Recently, I received the business card shown below, which comes from a local toy store called if i were a toy.... While it's always great to see local mom and pop shops competing with national big box retailers, and winning, it's less than great to see a business card designed in this manner.
Let's start with the QR Code. The QR Code on the card has been created using a very long URL address which, in effect, generates a very dense code symbol. When a code is too dense (i.e., too many modules reduced in size and packed too closely together) it often results in a code that is too difficult and/or nearly impossible to scan and, it's for this reason, that it's best practice to use a shortened URL when generating a QR Code. With the code here, it was difficult to scan but, eventually, I was able to scan it. If the ease of scanning wasn't enough, however, the scan resolve content was. Once scanned, I was linked to a page which read, "Sorry, the code appears to be invalid." What's up with that? Why display a code that is invalid? Now what is the customer or prospect to think and/or do? To believe that a QR Code is supposed to enhance a customer's experience and interaction with a brand, businesses small and large can ill afford to display and make use of a code that reverts to an error message. Plain and simple, when a code is incorporated into a campaign or on a piece of collateral it needs to work.
Beyond code density, is it me or does it appear that the code was simply slapped on to the company's business card with little or no thought? If it was a matter of having to reprint business cards and thinking how to make them new and/or different, why not take a few extra minutes to really think about the use of a QR Code and if it really makes sense to do so, let alone the design and aesthetics of the code itself.
Next up, the Facebook Like icon. Just like the QR Code, why is a Facebook Like icon slapped on the business card? My guess, someone probably told the business owner that they needed to have a Facebook presence and, part of that, meant displaying a Facebook Like icon on the company's business cards and other marketing collateral. While many won't say it, I will, Facebook is not for every business. Sure it's great to have fans, build customer loyalty and be involved with social sharing, etc., but unless the business has the resources and makes the effort to truly leverage Facebook for what it's worth, I believe it nets the business very little in the end. And the same goes for Twitter and other social-based applications, programs, technology, etc.
To know that marketing dollars are often tight for small businesses (large businesses too), the owners of these businesses need to think less about trying to impress customers/prospects with the latest and greatest (i.e., QR Codes and Facebook) and focus more on building credibility and making a name for itself in the local community. I can only imagine what a mention in one of the local New York newspapers, event magazines and/or a well-read and target appropriate blog might do for if i were a toy....
2D Bar Code Litmus Test: FAIL