QR CRAZE-overuse and overload?

December 21, 2011 Leave a comment

By Heidi Adams

What is a QR code?

QR stands for “quick response”.  Essentially the little black and white squares are a 2D barcode.  These barcodes are able to be scanned via traditional POS scanners or new smart phones and mobile devices. The codes are able to take users to a website, store data or even send an sms message.

The codes themselves are now able to be customized due to scanners having a 30% error correction rate.  This means that your logo can actually be superimposed over the QR code and the code will still function.

Do consumers see the value in QR codes anymore?

QR code placement has grown quickly in the last year-due in part to high amounts of smart phone subscribers.   While shopping this holiday season I’ve been inundated with QR codes.

They are even on items I wouldn’t suspect at first glance.  I think that consumers are starting to lose interest in QR codes without guidance.  What I mean by that is QR codes need to have a perceived value in order to be scanned.

At first, consumers were excited simply by the technology they possessed to be able to scan something and do something new.  Now if there isn’t an attached value to the QR code, it becomes a waste of the consumer’s time.  Here are a few examples to illustrate what I mean.

Bad Examples:

  • A QR code on consumer packaging with no description-next to complete information about the product.
    • Why doesn’t this work?  Well if the data that is already needed is there to purchase a product, why would you scan the code.  Consumers are used to the code not leading to valuable information.
    • How to improve this? How about linking the code to consumer reviews or customer comments about the product. In addition to linking the code- TELL your customers why and what they will get out of scanning the QR.
    • A QR code on a website as part of a logo.
      • Why doesn’t this work?  All this says to me is “we’re trendy”. Take Macy’s for example.  It has been changed since, but a few months ago the middle of their traditional star logo was changed out for a QR code.  The code led to their website.  The logo was on their website.  Can you say, “redundant”?
      • How to improve this? Make the QR do something interesting.  How about linking to a coupon to be used in store that you can keep on your smart phone. You could even have it download an app for you, for shopping on the go.
      • QR code in a TV commercial.
        • Why doesn’t this work? Most commercials are about 30 seconds long. Why waste precious seconds showing a QR code that consumers wont have time to scan. Duncan Hines has a QR code in one of their box mix cake commercials.  It’s so pointless; it’s on the screen for less than 5 seconds.
        • How to improve this? Remove it- don’t waste the time or money.

Good Examples:

*Please note that the next three examples are “print” media.  Often the social media and traditional advertising don’t mesh together in the message.  A QR code is a great way to weave those two mediums together.

  • QR code for plant care tips on nursery seedling packaging.
    • Why does it work? The packaging on some plants at Home Depot this past spring, included a QR code.   The packaging also noted that if you wanted care tips about the plant, to scan the code. There was immediately added value to the product.

    • QR code on business card.
      • Why does it work? This one can go either way, but in the example I have the businessman decided to make his QR code link up to a coupon!  What a great reason to keep the card.  If you do use a QR on your business card make sure that it links up to something different than the information you have typed out.  Also make sure to write what to do with the code or tell the person you’re handing it to.
      • QR code on a DVD display.
        • Why does it work?  This is the best use of a QR code I have seen this holiday season. The QR code was on the display for a newly released DVD.  The display said to scan the code to see a trailer for the movie!  Genius.  If you didn’t see a trailer for it yet or didn’t remember the movie- here is the perfect opportunity to check it out again.  They only way to make that better would be to have free WiFi in the store!

What are some of the best or worst QR code uses you’ve seen?


Less Stress POS (Point of Sale, that is.)

December 21, 2011 Leave a comment

By: Marshawn Hunt

The everyday task of any business can be very stressful. Swamped with paperwork, invoices, and other task? Make it easier on yourself get a POS System. A POS system helps with the maintenance and the growth of a business. Point of Sales systems help eliminate stress caused by hardships of the workplace. Why do all the work when you don’t have to?

A POS system reduces the amount of paperwork a manager/owner has to fulfill at the end of a business day. POS systems are consistent and accurate when filling out paper work, invoices, and keeping track of orders. It allows the manager/owner to be aware of other responsibilities that come with running a store/business.

“A good POS allows you to allocate your human resources to the customer service area of the business” Gary Ruffing says. That means they no longer have to be counting, calculating, ordering, and checking cash-register accuracy. (Gary Ruffing, senior director of retail services for BBK Ltd., a business advisory firm in Southfield, Mich.)

Business owners who are pretty busy may not have time to be at the store or place of business as much as they want. Problems could arise at any moment, when the manager isn’t there to acknowledge and act on the situation. With a POS system any employee can access and perform a variety of task on the POS; it is a well formatted and accurate system. “A POS lets you have that important level of control when you’re not there” says Jim Melvin, chief executive officer of Siva Corp.

