Don’t Assume Your QR Code is Knocked Up, Give her a Pregnancy Test

With smartphone use soaring, many companies (big and small) are turning to quick-response, or QR Codes to connect with customers on the go. They’re placing the codes in ads, direct mail, in-store displays and product packaging, and using them to link to a host of features—discounts, websites and videos.

QR Codes in Marketing Collaterals

The conference is just around the corner, time is of essence; marketing materials are expected at the printer.  If they include a QR code, be sure to test it out in all intended formats (business card, post card, banner, mobile and web landing sites).

Testing Scannability is a MUST!

This obvious and essential step is often overlooked yet it’s critical to your success.  The potential customer has decided to take an important step in the engagement journey by attempting to scan your code. She wants to see the demo of your product, NOW!  The QR code will get her there.  She might also want to share it with her boss. Make sure it works!

Unscannable QR Code = the road to no where

Recently, a well intentioned company (who shall remain nameless) decided to incorporate a QR code in its marketing materials.  The company has a slick online demo that showcases its product offerings.  The marketing team decided to create post cards for an upcoming trade show.  The asset contained an attention grabbing headline, a clean crisp message, and strong call to action with a companion QR code that drove to the slick demo. The post card was beautiful.  So far so good.

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On the surface, even though the post card “looked great”, the QR code didn’t work because the printed image on the post card was a resized (reduced) version of the  original asset. The QR code image had been compromised in the shrinking process rendering it unreadable even with a reader with  an error level tolerance as high as 30%.  The vendor realized the error only after hearing about it from a prospect.


Positive or Negative: Test for QR Code Scannability

Testing the QR code in all intended sizes and formats would have prevented this costly mistake.

Tip : Put yourself in your prospect’s shoes, test the QR code journey you want him to take. Testing is especially important if you’ve resized an asset to a smaller or larger size.  What works in the original size may not in a different one.  When you resize, be sure to preserve the integrity of your QR code image and avoid this costly and embarrassing mistake.  With a scannable QR code you’ll be able to track and monitor the customer journey and relationship between on and offline – making every aspect of your marketing effort quantifiable.

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Learn more about QR Codes

Vector Graphics versus “Raster” Graphics :  How to Generate Vector QR Codes  via OmniQR

Countless QR Code Samples on Pinterest: QR Code Pins-Boards-People



Read the Cafelina QR Code Blog Posts

Cafélina QRart Code designed by

High-Tech Wizardry and Entrepreneurial Witchcraft: What Makes Silicon Valley The World Capital of Innovation?

This post is dedicated to the memory of our beloved neighbor Emily Benator.

What Makes Silicon Valley  the World Capital of Innovation?  Why is it home to high-tech wizardry and entrepreneurial witchcraft? What’s the Silicon Valley  secret sauce and why it is so hard to copy?

Every spring, the newest crop of UOttawa eMBA candidates visits Silicon Valley.  Over the course of their one week trip, the students are exposed to Valley tech companies (from BIG names to startups), VCs, and schools. They network for projects and assignments – all with a view of gaining insights into what makes Silicon Valley such a special place.    Is it something in the water, the air, the food or is it the climate that fuels the innovation DNA so characteristic of Silicon Valley?

The eMBA trip includes an Alumni evening reception.  As an UOttawa MBA alumni and Silicon Valley resident, I’ve participated in this annual function for over 10 years.  Some questions are consistent from one year to the next. These typically include:

  • How long have you been here?
  • What do you do?
  • Why did you move to Silicon Valley?
  • Do you like it here?
  • Can you really afford a house?
  • How many hours do you work? … (The “sweat shop” term doesn’t come up like it did in the late 1990s)? and
  • Do you ever think of moving back to Canada?

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But by far, the most consistent question is always:

What makes Silicon Valley so special?

Thankfully, this year, Gigi Wang was on hand to address that one!  Gigi is the Chair Emeritus of the MIT/Stanford Venture Lab (where she remains on the Board) and is Managing Partner at MG-Team, an international strategic marketing and business development firm for mobile, web services and telecom companies.    In her keynote, she outlined her perspective on “What’s makes Silicon Valley such a special place?”. Needless to say, she did a much better job than I did in addressing this question.

Listen to Gigi describe the VLAB charter.  Follow X|Media|Lab on twitter

“It starts with the culture” she says, “In addition to the excellent institutions and R&D, governmental support, and access to investment capital, it’s the culture that really makes a region like Silicon Valley so unique and wildly successful”.

an article By Anthony P. Sheehan, eMBA 2013

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 She structures her talk around insights or pearls of wisdom. Each pearl includes anecdotes and examples that help to explain the mystic of Silicon Valley.

