3 Examples of MS Tags (not QR Codes) in Marketing

After my last article (3 Reasons to Use MS Tags) I got to hear from a lot of naysayers in the QR Code industry that had made up their mind already.  They didn’t care much for my post.

Others were supportive and felt like they found a leapfrog technology over QR Codes. I’m glad I could help.  This sort of healthy discourse is why I started the 8pm Warrior blog.

Since this has been a very hot topic lately (almost a thousand views the last couple days), I wanted to do a follow up post sharing a couple pieces that I’ve had designed using MS Tags.  One of my fellow 8pm Warriors (Mary Fitzgerald) asked to see ways that my team has used MS Tags before.

Here are some examples:

First, grab the MS Tag reader for your smart phone at http://gettag.mobi (you should test it to see how it works).

The MS Tag size is nice for business cards.  We were able to go slightly below the 0.75 inch size that is recommended.  That helped us keep the type of design we wanted when designing a card on clear plastic.

As you can see (below), it didn’t have much room for a massive 1×1 inch QR Code.  With the use of an MS Tag, we could have our cake and eat it too.

In the Clear Medical Network poster below, we started off using QR Codes.  However, many people thought they were bar codes and that we were selling the posters.

Since they are free for college guidance counselors, that was obviously a problem. Our fix? Use a colorful and fun MS Tag.  (See below)

Again, here we used an MS Tag to bring this fun Insider Show video series to life with a colorful tag.  Nothing says fun like lively colors.

It was nice that the free online MS Tag creator made the tag and the instruction box. Obviously most 8pm Warriors don’t have a lot of time, so this is a nice feature.  Since just about anyone can make one, it also leads to lower design costs.  Simple, colorful, fun.  (See below)

After looking at some real world examples, check out the MS Tag showcase site to see what other great organizations have been using them.

The good news is that the 2D tag industry is still in its infancy, and you can choose whichever method you want.  Don’t always listen to everything you hear.  I was told that many designers hate Microsoft, so they will always oppose MS Tags over QR Codes.

Try both (QR Codes and MS Tags) for yourself to see what you like.

Have a great night

Aaron@Biebert

3 Reasons to use MS Tags (not QR Codes)

“QR Codes are so 2010!”

That’s what I tried explaining to Jimmy Fallon tonight when he used a giant QR (Quick Response) Code in Stephen Colbert’s spoof of Rebecca Black’s “Friday” song.

It’s time to advance.

In the era of $49 iPhones, smart phone usage is skyrocketing and leaders are trying to connect clients to their digital presence through traditional offline marketing materials.  In the past, QR Codes were the way.

(Not familiar with QR Codes?  Check out the black & white image to the right.)

If you’ve never used QR Codes before, don’t worry.  As far as I’m concerned, there is no reason to use them in a marketing campaign ever again (they are going the way of the VHS tape, floppy disk, or land line phone).

It is time to start using MS (Microsoft) Tags in any offline marketing you are doing that asks customers to call a number, take your contact information, or go to a website.  Why not make it easy for your customers to call you, connect with you, or find your site without typing anything?

Here’s why MS Tags are better than QR Codes:

1) MS Tags can be 44% smaller.

When designing beautiful and effective marketing pieces, space is valuable.  MS Tags offers us a smaller option.

Here is the minimum dimensions for each:

  • MS Tag (color):  0.75 inch
  • MS Tag (b&w):  0.875 inch
  • QR Code:  1 inch

Note:  QR Codes get bigger as you add more information to them (longer message, number, or URL)

2) MS Tags offer flexibility.

QR Codes are permanently linked to whatever is programed into the code.  MS Tags can be switched to whatever message, website, phone number, or vCard (electronic business card) you want, whenever you want.   By using an MS Tag, you don’t have to switch the tag you use on your business card, marketing flyer, etc. every time you switch messages or strategies.

It makes sense in a fast paced world.

3)  MS Tags build in tracking.

Every time someone scans your MS tag, it is tracked and made available to you in a report.  QR Codes do not offer any sort of tracking ability.  This is a huge advantage, since metrics should be the basis for all marketing decisions.  ROI is key and MS Tags can help adjust your strategy on the fly.

In addition to the above three reasons, there are other advantages such as faster scanning, more supported languages (6),  location based GPS campaign customization, and tag design customization (you can design the tag to look more like a picture).  I personally have used QR Codes & MS Tags in marketing campaigns and from personal experience I can confidently recommend the MS Tag to my fellow 8pm Warriors.

If you’re curious how they work, grab your smart phone and try scanning the two pictures on the upper right or check out “3 Examples of MS Tags in Marketing“.  Let me know what you think.

Have a great night,

Aaron@Biebert

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Push it!

Have you ever tried “half pushing” something heavy?

It doesn’t work.

There is no such thing as a “half push” or semi-push.  We’re either pushing something or not.

Pushing is an “On” or “Off” activity.

The same goes for our work, our dreams, and our personal limits.   We won’t reach our full potential by “sort of pushing” or sometimes pushing.   The more we push, the more we move towards our goals.

