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Kim Dushinski

So does mobile marketing keep you up at night? Either figuring it out or being excited by the opportunities? Me too.

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In a new category of blog posts called “vs” I am going to compare how two different companies implement a mobile marketing strategy and I will declare a winner in the imaginary competition. First up is Target vs. the United States Post Office.

In this battle I am examining their use of QR Codes. A technology that I am not yet fond of, but I digress, and will tell you why later in this post.

First up, let’s see what the USPS offers up. In the October 2010 issue of their “magazine for marketers” called deliver (, they present a huge QR code that is the only thing on the cover of the magazine. It actually looks pretty good, but there are no instructions.

If someone doesn’t already know what a QR code is and have the scanning software on their phone, they would have no idea what to do about it.

On the back cover of the magazine (but nowhere inside it) there are vague instructions as to what to do with the bar code. Step #1 says, “Download a barcode reader for your mobile phone” but doesn’t say where or how. Is it an app? Is it from a mobile website? Is a particular kind of barcode reader needed or will any bar code reader work? Is it free?

Next, if someone holding this magazine did have bar code software on their phone and knew what to do with it there would be no compelling reason to do so. On the back cover it says that one will “be amazed at what you see.” OK, what does that mean? People are busy. Do they really have time for unknown amazement from the post office?

In the other corner we have Target and their Toy Catalog.

On the inside cover there is a box titled Scan Joyfully. In it is a three step set of clear and helpful instructions plus an example of a QR Code to give a visual cue that is what the instructions are for.

Step #1 says, “From your mobile phone, download the FREE ScanLife app at” These are instructions a person can actually follow easily.

The third step also offers an alternative in case the person reading it is, like me, not so fond of QR Codes yet. It says, “Can’t scan? No problem. Just use the short URLs next to the QR Codes within the catalog instead.” Perfect.

This brings up why I don’t like QR codes. Frankly they slow me down. It is much simpler for me to type in a URL than to open my bar code app, take a picture and then wait while the app decodes it and routes me to the proper action. This could be a function of my phone and the bar code software I have, but I am certainly not the only one with this issue. It is wise to offer alternative ways to take the same action.

Next, Target gives compelling reasons to scan the codes. There’s holiday decorating tips from Sabrina Soto, a Sautéed Shrimp Cocktail recipe from Giada De Laurentiis, holiday fashion tips from Nina Garcia and a How-To TV Buying Guide. Each option features a QR Code and a short URL in case the code is not how I want to access this tantalizing information.

In case you haven’t figured it out by now, Target is the winner in this first “vs” column. In fact, I would go so far as to say it was a knockout.

For further reading on mobile barcode strategy, check out

Two of my favorite things in the world have come together – Costco and mobile. And I am so happy to share all the ways that Costco is doing mobile right and a couple things I wish they would do differently.

First, I was alerted to the new Costco mobile strategy when I read my November 2010 issue of Costco Connection, their excellent member magazine. That is actually the first thing they did right was have an excellent magazine that is worth members’ time to read. In the article titled Beaming up to, David Wright announced that Costco now has a mobile-friendly website and an SMS campaign. They have apps for iPhone, Blackberry and Android phones coming soon.

Obviously, the first thing Costco is doing right is getting mobilized. It is time for smart businesses to be on board with mobile.

I am so glad they did the mobile web first and are launching apps later. Any smart phone can get on the mobile web. By going with the mobile web first they opened for all smart phones and mobile web-enabled phones. Smart move. Businesses that declare they are “mobile” and only have an iPhone app are missing the big picture and the biggest audience.

Costco did not make a big deal about their mobile site domain being and suggesting that members need to go to that domain. Instead they simply said to go to and they let the device detection software do the work of providing the correct version of the site. Happily, this device detection worked for my Palm Pre on webOS. Often, device detection fails for me and serves the desktop site to my Pre. They should have a link to their mobile site from their desktop site in case this didn’t work. (BTW, this is one of the most common mistakes I see in mobile web development.)

As you can see they developed a true mobile site that takes into account what mobile users would most likely need – search, locations and the ability to sign up for SMS offers all prominently featured. It is so important to remember that mobile users have different needs than desktop site visitors.

Next, their SMS campaign is also great because it opens up Costco mobile to ALL phones. Any phone can send and receive text messages. Having a text message campaign ensures that all Costco members with cell phones can interact with them via mobile.

Since I only signed up last week I have only received two messages from Costco – my welcome message and an alert that my new coupon book is active. I am very excited to see what I get on Cyber Monday. According to their ad in Costco Connection, it is sure to be something noteworthy. Maybe I will make my first mcommerce purchase at Costco’s mobile site. (I will let you know.)

One thing I wish they did differently is to use STOP as their opt out action word. Nobody else I have ever seen uses NOTEXT. First of all, businesses should stick with the standard terms to avoid confusion on the part of customers. At least they are putting it in every message. Secondly, it uses two extra characters. Don’t they need those characters to tell me all about the cool stuff they have for me to come get?

Thumbs up Costco! I’ll see you soon, in the store and on my phone.

I love the Super Bowl! Well, actually I just love the snacks and the commercials, but you get the picture. This is my second annual video analyzing the mobile ads of the Super Bowl. In this video (that I edited myself and am admittedly not a professional video editor) I discuss my Favorite Mobile Commercial of the big game, two other highlight of mobile and five distinct Mobile Misses.

Enjoy and please share your comments. What did you think of the mobile commercials?


Dockers “I Wear No Pants” Super Bowl Ad

Timothy Richman – 2010 Super Bowl Ad

kgb – text for answers Super Bowl commercial

Flo TV – Live Mobile TV Super Bowl Ad 2010

Teleflora – Super Bowl Ad

Motorala SB – Megan Fox Super Bowl Ad

Boost Mobile – Super Bowl Shuffle

Denny’s – Chicken Warning Super Bowl Commercial