Need to Trust: trust begins with openness and transparency, it must be mutual or it won’t work.

Risk-taking: Innovation and entrepreneurship requires risk-taking in addition to passion.

“Embrace cultural tourism” explains Gigi, “go beyond your comfort zone, build a prototype, visit a new place”. She goes on to emphasize her final point:  “but most important of all, know that failure is good because mistakes leads to valuable experience and knowledge”.

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.” Thomas Edison

Collaboration People need to share ideas and work on problems together, even competitors

make a bigger pie

This is counterintuitive to most of us. “We guard our ideas and our piece of the pie for fear of losing it”.  “Do the opposite” she explains.  Gigi illustrates the point with how the CEO of Coulomb Technologies, a maker of electric charging stations, openly shared ideas and challenges with a Spanish counterpart.  She describes how the Spanish CEO was floored at this uncharacteristic openness because the two companies target the same market. The executive came to appreciate that “trust, openness and transparency leads to a bigger pie” she says. Make the most of your frenemies.

“In the high-tech world, it’s not about fighting over the existing pie,

but GROWING the pie together.”  Gigi Wang

Integrity: High-level of integrity is required when being open and collaborating

The objective is not about “win-lose”. It’s about give&take and that win-win-win is the objective. She explains the three pronged win as being the success of company, employees and partners in the service of customers as espoused by Groupon founder Andrew Mason.

Accessibility:  access to experience and resources to new entrepreneurs

Gigi’s advice to budding entrepreneurs and leaders: be open, reach out.  “Don’t wait for an introduction; take the risk to introduce yourself”.  As for successful and seasoned entrepreneurs; she suggests that they reach out to young entrepreneurs and share valuable advice and learning.

Lee Fraser, President of the Canadan California Business Council (CCBC) was also on hand that evening. To reinforce the point on accessibility, he cites the C100 as one of countless mentorship program in that regards. C100 is comprised of a select group of Canadians based primarily in Silicon Valley, including executives of leading technology companies, experienced startup entrepreneurs and venture capital investors.  C100 is dedicated to supporting Canadian technology entrepreneurship and investment.

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Constructive Feedback: you must understand what you’ve done right and what you’ve done wrong

Develop and refine your “pitch” skills, embrace continuous learning
  • Stanford offers more free online classes for the world:  Last fall, 356,000 people from 190 countries expressed interest in one or more of the first three classes offered, and approximately 43,000 successfully completed a course. Participants came from as close as Stanford’s Palo Alto campus and as far away as Ghana, Peru, Russia and New Zealand.

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Jealousy (and lack thereof): instead of being jealous when someone else does better, it is viewed as an opportunity to build a relationship with someone successful

The need to develop the right culture and summarizes its key characteristics as:
  • Openness
  • Collaboration
  • High-level of risk-taking, and
  • The “people networking” environment.

“We must instill high integrity into the next generation of global citizens” says Gigi.

“There’s definitely a sense of equifinality in the Valley whereas the success of one does not diminish the likelihood of someone else’s success” says Anthony P. Sheehan, eMBA 2013.

Referencing Wikipedia’s definition of innovation, she couches her concluding remarks as:

Silicon Valley Innovation

Innovation is the creation of better or more effective products, processes, services, technologies, or ideas that are accepted by markets, governments, and society. Innovation differs from invention in that innovation refers to the use of a new idea or method, whereas invention refers more directly to the creation of the idea or method itself.

  • Create what the market wants, and
    • Design exceptional products
    • Conceptualize, design and prototype
    • Collect lots of feedback, lots of it
    • Iterate, iterate, iterate
  • Market creatively
Highest Paid Person’s Opinion

I especially liked Gigi’s closing comment on the root of innovation:

innovation from the bottom is ‘chaotic’ whereas 

innovation for the ‘top’ is ordered.

Silicon Valley innovation is clearly “chaotic” and that’s what makes this place special.

Long live high-tech wizardry and entrepreneurial witchcraft!

Additional Information:


Silicon Valley   wiki reference

Sign commemorating the site of Schokley Laboratories. Instagram Photo taken by me in 2011.