POS systems helps maintain; prices, and quantity of products that are carried in the chain. No more dealing with papers which get lost, or unorganized filing arrangements. Stores run out of products all the time, the POS systems help with tracking products, and how many/what time particular items are being sold as well.

POS systems eliminate the stress and hassle of doing exhausting paperwork. Technology is evolving as we speak! POS systems are working as you read! POS systems lighten the workloads of managers and business owners. POS = less stress.

Here are 7 reasons to switch to a point of sale system.


December 21, 2011 Leave a comment

Written By: Pete Patten

With everybody feeling the economic crunch in one way or another, the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) trend has gained momentum. This trend makes sense as people try to creatively save money anyway they can. Most of the time, technology is the driving force for DIYers. Smartphones, tablets, and electronic deviceshave unleashed a tidal wave of opportunities for people to track, analyze, control, and learn how to do something on their own.

English: A gray version of an emblem used by i...

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Health related DIY information, activities, and devices are becoming more available and popular to the public. Apple has over 9,000 health apps available through their App store. There are blood pressure monitoring devices, pedometers, work-out plans, dietary plans, and just about anything else you can think of.

With the recent boom in home improvement, there are shows that you can DVR that can help you step-by-step through a project of any size. Websites offer advice, blueprints, diagrams, and instructions, all geared toward lending a helping hand for people trying to save a few dollars.

Put aside the saving money part of doing-it-yourself for just a second. There is also the aspect of accomplishment and success that needs to be calculated into the DIY trend. Talk about conversation pieces – and having pride in the work that you can do on your own.

The bottom line is people need to take a step back for a moment and realize that you really can do it yourself. With so many resources available, it’s time to use the technology and knowledge that is out there at your fingertips. There’s no need to freak out when you gain a pound or two. There’s no reason to think you can’t update or replace the trim and doors in your house. Stop what you are doing for a minute and do a little research on how to improve the situation – on your own. It might take you a time or two to figure out exactly how to do something but it’s ok – you can save money while finding a sense of accomplishment at the same time.

streaming your customers creativity

December 21, 2011 Leave a comment

By: Steve Krause

Companies are leveraging customer’s creativity by initiating contests. The contests allow users to upload homemade commercials to the company’s Ustream channels.

This new form of advertising gives consumers the ability to create and upload funny and informal videos. Consumer’s compete while spreading brand awareness about the company and their products.

This new form of advertising also allows the company to tie in other social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to the contest by requiring the contestants to participate on those platforms.

One company that is currently taking advantage of this concept is Honda, which is allowing people to create and upload theme songs for the new 2012 Honda Civic.  According to the article, “2012 Honda Civic Songwriting Competition Kicks Off”, written by Jesse Bishop, “The grand prize is a 2012 Honda Civic valued between $15,000 and $27,000, and a chance to perform live during the 2012 Honda Civic Tour date in Los Angeles and be featured during the Civics interactive marketing campaign.”

A contest like this allows for the consumer to create and generate a buzz for the Honda while giving consumers an interactive way to create and show their own views of the Honda Civic in a fun and engaging contest.  

Honda isn’t the first to company to engage in this new form of Ustream contest advertising.  We’ve all seen the Doritos super bowl commercials that were generated, uploaded, voted, and shown on Super Bowl Sunday.

Also locally here in Madison, Smart Toyota also created a video contest that allowed fans to win a new Toyota Scion by uploading homemade videos about the new Toyota Scion that required users to generate likes to the Smart Toyota Facebook and Twitter fans to vote on the videos which resulted in an increase of the Smart Toyota Facebook and Twitter fan base.  http://smarttoyotatalentsearch.com/how.html

Allowing fans to be creative with video contests allows for the potential to create a unique and potentially viral buzz for your company and products.  Video contests like these also allow consumers to promote your company’s products using their own voice with a fun and interactive medium at a fairly cheap price. The main cost of producing and maintaining a contest like this is organization and time making sure the contest runs smooth and without voter tampering.

Once your company has found a way to achieve this, the potential buzz and brand awareness possibilities are limitless.

Jump start small businesses with Groupon

December 21, 2011 Leave a comment

By: Steve Krause
If you’re a discount shopper you’ve probably heard about the online discount web site known as Groupon.  Well after hearing about this from a few friends of mine I decided to see what all of the hype was about.  After doing a little research online on buzzraid.com, I learned that Groupon is a group buying website where discounts on products are offered in certain cities or regions where it could be 75% to 50% off of random products like hygiene supplies, services like spa therapy, or a certain meal at a restaurant.

