Wednesday, February 23, 2011

QR Codes: The Next Best Thing

By Margie Church, Copywriter/Editor 
QR (quick response) Codes are the best thing that has happened to print in a long while. While the world embraced the immediacy of smart technology, in some cases, print advertising became less popular. However, QR codes are a new way to re-strengthen the link between electronic and print marketing communications. 

So what are QR codes?

They consist of modules arranged in a square pattern. Often the modules are black on a white background, but there are other options. The squiggly-looking box can even contain embedded images to reinforce your credit union brand. They act as a specific matrix barcode (two-dimensional code) and are readable by a dedicated QR barcode reader in a smartphone.  Generating the code is free and takes seconds. It never expires. 

The bottom line is a QR code is an information freeway.

With a click of a smartphone camera, a URL or text opens, packed with your message, formatted especially for mobile viewing. They provide convenient links to electronic tools your credit union already uses, such as PURLs (personalized URLs) or GURLs (general URLs). The link could open an application, coupon, prize, contest, video, newsletter or your credit union's home page. Your CU could create an entire campaign around QR Codes like a scavenger hunt. Wouldn't that make members get involved and position your CU as very cool? What an idea for new member onboarding! Plus, it's extremely affordable to add this component to a campaign and you'll be thinking it's a no-brainer once you have the details. 

Consider this: In the second quarter of 2010, smartphones represented 61.6 million (19%) of the 325.6 million mobile phones sold. This represents a sales increase of over 50% on the same time period in 2009. In addition, the Coda Research Consultancy predicts global smartphone sales of some 2.5 billion over the 2010-2015 period and also suggests mobile Internet use via smartphones will increase 50 fold by the end of that period.

Your credit union leadership might say its membership isn't that tech savvy. That may be true, but statistics such as these, and the explosion of social media use by businesses, including credit unions, tells us QR Codes is just one more powerful tool CUs need to put in their playbook now. 

Still need more convincing?

Global intelligence leader, the Nielson Company, says 25 to 54 year-olds comprise 70 percent of smartphone users. There are lots and lots of decision makers in that age range who have stable jobs and have put down community roots. In other words, they fit the profile of your credit union. Using QR Codes is one more easy way to reach them and help keep them as members.

Now get out there.

Print the QR Code on whatever you want, and take members to your destination of choice. Brochures, fliers, statement stuffers, posters, envelopes, newsletters, business cards, billboards, and banners are easy targets. Companies are silk screening codes on clothing and hats, stitching them into stadium blankets and scarves. Use the codes to subscribe to your newsletter and get a double-whammy – your e-mail list can also grow. Silkscreen it on your building. People can photograph the code while passing by and learn what you want them to know.
You can change the landing page or text message any time you wish without revising the code. Kind of exciting, isn't it? Kind of makes you anxious to smell ink again.

Our name, Pinpoint Direct Marketing, has never been more spot on. We're using QR codes for our own branding campaign and for our clients. Are you?

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