NPRThe Birth Of Silicon Valley: A Timeline  (This graphical presentation covers the period from the formation of Hewlett Packard in 1938 to the 1971 first appearance of the nickname Silicon Valley in print.  Includes a picture of the garage where William Hewlett and David Packard founded Hewlett-Packard Co. in 1939)

NPR:  3 Part Series on Silicon Valley by Laura Sydell

A History of Silicon Valley: The Greatest Creation of Wealth in the History of the Planet by Piero Scaruffi and Arun Rao

A Guided History of Silicon Valley:  iTunes App:  Silicon Valley Roots & Shoots

iTunes App, an insider’s guide to the companies, people, and products that created this vibrant center of high-tech innovation.  More info  Tracking down the roots (the pioneers) and shoots (the spin-out companies) of the digital revolution is made easy with this unique guide to over 150 locations and resources in the southern San Francisco Bay Area cities, campuses and industrial parks.  Each location has many photos, concise descriptions, maps, and links to additional information.

Age of the Inspired Riff: Learning from the Golden Gate on its 75th  via The Wall Street Journal

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer.  Includes a section on San Jose and Silicon Valley.

Cisco Acquisition Strategy

In The Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives by Steven Levy

Facebook’s History: From Dorm To IPO

Tesla Motors was founded in 2003 by a group of intrepid Silicon Valley engineers who set out to prove that electric vehicles could be awesome.

SiliconBeat  The people and companies driving the innovation of Silicon Valley

The Silicon Valley Way, Second Edition: Discover 45 Secrets for Successful Start-Ups by Elton Sherwin

Silicon Valley Community Foundation

Top 10 Tips for Effective Communication

You’ve done the work, packaged the findings, laid out the business case, and developed the ask and recommendations. Whether your software of choice is PowerPoint, Keynote or SlideRocket, you’ve turned your presentation into a work of art. Crafting and packaging your message is very important but the rubber meets the road when you communicate it.


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In 1967, UCLA sociolinguist  Dr. Albert Mehabrian published papers based on two studies: “Decoding of Inconsistent Communications” and “Inference of Attitudes from Nonverbal Communication in Two Channels”.

In his studies, Mehabrian comes to two conclusions. The first one being that there are basically three elements in any face-to-face communication:

    • Words,
    • Tone of voice, and
    • Nonverbal behavior.

They are often abbreviated as the “3 Vs” for Verbal, Vocal & Visual.

I’m so thrilled to be here …

The second conclusion emphasizes that the non-verbal elements are particularly important for communicating feelings and attitude, especially when they are at odds such that if words disagree with the tone of voice and nonverbal behavior, people tend to believe the tonality and nonverbal behavior.

Mehrabian combined the results of the two studies to obtain the ratio 7:38:55 which is known as the 7%-38%-55% rule.

The rule argues that overall credibility in communication is distributed as follows:

  • 55% of meaning comes from presentation,
  • 38% of meaning comes from tonality, and
  • 7% of meaning comes from the words themselves.

Building on the 3 Vs in Mehrabian’s 7%-38%-55% rule, I’ve included an introductory piece and packaged the “Top 10 Tips for Effective Communication”.

Read the Tea Leaves: Catch the Cues

The art of tasseomancy (reading the tea leaves) involves interpreting patterns that loose tea leaves leave in a cup or in a saucer. Some believe that the pattern made by the leaves can be interpreted to tell the future of the one who drank the tea.

In preparation for your presentation, you should try to “read the virtual teas leaves” so that you’ll  be able to catch the cues and maximize your chances of success. I summarized them as follows:

1. Understand The Rules Of The Game

2. Dress For Context

3. Know Your Audience

These three tips will help you set the stage for your presentation.

Visual: Body Language

Jerry Weissman is undoubtedly one of the best corporate presentation coaches. In one of his blog posts, he explains the notion of the “body wrap” which is a natural anxiety response and the opposite of owning your own space.

This is not Jerry Weissman!

4. Self Awareness

5. Own Your Own Space

6. Demonstrate Competence With Confidence

Verbal: Voice

I recently enjoyed the audiobook version of Tina Fay’s bestselling book Bossypants. Her book includes business advice through the use of humorous examples. In one such example, she explains that in order to convey confidence, you must not finish every sentence as though it had a question mark.

7. Project With Passion & Volume

8. Use Downward Inflections

Upward Inflection

When you use downward inflections, you essentially get rid of that implied question mark. Amy Gonzalez, Director of Women Unlimited’s Western Region thought me a technic that I’ll never forget and that works perfectly well for mastering downward inflections. She recommends that you silently say <damn it> to yourself at the end of each statement.

For example:

  • My name is Lina Arseneault <damn it>,
  • I’m here to present a business case <damn it>,
  • You’ll walk away from this meeting thinking that xxx is the best solution <damn it>

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Not only will it eliminate the diminishing silent question mark, it will also provide much needed pauses allowing you to breath (and possibly prevent you from fainting).