We’ve got to keep the dial turned “on.”

On a side note, it’s important to push big things.  If something is too easy to move, then we can’t call it pushing.  It’s just sliding.

Big dreams need big pushes, and big pushes should have big dreams to push.

Push it tonight!

Aaron@Biebert

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Steve Jobs: A Profile in Failure and Courage

It is my pleasure to introduce you to this week’s 8pm Warrior of the Week.  He is a college dropout.  He was fired from a company he started in his garage and now he’s fighting the worst kind of cancer.

We’ve all heard of Steve Jobs.  Like him or not, there’s very few people who would disagree that he’s inspiring, creative, and brilliant.

He is also a true 8pm Warrior.

In 2004 he was successfully running both Apple and Pixar (now he sits on Disney’s board) while fighting for his life against Pancreatic Cancer, a disease that claims 95% of victims within 5 years.

That was 7 years ago.

Now Apple is the #2 most valuable company in the world and Barron’s recently declared that Steve Jobs was “without a doubt” the most valuable CEO in the world.  Fortune magazine named him the Smartest CEO in the world.

Success!

However, I think many people (primarily young Warriors) forget about what always preceded his success:  failure.

1) He couldn’t find success in college, so he started a company.

2) He was fired from that company, so he started two more.

3) Some of his products were disasters, so developed new ones such as Macs, Computer Animation, iPods, iPhones, and iPads.

4) Now, his ventures and products are wildly successful, but he has one battle he may not win, Pancreatic Cancer.

Yet, he will no doubt fight on.

Before one of the brightest business stars in history passes from this earth, I wanted to personally recognize him, his struggles, and the 8pm Warrior story we can all learn from.  In some of my darkest moments in business, his story has reminded me of what is possible when you don’t give up doing the work you love.  His story reminds us to press on.

Here’s a timeline:

  • Born & Adopted (1955)
  • Drops out of Reed College after one semester (1972)
  • Jobs, Wozniak, and Wayne start Apple (1976)
  • Power struggle leads to his forced exit from Apple (1984), so he starts NeXT (competitor)
  • Creates Pixar Animation Studios (1986)
  • Serves as executive producer of the first computer animated movie “Toy Story” (1995)
  • Apple buys NeXT, Steve returns as CEO of Apple after 13 years (1997)
  • Pancreatic Cancer attempts a hostile takeover (2004)
  • Steve remains as CEO of Pixar until merger with the Walt Disney Company (2006)
  • Jobs undergoes a Liver transplant (2009)
  • Apple becomes the world #2 most valuable company and Barron’s declares that Steve Jobs is “without a doubt” the most valuable CEO in the world. (2011)

Thanks for the inspiration Steve.

Aaron@Biebert

More good reading about Steve Jobs:

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3 Behaviors that are “Social Selfish”

Yesterday I wrote that “Caring is Sharing” on the social web.

But what about someone who doesn’t share, like, or add to the discussions we all depend on?  What do you call it when someone takes in everything on the web, but doesn’t give back?

I call it being “Social Selfish” and I believe that it hurts everyone.

For the record, I think that we are all self centered sometimes when it comes to social media.  With too much to do and too little time to do it, something must get pushed to the side.  

Sometimes that means less give, and more take.

This post is not about those situations, but rather for those who have never commented or appropriately shared anything that someone else created.

Even though I believe that being “Social Selfish” is bad for everyone, I’m not convinced that people know that they’re doing it.  After all, Web 2.0 and Social Media are still gaining mainstream usage, and people may not truly understand what they’re doing.

To help explain these behaviors and how they hurt us all, here are three “Social Selfish” actions to think about:

1)      They see something amazing and don’t comment.

By not commenting or adding anything, they’re also not helping the material develop.

If a person doesn’t have anything great to add, a simple encouragement or acknowledgement is nearly as helpful.  It takes a lot of time to prepare material, and it’s nice to have encouragement.

For those of us who don’t advertise or promote products on our blogs, these thoughts we write or record are not-for-profit.  We’re spending our time sharing thoughts and ideas for different reasons.

For me, I love hearing new ideas, growing, sharing, and learning.  This community was built for that.  Your comments are payment for the hours I spend each week doing this.

2)      They see something amazing and don’t “Like” or share it (assuming it’s easy to share).

By not sharing, liking, retweeting, or similar action (validating what they think is great), they’re not helping it spread.

Not helping a great idea spread hurts everyone.  In many ways, Web 2.0 is like an information democracy where the best ideas are identified by how many times people share, like, or comment on the idea.  Not liking or sharing is similar to not voting for a leader you believe in.

If you like it, “Like” it!

3)      They take someone’s material and use it without giving others a chance to find the originator.

I frequently see people quoting other people in tweets or emails without crediting the originator’s name.  This hurts the advancement of good ideas and great thinkers, and makes it hard for people to collaborate with the originator.

One of the ways great ideas (and thinkers) advance is through discussions and interaction amongst those “in the room”.  Sharing a great idea allows that idea to gain momentum.  However, sharing the idea without giving credit makes it hard for real collaboration to take place.

