Are Your QR Codes All Bark and No Bite?

Over the past year, the marketing industry has fallen head-over-heels for QR codes. We have done a piece or two about them in the past, but it is time to take a more critical look at this newest campaign must-have.Time Magazine Cover, From

Many marketers seem to throw QR on everything, without logic or reason, resulting in too many companies including the codes in marketing materials in which they are completely unnecessary or out of place. This Mashable article details five examples of truly baffling logic, where it is obvious that the QR code is included just because it can be.

It is true that, when handled well, a QR code can become a convenient call to action that bridges web and print campaigns. However, marketers need to start taking the time to question if the included code is adding any value to the campaign. There is little available real estate on a piece of print marketing, and an unsightly black-and-white square can easily detract from an otherwise successful campaign without providing any value in return.

Marketers need to ask 5 big questions when considering QR codes in any campaign:

  1. Does this code add anything to my campaign that simple text or a URL cannot achieve?
  2. Will this code be located in a place/way that will make it easy and inviting for consumers to use?
  3. Is the code linking to something that provides a reward to the consumer? Will they appreciate the time they spent visiting the linked content?
  4. Are the targeted consumers likely to have smart phones, and Wi-Fi or 3G access, when they see the code?
  5. How much of my campaign am I willing to hide from those consumers that do not have a smart phone?

At the most basic level, marketers should be asking, “Is this code a waste of time for me, my target audience, or the brand I am promoting?”

Some marketers are probably only including QR codes on their campaigns so that they can add another bullet point to their portfolios, and that may be fine for the lowest denominator. Those that really want to be putting together truly memorable and successful campaigns, though, will take the time to question the value of the marketing industry’s new toy.


Founded in 1989, WebbMason is one of the fastest-growing print and brand management service companies in the United States, helping marketing departments and their internal and external partners save money and streamline processes through a winning combination of industry expertise, exceptional print supply chain partners and technological innovation. Headquartered in Hunt Valley, Maryland, WebbMason has 20 sales offices throughout the United States.


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