Contrast that with:

  • I’m Lina Arseneault? (upward inflection with an implied question mark):

Implication: audience is wondering if you’re actually even sure about that?

Words: Message

9. Focus On How You Say It

10. Eliminate Qualifiers, Tags & Diminishing Words

In this Harvard Business Review blog post, Jerry Weissman discusses the importance of avoiding filler language in presentations.  Filler words are short phrases or questions that have been used and abused to the point of diminishing your connection with your audience.  Examples include:

      • Does that make sense?
      • Like I said …
      • You know … 


Watch the YouTube video of Top 10 Tips For Effective Communications.

To communicate the message of your presentation with confidence and competence, remember to read the virtual tea leaves and mind the 3 Vs” of communications:  verbal, vocal & visual.


Would you add anything to the list of tips?



Additional Information:

Download the Slideshare companion presentation.

Are You Preparing An Important Presentation? Be Sure To Avoid Filler Frankenspeak

Read a summary of Jerry Weissman’s Power Presenter

Lina Arseneault is Millennial at heart. Follow her on Twitter.

Cafélina uses Royalty free images.

Potpourri Food for Thought: 20 Proven Things All Great Leaders Always Do

What do you keep around your office and how is it helpful to you?

When I’m in need of inspiration and perspective, I look over at the bulletin board in my office. That’s where I’ve placed various clippings and pictures. Recently, I added 20 Proven Things All Great Leaders Always Do.

In an unstable, inconsistent world, great leaders are consistent and stable

writes Dan Rockwell a.k.a Leadership Freak. Dan’s blog has an engaging format that aims to help leaders reach higher in 300 words or less. Follow Dan on Twitter @leadershipfreak

Check out 20 Proven Things All Great Leaders Always Do and identify which behavior you find most challenging and/or effective? 

I especially like:

  • Always act in the best interest of your organization,
  • Get results through others,
  • Receive criticism, and
  • Listen more than speak.

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In my office, 20 Proven Things All Great Leaders Always Do is pinned it up next to Everything I need to know about business I learned from playing golf.

“Everything I need to know about business I learned from playing golf” by Rick Spence.

You can find the Everything I need to know about business I learned from playing golf presentation companion here.

What do you keep around your office and how is it helpful to you?


Send suggestions for future Potpourri Food for Thought features.

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Cafélina uses Royalty free images

Potpourri Food for Thought: Facebook CEO’s Law of Social Sharing

You’re probably familiar with Moore’s Law which forecasts of the pace of silicon technology. Moore’s law was initially made in the form of an observation and forecast. The more widely it became accepted, the more it served as a goal for an entire industry.

Consider Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s law of social sharing.

Something is said to increase or decrease exponentially if its rate of change must be expressed using exponents. A graph of exponential growth would appear not as a straight line, but as a curve that continually becomes steeper.

Human sharing behavior is exponential.

To illustrate the magnitude of this concept, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg gives the example of a piece of paper folded upon itself 50 times.

If you took a piece of paper and folded it on itself 50 times, how tall would it be?” He continued, “Most people would say a few feet … Turns out it goes to the moon and back 10 times … I mean it’s 2^50 * the height of the paper. It’s a small base doubling many times.

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Watch Mark Zuckerberg explain the concept in this videoAlexia Tsotsis is a writer at Techcrunch.  Follow her on Twitter @Alexia

Send suggestions for future Potpourri Food for Thought features.

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Cafélina uses Royalty free images.

Grow Your Business: You Fuse, You Win!

Guest post for Talance

Talance is a full-service agency specializing in Web design, interactive development and e-learning. They create attractive, usable websites and online courses for non-profits.

Are you a for-profit organization looking for people who will help make more money than they will cost the business? 

Are you a nonprofit employer seeking employees with passion for the cause you serve? Does your workplace use the full breadth of talent available to it?

Are you attracting the right candidates?

The key to making the most out of these challenges lies in embracing generational diversity. It will foster a culture of flexibility and collaboration in which everyone is responsible for the high quality and timeliness of the final product.

Fuse: Making Sense of the New Cogenerational Workplace by Jim Finkelstein with Mary Gavin, includes a bonus chapter by Ayelet Baron.

