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everyone’s doing it. should you?


Dear Beth

It seems like everywhere you look, there’s a QR code. They provide users with additional content or information, and can be found on everything from posters and print advertisements to college campuses and video games. But are they really for everyone? Here’s a quick overview to help you understand how they work, how to make them unique and interesting, and whether or not they make sense for your organization. 

 
So what exactly is a QR code?

A QR code (Quick Response code) is a 2-D barcode that can provide additional information when scanned by a smart phone’s camera. Think of it as a bar code on steroids. Depending on the type of code, it can direct the viewer to a website, play a video, dial a phone number, send a text message and more.


How can I create a QR code?

A lot of marketing agencies are happy to charge exorbitant fees to create QR codes, but it’s easy to make your own using free generators like Kaywa. Short and simple codes load quickly and offer more consistent scanning results, so it’s important to use a short URL (you can use a URL shortener like bit.ly).
 
    

You’ll often see these codes in black and white, but simple doesn’t need to mean boring. Not every pixel is needed, so you can add your logo or custom graphics to your QR code. In fact, you can lose up to 30% of the pixels and your QR code will still work. Corkbin and discoverLosAngeles.com (above) provide two great examples of QR codes that go beyond the typical black and white. (Get great tips on making your QR codes beautiful at Mashable.) 



The July/August issue of House Beautiful recently went beyond the traditional QR code and incorporated a digital watermark in a feature article. Using the free Digimarc Discover app, you can scan the center of the page to see a behind-the-scenes video. Digital watermarks like this one allow marketers to offer additional information without impacting the design or aesthetics of the page.


QR codes in action (The Good, The Bad and The @#$%!)
 
QR codes can provide your non-profit with valuable analytics for your marketing campaigns and give you the opportunity to adjust your efforts for maximum results. When used in combination with PURLs (personalized URLs), QR codes are an extremely powerful way to track response rates, capture user data and verify the effectiveness of a campaign.
 
The Good:
  • Build your email subscriber list
  • Link to the donation page on your website
  • Add a QR code to event invitations to provide more information and sell tickets online
  • Museums can create a more interactive experience for visitors by using QR codes to link to videos of the artist in action or additional information about a display or exhibition.
  • Here’s a variation on the museum idea for service organizations: place QR codes in strategic locations around your facility so that visiting donors can access video or audio of your organization in action—whether or not you’re around when they drop by.
  • Bring your annual report to life by linking to videos with compelling stories. Here’s a great example from Austin Children’s Shelter:  ACS Annual Report
  • Include QR codes in your annual appeal letter to receive immediate donations and save money on postage
  • Link to a predetermined phone number and connect users with someone at your campaign headquarters.
  • Print large QR codes on volunteer t-shirts for your next event. It may help remind your guests that the reason they are attending the event is to support your organization—not just for the free food.
  • Post large QR codes in places where people will be standing around with nothing to do: waiting in line, at bus stops, or on video screens at performance events before the show or during intermission.
The Bad:
  • Don’t put a QR code in an email message if a link will fulfill the same function. That’s just creating more work for your readers. Why make them fish out their mobile phone and take a picture of the code when they could just click a link? (More to the point, what if they’re reading their email on the phone?) QR codes in emails are okay if you expect them to print it out and take it somewhere, for example, if they’re using it as a coupon or event ticket.
  • Don’t use QR codes if your primary audience isn’t tech-savvy. Do the majority of your readers only use smart phones for driving directions or a phone book? You don’t want to alienate your donors by using QR codes exclusively in your campaign.
  • Even if your readers are fairly literate with modern technology, be aware that many QR code readers are still pretty buggy. I work hard to stay up to date on marketing trends, but I don’t have an iPhone or Android yet, so I’m still not able to access most QR codes or digital watermarks. Adding web links or text messaging alternatives can yield the same results.
The @#$%!:
  • Facebook “Like” buttons. According to Fast Company, “the Like buttons that QR tags generate lead to the Facebook website rather than the mobile app.” That’s adding one more step for the user to go through, so this may not be the most effective use of a QR code.
Be sure to give a compelling reason/incentive to use the QR code. If you’re asking someone to sign up for your mailing list, offer them a coupon or giveaway in exchange. At a recent concert a friend of mine attended, he was able to scan a QR code to join a mailing list, then received a message instructing him to pick up a free DVD at the concession stand.
 
Keep in mind that the user is going to be viewing your content on a smartphone, so make sure you link to mobile optimized content. Delta Air Lines goes one step further, using a QR Code in Sky Magazine to direct you to the version of their app that’s made for your phone.
 
And don’t forget, it’s important to test your code on multiple smart phones before you launch your campaign. You can find free QR code readers here.
 
In theory, QR codes can open up many interesting possibilities for your organization, but keep in mind that this is still a very new technology. Many people don’t understand how it works yet, and even those who know how to use them often have problems with buggy software.
 
There are three great ways to find out whether your audience is ready for QR codes: test, test, test. Try using one in an upcoming promotion and measure the results you get. You might also try a split test where you send two versions of the same promotion, one with the code and one without. And as young as this technology is, it’s probably a good idea to include a more familiar, alternative way for your donors to get the same job done—especially if you’re on a limited budget.
 
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bald is beautiful

My friend is turning 50 and wants you to shave her head. Well, kind of. Colleen Wainwright (aka The Communicatrix) is celebrating her 50th birthday (on September 13, 2011), by raising $50,000 in 50 days for WriteGirl, an outstanding L.A.-based nonprofit that benefits teen girls. Why? Learning to write builds confidence and increases a girl's chances of earning a living. If you want to change the world, you help girls. And if she manages to raise it all, she’s shaving her head down to the scalp.
 
She’s more than halfway to her goal, but she could use some more help. You can find more details about the 50-for-50 Project here. If you play your cards right, you might even get the first shave!

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what’s cooking at the farm



It’s been a while since I’ve been in school, but I still get that sad “summer-is-almost-over” feeling towards the end of August. Savor the feeling of summer with this easy-to-make Sunshine Crown Cake. My mom used to make this frozen dessert for use when we were kids and it tastes just like you’re taking a bite out of summer.

Sunshine Crown Cake 
Serves 10

Ingredients
2 pints Vanilla ice cream
2 pints lemon sorbet or sherbet
2, 3 oz. packages soft ladyfingers
2 tsp. cornstarch
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 cup water

1 cup fresh blueberries*
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
 
Directions
Soften ice cream and sorbet slightly and blend in a mixing bowl. Freeze. Line bottom of a 9” round springform pan with split ladyfingers, cutting where necessary to fit. Line sides of pan with ladyfingers, placing on a slight diagonal to form the “crown.” Soften ice cream mixture slightly and spoon into pan. Freeze.


 
Combine cornstarch, sugar and salt in a saucepan. Gradually add water. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium-low, add blueberries and cook 5 minutes longer. Add lemon juice and chill.
 
Remove dessert from the freezer 15-20 minutes before serving and top with blueberry sauce. Slice to serve.

Note:  This dessert can be made several days ahead of time.

*If fresh blueberries are not available, you can use canned blueberry pie filling.
 
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Warmest regards,





Beth Goldfarb
Principal + Creative Director
beth@causefarmcreative.com


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We are proud to be featured in this first-ever book of its kind which showcases the best design work for non-profit and cause-related marketing produced in the last five years.





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get in touch

We’d love to talk to you about how we can help your business grow.
310.470.1313

info@causefarmcreative.com
www.causefarmcreative.com

 
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