Tag Archives: Jonathan Ginburg

Do QR codes make great marketing tools?

In a recent post, I asked what people thought would be the hottest trend in 2011. A lot of responses discussed the popularity of location-based social networking sites, but there were also quite a few mentions of QR codes.

QR codes are those interesting, fuzzy-looking squares that you may have seen pop up recently on

qrcodeproduct containers, convenience store shelving, or even online. First established in Japan in 1994, the QR code is a 2-dimensional barcode consisting of black elements arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The intent is to scan data at very high speeds, usually with a camera phone or barcode reader. Due to an estimate projecting that, in 2012, more smartphones will be sold than PCs, QR codes are going to affect the way websites are designed and products are promoted.

Take an athletic shoe product, for example. At the next World Shoe Association trade show, a company can add a simple QR code to its handout, which links to a sweepstakes landing page providing key information or even a special offer. Or perhaps it can be taken further to incorporate the product and the use of a durable hiking shoe by creating a QR scan treasure hunt – where each scan links to a new splash page featuring a clue to the next one.

QR codes can be used to swap contact information. Instead of exchanging business cards, a single QR code can be scanned, and the contact information will save to your smartphone.

As this technology becomes more and more popular, there are a few ideas that should be considered to optimize results:

  1. Offer exclusive prizes, offers, or information to those scanning the QR code that are different than what is available to everyone else.
  2. Optimize the website for mobile-browsing.
  3. Include an obvious call-to-action so that the audience is encouraged to scan the code.
  4. Establish a plan to engage people who scan the code over time, rather than a one-time promotion.

The important idea to remember is that QR codes create a new opportunity to enhance the relationship with a customer/prospect who has already engaged with the brand, building positive word of mouth or even a future sale.

— Jonathan Ginburg, Senior Account Executive

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Filed under Digital, Online Adveritising, Social Media

What will be hot in 2011?

More and more people are sharing their thoughts, receiving “up-to-the-minute” news updates, and taking advantage of deals and promotions from businesses. The idea being that if you receive it, then you can share it.

In addition to sharing thoughts, news, and promotions, people have begun to share their location by “checking in,” alerting followers to their whereabouts. Often using mobile devices to check in, these programs use GPS technology to share your location with others. Tap your device to check in when you patronize a business or arrive at a certain location, and your location is immediately shared. This type of sharing seems to be popular, as Foursquare, a location-based social networking site, logged more than 380 million check-ins, and grew 3,400% in 2010.

Mobile applications allow consumers to be in two places at once. It’s simply not enough to target your consumer in the store. In addition to the offline communication, one must penetrate the online market and connect directly with the consumer. Signage in your store to promote a new product must coincide with communication on a mobile app offering a discount. The ability to scan barcodes for that night’s ball game tickets can also be used to promote the concert that will be held at the same venue next week.

What do you think is going to be a hot trend in 2011? And, how will you break through the clutter?

— Jonathan Ginburg, Sr. Account Executive

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Surviving the Social Media Storm

It snowed in Atlanta this week.

To a native Atlantan, that statement deserves a line on its own. Once “Winter Weather Advisory” is heard, people flock to grocery stores to prepare for the worst. An innocent bystander unaware of how much snow was on the horizon may think that Atlanta was about to be hit with enough snow to collapse the Georgia Dome. Instead, we only got 5 inches. But again…

It snowed in Atlanta this week.

And I mention this because snow in Atlanta can be as foreign to Southerners as social media is to marketing executives with little experience online.

Grocery stores are mob scenes before it snows. People don’t know what they need or how much they need; they just know they want it. And the same can be said about social media. Many companies know about social media. They know they want to use it, but they don’t know what, or how, or why. Without a plan or a goal in mind, social media results will just fall flat.

Now that it’s 2011, more and more companies are finding the need to use social media. And yet, some still don’t know why.

