Are QR Codes A Marketing Gimmick?

QR Codes Are Stupid -- Only If You Use Them IncorrectlyThere are plenty of articles talking about the failure of QR codes. Most with pictures proving their point. My favorite is the QR code on a billboard.   The proverbial wrong tool for the job.

So QR codes are stupid, right? Nothing more than a marketing gimmick.

Let’s not jump to conclusions. Granted they haven’t taken off like some thought they would. And no one will argue that using a marketing tool in the wrong way will every work.

QR codes are only a tool in your marketing toolbox

Not surprisingly, we think QR codes can play a key role in your marketing mix. Especially when used on packaging.

Here’s why: If you have a story to tell to the shopper, and not enough room on you package to tell it, a QR code can help provide critical information.

With the rise of smart phones, QR readers are commonplace. That means that consumers can scan your code if they want to.

Using a QR code is the beginning of your marketing, not the end

QR codes are only a tool in your marketing toolboxMany marketers slap a QR code on and have it point to something easy – like the home page of their website. How’s that helping your shopper make any kind of decision to purchase your product?

Instead, create a micro site for your product that’s designed to be viewed on a mobile device. And have a 15 or 30 second video that’s tied to the product.  An example might be to explain the ease of use, demonstrate installation steps or to add critical details to a complex selling story.

An added bonus is that those simple videos can also be used as rich media content on your A+ pages on eCommerce sites like Amazon.

The micro site has pictures of the product in use, tips and other important points that bring your product to life for the consumer.  All in a quick, simple and concise way.

Using QR codes will impress my buyer!

new-bright-ideaYour buyer will probably not be impressed and is likely to question the strategy. Be prepared to answer any questions your merchant may pose factually. And never underestimate the power of a demonstration in their office.

Share with your buyer the key reasons when QR codes make the most sense:

  1. Limited space on the packaging to bring the product to life
  2. When you have a complex selling story
  3. When a demonstration is a powerful closer

Clarify where the QR code will point and how the content there is relevant and can be re-purposed for eCommerce and in other social media use. In other words, how you plan on using it to drive consumers to their stores.

Share how you plan on tracking click-thrus and be willing to share that data with your merchant. And don’t worry if the numbers clicking are small.

By using QR codes appropriately and as part of your overall marketing mix, your buyer might just be impressed!

Is Messaging Confusion Hurting Sales?

Are you playing the telephone game with your customers?Is your management team in sync with customer perceptions? I know you think they are.

But one CEO bragged to us that his organization would do anything to deliver their product to customers on time – regardless of cost. Everyone around the table was committed to make it happen.

When I asked their customers the about this bold promise made by management, none of them had ever heard it. Worse, their perception was that this company was late in all of their deliveries.

Don’t let messaging confusion hurt sales

Don’t let messaging confusion hurt salesThe vision was not getting communicated clearly. Every sales person had a different take on what was coming from senior leadership.

That confusion was hurting sales.

It was like they were playing the telephone game. Senior management would tell the sales team what was going on in one off meetings.

Messaging was different. Understanding was different. Customers weren’t talked to at all.

Identifying customer perceptions is critical. That’s your baseline and lets you know how to begin to move the communication needle. What customers believe about you is a key indication of how much they will want to buy from you.

It’s critical that the bold promises and firm commitments born in the board room get translated from vision to implementation.

Use a discovery process to identify perceptions

telephone_game_tin_cans_stringYou need to end up with these four critical elements at the end of this process:

  1.        Market position
  2.        Target message
  3.        Competitive benchmark
  4.        Accountability – allows you to gauge improvements over time

You need to discover:

  • Current market situation
  • What needs to be accomplished

Set out to determine:

  • Who buys your products
  • How are you thought of
  • What’s important to make the sale
  • What are our objectives

Using Outside In Thinking

Using Outside In ThinkingTo accomplish these goals you probably need a third party to help you uncover in separate discovery sessions:

  • Management’s perceptions − what they told you
  • Sales discovery session (by phone and in-person) to establish position of your products plus key company characteristics − what your sales team told you

Psst…there’s a secret ingredient in this process.  It’s the missing link − what your customers told you (Outside In Thinking).

This type of Discovery measures your position in the marketplace and identifies the market’s hot buttons. It results in maximum marketing effectiveness and better utilization of brand and marketing communication dollars.
Using Outside In THinkingMost importantly:

  • Discovery session gives you an opportunity or window to look into your company and see how you think and work
  • And Discovery gives you a window in to how your customer think about who they want to work with. It gives you an education on how them make their decisions and the key criteria underlying the decision to buy.

It doesn’t get much better than this. But you have to take the message back to the senior leadership team and convince them of the disconnect.

They won’t believe you. And will probably blame you. But if you succeed, everyone wins. 

Good selling.

Active Search Results (ASR) is an independent Internet Search Engine using a proprietary page ranking technology with Millions of popular Web sites indexed.

4 Steps to Building an Internal Communication Plan

Effective internal communication is critical to your manufacturing successCommunication is critical within any business setting, but most importantly within a manufacturing facilities − where the right communication can really impact change and translate into business success.

What’s the best way to communicate?  How much should you communicate?  How do you make sure your messages are heard?  This guide will take you step-by-step through the communication process.  It has simple, practical, easy-to-follow information you can put to use immediately.

