Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The 3 D's of Marketing with QR Codes

Where on earth did July go? After the holiday weekend, I traveled a bit (some for work, some for R&R), and then was just completely inundated with new projects. Lo and behold, we're now in August. My intern just wrapped up her time with us this week. Before we know it, Labor Day will be here. Yikes.


One of our summer projects has been weighing on my brain recently, and I thought I'd throw it out there to see what others are doing. We recently generated QR codes for our entire portfolio, and when we announced that we were going to do this, a lot of people said, "What the heck is a QR code?" If you're in the same boat, a QR code (short for “quick response” code) is a 2D barcode  that can be scanned by a smartphone's camera. Depending on how the code was set up, scanning it will direct the viewer to a website, make a phone call, or some other online destination. While I personally think that there's a lot of potential with using QR codes in marketing, I do think that you need to keep a few key things in mind. 

Demographics. If your target market isn't made up of smartphone users, they may not know (or care) what a QR code is. If you make that QR code the only method of contact, you're going to lose leads.

Direction. If you're going to use a QR code, please tell your audience where they're going, and what they're going to find when they get there. Slapping a QR code on your marketing materials with no explanation is likely confusing for the uninitiated, and makes those who are familiar with the technology a little wary. Spell it out, and everyone will be happier in the long run. 

Design. If you don't have a mobile-friendly website, you shouldn't be directing people there with mobile-friendly technology. Case in point: our corporate website is five years old, desperately needs to be overhauled, and definitely NOT mobile-friendly. Our property websites, on the other hand, are hosted on a totally different platform, and both our resident and prospect portals have been optimized for mobile. 

In other words, like anything else: one size doesn't fit all. QR codes aren't going to work for every property, just the same way that Craigslist doesn't work for every property. However, in the few weeks since creating the codes, we've had three managers incorporate their codes into marketing fliers, one create an ad for an ad on a trolley, and one very enterprising manager reprint her business cards with the QR code on the back. Our team also brainstormed the below list of ideas:
  1. Out-of-home media: bus stops, train stations, trolleys, subway stations, etc. 
  2. Print advertising  – the Guides may not let you use your own QR codes just yet, but relocation guides, newspapers, magazines and other outlets might.
  3. Direct mail pieces (yes, direct mail still works) 
  4. Property signs and banners 
  5. Brochures and/or brochure boxes
  6. Business cards  
  7. Community/corporate outreach fliers
  8. In the leasing office, print napkins with QR codes that link to the property’s website, and then use them at coffee and refreshment stations
  9. Encourage community feedback (link to an online survey or social presence) 
  10. Coupons and special deals

Are you using QR codes in your marketing yet? If so, what are you doing with them? And if not, why not? Please weigh in with your comments.