I love to read! A few weeks ago, I went to visit my parents in Northern Canada.  Not only was I looking forward to spending time with them but I was also looking forward to the long plane ride from San Francisco so I could indulge in uninterrupted reading time.  For this trip, I selected a few books includingFuse: Making Sense of the New Cogenerational Workplace”.  My colleague and friend Ayelet Baron, VP Strategy for Cisco Canada, contributed a bonus chapter to the book and I wanted to check it out.

Fuse isn’t just another generations book.  It’s a thought provoking, entertaining and useful read that will have you questioning your beliefs about how to get the most out of generational diversity.  It shows you how to weave together the experience of Boomers and the techno-smarts of Millennials in ways that benefit you and your organization. Authors Jim Finkelstein and Mary Gavin suggest that common points of fusion exist in all of us.

Find out if your organization is cogenerationally savvy, take the Fuse quiz.

There are vast differences between employees fresh out of school and their more seasoned counterparts. As a team, working in more flexible ways gives you a chance to leverage the best qualities of each generation. That means young people can learn how to be professionals at the same time that older or less knowledgeable team members can come up to speed on their technological skills. To find out whether your organization is cogenerationally savvy, take the Fuse quiz. Your results might surprise you.

Are you attracting the right candidates? How much time and effort do you put in crafting the right job description? Does it have the correct tone? Resist the temptation to save time by recycling a generic job description. Instead, you should consider an extra step. The Fuse authors explain the importance of tone and positioning in job descriptions.

A Millennial won’t read past the first sentence of a job description unless it hooks her.  If the first line doesn’t explain why the organization is great and how it’s making a difference in the community, city, county, state, country, world, or universe, chances are the Millennial won’t bother applying.

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Contrast that with the old approach of leading with the laundry list of all the job responsibilities. It might be worth taking the time to audit your job description template to ensure that you include the emotional hook in that key first sentence. In doing so, you’ll have a better chance of enticing high potential candidates to read beyond the first sentence. Consider emphasizing employees, community, and environment. Other considerations (as long as it’s true) are the promise of meaningful work and access to technology.

Does your organization have a reverse mentoring program?  Reverse mentoring was first popularized by former GE Chairman Jack Welsh and it’s been around for about a decade.  It’s a relatively new type of mentoring where the traditional roles are reversed and junior employees take on the role of teacher to their more experienced co-workers. The Millennials are coming into the workforce with networking and global-mindedness skills from which older generations can learn. In addition, Millennials are technology natives who can drive a role reversal by mentoring technology-challenged Boomers.

Read about how Nitin Kawale, President of Cisco Canada benefits from reverse mentoring.

If you don’t have a program in place, the good news is that reverse or reciprocal mentoring can take place within existing company mentoring programs.  What you’re looking to do is match up employees of different generations and encourage them to meet on a regular basis to exchange ideas. Mix and match: don’t restrict mentoring relationships to people of the same gender or same fields. There so much to learn from people who are different from ourselves.

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If you don’t have a program in place, the good news is that reverse or reciprocal mentoring can take place within existing company mentoring programs.  What you’re looking to do is match up employees of different generations and encourage them to meet on a regular basis to exchange ideas. Mix and match: don’t restrict mentoring relationships to people of the same gender or same fields. There so much to learn from people who are different from ourselves.

How frequently do you communicate with your team and how do you do it?

Millennials expect management communication to be:

In person, if the message is really important

There is no need to take time to listen to a voice-mail when you see a number on your smartphone – just hit redial.

From Fuse on “How Millennials view communication”

Millennials are fast becoming an influential factor in the workplace and an increasingly important part of its future. They grew up with computers and cell phones the way Boomers and Gen Xers grew up with typewriters and corded telephones. Boomers see technology as a tool, or even a toy, while younger workers see it as an extension of themselves. Millennials see themselves as “technology natives,” sensible multitaskers who get a lot done. Most of them mix entertainment and work.

The Kids Are Alright: How the Gamer Generation Is Changing the Workplace, by John C. Beck and Mitchell Wade, is an excellent reference on the impact of video games on young people. The authors argue that gamers collect valuable knowledge from their entertainment and that they’re poised to use that knowledge to transform the workplace.

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Move over Stephen Covey, these are the 7 Habits of Highly Typical Gamers 

1. Everyone Can Succeed
Gamers grow up in a world where literally everyone can succeed at just about anything. By working hard enough (and long enough), it is possible for every player to win these games.

2. You Gotta Play the Odds

This generation grows up playing games of chance. There has been a probability algorithm built into almost every game they’ve played.

3. Learn From the Team, Not the Coach
Whenever you can, resist the urge to dint; often you “teach” better by introducing a group of gamers to a problem and then just getting out of the way.

