July 27, 2012

QR Codes are Not the Enemy (We Are) Do you know what to do with this black and white square? Survey says... probably not. (in the actual entry, there is a picture of a QR code here) Recently, an article from AdAge® Digital pointed out that QR codes are not gaining traction with consumers even though many marketing, advertising and public relations professionals seem to be in love with them. The article above cites a study completed nearly a year ago (a century in online time), saying that "only 5% of Americans who have mobile phones have used them." What bothered me most about this study and this article wasn't the 5% statistic; it was the number of marketing and public relations professionals I am "friends" with or "follow" who were ready to lift the dying QR corpse on to a pyre and watch it burn. "HA, I TOLD YOU SO" was the general sentiment offered. It's as if they wanted vindication; proof that these silly QR codes are an ineffective tool. Here's the problem with that: all the statistic and the article has proven is that we've failed to write and implement strategies and tactics that leverage this exciting new technology. Translation: If QR codes aren't working, it's really our fault. I am disappointed in the way that we tend to only embrace and utilize technology when it's already deeply rooted in society and someone else can show us how to use it best. We need to be early adopters, not laggards. We should be in on the ground floor, shaping the way these new technologies are used in marketing and public relations (and making our clients look like digital rock stars). To do that, we need to approach things like QR codes with a little more of what we learned in the college classroom - Objectives, Strategies and Tactics (a little Diffusion of Innovation wouldn't hurt either). What follows here is my analysis of the problem and detailed examination of potential barriers/solutions to QR code success.

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