Hospital Marketing: To QR or Not to QR?

QR Codes are becoming more and more popular but they aren’t appropriate for every use.

QR codes are everywhere.  And aren’t they cool?  They are great at providing additional information and for engaging consumers.  Brands like Starbucks and Lady Gaga are using QR codes very effectively to build loyalty and many retail brands are using QR codes to provide additional product information.

In fact, worldwide usage of QR codes is growing at more than 20% annually and barcode usage in North America is growing at a 42% clip.

But despite this rapid growth and the usefulness of QR codes there are some uses, which make no sense at all.  B.L. Ochman writing for Ad Age  gave some examples of some poor uses of QR codes.

1.   QR codes on billboards, too high ad too far away to get a clear scan.

2.   QR codes in subways and places where there is no cellphone reception.

3.   Barcodes in TV spots when by the time you can grab your phone and find the scanner the spot is over.

4.   QR codes with no instructions.  Not everyone knows how to use a QR code. 

5.   Using a proprietary code so you need a specific type of QR reader.  Most people will not bother to download a scanner just to read one particular scan.

There are many other bad uses of QR codes.  Some that don’t make sense at all.  You probably have seen some yourself.

So the point for hospital marketers is that QR codes can be very useful. But it is not something to use just because everyone’s doing it.  Not just because it’s a new fad. Its use should be strategic and it should be easy and useful.   Clear instructions and the benefits of accessing the scan are imperative.

QR codes is a technology that should be used and can be extremely useful in healthcare advertising.  Perhaps in more than any other industry, within the healthcare arena, QR codes can be the mechanism to deliver very valuable information that can’t be delivered in an ad or flyer or poster.

Do we use QR codes in hospital advertising?  Of course!  But make sure it makes sense and delivers a true benefit to the user.  Not just because it’s cool.


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