It’s all about [whatever] these days

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One of the things that I get a kick out of in my job is the prevalence of shiny object syndrome.  You know what I am talking about here.  Something new or innovative or popular that has the potential to be “game changing” becomes all the rage.  I don’t think this is just a marketing thing or a big company thing.  Any time when businesses are looking to gain an edge or to find some way to differentiate, then the newest shiny object gains momentum.  I believe that this is especially true in more mature industries where differentiation is hard, and it is true in an environment where consumers are empowered more than ever through the availability of information and the ability to connect with other people through a variety of social networks.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not against learning nor am I against trying new technology or new marketing platforms.  I’m all for those things.  I think marketers should be curious and should never stop experimenting.  I just get tired of all the hype that comes with it.  I think my friend Spike Jones does a good job of capturing this skepticism in a posting he did for Social Fresh a couple months back.

The latest tactic that we see gaining steam are QR codes.  (Full disclosure #1: QR codes are something that we are trying out at Best Buy in our stores and in a variety of our marketing communication materials.)  You almost can’t go anywhere without seeing a QR code.  Newspaper and magazine advertisements.  Outdoor billboards.  In restrooms.  On the side of apartment buildings. On fliers in clubs.  They are everywhere.  And I wonder if pretty soon QR codes are going to be so omnipresent and lacking any kind of pay off that we as consumers just won’t care.

This made me think of doing a small study.  For the next three or four weeks, I am going to document and interact with every QR code that I see.  I want to see how much noise QR codes are adding to the system.  And I want to see what brands are doing cool and interesting executions.  (Full disclosure #2: I can’t take credit that this is a 100% original idea.  I was inspired after reading a blog posting where Andrew Blakeley did a similar exercise with brands on Facebook.)  I’m hoping to get a couple things out of this.  First off, will my skepticism that QR codes are just another shiny object be justified?  Secondly, what will I learn that I can apply to my own job?

I’m keeping my eyes peeled.  I’ve got my smart phone ready.  And in a few weeks time I hope to share some thoughts on what I learned along the way.

(photo courtesy of Creative Commons license: Fabrice de Nola.)

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