It can be tough having the exact same conversation about QR codes for the 9th time.

And so when the topic was brought up yet again by another individual on campus, I was too quick to roll my eyes and mock the tactic – to which I received a completely stunned look.

I forgot.

I forgot they haven’t read the case studies I have. They haven’t thought through the disappointing user
experience of following a QR code to a non-mobile-friendly site. They haven’t experienced Seth Odell’s
initial aversion and born-again conversion to their possibility. They haven’t seen the failed analytic
results of our own on-campus tests, even after using them ‘theoretically’ correctly (bringing interactivity
to print and directing our University Magazine readers to corresponding videos of the articles being

They are exactly where I was 18 months ago. Fascinated by the technology. Excited about the possibility.
Hoping that QR codes might be the silver bullet promotional tactic we’ve been waiting for.

And sometimes, in our desire to gain respect from those around us, we turn to soft condescension to
self-establish ourselves as authority. But, that never works.

You can not presume a position of authority. You must be placed there.

And that means walking them through it. Taking them from where they are. Their place of excitement,
wonder and possibility.

“You know, we were really excited about QR codes, too! But, after doing some testing, we
noticed some significant problems that might prevent them from being the broad promotional
game-changer we were hoping for. Let me show you some of our results and why we think
there’s usually a better communication solution…”

You may have to have this conversation 9 times or more. And it’s going to take a while to earn
everyone’s respect this way. But, it’s the only way to get it.


About the Author
Eric Olsen is the Web Content Manager for Lewis University, a mid-sized Catholic and Lasallian
University near Chicago, IL. Follow Eric on Twitter.


Article Author


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  • Andrew Careaga

    This is why every campus communicator ought to study cross-cultural communication. We need to understand the culture(s) in which we are placed and interact and learn their customs, levels of awareness, etc., before attempting to persuade folks, or before we dismiss their ideas without first understanding their perspective. Good post.

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