If you read anything about real estate marketing, you probably can’t miss all the buzz and hype surrounding QR codes. It’s reached epic proportions. QR codes are apparently going to be the saving grace for all things real estate. Walk a real estate trade show floor and you’ll be inundated with opportunities to scan QR codes. They’re popping up on business cards, home flyers, for sale signs, even on web pages (which makes zero sense).
If you don’t know what a QR code is, it is basically a bar code that you can scan with a smart phone application and it will take you off to the internet to view a web page, video, images, text, whatever. QR = “Quick Response” and they were originally created by a Japanese company to track inventory.
Don’t get me wrong. As a technology lover, I think QR codes are cool. They are pretty amazing little pieces of technology. It’s the hysteria I see in the real estate community that has me baffled. You’d think they were the second coming of blogging, Twitter and Facebook. You know, those things that are going to create vast amounts of untold wealth for real estate agents with no effort or work involved on their part. QR codes are apparently the next delicious magic pill for success!
Whatever. I’m not saying there is no place in real estate marketing for QR codes. There probably is. The use of QR codes is becoming more prevalent across many places, not just real estate. The other day I was in Best Buy looking for a computer monitor and used their QR codes to send a link/web page to my wife. It was probably the best practical application I’ve seen for QR codes to date, though to be honest it would have been far simpler and more efficient to call my wife and say, “They have one for $99 and one for $139. What do you think?”. After all, you can talk on a smart phone too”¦
Recently Realtor Magazine published an article by Michael Russer, aka “Mr. Internet” titled, “Your ”˜Code’ to Mobile Marketing Success”. In this article, Mr. Russer recommends placing a QR code on your car. It should point to your website, or even better an “irresistible offer” on your web site. The recommended size of this QR sticker on your car is 10 inches by 10 inches. This size is needed “so it can be scanned easily by other drivers”.
Let’s just hope the agent sporting a 100 square inch QR code sticker on their car doesn’t get a letter like this:
From: Willy Suehim, Attorney at Law
Subject: Auto Collision Liability and Invoice
Dear Amazing Real Estate Agent –
As you are aware by now, my client Joe Imanerd was driving his 1971 VW Microbus down U.S. 60 the other day when he scanned the rather large and obnoxious QR code on your car. Mr. Imanerd was distracted during the scanning and viewing process and as a result of that, slammed into someone driving a 2010 Lamborghini Murcielago. Fortunately no one was injured and Mr. Imanerd’s Microbus came out relatively unscathed. The Lamborghini however was totaled.
Please see the attached invoice for $374,000. Payment in full is expected within 14 days. Cash or cashier’s check only.
Willy Suehim, Esq.
Mr. Russer also suggests using QR codes on your for sale sign riders. This is probably the most commonly discussed application for QR codes in real estate (rivaled only by using them on business cards). I’ve often struggled with the whole QR codes on sign riders concept.
- Someone drives by a home with your for sale sign on it.
- They stop”¦
- They get out of the car”¦
- take out their cell phone”¦
- scan the QR code”¦
- wait for it to process and then are sent to a web site or video about the home.
About the home they are standing in front of. Wouldn’t it be more efficient to just take a flyer out of the flyer box? Put a QR code on that if you really want to impress the geeks who dig QR codes. Do people really want to watch a video on a cell phone about a house they are standing in front of? Sure, that appeals to some people, but it’s hard to imagine it having a lot of appeal to the masses.
Mr. Russer does solve the getting out of the car part of the QR codes on a sign/rider dilemma. He once again suggests a 10×10 code be placed “so it can be scanned from the comfort of a prospect’s car”.
But that doesn’t really work so well. Here is a short video I made that shows the potential issue with this suggestion:
Just in case you don’t watch the video, I’m not trying to pick on Michael Russer. I like him. He interviewed me for an article once. Super nice guy, and wicked smart. I’m (obviously) just not on the QR code bandwagon.
I suppose one reason I’m a little wary of this is I have no idea what the adoption rate will be in the general public. QR codes are apparently wildly popular in Japan, but I sell houses in Phoenix. I took a little poll on Facebook today to see if people just knew what a QR code was. I posted an image of a QR code and asked non-real estate people to say if they knew what it was. So far, I have 25 responses (including 9 who are in real estate. Read people, read”¦ ).
Of the 16 people not in real estate, 11 said they knew what the image was, 5 said they did not. Of note, in this group of 16, four had connections to real estate but weren’t technically in real estate. They were real estate web developers/designers, consultants and spouses. All four of them replied “yes”. A few other non-real estate types that replied yes are people I know to be confirmed geeks. (Of note, I use that term in the most endearing way. Geeks are cool).
Of the nine real estate types that answered, 7 knew the QR code, 2 did not.
There were more “yes” responses from the non-real estate group than I expected. Granted, this is FAR from a statistically significant survey. And the data may be confounded because most of my non-real estate friends are geeky and tend to know about things like QR codes. I would LOVE to see a large, statistically significant survey taken across a wide swath of the general population to see what percentage of people know what a QR code is, and what to do with one. If anyone knows where to find such data, please let me know.
Adoption rate aside, the main reason I have issues with QR codes in real estate is the hype. Oh the freaking hype! It seems like every time some tool, technique or process comes around, the spin maters crank up the machine and start spewing how the latest gizmo is going to save the planet. I know I’m not alone in tiring of the QR code hype, I’ve had conversations with several in the industry that feel the way I do.
Here are two great posts that highlight some of the ridiculous hype:
In the name of fairness and balance, I should link to some “pro QR code” posts, but it’s hard to pin down just a couple of examples. Here is a link to 42,200 results in a Google search for “QR codes real estate”. Enjoy”¦
Maybe the cartoon below solves the riddle of why so many real estate agents are falling over themselves to embrace this latest fad”¦
What do you think of QR codes? Will they really have a long-term impact on real estate marketing and communication? Can there possibly be any more hype? Is the hype good? Are you on the QR code bandwagon? If so, do your clients really care? Can anyone anywhere attribute selling a home to the use of a QR code? Help me understand this craze”¦