Archive for the ‘qr code’ tag
Today’s guest post is written by Bhaskar Sarma.
In 1969 and 1970, a large part of Iraq was hit by a severe drought and famine causing a shortage of wheat.
With seed reserves running low, the Iraqi government imported nearly one hundred thousand tons of high yielding Mexipak wheat from Mexico and the United States.
The wheat, however, was laced with a fungicide called methylmercury, which was to prevent spoilage during shipping.
Methylmercury is a nasty chemical and can damage the central nervous system of humans and animals. It causes symptoms such as paralysis, brain damage, and blindness. In higher doses, it can be fatal.
Anatomy of a Disaster
All the bags in that shipment were stamped with clear instructions on how to handle the lethal contents. To underline the dangers, the suppliers even emblazoned a skull and crossbones on each bag.
That should have be enough, right? It wasn’t.
- The warnings were in Spanish and English – pure gobbledygook to an average Iraqi villager.
- The skull and crossbones meant the same thing to them as a QR code means to human eyes.
- The wheat arrived too late in the planting season to be of any use, but was distributed to the farmers anyway.
With their previous stock of wheat planted, thousands of villagers who had no clue about the toxicity of the foreign wheat, used it as food and feed.
And within a month, disaster struck.
I won’t get into the gory details but the Iraqi incident was one of history’s largest cases of mass mercury poisoning.
And to think all this could have been averted if they had added a line in Arabic.
Challenges of Cross-Cultural Communication
Here’s another, less darker take on the cross-cultural communication.
A soda marketer was glumly sitting at the bar. His friend approaches and asks, “Why so serious?”
He replies, “I created this left to right comic strip for a campaign. It showed a famished man crawling across the desert who finds a bottle of soda, chugs it down, and walks away with a cheerful smile. Sales tanked after it ran in the Middle East.”
“Everyone read it from right to left!”
Avoid Cross-Cultural Miscommunication
While the Internet ensures your products and services can be sold all over the world, it does not make your customers and prospects react to your message in lockstep.
If you are selling to multiple countries or cultures consider the following:
- Have localized versions of your website (if you have the resources). Don’t just have a literal, word-by-word translation of the copy from English to, say, German.
- If you can’t afford multiple versions of collateral, avoid slang and clichés. It gets lost in translation.
- Pay particular attention to your marketing channels. For instance, streaming video won’t be a hit in large parts of Asia and Africa where Internet speeds suck.
- Subject lines in emails that might be marked as spam in the West could get a higher response rate in Asia. Experiment and test.
Cross-cultural miscommunication can have far reaching consequences. It was one of the reasons Lehman Brothers went bankrupt. It was also a major reason why the Israeli Army was beaten back by the Hezbollah in 2006.
Do you have any “lost in translation” war stories? What would be your prescription to avoid such situations?
Bhaskar Sarma is a B2B tech copywriter and content marketer. He blogs at Pixels and Clicks and helps his clients create content that establishes them as a trusted solution provider. You can follow him on Twitter at bhas.
Barney Pell, a serial entrepreneur who once built robots for NASA and sold a machine-learning based search engine to Microsoft at a reported $100 million, has taken on a new challenge: parking.
QuickPay, a Bay Area-based startup, is a mobile app that people can use to pay for parking in lots and garages. Today, the company announced it has raised $3.5 million in seed funding, and has appointed Pell as its chief executive.
How does QuickPay work? Users can enter their credit card information into the app, to gain access to garages, parking lots and gated facilities that are integrated with QuickPay. The service launched last year, and is live in more than 100 locations in 12 cities in California, Colorado and Nevada. The company has access to 12,500 parking spaces across the country.
Similarly to car-sharing marketplace, Getaround (a startup that Pell invested in) QuickPay prides itself on its hardware. The company’s GateKit works in parking facilities with entry and exit barriers. When drivers pull up to a QuickPay-enabled garage, they scan a QR code from the app to open the gate. Scan the QR code again, and users are charged through the app. Pell told me it’s a better user experience for parking operators who can fill up empty spaces, as well as drivers, who can avoid parking tickets.
In an interview with VentureBeat, Pell said he became obsessed with the parking problem after attending a barbecue in San Francisco’s mission district. Crawling through busy streets, he couldn’t find anywhere to park. Frustrated, and late to the party, he bumped into Carl Muirbrook, the company’s then CEO. Pell became more involved, made a small investment, and then joined the 20-person company full-time.
