It’s as bad as watching your father dancing at a party. Suddenly your boss discovers Facebook and this months marketing budget gets blown on an advertising column mixed in with interesting stuff about getting a “flatter tummy”. He looks hurt with your comment – “maybe not the right demographic”.

Trying to leverage the “next big thing” to get your message across has never been easy. For example, over the last five years we have all got used to the idea of “Trans promotional Marketing”. “TRANSPROMO” is the simple concept that a marketing message is added to a document that your customer is likely to re-read and keep (like an invoice or a statement). TRANSPROMO has much more impact than any other direct mail. We all cherish and re-read our bills don’t we? Well the market share of the smart phone and a fancy QRCODE 2D barcode might just make your TRANSPROMO communication twice as effective!

All sorts of wild claims have been made about the effectiveness of TRANSPROMO (mostly by the printer manufacturers) and the results certainly improve if the message is personalised, based on previous transactions with the customer, or more creative marketing techniques, like “data mining”. I once got a glossy brochure from BMW inviting me to test drive the new model, and there, on the front cover, was a picture of my current car; same model, same color, same plates! I even showed the brochure to all my friends. Not sure if anybody bought the car but BMW certainly got marks for effort.

The problems with TRANSPROMO are the same as any other form of advertising. It’s got to be a happy and easy experience. Certainly, looking at my credit card bill for too long makes me feel ill and I do wonder if it would be possible to buy “TRANSPROMO” space on Tax Refund notices and similar “good news” communications. There might be a whole new business here! In any case, as every student of the direct mail industry will tell you; an ADVERT works better if you include a “response device”. The response device in a mail shot is something like a reply paid card; in a printed advert it might be “tear off” coupon. In TRANSPROMO, it is typically an invitation to call a telephone number or visit a web site. If you are just trying to do “presence” advertising this might be good enough but in any sort of mass marketing you had “better not stimulate unless you can satisfy” – This means call centres and 24/7 cover. We all believe that if we can identify a customer that is tempted by our product then we can convert them into sales. The operative word is “identify” and an anonymous visit to your website might just not “hack it”.

Let’s get the TRANSPROMO targets to identify themselves!

Here’s where the market share of the smart phone may buy you the missing piece in the TRANSPROMO jigsaw. Add a barcode to your TRANSPROMO message and let the phone “app” do the rest. Doesn’t that exclude people without “3G” phones? Not really, there is still the text part of the message and anyway, you always wanted to “specialize in diseases of the rich” didn’t you?

These aren’t the barcode you would see on a tin of beans. Two dimensional barcodes bring a lot more to the party. They don’t require special scanners (a mobile phone camera will do) and they are “self healing”. If the barcode has been damaged or defaced, the 2D barcode contains enough information to detect and repair errors.
Geeks should read http://www.pclviewer.com/rs2/galois.html

A shaky hand and a mobile phone is good enough. There is no laser scanner, the smart phone “app” picks up the barcode right out of your TRANSPROMO pitch. “Apps” for barcodes are free on most mobile phones – I use the ZXING app on my phone from

The payload of the 2D barcode can be the TRANSPROMO message itself but a small 2D barcode is sufficient to take your mobile phone browser straight to a fulfilment web page. Of course, client identification data can be embedded right there in the URL. If Google get their way with Android phones, it will be not only possible to detect “who you are” from the TRANSPROMO URL but “where you are” from other information sent to the web server by the phone!

There are a whole bunch of 2D barcodes technologies that would work in this context and, as usual, there is a late entry from Microsoft with the “Microsoft Tag”. The “Tag” is very beautiful, can only be generated by Microsoft and, sadly, looks nothing a barcode. Who would know to point their phone at such a thing?

The winner in this technology by a “country mile” is QR CODE. http://www.pclviewer.com/QRCODE.html

Invented in the manufacturing industry, the QR CODE is not cursed by patents or licence fees and the software to create and read QR CODE is easily obtained.

Is it just a gimmick – will it last? QR CODE is an ISO standard. This means it will always be possible to read these symbols. No special hardware is required. If the question is, “will this technology be replaced by better technologies?”, the answer is that for some applications it may end up being cheaper to use RFID (Radio Frequency Identification Tags) but there is still a certain comfort in visible records. The error correction and repair features of QR CODE make them a good choice for a number of document tracking projects. Not least, the payload will survive traditional scanner copies and fax where a strip barcode would fail.

QR CODE now even appears on web pages to allow the phone user to pick up links or information directly from another computer screen and the idea still has legs even in the context of an electronic document, like a PDF, where a discrete 2D barcode can cut a lot of “clutter” from the page.

In short, TRANSPROMO with QR CODE provides a neat bridge between direct mail and web presentment. It’s here to stay.
The investment decision is clear, the technology is “harmless”, QR CODE adds to the TRANSPROMO marketing technique and opens a world of possibilities. If fact, your new target demographic will pick up a phone before they pick up a pen (having two pens is regarded as a style catastrophe, like wearing socks with sandals; having several phones doesn’t seem to be a problem). As you get your “eye in” you will start to see QR CODE everywhere; from job adverts to nursery plant labels. In my seaside town they are on the kids tee-shirts (i.e important preferences and contact info)

The trick with a TRANSPROMO implementation is to not completely re-engineer your work flow. It is perfectly possible to automatically add TRANSPROMO messages and QR CODE “response devices” directly to your “print ready” transaction run. Pull the client identification directly off the page, select the appropriate TRANSPROMO message, add the “response device” QR CODE, and save the tracking data for the web application.

If you do it right, adding QR CODE to TRANSPROMO has a very small deployment overhead and a big return in “click throughs”.

To get a demo contact help@redtitan.com or just point your phone at this page!

© RedTitan Technology 2011

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