Recently I took a trip a few hours north for a speaking engagement. About halfway there I stopped at a well-known

Photo from: North Social

Photo from: North Social

truck stop for a cup of coffee and snack. While filling my styrofoam cup I noticed a QR code on the side of the cup and was a little surprised to see it there. I had a few initial reactions, the first was of confusion and the second was empathy.

My confusion wasn’t about what a QR code does but why there would be one on the side of a styrofoam cup, that is full of hot liquid – that in order to scan I would need to tilt the cup in a manner that would then cause spilling. Not very strategic I thought. I also wondered how many people in Northern Maine have installed the QR reader onto their smart phone.

Suspicious I knew the answer; I asked the clerk at the front desk, “What is this? Do you know how to use it?” She answered “Nope, no idea.” The symbol took up about a third of the side of the cup, valuable real estate – potentially wasted. Hoping to be proved wrong I asked the young man behind me the same question. He answered, “That’s a QR code, you need a special app on your phone. I deleted it off my phone, they never work.”

This is when my second emotion set in, empathy. I felt empathy for this large convenience store/truck stop knowing that more than likely a large marketing agency convinced them that a QR code that links to their non-mobile friendly website was a great idea. And more importantly it’s trendy.

The problem is that trendy doesn’t make the cash register ring and having an ineffective and arguably outdated piece of marketing collateral on your coffee cup is pointless. As a marketing consultant I would encourage you to always take into consideration who you are trying to reach with your messaging and where they are. Don’t just jump on an idea because it sounds cool. This methodology applies to traditional and social media marketing. There is no point in starting a Twitter account for your business if you are not going to keep it active.

When making your next marketing decision consider your target audience, who they are, how they communicate, and what you can realistically do to keep in touch with them. Let that be your guiding light (which also was my mom’s favorite Soap) not the latest freshest trend. Remember consistency is more valuable than a sporadic shot in the dark.