Quickpay is not the only company that claims to make it easier to discover and pay for parking. Competitors include ParkMe, a free app to help users find nearby parking, and ParkPlease, a web-based service for space owners to list their spots.
In future, the company plans to differentiate itself by delivering analytics to garage owners to make it easier for them to fill empty spots.
QuickPay investors include Detroit-based Fontinalis Partners and Silicon Valley-leading VC firms, Andreessen Horowitz and Advanced Technology Ventures.
Filed under: VentureBeat
A topic I’ve written about frequently here is QR codes, those square, random-looking black-and-white images that are meaningless to the eye but content-rich to a cameraphone and some barcode-scanning software.
Given my glass-half-full approach to such matters, I love discovering imaginative uses of these powerful little tools.And here’s an interesting one – QR codes as an integral element of a new service describing itself as “the next generation global lost-and-found service.”
[...] Order free tag stickers from the Belon.gs website (www.belon.gs), claim them online and stick them to your valuables. When your item gets lost, the finder can scan the tag’s QR code with their smartphone or access the web address on the tag. The owner is automatically notified, and anonymous chat is established between the two parties to arrange the return of the lost item. To further incentivize the returning of valuables, Belongs supports setting rewards for found items through PayPal, and the Belongs technology will streamline the transfer of the reward from owner to finder.
The service is free for individuals – there is a paid service for businesses – so I signed up and ordered some free tag stickers, which arrived in the post from the US a few days ago.
Setting up an item with a tag and sticker is simplicity itself. What you do is use one of the QR code stickers for a valuable (a netbook computer, for instance), go to the Belongs website via your computer or mobile device and describe that item in your Belongs account, and stick the rectangular sticker to the item. The stickers are quite small, about one inch by half an inch (about 25mm x 13mm).
The image at top shows one I did, stuck to a netbook just beneath the sticker with the Windows product information. If you scan the QR code – a unique one for each of your valuables – with your smartphone or go to the web address shown on the sticker, you’ll get a description page about the valuable with information on what to do next.
You can offer a reward if your item does get lost and someone finds it and makes contact with Belongs via the QR code sticker, which I did; setting that up via PayPal is also a simple procedure.
So you have your stuff tagged and stickered and you venture out on your travels with confidence! Belongs says its job is to “encourage good deeds” where basic honesty will prevail when someone finds your valuable that you’ve lost.
They describe such altruism thus:
- Enabling you to tag your items with our high quality personalized tag stickers
- Letting you offer a reward for your item
- Making it possible for finders to receive a reward for the good deed
- Offering full anonymity for everybody
- Offering our services internationally and multilingually
- Making it as easy and trustworthy as possible
- Giving Belon.gs tags for free for the people
I’d like to think the same although I also have a pragmatic view where if you do lose your netbook, iPhone, iPad, camera or whatever it might be, file an insurance claim rather than only wait for a Good Samaritan to get in touch with Belongs.
I’ve been wondering where the monetization for Belongs lies, and clearly that must be primarily in the paid service for businesses that enters into the realm of enterprise asset management. For individuals and small businesses, the free service would be fine (and you can donate to Belongs if you wish to, which I did).
Time will tell how successful Belongs will be (and how honest people are), But I love the idea and imagination behind the use of QR codes in this way.
Mobile marketing is one of the hottest topics of any marketing conversation at the moment. Oftentimes though the focus is where it is missing the mark. One of the favorite subject matters regarding mobile’s ‘unrealized potential’ is the use of QR codes. Complaints from consumers about these mythical beasts range from useless to “What’s that again?”. Of course they are not all bad but thus far, the QR code has been a bit of a disappointment.
So what works in mobile marketing? Anything that will create more trust in customers and prospects alike is good place to start. A recent study from About.com (our own Cynthia Boris covered another aspect of this study recently) lays out just what consumers feel works in the mobile space to increase trust. Here is eMarketer’s repackaging of that data
It looks like the elements for making mobile marketing effective is pretty simple and not far off the mark of objectives of all other marketing efforts.
1. Don’t take the hard sell approach
2. Give the content consumer something they haven’t seen before
3. Because the mobile consumer may actually be mobile at the time (as opposed to just multi-screening at home), give them information that is relevant to their current location
These all make sense and aren’t terribly confusing. Then why is it so hard for marketers to consistently meet these criteria? That’s simple. It requires a lot of extra work. Work that may not fit into the current staffing limitations that many marketers have. Work that requires a different mindset than other marketing messages. Work that creates the need for looking at products from a different angle which takes time and resources.