4. Kill Bosses: Trust Strategy Guides
Share hand-won knowledge. Position yourself as a fellow player who has been there and can offer some strategy tips, not as a boss.

5. Watch the Map
Gamers count on the “meta-map” that shows where they are in relation to other players, goals, obstacles, and resources.

6. Can’t See It; Ignore It
The action is all on the surface. This generation can become confused, baffles, even furious when thwarted by unseen forces in organizations.

7. Demand the Right Team
Good gamers flee places where there aren’t enough high-quality players. They do the same in other parts of life as well.

Why not help the gamers you care about find teams that match their level — and their passion for a particular challenge — and you’ll be amazed at what they can do. Are you beginning to see how you can make Millennials’ habits work for you and for the gamification of the business (it will happen whether you like it or not)? Respect is the starting point of any relationship. All it takes is the genuine desire to learn from each other.

Additional Information:

What You Should Know About QR Code Hype

Recently, I attended a live Gartner webcast “The Gartner Hype Cycle Special Report: What’s Hot for 2012” hosted by Jackie Fenn, VP & Gartner Fellow Emeritus.  In the hour long webinar, she reviewed the hottest new technologies and trends in this year’s Hype Cycles as well as which technologies will generate the most value and opportunity.

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As it turns out, QR/color code (what I refer to as QRart) is one of the hottest opportunities with a high benefit rating. According to Gartner (as of July 2011), QR/color code is positioned in the early “slope of enlightenment” stage with an 2-5 years estimated time frame to full mainstream adoption (i.e. reaching plateau of productivity).

Pete Basiliere,Tomoko Mitani and Sandy Shen provide analysis for the QR/color code portion of the most recent Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, 2011 report (pages 64-65).  They note that QR code adoption has been steadily increasing in North America since late 2009.  Following are a few excerpts from that section of the report:

Advice for marketing departments: QR/color codes are more than a link to a Web page. Think through the entire campaign and ideally provide unique landing pages for each application of the QR/color code. While public disclosure of campaign successes will be limited, monitor the spread of QR-enabled mobile devices, observe how your competition is using the technology and begin testing customer reactions to the codes.

Business Impact: Relatively advanced in Asia, the use of QR codes is poised to take off in North  America once the tipping point — a sufficient number of enabled mobile phones balanced by marketing campaigns employing QR codes — is reached. QR codes have the potential, when used in an integrated marketing campaign that leverages their unique capabilities, to drive significant revenue by providing the instantaneous response to user queries that enable calls to action that print cannot offer on its own.

  • Benefit Rating: High
  • Market Penetration: 5% to 20% of target audience
  • Maturity: Early mainstream

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The analysts note that unlike classic QR codes that simply sit off to the side of a page and take up valuable space in printed advertisements or on product packaging, QRart can be incorporated within the overall design without detracting from the image aesthetics.

This is exemplified in the work of @YiyingLu

Custom Wall Graphics for Austrade at the Computer History Museum by @YiyingLu

You can view @YiyingLu ‘s latest projects, including ‘Custom Wall Graphics for Austrade at the Computer History Museum’ and ‘Custom Wall Graphics + Promotional Badges for Startup Debut @ CES’ at

Patrick Donnelly of QRarts captures the essence of QR/color codes perfectly when he states

“Forget everything you have heard about QR codes up to this point. The promise of QR can only begin to be realized by thinking of how they relate to both user experience and media integration. Everyone knows QR codes can help you get from A to B. However, the journey is part of a much bigger movement where mobile is converting impressions to interactions on a personal and a trackable level – which is rather remarkable.”

Read more of Patrick’s post at How to convert impressions into interactions on mobile.

Gartner’s estimation of a 2-5 year time frame to full mainstream adoption of QR/color code may reflect that, unlike what Patrick states – not “Everyone knows QR codes can help you get from A to B”.  As QR code readers become more pervasive on North American smartphones and bundled in mobile applications (e.g. Starbucks), the link from A to B will realize its full potential. Truly a visionary, Patrick Donnelly sees applications well beyond activation of print media.

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Will we soon see them appear on TV screens?

Additional References & Information:

Marketing Artfully: QRart and ‘Not So Pretty’ Implementations of QR Codes

In his 2012 social media predictions, Mark Schaefer of Schaefer Marketing Solutions forecasts that QR codes will become obsolete.  He stipulates that QR codes are “mis-applied, over-used gimmick and people will end up not trusting them”.  I agree with him that mis-applications abound but nevertheless, I think that QR codes are here to stay.  In 2012, I predict that a few shining stars will find a way to market artfully and successfully with QR codes.

