Is Your Technology On The Bleeding Edge?

This post is something that I have debated writing for several weeks now.  I’ve had the topic in my mind but have yet to place it into written words.  Over the past two months I have been rather busy traveling to events to share as a social media speaker. During these events there have been debates on whether old school sales or new technology is the way to go. There have been discussions on how to become a trusted agent with Chris Brogan.  The importance of QR codes has been brought to full attention by  Jeff Turner and also debated here.

I’ve joked with many friends over the past few weeks saying is this cutting edge or has it fallen onto the knife blade and become bleeding edge? Then, the other day on the way home from a conference in Atlanta where I was speaking on social media, a break at a rest stop brought this all into light for me.  As I was walking around stretching my legs I saw a box with various freebie ad magazines in it.  I thought I would grab a few for my daughter to look at while we continued on our journey since at her age she loves to look at anything with pictures in it and I figured this could provide me with at least 30-45 minutes of quiet cheap entertainment during the ride.

The one magazine that I grabbed was called RoomSaver.com.  They advertised on the front cover a FREE IPHONE® APP!  Then, to the right of it, they had their very own fancy multi-colored button that you are supposed to “Point your phone here.”  Since we had just finished a nice long debate on QR codes at the conference, I thought it was only fitting to try & scan the code as I am still trying to find good uses for this technology that will make QR codes useful to consumers.  So, I pulled out my Android phone and pointed my barcode scanner at the image.  I stood there for a good 2 minutes trying to get it scanned.  I tried turning the phone, zooming in, zooming out, holding it as still as possible, and every other possible trick I could think of.  No success.

So, when I got home, I went to the address at the bottom of the page to see what it did.  It was then directing me to download an application to scan the image. Do you see something wrong yet with this picture yet?  Then as I was writing this post, I noticed the instructions directing me to page 42 of the magazine for details.  So, I went over to the page I was greeted with these instructions to the left.  The part that gave me a chuckle was that when I go to the link, download their application, then come back to the magazine and scan it, I will then be directed to Roomsaver.com.  Instead of trying to make the consumer jump through all these steps, why not just put the link nice and large there to view the content on your mobile phone, visit RoomSaver.com?

Does anyone else find this ridiculous? For the life of me, I cannot figure out why a magazine would even remotely consider this to be a good idea.   My guess is that they spent thousands of dollars to purchase this fancy little app and have it developed.  In addition, the amount of money spent on the print ads to place this on the cover, and the inside back cover was very costly.  I know from my days of doing a bunch of print advertising that those two places are some of the most expensive places in a magazine and command higher prices than say page 5.

So why would a company do something like this instead just placing a link to their site?  Do they feel the technology makes them more appealing to younger generations?  As someone in his early 30’s I have to admit, it didn’t impress me that I had to go through all this work to get to the same website that I could get to by just typing in RoomSaver.com to my browser on my phone.  Also, the fact that I am a major fan of Apple products for my computers really bothered me that I had to download a Microsoft Tag Reader product to do anything.

To me, this is a classic example of a company seeing a brand new shiny object that works well in some industries and feeling they needed to take their print magazine that is available at rest stops and make it more cutting edge.  But as they began to spend thousands of dollars on this intiative, nobody stopped to think if this was something that was really necessary for their business.  By the name of their magazine, they obviously already had a good website in place.  The mobile side may not have been there, so building that component was definitely a good thing.  But for the life of me I cannot figure out what value is in the QR code they designed and the process needed to use the QR code.  It doesn’t give me a special discount. I get zero enjoyment from trying to scan it. It doesn’t pull up the site with hotels close to my location.  It doesn’t even take me to something special or allow me to save their site easily.  Basically this piece of cutting edge technology does nothing but waste my time.

Here is my guess how they decided to roll out this gadget.  One day someone showed up in their corporate offices and mentioned something about this new QR technology.  They might have even showed an example to someone how it worked worked with their fancy shiny new smart phone.  It wowed someone that your camera phone could scan a funny looking square and take you to a website.  They decided they needed one for their magazine and that was the end of the discussion.  Never was their thought or discussion put into whether this was just a novelty, or if it added true value to users experience.

Instead of adding a new cutting edge technology element to their magazine, they instantly went to the bleeding edge where they will lose people because of the amount of steps needed to accomplish the same thing simply typing their web URL into a phone can accomplish.

So, before you begin implementing new cutting edge technlogy items into your business, make sure you take time to consider will this enhance my overall business or just make me look bad to consumers.  Look past the shiny gadget and tech and see if this really brings value and enhances your consumers overall experience.

Jeremy Blanton

Jeremy Blanton is the Co-Founder of 210 Consulting- Social Media Advisors. He is a social media speaker who shares with thousands of people each year on things like how to use Facebook for Business, Blogging, and How to use Twitter.

When he is not coaching or speaking, he spends most of his time working on Custom WordPress Sites for his clients.

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  • I bought a soft drink fro Taco Bell last week that had a QR code on the side for a free something. After 20 minutes of trying to scan the code, I decided I could have bought 20 of the somethings and saved my time. Technology is only helpful, if it’s helpful.

  • Agree. Cutting edge is worthless if people can’t use the tools. I’m still hearing crickets in terms of actual real estate agents using QR codes successfully to drive business.

  • I tried for 10 minutes to get the blasted thing to scan. When I found I needed to then download something more, I was over it.

  • I heard someone the other day say a great use is to make it into stickers that you place on the garbage disposal of a house you sell and inside the electrical box, and on all appliances. So when they break, they remember you. Not sure what value that provides, but I chuckled at the idea.

  • Mary Roberts

    I agree wholeheartedly Jeremy! I think QR codes are way beyond the typical consumer. Would like to get a percentage of real estate agent who actually can scan and use them. In my office of 65, I bet there ay be 2-3 tops. My feeling, don’t try the new shiny until they are finding you through the ‘old dull’ methods (interaction, referrals, etc). Thanks for your post.

  • Mary- that’s a great quote! I might have to use that!

  • even without it you article is great) i see you are mastering your skills in writing articles)))) each next is better than the previous one.. thanks a lot) very interesting to read then all the time))) thank you!

  • Stephanie Young

    I agree with this post that the magazine blew it in several ways, one of which by not using a standard qr code that you would have been able to scan without downloading an additional ap. You, being a social media rockstar, probably already have some type of qr scanner on your phone so it would have been easier if it were the standard one. I put qr codes on my listing flyers that are placed in flyer boxes on listing for sale signs. If a prospect takes a flyer and wants more info, they can scan the qr code and it brings up the property listing on my website that has additional photos plus a video of the property. Its been driving traffic to my website.

  • Tony

     “They advertised on the front cover a FREE IPHONE® APP!”

    “So, I pulled out my ANDROID phone and pointed my barcode scanner at the image.”

    I’m no computer guru, but I do know apple doesn’t play nice with others. Maybe next time you should use the correct tech like… I don’t know, an iPhone for your free iPhone app?