Value-Add for Printers : Make Money with QR Codes

QR code poster for the Rochester Jazz Festival.

Postcard with QR code example produced by Trekk Cross-Media.

Sheffield Bio-Science is another Trekk Cross-Media client that has used QR codes.

Everywhere you turn these days, it seems that people are talking about QR (Quick Response) codes. These 2D barcodes connect people instantly to the Web using free QR readers on their cell phones. They are showing up on magazine advertisements, posters, billboards, CD cases, shelf talkers, packaging—just about everything. But, are they a fad? Or are they an important part of the marketing mix? If they’re an important part of the mix, how do you sell them?

Technology leaders have recognized for some time that QR codes will play an important role in print marketing. They have long been ubiquitous in South Korea and Japan as a standard response mechanism to marketing campaigns. Just as you would add an 800 number, a tear-out form or a URL, you can add a QR code as a way for people to respond. Because these codes are read by the cameras on mobile phones, people can respond to the offer instantly.

QR codes have been in use in the United States for some time, but they are just now starting to hit critical mass. Large brand marketers began embracing QR codes several years ago and the list of those using them reads like a Who’s Who of marketing: Best Buy, Time, Calvin Klein, Louis Vitton, Pepsi, YouTube, Facebook, the NFL, TIAA-CRAF, Ford and the list goes on.

Ready for Blastoff

“Once QR readers become standard on smart phones, we’ll see QR codes become ubiquitous,” predicts Jeff Stewart, chief technical officer at Rockford, IL-based Trekk Cross-Media, which has been using QR codes in campaigns for years. Trekk adds QR codes “whenever possible” and was behind the ubiquitous QR-coded t-shirts worn by NewPage employees at the recent Dscoop 2011 conference. “By the end of the year, more than 50 percent of all cell phone sales will be smart phones. That’s when QR codes will really take off.”

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