Are you new to QR codes?  You can reference two CaféLina blog posts on the subject. The first one is “QR Codes: Quiet Revolution or Quite Redundant?”, it outlines QR code basics and provides 10 application examples complete with reference links. As for the second post “Encore! QR Codes: Here to Stay or Fade Away?”, it incorporates examples from the feedback I received and points to the Quiet Revolution Slide Share presentation companion.  The Slide Share material includes all the references from the original Quiet Revolution post plus 5 bonus examples including IneoScan. QRart QRart. IneoScan recommends the i-nigma reader to experience the full breath of this QRart.

In appreciation for the mention of his startup and work in “Encore! QR Codes: Here to Stay or Fade Away?”, IneoScan sent me an unexpected surprise.  Ineoscan designer extraordinaire Jean-Michel Roblin gifted me a “made in Paris” artful version of a QR code that drives to my cafélina blog. I am very grateful for this act of QRart kindness. I’ll be able to integrate it in my marketing outreach activities.

Unlike the standard black and white version, QRart is artful, colored and creative quick response (QR) code design.  QRart takes QR codes to a whole new level by blending QR code and design to allow for the artful activation of print.  To get a sense for the possibilities of designer QR codes, you can visit the following three QRart galleries:  IneoScan, and Kalvin Kleen.

Whatever your sport, hobby, cause, or business – there’s a way to contextualize a designer QR code that drives to a “call-to-action”.  The key is to “be your customer”: understand your customer and the customer journey that your QR code will take her on. You’ll be successful in your QR code application as long as you take into account the following 3 points:

  1. Mobile marketing is more actionable than other forms of web marketing
  2. QR codes are linked to mobile
  3. Design your QR customer journey with mobile in mind
Actionable Marketing
“Be your customer”: understand your customer and the customer journey that your QR code will take her on.

All too often, mis-applications of QR codes involves a poorly designed or completely overlooked mobile experience.  A mobile screen simply doesn’t have the same type of real-estate as a desktop PC.  Most web material is designed for the traditional PC viewing experience. Programming a QR code to point to a web destination intended for a PC screen is simply not as effective on a mobile screen.

I predict that along with successful QR codes applications, we will see a shift in the design of online content that favors the mobile screen.  In this regard, mobile marketing and Twitter have a lot in common.  There are 5 things to keep in mind when designing your QR codes mobile experience:

  1. Get to the point (what’s the customer offer and the call to action)
  2. Brevity is clarity (Gerry McGovern has a lot to say on that subject)
  3. Don’t strain my eyes (it’s a mobile device)
  4. Don’t make me work (drill down and scroll through = drop-off)
  5. Where’s the beef (engaging customer offer = positive reinforcement of the perceived brand value)
January 8-9 2012 print edition of the Wall Street Journal, page C3

The January 8-9 2012 print edition of the Wall Street Journal featured two book ads: “Cell 8” and “A Walk Across the Sun”.

Both ads appeared on page C3 of the newspaper and each ad had its own QR code.  The QR code for “A Walk Across the Sun” drives to a web destination that provides 4 distinct call to action options:

              1. Purchase the book
              2. What readers are saying
              3. Watch the video
              4. Read an excerpt

As for “Cell 8”, it has a ‘not so pretty’ implementation of its QR code destination.  It leads directly to an excerpt of the book and nothing else.  Is this not a missed opportunity to capitalize on an ‘actionable mobile life’ moment?  Accordingly,  “A Walk Across the Sun” gets top marks.

‘Cell 8’ and ‘Walk Across the Sun’ QR codes web destination

Also in the “not so pretty” category is Palo Alto Networks, the Santa Clara based network security company and their ad from the January 9th 2012 print edition of the Wall Street Journal.  The ad touts the company’s highly desirable position in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Network Firewalls.  The ad concludes with this tag line: “Get an exclusive report at or scan QR code below.”  This is essentially two vague calls to action:

  1. Go to the web site to get an exclusive report (why not say the Gartner report instead of “an exclusive report”?), and
  2. Scan the QR code (presumably to get “an exclusive report”?)

As it turns out, after many steps and screens, and providing registration information; both calls to action eventually lead to the “exclusive report”. You really have to want the exclusive report! The captured registration information results in a call-back and email follow-up.  You can see the full step by step “not so pretty” implementation unfold in the Slide Share companion to this blog post.

