Is It Neat…or Necessary?

When VistaComm colleague Jamie O“Brien forwarded me an article entitled “Why the QR code is failing,” I was intrigued. Frankly, I’m not the most tech-savvy guy—kind of old-fashioned, really. But I’ve actually downloaded a QR reader on my smartphone, and got a bit of a kick out of seeing where those codes would take me.

The problem, as article author Sean X Cummings points out, is that far too often these little pixel boxes don’t take you anywhere worth going. What’s worse, the majority of folks don’t understand what they are and/or don’t have the means to use them. Marketers also tend to use them in places that make little practical sense—like freeway billboards.

And therein lies the truth about virtually any technological innovation. Even the best technology can be rendered totally ineffective by a lazy creative effort (just throw a QR code on a page) or bad execution (the code sends the user to your home page). In most cases, it’s a better idea to simply provide the URL instead of making your potential customer dig out their phone, call up the app, focus, press, and pray.

 Technology does not replace strategy. If you don’t have a clear reason to use something in your communication, wait until you do. That’s why we start with planning, and add everything else when—and if—it makes sense and leads to customer engagement.