This post also discusses strategic planning − why it’s done, how it’s done, and why it’s important.  But it’s not all strategy.  You will also find information about developing and implementing your communications plan, assigning responsibilities and mapping out your tactics.

Why strategic communication planning?

If you are to succeed and prosper in your industry, then you must contribute significantly and measurably to strategic management.  You must think, act, and manage communication programs strategically, recording measurable results that contribute to the accomplishment of the organization’s mission.  Remember, the only reason organizational communication programs exist is to achieve measurable results that help the organization realize its mission.

What is a communication plan?

A communication plan should be closely linked with the mission, goals, objectives, strategies and tactics of the organization in a measurable wayA communication plan should be closely linked with the mission, goals, objectives, strategies and tactics of the organization in a measurable way.  A communication plan is a written statement of what communication actions you will engage in to support the accomplishment of specific organizational goals, the time frame for carrying out the plan, the budget and measurable results.

A suggested model for a communication plan has the following elements:

  1. Background
  2. Situation analysis
  3. Key Messages
  4. Target Audience
  5. Objectives
  6. Tactics/Implementation
  7. Evaluation and assessment

How long a time period should the plan cover?

The period your plan should cover depends on several variables, such as the issues your plant is dealing with.  It is suggested that your plan be updated on an annual basis.

How to begin building your internal communication plan

1. Form a plant communications committee

How to begin building your internal communication planThis team will be responsible for creating the plant-specific strategic communication plan and then executing the tactics. Your plant team should consist of the following:

1 Plant leader
1 Salaried employee
2 Primary employees (senior employee and newer employee)
1 union leadership member, if plant is unionized
1 communications employee (person currently responsible for plant communications)

Your team should be representative of the plant workforce. It’s important to involve all levels of the organization in the planning process. Employees must feel a part of the process to take ownership in the plan and execute it enthusiastically.

Team members should be chosen based on the following:

  • Willingness to take part
  • Show an interest in improving plant-wide communication
  • Willingness to take responsibility for executing parts of the plan
  • Have a good understanding of plant dynamics. Pick employees who tend to know the latest hot issues in the plant and who have insight on how their peers prefer to receive information
  • Enjoy working as part of a team

Purpose of the team:

  • Improve communications throughout the plant.
  • Serve as an advisory counsel for the plant manager, union leaders or others who wish to share information within the plant.
  • Develop new vehicles for communicating.
  • Improve existing plant communication vehicles.
  • Be a liaison between organizational levels to relay information both upwards and downwards.
  • Improve two-way communication between management and primary workers.
  • Serve as a resource for all plant personnel to use when needing to share information.

Choose a communications committee team leader. It will be the responsibility of this person to delegate assignments, schedule meetings and basically, keep the team on track. Often, it will be this team leader who will serve a direct liaison between the committee and plant management.

Finally, once your committee has assembled and a leader is chosen, a team charter needs to be drafted. Clearly define on paper the purpose of your team. What do you want to accomplish and by when? It is then imperative that plant management supports this charter and agreement is reached on the expectations of the committee.

2. Review the business plan

Analysis is the first step to communication planning.What business are you in? What’s the plant’s mission? Who are your customers and markets? What’s the current outlook and forecast for the plant? Who’s the competition and what do you know about them?

Analysis is the first step to communication planning. You must know where you are now before deciding which way to go next. It is important to understand all factors of the business that impact communication. In addition, it will often be the business objectives and forecasts that will need communicated throughout your location.

It will be important not only to review your plant’s mission and goals, but also the business unit in which you work. Next, identify communication themes based on business goals you will choose to be communicated at your site. For example, you may feel it is important to stress the company’s core values, but also drive messages on operational excellence, customer intimacy or product leadership.

3. Gather data

It’s important to have the right information before beginning your plan. There are several things to identify in the data gathering part of communication planning that require information from your audience–the employees at your location.

Information to be gathered:

  • Effectiveness of existing communications
  • How employees prefer to receive information
  • Current “hot issues” in the plant
  • Things that impede communication
  • Suggestions for improving communication

How to gather data:

  • Surveys—Give employees a list of questions to be answered, either written or verbally.  Survey participation is usually greatest when it is anonymous and confidential.  If it is a written survey, include a self-addressed stamped envelope.  However, response rates tend to increase dramatically when you allow employees to complete the survey during working hours in a confidential environment.  Phone surveys are also an option.
  • Focus Groups—Focus groups work best if they contain between 10 to 12 people and the groups consist of employees at relatively the same organizational level. Focus groups are an easy way to involve a large number of employees over a short time. Holding a focus group prior to issuing a survey is also a good way to make sure your survey addresses the right issues.
  • One-on-one interviews—allow employees to share their views quickly and candidly. Interviews are more time-consuming, but produce instant feedback.

4. Analyze the data

Review the data gathered and understand the attitude and concerns of the employees. Look for recurring themes or issues – your communication plan should address them.

Use a SWOT analysis to look at the data. SWOT focuses on the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats of a given situation.  Perform this exercise using your current communication system, plugging in the data gathered.

Performance Area Now Future
Strengths—what communication practices are working?
Weaknesses—what weaknesses need to be overcome to improve communication?
Opportunities—what communication opportunities exist that haven’t previously been recognized?
Threats—what threats must be overcome?

That’s it for the pre-work.  My next post will focus on the 7 steps to writing an internal communications plan. What ideas and examples do you have?