Making Smart Investments in Marketing Technology

Originally published: 02.01.11 by Terry Tanker

As a publisher, I’ve been pitched to on nearly every type of marketing technology out there. Over the years, many of these companies and ideas have disappeared before they got enough traction to become a trend. I have found that the technology investments that make the most sense and last the longest are ones that improve the experience of our readers and viewers.

Sometimes it’s about improving the information that is being delivered; and sometimes it’s about improving how the information is delivered. Many times, it’s about both.

We are adding two new elements to HVACR Business this month related to making smart technology investments. The first is a new contributor, Rich Friedel, who is in his second career as a marketing adviser and trainer after more than three decades as an HVACR business owner.

According to Rich, there’s a lot of room for improvement in the HVACR industry when it comes to using marketing technology. Too many contracting businesses lack an integrated online marketing plan that maps back to their unique selling proposition, for example, and therefore are wasting money on good-looking websites that fall woefully short on sales potential.

He will be addressing this issue and others like it in his columns, which will appear six times in 2011.

What’s a QR Code?

This brings me to our second technology subject, which is in its infancy but appears to have immense potential to quickly and wirelessly connect customers and prospective customers to online information via their mobile phones.

Have you seen a QR Code or Quick Response Code? It’s a funny-looking square barcode that can be photographed and decoded using a smart phone. Typically, the code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background.

The encoded information can be text, data, or a URL where the user can be directed to learn more about a product or service. This is referred to as “mobile tagging.” Common in Japan, where it was created by Toyota subsidiary Denso-Wave in 1994, the QR code is one of the most popular types of two-dimensional barcodes.

The creators’ intent was to be able to decode information about manufactured goods at high speed. QR Codes are now used in a much broader context to wirelessly transfer information from transitory media to a smart phone. You may have seen QR Codes in magazine advertisements, on a billboard, web page, or a product label.

Apps available on popular mobile operating systems use a smart phone’s camera function to take a picture of the code and then translate the information into common language. The information can be details about a business, such as nearby locations, geographic coordinates, a video, or a coupon that could be used for a service call.

How do they work? Go to to see a video on how to use apps for the Droid and iPhone mobile operating systems to read the scans and connect wirelessly to information encoded in them.

Recently, QR codes have become more prevalent in marketing circles and have been integrated into both traditional and interactive campaigns. In marketing, QR codes have a particular benefit — the ability to measure response rates with a high degree of precision.

Many times marketing campaigns leave money on the table. Even well intentioned buyers are likely to forget or lose the initial enthusiasm created by your campaign if it requires remembering to do something in the future. Our demand-rich, time-poor society already has a jam-packed schedule that makes even the most emotionally charged buyer difficult to reach unless you can give them a way to take action now.

QR Codes can direct an otherwise passive viewer to take immediate action — make a visit to your website, register for an event or drawing, or take a survey. Instead of posting a long website address that your audience is likely to forget by the time they get to their computers, place a QR code within your marketing pieces.

Whether it’s an advertisement, direct mail, business card, flyer, or exterior street sign, your potential customer can immediately gain access to what your company is about, what you’re promoting, and you can nudge them to act now instead of the dreaded “maybe later.” And to top it off, you can track and analyze the results of your marketing and advertising.

Our goal, when it comes to incorporating technology in our products and writing about how you can use it more effectively, is to focus on customers. In this case, that’s you. So let me know what you think of our new columnist and our technology coverage:

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