QR Codes: Take Your Trade Show Marketing To The Next Level

From The Burns & McDonnell World

How to use QR codes at trade showsQR codes are undoubtedly one of the hottest new marketing tools, and when presented in conjunction with traditional swag and promotional materials at trade shows, can help you leave a lasting impression — and make it easy for prospective clients, customers and connections to find you again.

Let’s look at some creative ways you can use QR codes at trade shows, conferences and other professional events. First? A crash course in all things QR.

What Are QR Codes?

A QR, or quick response, code is typically a square-shaped, high-contrast barcode that can be scanned with a smartphone. Once a QR code is scanned, the user is taken to a website — typically a mobile version of a website, a landing page, contact information or purchase details — depending on the goal of the campaign. For example, if you’re selling a product, it makes sense that your QR code would direct users to a web page from which they can buy your product, or at least learn more. Specific goals may differ depending on the company, brand or individual that’s using the QR code, but in the vast majority of cases, the general purpose of the code is to inspire further action.

If you stay up-to-date with marketing news, you might have read that QR codes have gotten a bad rap — or few users, anyway. This is usually attributed to poor use and implementation of the tools. For example, some companies opt to have elaborate QR codes designed that may include an image and/or a logo. Yet if the design is too complicated, the code won’t scan, which defeats its purpose. They may also be too small (a common problem) or placed in an inconvenient location, such as on a billboard or a vehicle. Keep in mind, too, that older smartphones may not be as adept at scanning and/or reading QR codes, so consider them to be one tool in your marketing strategy rather than the end-all, be-all of your promotional efforts.

When used correctly, QR codes can help boost traffic to your website, raise brand awareness and act as a networking facilitator — perfect if you have a trade show or conference in your near future.

Creative Ways to Use QR Codes at a Trade Show

Before you start slapping a QR code on your business card or promotional items you’ll have at the trade show, stop and consider your strategy. Your primary question: What do you want to accomplish? Some other things to consider include who you’re representing — are you promoting yourself or your company? What types of materials are you taking with you? And once you’ve established your goal, you can decide where the QR code will lead. Do you want to point users to a mobile version of your website? A specific landing page designed just for QR code users? Or elsewhere?

Now that you’ve covered the basics, try some of these ideas to put your QR code to work at your next event.

*Skip the brochures. Instead of sending booth visitors away with a bunch of paper, set up a large sign with a QR code that they can scan to receive electronic copies of your information via email. As Sarah Baker of MarketingProfs writes, “QR codes are a great solution for marketers because your materials will escape the clutter of the trade show bag and make their way into your prospects’ email inboxes, all the while helping you cut down on the cost of printing and transporting sales sheets.”

*Promote your event. If you’re speaking at a trade show or sponsoring an event, ask the show organizers if you can include a QR code in event signage or in the show’s program. That way, you can give attendees an additional way to access more information about you and your company without necessarily connecting in person.

*Tap your inner creativity. Sure, QR codes are business tools, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun. Have a T-shirt designed with a large QR code on the back — consider yourself a walking billboard, not to mention an instant conversation starter! The only caveat? Thoroughly test your code before you go. You’ll want to make sure that it can be scanned on fabric.

Or tie your QR code into a promotion. On the materials that contain your code, state that you’re giving away a prize to someone who scans the QR code. You can set up a promotion-specific landing page to act as the code’s gateway, and by incentivizing the experience, you’ll likely have more people who choose to scan the code. After all, who doesn’t love winning?

As you prepare for your next event, take some time to consider incorporating QR codes into your networking and promotion strategies. These handy little tools can have a big impact when it comes to brand visibility and enlarging your reach.

If you’ve spied QR codes while you’re at tradeshows or conferences, we’d love to hear your thoughts on how they’re used and what’s been effective — or not. Feel free to share your experience in the comments!

Read more: http://www.burnsmcdblog.com/2012/02/06/qr-codes-take-your-trade-show-marketing-to-the-next-level/#ixzz2C1MvN7Cu

If You Care Enough to Send the Very Best: Write Your Customer Cards Now

From GC WorldBiz by Katherine O’Brien

At this time of year my thoughts often turn to my late friend and long-time contributor Dick Gorelick. “Consider sending Thanksgiving rather than holiday cards,” Dick suggested. “The theme of bounty is secular and appropriate for business, and a Thanksgiving card is more memorable. It won’t be lost in the clutter of December cards.”

It’s good advice—to this day I think of Dick every November, and yes, I do send out Thanksgiving cards.

We’re entering the time of year in which a decision needs to be made regarding holiday gifts and communication with customers and important suppliers. Consider the recipient’s policies about acceptance of gifts, religion, costs, etc.

“It might be worthwhile to consider a contribution to a worthy cause in the name of selected customers and suppliers,” Dick wrote. “The cause might be a hospital or philanthropic organization. The recipients of your firm’s gift are usually willing to send acknowledgement cards to the individuals or firms in whose name the donation has been made. This is a gesture that is universally appreciated and usually non-controversial.”

Just don’t pull a George Costanza—no donations to “The Festivus Human Fund!” While nobody likes to rush the season, it is amazing how fast November and December fly by. Get an early start with those Thanksgiving cards!

