QR Codes: Hold Your Scan-able Horses

This morning, as I drove through a foggy Los Angeles morning, I came to a stoplight and looked to my right. There was a small sign stuck in the ground that had a text URL about home values on the left (something like GetHomeValues.com) and a QR code on the right. Keep in mind, this particular area is not heavily trafficked in terms of pedestrians. (The above photo isn’t the sign I was looking at, but it is another misguided attempt.)

This little sign is the perfect example of an agent who is open to new marketing and technology strategies, but hasn’t quite grasped the concept. This is completely understandable and, if you don’t really know what QR codes do, I don’t want to berate you, I want to help so that you don’t waste your time or future marketing dollars.

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First let me say that I think QR codes are really cool. Here’s how they work:

Let’s pretend that I e-mailed you a link to an interesting blog. You could simply open that e-mail and click on the URL link to the blog, either on your phone, tablet, or computer. Think of a QR code as the offline version of a link. Sounds cool, right? Directing people to a landing page of your choosing with some printed black and white shapes and a mobile phone; the potential is fantastic! Throughout this post, I’ve posted some cool examples of QR codes, but even huge brands haven’t found much success and here’s a few reasons why…

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Allow me to burst your bubble to a certain extent…

iPhones don’t come with built-in QR code readers. iPhone owners would have to download an app that allows their cameras to read QR codes.

If you don’t fully understand QR codes and your target market is generally in your age range, they probably don’t understand how to use them either. They’re likely just seeing something that vaguely looks like a bar code.

Now, many Android phones do come with a built-in QR code reader in their cameras, so they can simply point at a QR code and be sent to the landing page. This is one of the lone bright spots of the current QR code world.

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In summation, I just want to encourage you, when faced with a new technology or marketing opportunity, to take a step back and look at it logically. Don’t do it just to do it, or because everyone else seems to be on board with it. Think, “Can I imagine a scenario where members of my target market will see or interact with this marketing effort?” Going back to my example from this morning, in order for the QR code on that sign to be useful, someone would have to have a Droid or an iPhone with a QR code reader installed, they would then have to bend down and point their phone at the sign while the QR code registers and then takes them to a landing page. No one is going to do that.

We suggest agents use real estate agents new technologies and marketing strategies all the time, just take a moment and make sure that it makes sense for your target market in real life.