Check out buzzraid for more details on the logistics!

However, the only way customers can take advantage of these “hot deals” on Groupon is if a certain number of people buy the discount which makes it a win-win for the customer who gets the discount and for the store owner’s who get enough business to make the discount worth their while.

This buying website is a great tool for business owners to not only get people into their doors, but it’s also a way to attract new customers to your place of business as well.  With Groupon members constantly getting email alerts about discounts in your store they have to make the effort to forward the Groupon deal to their friends, family, co-workers, basically anyone they can to try and get enough members to take advantage of the discount and make the online voucher valid.

Sure, you’re probably going to have to offer somewhat of an outrageous one-time discount like 50% to 75% off on a product or service you offer, but if enough people buy the discount on Groupon to make the offer valid, odds are you’re going to get all of those customers who bought the discount into your place of business to use the voucher.  Once you get the people into your place of business to use the online voucher they might be inclined to buy other products or services you offer or even become new loyal repeat customers.  Makes sense doesn’t it?

I feel that this could be a successful tool for smaller businesses to attract new customers and help their businesses grow. With the way consumers are pinching pennies these days, what better way to get them into your place of business than to offer them a great discount.  The hardest part about starting up a business or even maintaining a business is getting people into the door.  That is the beauty of using Groupon for your business is it gets people into the doors.  After that it’s up to you to build a relationship with them and retain them as a long-term loyal customer.

I recently read a small business Groupon success story in an online article in Inc. Magazine written by Jason Del Rey entitled, “How to Use Groupon to Boost Sales”.  The article states how a small brewery owner Matt Lincecum woke up one Wednesday morning and his office phone was ringing off the hook, for hours.  The article went on to say how the calls were so overwhelming that he had to direct them to the company voicemail with the greeting, “We love you very much, but we are overwhelmed at the moment.  Please check our web site on Monday to make reservations there.”

The article also went on to explain how Lincecum’s brewery, Fremont Brewery, partnered with Groupon to offer a tour of the brewery, a pint of beer, and a pint glass for only $7, a discount of over 50%, but led to such a demand for brewery tours that Lincecum had to hire another person to help give and schedule the tours.

That’s a classic example of the power of Groupon and how it can help jump start a small business and provide an abundance of business overnight.  Groupon targets and attracts deal hunters and penny pinchers, but if you get them into your store and have them leaving happy and satisfied not only will you possibly have a new loyal customer, but you also have some dam good word-of-mouth advertising as well for they will be telling their friends and families about this new small business they love that they found on Groupon.

The Juggernaut of Soccer

December 15, 2011 1 comment

By: Ritchie Jay Coggins

The industry I wish to discuss in this blog is that of sports.  The big trend developing in this U.S. industry that I can discern emerging in this sphere is the strong interest in soccer.

Soccerball with USA flag

Image via Wikipedia

Frankly, soccer or football has been the world sport for eons, but recently soccer has become more and more popular in the United States.  Ironically, just as popular American football has 11 team players on the field at one time, so does soccer according to a Web site entitled “Basic Rules of Soccerhttp://www.soccer-fans-info.com/soccer-rules.html

According to a web site entitled “History of Soccerhttp://www.historyofsoccer.info  this sport can trace its history back to antiquity with the ancient Chinese in the 2nd and 3rd centuries BC.  However, the early growth of modern soccer or football started in England.  One amusing tidbit has the rumor that the first ball used was the head of some Danish brigand.  Moreover, the history of modern-day soccer was established in 1863.  To be specific, in October, eleven representatives from London clubs and schools met at the Freemason’s Tavern to set up common fundamental rules to control the matches amongst themselves.  The result of this meeting was the formation of the Football Association.  Then, as British sailors, traders and soldiers introduced the sport to different parts of the globe, soccer’s popularity spread rapidly during the 1800’s.  In fact, Italians, Austrians and Germans drew soccer to Europe, while Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil adopted the sport in South America.

According to an article by Dave Litterer, http://homepages.sover.net/~spectrum/overview.html in mainstream America, the sport of soccer has always had a strong base among ethnic communities throughout the 20th century, but the general populace generally ignored the sport.  However, during the 1970’s a key development manifested itself because of the rapid growth of soccer as a youth participation sport.  Ironically, this was because soccer was relatively inexpensive as well as democratic.  To elaborate on this sentence, soccer did not require specialists, tall players or behemoths as many other sports did.  Furthermore, youth soccer did not have the overly competitive stigma and the political mudslinging that bombarded Little League baseball and Pop Warner football.