Online events and video: No longer a question for associations

From TSNN by Lauren Mulherrin

We’ve all been there…miles away from our loved ones feeling tired, stressed and desperately wishing they were by our side. Not that long ago, voices of a parent, friend or child through the phone were as close as we could get to their touch. Now Apple’s FaceTime, Skype and numerous other platforms have given us a greater sense of connection through the use of video.

With Thanksgiving fast approaching, I think back to a Thanksgiving holiday where I found myself in a similar long distance predicament. It was Thanksgiving 2010 and I had been studying abroad in Sydney, Australia, for several months. Up until that day, I had managed to avoid the homesick bug entirely, but waking up on my favorite holiday 9,235 miles away from my family was an exception. Before I had left for Oz, I made sure that my mom not only had a webcam, but also knew how to use it. Being able to Skype my parents that morning helped bridge the thousands of miles and time between us (it wasn’t even Thanksgiving in the US yet) and gave me a sense of comfort. Our Skype session could never have replaced their physical presence, but it was the next best thing. How we use and feel about video in our personal lives can also extend into our educational lives.

The New Era of Video: edX

The adoption of online video has skyrocketed. Seventy-five percent of all executives said they watched work-related videos on business Web sites at least once a week. Educational institutions are using this trend to reach students far and wide.

This past spring, Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced the launch of edX. EdX is a technological platform designed to offer online versions of courses featuring; “video lesson segments, embedded quizzes, immediate feedback, student-ranked questions and answers, online laboratories, and student paced learning.” MIT President Susan Hockfield said, “EdX represents a unique opportunity to improve education on our own campuses through online learning, while simultaneously creating a bold new educational path for millions of learners worldwide.” Hockfield’s views on edX are similar to mine in regards to the online extensions of events.

The Dilemma

Associations are being faced with the dilemma of not only finding ways to extend their great content, but also attracting the incoming Millennial generation. Like Hockfield states about edX, online extensions of association events are an opportunity to improve education and they are creating a bold new educational path for millions of learners worldwide. Millennials are familiar with video technology and are starting to expect it as an extension of their events and education. While some may look at the Millennial generation’s expectation of video and online extensions of events as another argument for our entitlement stereotype, that is not the case. Just as we Skype with our family miles away because the technology is there and adds value to our relationships, associations should stream sessions because the technology is there and adds value to our membership.

To be sure there are many associations doing it right. However, it is increasingly evident to my generation (GenY, the Millennials) that most are behind in this important aspect of their business. The fear of cannibalization of face-to-face attendees is hard for many associations to shake. dom information . What associations need to keep in mind is that online extensions are not a replacement for attending a live event, but are rather the second best seat in the house.

Millennial Perspective

I had the opportunity to discuss edX with two of my friends that attended MIT. Jordan Medeiros, MIT ‘06 said, “I think there are certain aspects of the educational and college experience that cannot be mimicked through online education and are important to the social development of our future generations.” MIT President Hockfield agrees that, “edX is designed to improve, not replace, the campus experience.” I think we can all concur that the online extensions of association events are no substitute for the face-to-face experience; however, similar to embracing video to enrich our personal lives, it is time that video is embraced for continued education. Tarikh Campbell, MIT ’09 believes that, “EdX is not only a supplement for everyone in college, but now an option for everyone who can’t go to college.”

Again the parallels to association conferences abound. Online extensions of sessions from annual conferences allow not only those that attended to reprocess all that they learned, but also gives those unable to attend a chance to learn and grow within their industry.

The Solution

It is no longer a question of whether or not associations should embrace the online extensions of events; it is a matter of developing a team and strategy to implement this value-addition to association membership.

Are These 12 Roadblocks Stopping Your Valuable Trade Show Leads?

From TSNN by Mike Thimmesch

Most trade show exhibitors put the vast majority of their effort into creating their presence at a trade show – the trade show displays they build, the staffers they send and house, and for some, the promotions they do to create greater activity in their booth space.

Unfortunately, too many waste these valiant efforts, because they fall down on managing their trade show leads. That’s because there are more hidden roadblocks than they realize, obstacles to getting the full value from their leads.

So let’s bring those roadblocks out into the light. I believe the list below includes the 12 most common obstacles to effective lead management – how many of these are issues do you need to address?

  1. Incomplete lead management process
  2. No single person responsible for the entire process
  3. No consultation with sales about what information needs to be gathered at the show
  4. No training of trade show booth staffers about what makes a qualified lead, how to record lead quality
  5. Qualifying information from leads is not captured with a lead card or a lead retrieval system
  6. If complete information is captured, it is not conveyed to the appropriate sales person after the show
  7. Slow, incomplete, or non-existent lead fulfillment
  8. No computer system or customer relationship management software in place to facilitate lead management
  9. Lead fulfillment packages not chosen nor prepared in advance
  10. Lead fulfillment is generic and does not respond specifically to what individual attendees asked about while visiting your trade show exhibit.
  11. No one pre-assigned to data enter and fulfill the large quantity of leads
  12. No accountability for sales people to follow up on leads within a specific, short period of time after the show

Any of these sound familiar? Fixing this will take a team effort, including your sales, marketing, and information technology teams. Get them all in a room and work to knock down these obstacles. For motivation, bring to the meeting a pile of your latest trade show leads, a spreadsheet of the costs of your show, and the highest level exec you can get that these people all report to.

Then you can work to avoid all 12 of these obstacles and create a smoother lead management process that gives your company the full potential value of your trade show leads.