9.14.2011

Why Mobile Barcode Campaigns Don't Work

When a company decides to use 2D technology in their advertising, on their packaging, etc., there are a number of technology and marketing related variables, components and best practices at play which, alone or in tandem, can cause a 2D-based campaign to sink or swim, or to be as effective or as efficient as it could or should be.

Beyond the factors mentioned above, I believe there is one overarching reason as to why mobile barcode campaigns often don't deliver and succeed, and this is based on a company's marketing organization and structure. Please allow me to explain.

When marketers talk about or define their role or function within an organization, they often use the term silo to do so. And, as much as marketers may see themselves within a silo, they also use the term to describe sales, technology, finance, operations and other departments or groups within the company. Because each functional area (i.e., silo) has its own set of goals, objectives, projects, priorities and challenges, etc., it should come as no surprise that the lines of communication and/or ability or willingness to collaborate between departments or groups is often weak or, worse still, totally nonexistent. And, as a result of this type of working condition or organizational structure the company suffers, as does its customers. Sound familiar?

Now, let's take this a step further and focus on a company's marketing department. Today, marketing departments are often made up of various groups, which can include on- or off-line direct response, web development, market research, digital advertising, print advertising, television advertising, mobile, out-of-home advertising, search, media buying, telemarketing, events, corporate communications, public relations, call center, customer service, etc., call them what you will. And, as mentioned above, in relation to functional silos, the same can be said for groups within the marketing department, where each group is viewed as a stand alone silo with its own set of goals, objectives, projects, priorities and challenges.

So, when it comes time to develop and implement integrated strategies or campaigns, the strategies and campaigns stand a good chance of not being able to live up to their fullest potential, especially from the very beginning, only because real or perceived marketing silos were present. Does any of this sound familiar?

With marketing silos acting as communication and creative barriers, I believe it's all to easy for marketers, creatives and/or developers to get in their own way when it comes time to conceive, craft and implement a 2D-based campaign, because, at any point in time, who's to say that all are on board with 2D technology, let alone mobile and, further still, best practices. If the people who need to be involved with a 2D-based campaign can't find it within themselves to figure out how to break down the silos, establish a game plan and adhere to it, then I believe it's relatively easy to see where the strategic, creative and technology breakdowns are occurring and what's causing so many ill conceived and poorly executed 2D-based campaigns from the get go. (I also believe there is a great deal of misinformation being doled out by agencies and 2D providers, but that's for another article.)

In thinking this through, and I know I have a leg to stand on based on a recent conversation with the CEO of an established mobile barcode platform, I believe a new best practice should be considered and added to the mix. What if we were to call it "Marketing Collaboration?" The main tenant of the best practice is that in order for 2D-based campaigns (i.e., the end-to-end 2D/mobile experience) to be as meaningful, valuable, beneficial and successful as possible for the company, as well as for the consumer, marketing in its entirety must realize the need for open lines of communication and the sharing of information and resources, and to make whatever accommodations that are necessary in order to facilitate such items or activities.

What's your take? Should this be considered as a new 2D barcode "industry" best practice?

(Thank you, M.G.)

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