Moreover, in 1968 the North American Soccer League began in the United States, but this League terminated in a sea of red ink in 1984.  Yet the seeds had been planted for future growth.  For example, the college game was growing steadily, and was one of the largest college varsity sports.  In fact, this was most evident in the rapid and accelerated growth of women’s college soccer.  Then, in 1996 Major League Soccer inaugurated its first year in the United States.  Furthermore, during the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, the men didn’t perform as well as hoped, but the women’s team won the inaugural Olympic Women’s Soccer competition with unprecedented crowds, including 76,000 for the final, which evinced that the women’s sport was coming of age at the top levels.

As the last decade ended, Major League Soccer (MLS) continued to expand into new markets.  To be specific, in 2009, MLS added the Seattle Sounders, which averaged nearly 40,000 partisans a game.  Ironically, in 2010 the Philadelphia Union’s new stadium was too small because of averaging 25,000 fans per game, which shows tremendous interest in this growing sport.  In fact, MLS expanded with three new teams last year with franchises in Portland, Oregon, Vancouver, British Columbia and Montreal, Quebec.  Interestingly, in 2008 the U.S. women won the Gold Medal at the Beijing Olympics, which was followed by the establishment of a new professional soccer league in 2009 dubbed Women’s Professional Soccer (Litterer, 2010).

Interestingly, sage Simon Wright wrote that traditionally kids in North America have been drawn to the big four American sports of football, basketball, baseball and ice hockey; however,  at the youth level there has been a strong growth in soccer participation (Wright, 2008).  Thus, prudent innovators would want to proactively plan for this new pending trend as the U.S. embraces the world sport.

In fact, an article by Bill Saporito elaborated that soccer trails only basketball in America with its number of participants, and soccer is the most popular sport for women among NCAA schools (Saporito, 2010).

After citing this history and trend towards soccer in the U.S., perhaps this is summed up beautifully by Philadelphian Randy LoBassowho blogged that American’s are moving away from food, and moving towards soccer (LoBasso, 2010).

Basketballs ondisplay2 lithuania

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Hence, prudent marketers want to be proactive by preparing for the marketing influx of America’s new fad sport.  As youth soccer coach Jason Van Bever affirms: “NBA basketball is dying, but soccer will supplant this void.”  Yes, with the world becoming more and more globalized, it behooves the United States to embrace the world’s sport.

The Photography Industry Goes Digital

December 15, 2011 Leave a comment

By Beth Eggemeier

kodachrome 200

Every industry that has experienced major change over the last 2 decades is a result of technological advancements. Technology advances in the digital revolution has replaced film in the photography industry. Kodak’s Kodachrome film ruled the photography industry for decades, but on September 14, 2010 the very last roll of Kodachrome film produced was given to famous photographer, Steve McCurry to shoot “old-school” film photos.

It ended an era.  http://youtu.be/mPvF1MOU2kE The emergence of digital photographyhas fulfilled consumer’s demands. It is now the preferred media for capturing photos. In our fast paced society, consumers are unwilling to wait to see photos of their loved ones, photos can be viewed immediately, which means instant gratification.  Editing images in a digital format can be done by the average person and the photos can easily be printed at home.  All of this,

Image representing Photobucket (Old) as depict...

Image via CrunchBase

without loosing any quality in the images.   Digital photos are easy to share with friends and family, which has sparked an emergence in online photo sharing sites such as Flicker, Photobucket as well as the surge in consumer’s sharing via variety of social media outlets.

Digital photography provides opportunities for small businesses and their marketing efforts. Historically, business owners paid top dollar for professional quality images for developing marketing collateral, product catalogs, and adding visual interest on their websites.  But as the technological advances in digital camera equipment increases, the prices remain affordable.  Business owners can now create visually robust marketing pieces much more affordably in a do-it-yourself fashion or by hiring a freelance photographer.

Nikon D700 camera

An extremely good quality digital camera can be purchased for about $500.00-$800.00.  Today, brands like Canon and Nikon are leaders in the consumer market.  The availability of price friendly equipment has resulting in many individuals exploring freelance photography businesses.  There are over a hundred photography studios in the Madison area, many of which are small freelance businesses who are able to provide high-quality digital images for marketing purposes.  Seeking out a freelance photographer for your next marketing campaign just got more affordable!

If you are interested in learning more about photography, there are many educational programs offered in Photography and Visual Communications at Madison Area Technical College.

You also might enjoy reliving the Paul Simon Kodachrome song from the 1970s! http://youtu.be/pLsDxvAErTU