Until marketers think about mobile as a regularly used and effective channel they will continue to silo it. When anything is put in a silo it is at risk of being overlooked even if its increasing importance is painfully obvious. Search suffered for years as a ‘bolt on’ marketing effort. Now that it is more accepted a standard piece of any real marketing campaign it gets the benefit of being integrated in multi-channel plans and, as a result, has gotten even better.
What are you doing to make mobile a part of your standard marketing offering? Are you still treating it as a standalone ‘nice to have’ or is it being given full attention in your marketing plans from the planning stage?
What is your experience with mobile and trust? Have you benefited from having it or have you suffered from not having enough of it? We would love to hear from experts as to their experience.
QR Code Simple Is a Super Fast QR Code Scanner Without Any Annoying Features or Ads [IPhone Downloads]
iOS: Scanning QR codes with your iPhone should be a simple affair, but even our favorite app for the job has added a sign up process and other features that aren’t really necessary. QR Code Simple offers only what you need to scan codes without anything else to get in the way. More »
Whenever I read reports that assess how poorly QR codes and other barcodes are doing, and the unhappy outlook for their future, I’m always reminded of Hugh McLeod’s classic cartoon from 2007 you see here.
[...] “What consumers want from their 2-D barcode experience and what brands deliver are typically at odds,” said eMarketer. “Consumers want deals and discounts. Brands want to deliver information.”
[...] Poorly aligned consumer-brand expectations for mobile barcode-linked content and inadequate user experiences are driving consumers away from mobile barcode use. “Until marketers move beyond the practice of pushing content to consumers via mobile barcodes, and instead give consumers what they want … many consumers will continue to consider their first mobile barcode experience their last,” said eMarketer.
This hits the nail right on the head. I would agree that many uses of such barcodes really do lack imagination. It’s becoming common to see these images on all sorts of brand packaging, magazine ads and more, yet offer little compulsion to do anything especially when it’s still far from easy for most people to make use of this relatively-simple technology.
When you see it done well, though, it’s something to be excited about when you think what some imagination can do.
What needs to happen is that, unlike at present, barcode-scanning software should come built-in with your smartphone. All you’d have to do is point your device’s camera at a QR code or other barcode for it to do its thing.
No loading up, clicking, tapping or what-have-you.
A really good product that I use is Barcode Scanner, a free app for Android that does exactly what it says – scans barcodes including QR codes. Its simplicity is key: once you load it, you point your device and it does its thing.
Another good example is Amazon’s mobile app for Android – it includes a barcode scanner so you can scan a product in a store, for example, and the app looks it up in Amazon’s inventory and presents it to you on your smartphone. Handy when you’re out comparison-shopping.
Until that day arrives, though, marketers can help themselves in three simple ways:
- Understand what consumers want. (I’d argue that consumers don’t always or even necessarily want discounts – what they really want is something compelling.)
- Offer consumers a genuinely high expectation of something compelling from your QR code that makes a breeze of the current process of finding some software, installing it on a device and scanning a code.
- Help those consumers be delighted with their experience via your QR code by applying your imagination.
Whether the end result is a discount or something really user-compelling, what happens at that point is the make or break for that part of your user/brand engagement.
It’s not what the software does, it’s what the user does.
- A little imagination is key to success with QR codes
- Three things to make QR codes worthwhile
- Tesco connects busy shoppers with QR codes
- The acceptance hurdles for QR codes
- More experiments with QR codes
A guest post by Sherry Orel of Brand Connections.
QR codes were starting to get a bad rap because marketers were using them so mindlessly. Now, we are finally beginning to see some good examples of how the codes can help further a brand story.
The change in useless to useful action codes has been slow to unfold. Sadly, most QR codes send the folks scanning the codes to a website landing page that they could already find through Google or to a website that delivers virtually no new information. As ubiquitous as the codes are now, examples of them being used well remain few and far between.
The problem is that the codes are misunderstood and thus misused. Their potent creative possibilities haven’t been explored. QR codes can deliver customized content specifically created for where consumers are right that minute. They can deliver enhanced brand messages that are not available anywhere else. Even better, QR codes can give back what marketers crave: information about their customers.
Up to now, QR codes have felt used only because marketers “can” use them. But my motto is: “Just because I can doesn’t mean I should.” Marketers have a responsibility to use technology bells and whistles to deliver real value to consumers, not to just thoughtlessly use technology bells and whistles.
