couple days I was actually happy to be freed up to talk with people and avoid all the junk mail and conversations that were eating up my day. I even managed to spend the last two days in Atlanta on business without missing a beat. Suddenly my iPhone was a whyPhone, as in “why did I let it become such an important part of my life?”
By the time you read this, I will have survived seven days – a full week – without my soulmate. I will also be activating my new iPhone 4.
What can I say. Just because I don’t need it, doesn’t mean I don’t want it.
As a consumer, you have probably noted a large influx in the use of QR codes on direct mail pieces and magazine ads. In fact, the US Postal Service is currently offering a discounted postage rate on pieces that include a QR code.
With QR codes popping up everywhere, we couldn’t help but notice that many are just not up to par. If you are planning to incorporate QR codes into an upcoming campaign, avoid some of the common pitfalls.
1. No call to action. Avoid including a QR code on a magazine ad, direct mail piece, poster, etc. without providing consumers with a clear direction on what they should do with it or where the QR code will take them. It is important you tell your audience what to expect when they scan the QR code. For example, Home Depot made excellent use of their QR codes on nursery plants tags. The tags very clearly instruct consumers to scan the QR code to receive more plant care tips.
2. Linking to a generic web page. Just like advertising or campaign web landing pages, QR codes should take the scanner to a relevant destination. For example, promoting a new product in a magazine ad? The code should take the scanner directly to a page with more information and purchasing options for that product. Providing a special offer through direct mail? Take the consumer directly to a location to redeem the offer.
Consumers should see an immediate connection between your call to action and the content they reach through the QR code; they should know what the next step is immediately and intuitively. Guide them to the content they are looking for.
3. Linking to a non-mobile website. Ensure the location the QR code drives users to can be viewed on a mobile phone. If it is impossible to navigate, too small to read or missing important visuals, you will lose the chance for a meaningful engagement.
4. Not tracking results. There are a few ways to track QR codes. If the QR code links to a page on your website, you can simply add website tracking to that page and use your analytics provider to track activity.
However, if you are driving participants to a site not associated with your company (YouTube, etc.), you can develop and connect a QR code with a unique URL through a shortening service like bit.ly. Simply go to the bit.ly website, enter the URL and click shorten, click on Info Page+, right click on the QR code and click “Save Image As…” to use in your creative. Then, simply save and visit the Info Plus+ page to view results. Keep in mind you will only have limited tracking capabilities using a service like bit.ly (e.g. clicks, referrals and location).
Also, consider providing unique codes to different audience segments (based on location, age, gender, etc.) to determine where your QR code achieves the best results.
Let’s be honest, when most people think of successful consumer publicity, monthly glossies like Real Simple and Good Housekeeping are at the top of the wish list. However, securing coverage with the right online media sites can make just as big of impact for your brand and/or product and help support organic search engine optimization.
At a time when the number and size of traditional print consumer magazines is shrinking and competition for prime editorial coverage is fierce, the online magazine industry is growing and online publishers are learning to deliver content in a format familiar to magazine readers. In fact, a recent article in the New York Times highlights The Thriving (Online) Shelter Magazine Industry.
1. Focused target audience. As the New York Times article identifies, many online publications are focused on one particular niche or topic. For example, an online shelter magazine is entirely dedicated to design while a national glossy like Good Housekeeping may only have five pages worth of home décor and care tips. There is more opportunity for your company or product to be featured in an online publication dedicated entirely to one subject. Also, the publication’s audience is already interested in the topic, otherwise they wouldn’t be on the site.
2. Coverage appears sooner. Typical lead-time for a national consumer print publication is about 6 months. That means even if you start pitching today, the earliest you will see coverage is November. Online magazines and news sites operate on a much shorter editorial cycle, providing an opportunity to secure quick media coverage.
3. Coverage lives on. Once an article is published online, it exists on the Internet indefinitely, while print pubs are often tossed or recycled after reading. Online media coverage has the longer shelf life, and, if it is positive, serves as a testimonial for your brand for consumers conducting online research for years to come.
4. Drive consumers directly to a website. Often online media include a link directly to a product or service website. This can make measuring online media simple. With Google Analytics properly set up, it is easy to track how much direct traffic a particular article resulted in, and whether any of that traffic converted to sales.