We are all pioneers in the Web 2.0 world, and I humbly submit these thoughts for your consideration.  Since I personally have a lot to learn, I welcome any suggested additions or subtractions for the list (let’s discuss below).

Have a selfless night,

Aaron@Biebert

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In Defense of a 2-Year-Old Secretariat

While reading Warren Buffett’s letter to the Berkshire Hathaway shareholders last week, I came across something very interesting.

Apparently, Warren Buffett just hired 39-year-old Todd Combs as part of his succession plan.  Some are up in arms, saying he “lacks experience” and is too green.  Since Todd and I share the same generation, I was intrigued by the following explanation by the “Oracle of Omaha” himself:

“Our goal was to find a 2-year-old Secretariat, not a 10-year-old Seabiscuit.”
– Warren Buffett

I want to be clear that I have absolutely no problem with experienced people.  In fact, I’m on the lookout for an experienced mentor myself.  I believe that experience may bring additional maturity, strength, and other positive traits to a person.

However, in a time when our world is changing faster than ever before, I want to caution people who focus on “experience” rather than talent and learning ability.

Just look at the last 10 years, as Google went mainstream and some of the most popular marketing tools in the world wove themselves into the fabric our lives:

  • Wikipedia (2001)
  • Linkedin (2003)
  • Facebook (2004)
  • YouTube (2005)
  • Twitter (2006)
  • iPhone (2007)
  • Groupon (2007)
  • Foursquare (2009)

The Attention Age has begun!

With New Media entering the stage, business leaders must deal with 24 hour news cycles and the collective attention span of a world constantly seeking out the next big thing.

Personally, I’m enjoying it.

I’m embracing it.  I’m learning it.  I’m living it.

Whether you’re a “10-year-old Seabiscuit” or a “2-year-old Secretariat”, one thing is for certain:

Experience isn’t as important as it used to be.

We’re all students in these new and exciting times, and the leaders who are best with creativity, learning, and vision will win big.

Todd, I’ll be cheering you on.

Have a great night,

Aaron@Biebert

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Is Your Company a Circus?

It’s my wife’s birthday tomorrow and I took her and my two kids to the Circus this evening.  At several points there were so many great acts going on at one time, it was tough deciding what to watch.

When I mentioned this to my wife, she kindly informed me that this was typical and dated back to early circus styles.  It’s no wonder most traditional circus companies have gone out of business while modern and focused shows like Cirque du Soleil continue to grow in popularity.  It’s about telling a great story.  One chapter at a time.

Is your company a circus?

I don’t mean this in a bad way.  The performers in the arena were absolutely phenomenal and I was very impressed.  It’s just that sometimes they had 12 people all doing their own tricks at the same time, periodically making a frustrating experience rather than one cohesive program.

Sound like your company?

Lately, I’ve been spending a lot of my time in marketing leadership and branding, and while studying several companies I’ve found that the Shriner’s Circus isn’t the only one in town.  It seems to be a challenge for many 8pm Warriors that have several great stories to tell, multiple positive events happening, and so many good ideas.  Instead of synergy, we get quite the opposite.  We get a corporate circus.

Let me know if this sounds familiar:

  • Jane is sending out a mass email over here.
  • John is posting a different corporate Facebook announcement there.
  • Sue is blogging about something completely different than Jane and John on the corporate blog.

They’re all good things on their own, but from an outsider’s perspective it’s hard to focus on one story.  It’s like telling three stories at one time.

It’s a Circus.

This is something to think about if you’re in leadership trying to reach customers who only have so much time and attention to give you.

Weave it all together. Have one voice.  Tell a great story!

Have a great night,

Aaron@Biebert

Creativity and a Case for the ”Jack of All Trades”

I think it’s great that many 8pm Warriors are also “Jacks of All Trades” (or” James of All Trades” in this 8pm Warrior’s case), some by necessity, others by nature.

I don’t mean this to be a bad thing.  Often times, people only recite half the famous poem, making it look like a bad thing by ending at “master of none”.  But the poem actually finishes like this:

“Jack of all trades,
master of none,
though often times better
than master of one”

And I couldn’t agree more.  Just look at two of my favorite 8pm Warrior polymaths of all time:  Benjamin Franklin and Leonardo Da Vinci. After looking at their history and my own experiences, I believe that a person’s creativity is limited by their scope of experiences and understanding.  The biggest creations happen when two different concepts are fused together to change the world…hard to do when you only know one set of skills.

How does this apply to modern times?

With the Mechanical Turk, advancing robotics, and a seemingly endless and relentless flood of technical specialists coming out of Asia, things don’t look good for those who lack creativity.  Luckily for many western countries (like the US), this may be one of our strategic advantages for years to come.

Instead of locking our kids down to master one thing (sorry Amy Chua, author of the Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother), I think that the future of extremely successful 8pm Warriors will be in creating solutions and ideas, not mastering them.

Apparently other CEO’s of the world agree.

Have a diverse (and creative) night,

Aaron@Biebert