QR codes freshen Stamford Symphony's marketing efforts.
By Cassandra Carnes
Effectively marketing to a new audience often requires the inclusion of trendy elements. Quick response (QR) codes are an example. The simple-to-use, two-dimensional codes present interested parties with an opportunity to interact with marketing collateral by quickly scanning from a mobile device.
The potential of QR codes increases with the adoption of smartphones. According to Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, 46 percent of American adults are smartphone owners. This provides marketers with a large opportunity to incorporate QR codes into promotional and branding efforts as well as educate patrons and recipients of the benefits they provide.
Recently, the Stamford Symphony had the opportunity to incorporate QR codes into its upcoming season’s marketing collateral with the help of Pitney Bowes.
The Stamford Symphony
Under the direction of Maestro Eckard Preu, who has led the orchestra since 2005, the Stamford Symphony delivers sophisticated music to the communities of Fairfield Country, CT by delivering high-caliber classical music concerts at the Palace Theatre in Stamford, CT.
The organization currently has 63 musicians on the roster, the same musicians that play at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center.
The Stamford Symphony has a working relationship with Pitney Bowes. "We have been fortunate to count Pitney Bowes among our corporate sponsors for many years now. We are also fortunate to have a Pitney Bowes marketing executive on our board," notes Gina Ely, marketing director, Stamford Symphony. She adds that with this relationship, the Symphony was introduced to QR codes, specifically, pbSmart Codes.
pbSmart Codes is a Web-based software solution that allows you to create interactive marketing and promotional campaigns using QR codes.
The pbSmart Codes team met with the organization to understand their needs. Together, they came up with a plan to effectively integrate QR codes into existing marketing campaigns. "Simply put, as a marketer, I would be remiss if I did not address mobile marketing when promoting the Symphony," notes Ely.
The Stamford Symphony wanted to understand how a non-profit could use pbSmart Codes to help better achieve its marketing goals. The expectations of QR code integration were developed through conversations between the Symphony and Pitney Bowes. Jeff Platt, director, SMB cloud solutions marketing, Pitney Bowes, says the Symphony wanted to reach a broader audience while creating appeal to more tech-savvy patrons and a younger demographic. Pitney Bowes showed the Symphony how pbSmartCodes could help engage the audience by offering a way to connect print and Web marketing efforts. With a way to easily direct potential customers to the Web, tools such as video are brought into the promotional mix.
QR codes were initially utilized on posters in the Palace Theatre lobby and the season program book. When scanned, the codes directed visitors to a sneak peek of Maestro Preu talking about the 2011-2012 season. Further into the campaign, the Symphony included companion offers and a discount at the Music Stand. Shortly after, QR codes were added to direct mail pieces and print advertising.
In addition to incorporating QR codes on marketing pieces, Pitney Bowes sponsored one weekend of concerts in November where representatives from the company were on hand to speak with the audience at intermission regarding their feedback on the pbSmart Codes Campaign. "The results were very positive," notes Platt. The campaign was well received by concert goers, capturing the attention of many patrons, and boosting the Symphony’s overall image." We were able to deliver a fresh, dynamic element to a typically static experience. For Pitney Bowes, it provided valuable insights into the power of pbSmart Codes and how we can leverage these earnings with the broader non-profit community.
Since December, Ely reports that approximately 15,000 direct mail pieces were sent out featuring QR codes. The piece—a postcard that promoted upcoming concerts—included concert title, program information, dates, soloist information, location, a degree of ticket pricing, concert sponsor, and images of the composer. "We’ve sent out five different postcards since incorporating QR codes, all with a similar look but different programming information and dates," she explains.
While the response rate is a moving target, Ely reports it to be about three to four percent. Among all of the printed promotional elements, the QR codes featured on the postcard received the most hits as they were sent to a more targeted group. "Plus this group, I believe, truly enjoy hearing Maestro Preu talk about the season," she adds.
The goal of utilizing pbSmart Codes was to engage with the audience on a different level—perhaps surprise them a bit—and attract new audiences. The data is used to promote open conversations between constituents and the Symphony.
In the future, the Stamford Symphony plans to incorporate QR codes into its marketing campaigns made up of both electronic and traditional media.
By keeping on top of the latest trends and integrating mobile-friendly procedures into standard marketing, the Stamford Symphony has positioned itself as an innovative organization. QR codes allow for a quick and easy bridge from print to smartphone, providing marketers with a call to action that leverages tracking abilities and the power of the Internet