Sometimes I wish I was Michael J. Fox and could travel back in time or even plant myself in the created reality of a TV series. I am not sure how many of you are familiar with the “Mad Men” series on AMC but it is about 1960’s America and it’s relation to an advertising agency. A big portion of the advertising elements relating to their clients is the newspaper. Much of the “real” correlations to the agency world today are attempting to convince their clients that a certain medium can work. Or they can qualify the correct audience to come into their retail/business establishment.

I wish I could jump into Mad Men and introduce the concept of a QR code into their print media.

Even though there is not an audience in front of me, I can hear the collective “What?” or “Silence” resonating through the monitor right now in my general direction. Do not fear, I am going to explain what a QR code is but I would first like to explain what it can do.

A QR Code can allow for proof of a medium working or not working. A QR Code can qualify a customer to determine if we want to approach them into buying goods and services from us. A QR Code allows a standard 3×10 newspaper ad to become an eight page tab, 30 page catalog or an easy entry way into our online store. A QR Code allows for actionable results—something most medias fail to deliver.

Now, if I could jump into Mad Men and deliver that sort of medium to their print, they would have clients lining up out of their door and happy clients showing proof of their advertising initiatives.

So, it can prove something, now the concept of what it is? Basically a QR code is an application driven function used in smart phones. That is the tech speak. The real world speak: You take a photo of it and it drives you to a website/landing page using your phone.

You create a code at one of thousands of websites and it can relate to a specific page on your website or another site entirely.

How can this drive results to the retail level?    Two Ways:

1. You have now made your newspaper ad an entry way to an endless amount of content all related to your brand and your product/service. A 3×10 Ad can now become an entry way to view your entire product catalog online, specific bargain reduced items that change on a consistent basis which would mess up print schedules or a way to make your ad stand out verses

your competition because you are hip and cool.

2. A medium that is already struggling just found a way to be scrutinized with measurable tracking or a cost reduction in space to still get the messages out you want to give. A lead generating device that entices email sign up, Facebook users to fan you or twitter followers to follow you.

With all of these great things there are some serious pitfalls that must be taken into consideration:

1. If the Newspaper in your market is damaged beyond repair, a QR code in your ad is not going to save it. It’s not your job to fund the newspaper. It’s your job to use the paper to bring you results.

2. It is not a substitute for professional, creative crafted collateral. Buying a 3×10 ad that only has your locator information and a QR code is not going to satisfy the ROI you are expecting on your newspaper ad. Remember everyone does not have a smart phone. And of those that have smart phones, many at this point are not aware of what a QR code is.

3. It has to help the consumer. Just because you can get website traffic to justify your cost what are you offering the customer when they land on your website or landing page? Is there value for the customer or is the value for you to show numbers. Choose wisely. The customer will choose you only once.

Over the next four weeks we are going to be exploring the following media’s and how you can use that media to create a synergized marketing plan.

Week 1: Newspaper and QR Codes (this week)
Week 2: Insertions and Website (next week)
Week 3: TV and Twitter (two weeks)
Week 4: Direct Mail and Facebook (three weeks)

Be sure to visit our website, twitter and Facebook for live updates throughout the week pertaining to retail, marketing and all of these topics on a regular basis.

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