5. Enhances organic search engine optimization: If a well-known media site, especially one with a good Google page rank, includes a direct link to your site, it will help to increase your organic search engine optimization. Media sites are seen as more credible sources by search engines than your average site.
6. Reach mobile consumers. As we shared in our recent post on QR Codes, 1 in 2 Americans will have a smartphone by this Christmas. Online media is easily accessible to smartphone users through apps and mobile sites.
7. Gain feedback. Some online publications – those not developed in e-reader formats – provide readers with the capability to post in response to articles. Marketers can gain feedback about their company/products and even respond to consumer comments/concerns/questions.
8. Powerful reach. A common misconception is that online publications do not reach nearly as many readers as traditional media. Whether it is the online counterpart of print media or an online-only publication, these sites reach large numbers of unique monthly visitors. Find the site’s online media kit or use free tools like compete.com or quantcast.com to identify an outlet’s monthly visitors.
9. Real-time sharing. If a reader thinks your product or story is useful or compelling, they can share a link to your story immediately. With print coverage, pass-along readership has value, but often takes longer to occur. With online coverage, your message has the potential to spread faster and bypass geographic barriers.
Need help launching a traditional and online publicity and media relations campaign? Contact me at kayleigh (at) sweeneypr (dot) com.
We just returned from the LightFair International trade show in Philadelphia and noticed lots of exhibitors using QR codes creatively in booth signage, literature, product displays and much more. So, we thought the post below on QR codes deserved another week on top. Have other examples or case studies on using QR codes creatively? Tell us more in the comments section below.
QR codes are two-dimensional bar codes that when scanned by a smart phone display a website, coupon, photo, video or more information. These black and white, pixilated squares can be found on and applied to almost on all types of media from posters, and point-of purchase displays, to email, direct mail, videos, ads and even business cards.
Why QR Codes Are Important
According a Nielsen forecast from 2010, 1 in 2 Americans will have a smartphone by Christmas of 2011 – a dramatic increase from the mere 1 in 10 Americans with smartphones in the summer of 2008.
In short, adding QR codes to your marketing strategy provides another way to reach the rapidly expanding smartphone audience and provide your customers and prospects with more information. If used properly, QR codes can work with and enhance your communication strategies by offering more benefits than simply directing mobile consumers to a website, Facebook or Twitter page.
There are endless ways to utility QR Codes. Below are a few ideas on how to take advantage of these bar codes in your next marketing campaign.
1. Integrate print and digital campaigns: Add QR codes to direct mail, posters and print ads to direct users to a specific web landing page. You can use a different code for each medium to track which strategy is most effective. Also, you can test different landing pages to determine which one your customers and prospects are responding favorably to.
2. Share multimedia: Use a QR code to direct consumers to a video or photos that provide more details, provide instructions or after purchase information about your company, product or service.
3. Offer a special promotion or discount: QR codes can display coupons or discount codes on a user’s smartphone, encouraging product trial.
4. Share media coverage or customer reviews: Include a QR code on a point of purchase display or directly on product packaging to share customer reviews and even positive media reviews . This can help a consumer with their purchasing decision quickly, and increase the odds they make a purchase that day.
5. Explain complicated information: Whether it is an ad, product label or email blast, there is often just not enough space to effectively communicate important health, safety and ethical considerations for your brand. Enlist QR codes that provide additional important information when scanned.
6. Support online retail sales: Use QR codes on any media, from retail window signage to emails and Facebook to direct consumers directly to an e-commerce site. You can even promote a particular product or group of products by showcasing them in an ad and then using a QR code to send consumers to a shopping cart already filled with those items.
7. Streamline contact information: Business cards, postcards and print and online ads can get cluttered with too many links to websites, Twitter profiles and Facebook pages. Add a QR code that can display all that information directly on a smartphone screen and be stored for future reference.
8. Build your email database: Have QR codes direct consumers to a form to sign up for your email list, but be sure to provide a compelling reason why they should sign up.
9. Provide customer service support: QR codes can be designed to make a phone call directly to your customer service department for consumers who have questions and want to speak to a live person.
10. Support social media connectivity: Direct users to your Twitter page or Facebook to grow your followers. Again, be sure there is a clear incentive – more information, discounts or giveaways – for consumers to connect.
With a bit of creative thinking, there are endless possibilities for using QR codes to enhance your marketing efforts.