Starbucks makes me hopeful that 2012 will provide a few shining stars who will find a way to market artfully and successfully with QR codes.  Building on the growing adoption of its mobile application, Starbucks recently released a new version of the app that extends well beyond the “digital mobile payment” option.  The Starbucks mobile app now comes with an imbedded QR code reader (thereby overcoming one of Mark Schaefer’s main objections of having to download a QR reader). On January 13th 2012, I picked up a QR coupon after sampling the newest Starbucks coffee blend. My only criticism of Starbucks QR implementation is having to scroll down three screens before I got to “vote” for my fovorite blend.

As I see it, four factors give Starbucks steaming hot QR potential:

  1. QR Reader bundled in mobile app
  2. New Starbucks promotions with QRart (multiple ‘actionable mobile life’ moment opportunities)
  3. Tracking and metrics (Starbucks will learn and refine its approach)
  4. Customer engagement and feedback (company and customer have much to learn about each other)

In closing, as William Arruda reports in a MarketingProfs column (Personal Branding Trends for 2012 (Part 1)), according to, it’s now possible to place extremely large QR codes on the tops of buildings.  The large size codes can then be photographed by the satellites that feed Google Maps and Google Earth. Those QR codes will be digested by Google’s mapping systems and will cause companies’ logos to appear when someone looks at their building’s images.

Will 2012 be the year that we see QR codes take off in all kinds of directions?

Additional QR Information and Discussion:

Frankenspeak Contest with the Content Rules team

This post is in follow-up to: “Are You Preparing an Important Presentation? Be Sure To Avoid Filler Frankenspeak”.

Are you still debating about what your New Year’s resolution should be?  Why not make the leap from marketing-speak to respectable publisher on the web by following the advice in Content Rules which you can win as part of Talance’s Customer Appreciation Month festivities.

You’ll feel so much better once you’ve shed all the overused Frankenspeak words and phrases!

Simply share the words and phrases that you’d like to ban from marketing, sales, corporate communications, business schools, blogs and boardrooms, and you’ll be entered to win a copy of Content Rules, by Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman. Ann is the Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs and C.C. is the Founder of Digital Dads.

Content Rules by Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman

Deadline for entries is Jan. 30, 2012. The Talance team will pick one winner at random from all entries on Jan. 31, 2012 and will notify the winner via e-mail.  For more information, write to

Feeling ambitious with your resolutions? Are you looking for more advice on writing better? Check out 10 Commandments of Writing for the Web and request the free Talance Perfect Blogging Checklist.

Wishing you all the best for 2012.    Lina

Encore! QR Codes: Here to Stay or Fade Away?”

In a recent post called “QR Codes: Quiet Revolution or Quite Redundant?” I posed the question “QR Codes: Here To Stay or Fade Away?”.  It seems that the consensus is on the “here to stay” (enhance and evolve).  My post described 10 use cases of QR codes and asked for your examples.  Many of you wrote with interesting applications.

Diantha Pinner wrote about how she enjoys her QR Code library card.  She writes: “Our local public libraries enable you to convert your barcoded library card into a QR code on your phone. One less card in my wallet or on my key chain and I never have to wonder whether I left it at home.”   Carol Walker illustrates Diantha’s point in a comprehensive Slide Share reference presentation.  It is titled “QR Codes: Application in Libraries” .

Cisco social media expert Deb Strickland commented on the importance of designing the QR programmed destination with mobile in mind.  She writes: “I have seen some QR codes that send people to a web page that was not optimized for mobile – so don’t make that mistake.”

One of the most interesting notes was from Pascal Romano.  Pascal and I worked together at Cisco (Lina in California, Pascal in France) where I had had the opportunity to meet with his customers at Cisco’s San Jose Executive Briefing Center.  Pascal wrote to me about his brother-in-law’s new QR Code business.  IneoScan is an innovative Paris startup that is taking QR codes to a whole new level by enabling the blending of QR code and art form to allow for the activation of print.

IneoScan QRart

Designers from across the world created beautiful QRart forms.  They are being showcased in art shows in several cities.  You can experience mobile QRart content created by talented artists from across the globe on the IneoScan site.  IneoScan recommends the i-nigma reader to experience the full breath of this QRart.

On Slide Share, you’ll find the companion to “QR Codes: Quiet Revolution or Quite Redundant?”.  The material includes all the references from the original post plus 5 bonus examples (including IneoScan, “Use QR Codes so You Don’t Get Thrown Away After Tradeshows” which is a MarketingProfs column by Sarah Baker, and the San Jose Sharks) and reference links.  Check it out and provide your feedback.

Next time you’re on the go and see a QR code, snap a picture and send it along with your comments.