My suggestion? Stop thinking about Social Media as MEDIA. It should really be called Online Interaction. Accounts are created to strengthen the communication with customers. Yet, companies are creating accounts without thinking of how to get the most benefit from it. A marketer would never say, “We need to be on TV,” without knowing what kind of ROI would justify spending that much money. Before jumping into the latest fad of Online Interaction, take a minute to map out the purpose for being online, be it to establish dialogue with those already engaged with the brand, or to provide customer service to those seeking it.

And, while trying to figure out the purpose, establish goals for what being online will accomplish. Is there a desire to have comments posted about what is posted? Will there be an opportunity to talk with the consumer in order to establish dialogue? If Web traffic is increased, what should these new visitors do on the company site that will result in a positive return for being online? Let this new online interaction be an open door to further the consumer experience.

Once the purpose and goals are set in place, share it with employees. Let employees talk about it on their own online accounts. If there is a strong purpose with clear goals in place, but poor promotion of the online existence, then results will be weak. This may sound silly, but an online interaction continuously feeds off of, just that, interaction online. And the more that fellow colleagues can develop, the better the results.

Establishing a strong presence online is an ongoing process. Companies cannot create an account and leave it, hoping that friends, followers, and fans will continue to build. This is done through a constant stream of discussion. Once that has been established on the big three (Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube), explore new ways to connect with the audience. The age of Social Media is only 6-7 years old, so the “right” way for a soft-drink company may not be the best way for a shoe company. By experimenting with different sites (GoWalla, Digg, Flickr, Friendstr, Groupon, etc.) the online interaction may prove even more suitable than Facebook.

Social Media isn’t new, and is always changing. But having a plan, setting goals ahead of time, and letting fellow employees participate will increase the results of social media efforts. And it won’t feel like you’re scrapping around like we do down South due to winter storm warnings.

— Jonathan Ginburg, Sr. Account Executive

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Compelling Business Tactic or Religious Fanatic?

As a native Atlantan, I had the fortunate experience of learning how to drive in our fair city. Anyone who prepares to battle the weekday rush hour, Atlanta Police Department, or Sunday traffic could understand how getting behind the wheel, at any age, can be considered a triumphant occasion. But this past Sunday afternoon, as I was stuck in a line of an automotive exodus leaving church in the heart of Buckhead, I encountered a particularly amusing observation, which for the moment relieved me of my temporary road rage. I witnessed a pedestrian cursing the fact that Chick-fil-A was closed on Sunday.  I found this consumer’s epic FAIL quite humorous.

But I could relate. All too often I have woken up on a Sunday morning with a craving for Chick-fil-A; a craving that seems to be so much stronger on Sunday than any other day of the week. And I know I’m not the only one. In fact, when asked about craving Chick-fil-A on a Sunday, I received the following responses:

“Always”

“Their morning biscuits would be wonderful on the drive to Sunday school!”

“It’s like every Sunday is when I want it and then I suddenly sadly remember it’s Sunday….my poor tummy.”

We believe that great communication is the only way to engage our audience with our brand. We assume, incorrectly, that the only means to have a brand name “top-of-mind” is with the aided awareness of great marketing. Not in the case of Chick-fil-A. It could be argued that closing on one of the busiest days of the week would be a devastating blow to their business, but a February 2010 report indicates that “Chick-fil-A generated more than $3.2 billion dollars in sales in 2009, and the chain has enjoyed sales gains for 42 consecutive years.” It seems that Truett Cathy, creator of Chick-fil-A Restaurants, was making more than a religious decision.

But one could argue that Truett was a marketing genius. By craving Chick-fil-A more when it is closed, a consumer is already engaged with the brand – and Chick-fil-A isn’t spending a dime to have the brand be top-of-mind. It is the classic “want what you can’t have.” But loyal customers are engaged with the brand, even when it’s unavailable. And isn’t that, ultimately, the goal to obtain brand-loyal customers?

Think about it next time you are craving Waffle Fries on Sunday. In the meantime, what do you do to engage your audience, outside of traditional or digital communication?

— Jonathan Ginburg, Senior Account Executive

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