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The QR code team of Heligonix comprises, left to right, owner Steve Visio, Production Manager D.J. Kapley and Marketing Director Dishanya Weerasinha. Visio recently hired Weerasinha to push the company's new product, MyContineo.com.
The QR code team of Heligonix comprises, left to right, owner Steve Visio, Production Manager D.J. Kapley and Marketing Director Dishanya Weerasinha. Visio recently hired Weerasinha to push the company's new product, MyContineo.com.

Firms scan market for QR code clients

Posted online
Area technology companies are bringing new products to market propelled by smart-phone applications that gained traction earlier this year.

QR codes – the 2-D, traditionally black-and-white square barcodes targeting smart-phone users – have been popping up at Springfield retailers and university campuses, on real estate signs and business cards, and in print advertisements.

While the quick-response codes have served in logistics since their 1994 launch in Japan’s automobile parts industry, tech, marketing and print executives have only recently opened their eyes to the business-to-business applications.

“The whole print industry is agog about this technology because they are relevant again,” said Steve Visio, who straddles the print and technology sectors with his companies, Executive Data Control and Heligonix.

Executive Data Control, for instance, prints 300 business cards a week for such clients as Bass Pro Shops and O’Reilly Automotive, and in-bound marketing firm Heligonix consults to businesses on social media. The companies are launching MyContineo.com, a site designed as a destination for QR code scanners with the purpose of virtually connecting businesspeople to businesspeople.

“If you want to connect with me, you have to see all of who I am,” said Visio, who describes MyContineo as a portal for a professional’s LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and blog pages.

The connections may start on a physical business card before leading the scanner to the professional’s in-depth virtual persona embedded into the code.

For the last three months, a team at graphic arts shop DvLaRue has been writing a QR code program that allows clients to manage their content behind the codes without generating new 2-D code images.

Owner Amy Michael said her company has spent roughly $18,000 on custom programming and software development, led by a contract programmer and a creative director in Kansas.

“We began to create a database and software system that would allow a business owner to log in and create a QR code on our server and then manage the content that is seen by the user when they scan it,” Michael said. “Instead of creating a new code, they can log in and change the message at the end of the code.”

Michael said the Web-based platform – built on an update of www.dvlarue.com scheduled to go live June 22 – also integrates a merchant payment system. The next three months, she’ll invest about $5,000 in marketing the product, called DvQR. Michael is pitching the idea on the potential that restaurants, for instance, could build QR codes for their VIP cards, and users could scan them for daily specials.

“Someone could literally log in and change it every day,” she said, noting that retailers and health care companies also have shown an interest. “They could make it a coupon, a Web address, a video, a line of text, pretty much whatever they want.”

The adoption rate has been slow for both products in this early phase.

Manufacturing marketer Melissa Pitfield said early adopters are sparse in her industry, but that’s not keeping her employer, Digital Monitoring Products, from hedging its bets on QR code technology.

Pitfield has led a seven-month advertising campaign at DMP implementing multiple QR codes across five print ads. The first ad, launched in February, offered scanners a giveaway of a free month of wireless security service in DMP’s XTL product line. Another ad linked to product information.

Pitfield said DMP generated the codes in-house with consultation from Visio’s company.
Though no rate-of-return goals were established, she said early ad results have been disappointing. But the potential is worth the effort, she noted.

“It’s very early,” she said. “I can see people in Springfield are getting very savvy with the QR codes. I think it’s still catching on in (DMP’s) market.

“There was no reason for us to think this would go crazy. But we’re not going to stop,” she added.

To further raise awareness, QR code generators also have turned their attention toward building them for business branding as well as a functional communication tool. These technology companies are pitching the codes with bright colors, even incorporating logos and other designs.

At DvLaRue, programmers have created mock QR codes utilizing Thrive Personal Fitness’ signature ladybug icon in the matrix and layered Children’s Orchard’s apple logo in the background of a QR code. Even before she has started selling the codes and services, Michael said owners of those businesses have expressed an interest.

While the splash factor may turn heads, Visio said the codes are gimmicky in and of themselves. “It’s where you’re sending them that’s really powerful,” he said, cautioning businesses against simply linking codes to a home page URL. “Most people’s Web sites are a jungle.”

Retailers, for example, are sending consumers to review sites, such as Yelp, online suggestion boxes or providing price comparisons, he said. “That’s handy,” Visio said. “I’d rather you do your smart-phone research in the store because then you have a prayer for a sale.”

Visio recently hired a marketing director, Dishanya Weerasinha from the Los Angeles area, to promote MyContineo and educate clients on QR code functionality.

“It’s not really all that mysterious,” Visio said.[[In-content Ad]]

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