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MARKETING

Australian marine PR/media specialist Sandman Public Relations explains how to use QR codes to engage your audiences…



It’s best to launch straight into this article with a definition: a Quick Response (QR) code is a two-dimensional code, similar to a bar code, that can be scanned by a “QR code reader” and links the user directly to a website, video, image or text.

Created by Toyota subsidiary Denso-Wave in 1994 (and initially used for tracking parts in the manufacturing process), QR codes have only recently started to be used for marketing purposes. Used widely in this capacity in Japan and to some extent in Europe, the USA and Australia have been a little slower on the uptake until this year.

The increasing presence of QR codes in marketing activities is largely due to the widespread use of smartphones (iPhone, Android and similar) and the various applications that are available to turn any such device into a QR code reader.

Search the App Store for “QR code reader and scanner”. Download one to your smartphone then read on…

Leading the charge
Don’t feel stupid if you have no idea what we’re talking about. The use of QR codes in media and marketing campaigns is so recent that most advertisements, billboards and other promotional material that use QR codes have to carry a brief instruction on how they work, as many people don’t yet recognise them for what they are.

It’s pretty simple. If you see a QR code, scan it. Your phone will do the rest.

Try it out on the QR code published with this article. It will lead you to some examples of how one of our clients, Emarine Australia (Back Cove and Sabre motor yachts), is using QR codes in its boat show promotion and print advertising.*

Even better, wander down onto the marina during the 2011 Sydney International Boat show and scan a QR code direct from one of Emarine Australia’s promotional banners. See what happens. This is exactly how potential customers will use it.

Anyone passing by who wants to know more about the new Sabre 40 motor yacht, for example, will be able to scan the QR code with a smartphone and be taken straight to the relevant model page on Emarine Australia’s website – and even watch a video of the boat in action.

Taking it further
The application of QR codes can be as simple or as complex as you need it to be. Something we’re particularly interested in using QR codes for is to gauge the effectiveness of advertising in various media outlets.

Most marine businesses’ advertising budgets are tight, therefore it’s imperative to know which media outlets you’re spending your money on are delivering results. While there are number of clever ways of doing this, the use of QR codes provides one of the simplest and most effective.

As more and more consumers start using QR codes, putting a different code in each ad in each of the publications you advertise in will create a means to track where your leads are being generated.

Think of it like a click-through from a website on which you may advertise. Just as an online click-through tells you where the visitor came from, QR codes will reveal in which publication the potential customer saw your ad.

It’s also similar to publishing separate phone numbers or email addresses in different ads to determine a lead’s origin.

Who said the effectiveness of print media advertising couldn’t be measured? If your in-house marketing coordinator has told you that, it’s time to start searching for a new one!

Generating QR codes
Generating unique QR codes for a specific purpose is another very simple process.

You can generate your own QR codes by visiting one of the many free QR code generating sites. Conduct a Google search and take your pick! www.qrstuff.com and qrickit.com are a couple of good ones.

When generating QR codes for print, make sure to create one of sufficient size and resolution for the scale you’re printing. Your graphic designer can guide you on this.

Limited only by creativity
New product launch? Add a QR code to your promotional material and link it direct to the information you want customers to access.

Running a call-to-action campaign for a retail promotion, discount or giveaway? Add a QR code in your ad and link it to the full details, terms and conditions.

QR codes can even be generated so that when scanned with a phone it makes a call to the number assigned to it. Now there’s a way to get the phones ringing! Similarly, QR codes can be used to generate SMS text messages.

The applications for QR code technology in your marketing plan are limited only by your creativity… 

By Ben Sandman and Jamie Millar

Sandman values and respects the confidentiality of the working relationships it has with each of its clients. Emarine Australia director Jed Elderkin kindly gave his permission to use his company’s specific example to illustrate the effectiveness of QR codes in this article.
Consumers want immediate access to relevant information and QR codes make that possible


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