Day 11: Charting Wide-Format Printing’s Course – Social Media and QR Codes

14 days of critical information to prepare your business for 2012.

Big Picture

BPIC: Social media and QR codes have certainly grabbed a lot of headlines the past 12 months, from the standpoint of print shops marketing their own businesses, and in helping clients market their products. Are shops – and their clients – seeing an ROI here? Will shops continue to pursue these opportunities?

Dan Marx, SGIA: QR codes are becoming ubiquitous in print and online, offering an easy link between print, online, and mobile content. From the standpoint of our industry, QR and other two-dimensional codes are easy to create and easy to print. The challenge is to make them worthwhile. Where will the person scanning the code be taken, and will what they find there be strong, entertaining, or useful enough for them to bookmark the location, pass it to someone else, or answer your call to action? It needs to be compelling, or it’s just an add-on.

Peter Mayhew, Lyra: There is a generation of users to whom these technologies are second nature – to the point where return on investment is not the issue if you want to engage with these customers. So, absolutely yes, they’re here to stay, but only for as long as the customer finds them useful.

Tim Greene, InfoTrends: Social media and QR codes are related in the sense that they can tie the provider in to customers in new and different ways. The issue with both of them is how well the strategies are executed, and that closely relates to how much the print provider really embraces the technology. Look at QR codes: We recently surveyed wide-format print buyers about this. Only 20 percent of them said they have used QR codes in any of their signage and graphics campaigns, but of those more than 90 percent said they will do it again. We think this is because there is a measurable element to it – brand owners can use metrics like Web hits, Facebook “Likes,” and Twitter followers to understand how well their message is being delivered.

Marco Boer, IT Strategies: While they can be of value in creating interest and excitement, frankly the process of having to capture the image using a smart phone, awaiting the file to open, and then having to read the website on a small mobile-phone display screen is not pleasurable. I think what we’ll find over time is that putting “key words” in ads that consumers will remember and are then able to “Google” search on their desktop PCs may become more prevalent than QR codes.

Art Wynne, BERTL: Social media has helped organizations to market and promote their business on a wider scale to potential customers. Print shops are certainly seeing an ROI as a result of initiative. With QR codes, we think that the utilization and benefits that it promises to deliver are still in its infancy and are still being tested.

The Big Picture has assembled five of the marketplace’s most informed analysts and consultants and asked them to help you evaluate the wide-format industry. Each day over the next two weeks, we’ll post a new, critical question from The Big Picture with invaluable answers from our panel – all designed to help you ensure that your company charts its best course for a prosperous year ahead.

Our 2011 panel participants include: Marco Boer, consulting partner, I.T. Strategies (; Tim Greene, director, visual communication technologies consulting service, InfoTrends (; Dan Marx, vice president, markets & technologies, SGIA (; Peter Mayhew, director, Lyra Research Europe (; and Art Wynne, president, Business Equipment Research and Test Laboratories (BERTL,

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Click here for Day 10 Q & A on Moving More Production Inhouse. And stay tuned for Day 12 of Charting Wide Format's Course (the hottest applications for 2012)!

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