Let's Do the First QR Coded Paper Icon Cause Marketing Campaign Together

This paper icon… which I purchased for $1 at Bashas’, an Arizona grocery chain… made it very clear to me that charities doing paper icon cause marketing campaigns are going to need to differentiate or risk being commoditized out of existence by the retailers themselves.

The full-color icon benefits a new orangutan enclosure at the Phoenix Zoo. The icon is 5½” x 8½” and was sitting on the checkout counter. I couldn’t see any hanging in the store in Mesa, Arizona where I bought it or any other kind of collateral material explaining the campaign. Nor did the clerk try to “sell” me the icon or amplify any aspect of the campaign. The back of the paper icon was blank.

But I was impressed that the icon featured the beneficiary, a cute little orangutan. Too many charities are still selling sneakers and balloons and shamrocks even though their beneficiaries are adorable little human children.

Bashas’, which has done paper icon campaigns for other charities, seems to have learned some lessons in so doing. One of those lessons almost certainly is that the retailer sits in a position of power in paper icon campaigns.

And they’re right. Bashas’ has 160 stores in Arizona. If an average of 416 people shop each of their stores a day, that’s a potential audience of 2 million people a month.

Bashas’ may have looked at paper icons for charities and said, “all these campaigns are is some printing, a charity, and our cash registers.” Since larger grocery chains have their own print shops… and their own 501(c)(3) charities… the barriers to entry for bigger retailers are pretty low.

How could a charity bring something to new to differentiate its campaign and head off competition from the grocers/retailers themselves?

I’ve already suggested that no paper icon campaign is using QR codes. So has Joe Waters on his blog Selfish Giving. But imagine all you could do with QR codes in a paper icon campaign:
  • Augmented reality images on smart phones.
  • Links to websites or microsites.
  • Promotions and co-promotions.
  • Contests and sweepstakes.
  • Links to video presentations.
  • Giveaways to donors who buy $5 icons.
  • Facebook/Twitter interfaces.
  • Plus, a lot more that I haven’t thought of yet
Could grocers/retailer pull this off themselves?

Eventually, sure. But the first charity that takes a cool QR code paper icon promotion to even the biggest grocers… Kroger and Walmart… won’t have to worry about competition from the retailers themselves for a while to come.

When you’re ready to kick this idea into high gear call my company, Alden Keene and Associates. I really want to help launch the first QR code paper icon cause marketing campaign!
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