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Archive for June, 2011

QR codes: thinking outside the box (or bag!)

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

One of the hottest topics in marketing right now is the subject of QR codes. If you’ve not encountered the term before (where have you been?), QR stands for Quick Response. Looking something akin to a barcode, the QR code bridges the gap between the online and offline world and, as such, is set to revolutionise business by integrating marketing communications.

Although they resemble barcodes, QR codes can carry significantly more data – such as links, videos, text, photos and other content – and they don’t require a scanner to read them, as most modern mobile ‘phones can do this using their cameras (hence the ‘quick’). You have probably spotted them in magazines and newspapers, and perhaps on business cards, on T-shirts, on billboards and even in store windows.

How does the system work? Well, marketers put a QR code on an item – such as a magazine advert – and a user scans it with a smartphone. In order to read the QR code, the phone must have a QR code reader, which can be downloaded free from an app store (and many Android devices now come with QR code readers). The phone’s camera decodes the QR code and takes the appropriate action – for example, directing the user to a mobile website.

QR codes can be seen as ‘doors’ to digital content, with readers on smartphones acting as the ‘keys’. By allowing consumers to access dynamic content – anywhere and any time – QR codes hold all kinds of possibilities, particularly in terms of brand promotions and the provision of exclusive media content. Brand owners should be considering QR-coded stickers, T-shirts and carrier bags to promote their digital identity and connect their real and virtual worlds.

According to a recent study, 57% of Facebook users have scanned a QR code. The problem is that there are still vast swathes of the population that are not digitally literate and are not in the Facebook community. Plus, of course, not all of those that are on Facebook have yet adopted smartphone technology. This lack of understanding and participation has definitely been standing in the way of progress but the future for QR codes is bright. Most QR codes now simply link to the company’s mobile website, but brand owners are starting to think outside of the box, so this is one to watch!

Branded carrier bags: a powerful weapon in the marketing arsenal

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

When it comes to promotional marketing, the options are almost limitless. Once your logo exists in a flexible and portable format – EPS or PDF, for example – there is a plethora of relatively inexpensive marketing options, from USB sticks and pens to baseball caps and cool bags.

Few, however, have the versatility and universal appeal of a printed carrier bag. Whether it’s a printed paper bag or a branded plastic bag, this product is used by both genders, all ages and every demographic. Bags are, of course, particularly useful at exhibitions or other events, where visitors or delegates tend to collect a whole bunch of materials that need to be transported home or back to the office. They can be used to carry merchandise purchased in shops or for give-aways at corporate functions, as well as for press kits at product launches. Bag users unwittingly become advertising agents as they move about, promoting your message to everyone around them.

Is there anything that you can do to enhance the power of branded bags even further? Well, yes. They have to be functional, that’s a given – so strength in construction is important. But they can also be attractive. An aesthetically pleasing or trendy design will maximise the use the recipient makes of it and promote re-use on other occasions. This means that great design and high-quality printing contribute to the environmental friendliness of carrier bags. Of course, any copywriting on the bag must sell the brand, product or concept being promoted. It should be short and sweet – and correctly spelled!

Rob Allen returns as Eventia chair

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

Rob Allen has been named as the new chair of the industry association, Eventia. He replaces Mark Saxby, Sales and Marketing Director of Universal World Events, who has led the association for the past year. Mr Allen, CEO of experiential marketing and events agency, TRO, previously headed the association in 2007-8. The decision was made at the organisation’s AGM, held at the Science Museum on 8 June.

Said Rob Allen, “I am delighted to be back in the chair for a second term of office and especially encouraged by the really strong make up of our new board. Naturally we will continue to look at how we can add to and improve member services, and indeed work in stronger collaboration with other associations to beat the drum for the events industry in the UK.”

Simon Hughes, Director of Live Events for the Central Office of Information, has taken up the position of vice-chair – and will become chairman from 2012 – while Tracy Johnson continues in her role as Marketing Services Director. The AGM witnessed a number of changes to the board, with Mark Taylor of BI Worldwide, Stephan Roberge of Monaco Tourist Authority & Convention Bureau and Ruth Robinson of Lancashire & Blackpool Conferences all stepping down.

The financial figures for the year to the end of 2010 saw the association’s turnover dip, leading to a deficit of over £1,600. “We have had a tough year,” admitted Allen, “but our costs have been down by roughly the same proportion as our turnover. The good news is our membership base has broadened.”

Eventia signed up 67 new members last year and its total business membership now stands at 281, of which 37% are partners, 29% are agencies, 14% are overseas, 6% are affiliates and 2% are groups. The organisation now has nine corporate members – including Cisco, Barclays and Linklaters – and is aiming to grow that number.

Britain for Events to be run by BVEP

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

Responsibility for ‘Britain for Events’ – the meetings and events annual promotional campaign – has passed from Visit Britain to the Business Visits and Event Partnership (BVEP).

Britain for Events will benefit from a new advisory board consisting of key industry associations and partners. These include the Meetings Industry Association (MIA), the International Congress & Convention Association (ICCA UK & Ireland), the Hotel Booking Agents Association (HBAA) and Visit England. Visit Britain has now withdrawn from business tourism.

The funding shortfall for the next three years has been taken on by International Confex, with the remainder of the campaign funds being raised from industry partners and supporters, as well as the commercial and corporate sector. The campaign will launch in June, with a focus period of September 2011 to March 2012, and will continue to run during the summer of 2012.

Commented BVEP’s Chairman, Michael Hirst, “With Visit Britain’s strategic move away from business tourism, we are delighted that this important campaign has a secure future. There is a natural fit between the partnership and the campaign and we have a board of experienced personnel from across the industry who can aid in ensuring it continues to have a tangible and positive effect on the industry.” Mr Hirst continued, “It fits our key objectives to promote the benefits of business visits and events at all levels of government and to make Britain the natural destination choice and an international hub for all sectors of the events industry.”