Here’s one example of good QR code use. Allrecipes.com noticed a bump in Web traffic during the evening commute—when people started to think about what to make for dinner. So, the company launched an out-of-home campaign that included photos of its 10 most popular recipes and a QR code on bus shelters in Los Angeles. Commuters scan the code, and then the recipe and a shopping list app pop up. The app makes it easy to plan to prepare “Actually Delicious Turkey Burgers” or “Asian Lettuce Wraps,” for example. Clever and helpful!
There needs to be a return on consumers’ investments. If customers make the effort to scan, we should deliver value.
Here are some tips on making the most of QR codes.
- Use content that is unexpected and customized for that particular moment. Don’t just send customers to a generic website.
- Naturally integrate the codes into consumers’ lives. If you’re a wine brand, for example, offer intriguing recipe pairings or entertainment ideas.
- Use the technology to measure and deliver insight. Capture email addresses, locations, buying behavior, and more. Setting up a QR code without that extra layer is missing out on its value to you, the marketer.
- Make sure the QR codes are scannable. Just this year, Facebook painted a humongous QR code on the rooftop of its headquarters. This followed an early trend to place QR codes in impossible places. They are tough to scan when you’re a human being with your feet on the ground. Keep the size and placement of the QR code simple and convenient. Don’t oversize the codes, and don’t make them too tiny to be seen.
- Think about place-based advertising for QR codes. A Korean fast food place hung its codes outside, where the codes were only scannable when the sun cast shadows over them—at lunchtime. The reward for scanning was discounts and deals at the restaurant. Guinness added them to beer glasses, so the codes were only visible when the glass was filled with its dark beer. If you know where your consumers are, ask yourself what they need from you right that minute. The answer will deliver some clever ideas for valuable or fun content.
And as for those early adopters, they are taking the idea of scanning to the next level. I love this: The New York Times recently reported on Muppet-branded Band-Aids that activate a singing Kermit when scanned. The scanning is done through a special free App called Band-Aid Magic Vision. The child scans the Band-Aid with an iPhone or iPad, and Kermit magically appears as if he’s perched on the Band-Aid. This idea is sheer delight and a just-right use of new technology.
What are some good examples (and terrible ones) you’ve found and why do you think they’ve worked (or failed)?
Sherry Orel is the CEO of Brand Connections, one of the largest and fastest growing global marketing and media companies focused on creating branded consumer experiences by integrating media, technology and product experience networks for national and global brands.
(Photo courtesy of Bigstock: Scanning Advertising)
The effectiveness (along with the proper use) of QR codes is debatable, but we found one retailer that is making brilliant use of them.
Korean mass retailer E-Mart suffered from weak mid-day sales. Inspired by this very specific business problem, they created sculptures that—only during the sunniest part of the day—enabled a QR code shadow that could be scanned for discounts and coupons.
While the QR code took shoppers to the E-Mart app and encouraged online purchases, the E-mart malls saw an increase in traffic as well.
Called the “Sunny Sale,” E-Mart saw a 25 percent increase in lunchtime sales and significant media coverage.
On top of that, they saw a 45% increase in membership and gave shoppers an incentive to experience the convenience of shopping for household products online.
All of this means that a Quick Response code could also equate to longer-term business change.
See more here:
Contributed by Integer Asia-Pacific
Remember QR codes? We haven’t talked about them in awhile because. . . well. . . the only people that seem to care about them are the corporations who stick them on everything.
Publisher Simon & Schuster is one of those corporations. They’re putting QR codes on the back cover of their new releases. Why? They figure people will scan them, visit their website, and maybe sign up for a newsletter which they’ll get by email.
Yeah, good luck with that.
S&S does get props for their attempts to mix offline and online readers. They have a number of excellent, book related mobile apps and according to PaidContent, 26% of their sales are now digital. Nice, but I still don’t see how the QR code fits into the mix.
Scanning a QR code is a pain. You have to have a reader on your phone, you need to line it up all pretty, then wait to be taken to the web address and often what you get isn’t worth the wait. I’ve seen people say it beats typing in a web address and I suppose that’s true to some extent. Still, it’s a lot of steps, to get you someplace you don’t really want to be in the first place.
Now, if they were to use QR codes to lead me to additional content, like a download of a free story or a chance to win a bunch of free books, but it doesn’t appear that way. Once again, it’s a big company using a little box in order to drive traffic to their website for their gain, not yours.
Look, mobile technology has the potential to deliver innovative digital content at the press of a button. Sadly, many companies are still using it as a glorified internet remote control. I’m not expecting holographic images of my favorite literary characters (but how cool would it be if we could do that) but I do expect a true reward in return for my attention and my email address. Is that really too much to ask?
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