Will Your Nonprofit Pick QR Codes or NFC?

I'm dying to know, which one will you choose, QR codes or NFC?

QR codes have their advantages.

  • QR codes are offline hyperlinks that connect the offline world to online content.
  • The technology is being used by 14 million people.
  • QR codes can be put on anything and only need to be one square inch to be effective.
  • You can customize QR codes. You can make them pretty, add your logo and use every color in the rainbow.
  • You can store a lot of data on a QR code. You name it and you can encode it on a QR code.
  • You can easily track QR code scans, location and mobile device used so you analyze results and adjust your marketing campaign accordingly.

Yeah, I'm a fan of QR codes, especially since I'm writing QR Codes for Dummies.

But you might be favoring NFC or Near Field Communication.

  • NFC is a short-range broadcast technology that allows smartphones to interact with other devices when held close together. Think "Bump" - but with a lot more potential.
  • If you're following the money trail, it would lead you straight to NFC. Google, Apple, Verizon, MasterCard, AT&T, and many other major players are investing heavily in NFC.
  • NFC is standard on many phones and major players such as Apple are poised to add it to their devices.
  • NFC is super-easy to use. Just put your smartphone near a NFC chip and you’re done. No scanning, no reader, no holding up your phone. You don’t even need to physically “bump” the devices.

So which one will you choose?

I know what you're saying: "What the heck are you talking about?"

There's a good chance you've heard of QR codes, but you probably think NFC means National Football Conference.  QR codes are popping up everywhere. But odds are you haven't scanned one yet. Don't worry, you'll have plenty time to try QR codes and NFC once they're more mainstream. You probably won't have to choose between the two either. They'll coexist for a while until one dominates, or both are replaced by something else.

Here's the news you need to process and act on now: the mobile screen will be the most dominant screen in history. Bigger than television and the desktop, combined. That's why they call mobile The Third Screen.

Just about everyone will own a smartphone. Mobile phone sales are expected to hit a billion units in 2015. That means one out of every seven people on the planet will own a smartphone. Just last year Android sold 250 million phones, or 8 phones a second!

Wi-Fi is coming to your area soon. The Wireless Broadband Alliance reported in 2011 that global public Wi-Fi hotspot numbers are set to grow from 1.3 million in 2011, to 5.8 million by 2015, a 350% increase. The Alliance also found that smartphones are poised to surpass laptops as the device most frequently connected to Wi-Fi.

Consumers are addicted to their smartphones. I know how I am when I forget mine at home. I feel tense and disconnected. You may too. Smartphone users reportedly spend nearly 90 minutes a day on just apps and 75 minutes surfing the web. That’s nearly three hours a day...on a phone. But consider this: the average adult spends over seven hours a day consuming media. Mobile use could double in the years ahead. It’s no surprise that when asked to choose between only their smartphone or desktop for six months, 55% of respondents under 30 chose their phones.

Consumers are warming up to mobile purchases and, soon, mobile donations. One in two mobile users use their mobile device in stores to make purchasing decisions. They’re also buying things on their phones, totaling $9 billion in purchases in 2011.

Mobile devices will be the remote control of people’s lives. A recent Nielson study showed that people use smartphones for everything: music, news, dining, games, weather, directions, banking. Heck, 40 percent of people use their mobile device while watching television. And the television industry is taking note with innovations that connect viewers to their favorite shows and will one day allow them to make purchases by just pointing their phones at their televisions and hitting a button. People want that mobile connection between the offline and online worlds.

Mobile devices are everywhere. Connectivity to the Internet is growing worldwide. Mobile devices rank pretty close to food, water and shelter as a thing people think they need to live. Good or bad, people want a remote control for their lives.

The future of QR codes and NFC may seem like the maze people often mistake QR codes for. It’s a maze that may lead to something better, or to something else. Or it may just lead to a dead end.

But the path of mobile is straight and clear. People may not be scanning QR codes forever, or passing their smartphones near an NFC chip, but demand for online content to enhance and support offline activities is strong. That's what your nonprofit needs to begin addressing. In this, you have no choice.


Mobile Moms are Waiting for Your Cause to Call

Mobile. Moms. Cause Marketing. These three things are made for each other. Not unlike:

"The Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost"

"Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness"

"...of the people, by the people, for the people"

"Mo, Larry and Curly"

We all know that moms are the shoppers of the household. Heck, except for Starbucks and gadgets, I don't even buy my own underwear.

No, my mom doesn't buy my underwear. But my wife who's a mom of two does. Um..doesn't yours? Maybe not. Still, moms buy a lot: they manage 80% of the household spending.

Moms are also the main drivers of cause marketing. According to the 2010 Cone Cause Evolution Study, moms are by far the nation’s most active cause consumers. A near-unanimous 95 percent find cause marketing acceptable and 61 percent  have purchased a cause-related product in the past 12 months.

Moms do the shopping and they love cause marketing! They also love their smartphones.

A recent study by BabyCenter found that having kids is a trigger for women to adopt smartphones,and with good reason. They're super portable and you can use them one-handed when you have baby in the other. Key features of the smartphone for moms are the camera, apps for staying organized and keeping the kids entertained.

One mommy blogger explains.

I actually drafted this post with one hand on my iPhone while holding baby with the other and simultaneously bouncing on an exercise ball to keep her happy! My handy iPhone had been the only way for me to connect to the outside world the first couple months after giving birth. With one hand, I could email, text, set Facebook status updates, browse the internet, take and post photos and videos - all things necessary for this Millennial to live happily, connected and informed. Not to mention all of the helpful apps for everything from keeping track of feeding schedules to educational kids games. Isn't technology wonderful? Honestly, I don't know how mothers of other generations were able to multi-task without the great gizmos and gadgets that I and other Millennials have readily at hand and are dependent upon.

68% of moms said they use their phones for shopping with nearly half saying they took an action (unspecified) after they saw an ad on their phone.

Moms are the household shoppers. Moms overwhelmingly support cause marketing. Moms are relying on their smartphones for everything, including shopping. Cause marketing should be part of their mobile experience as well.

As cause marketers we need to resize our thinking about cause marketing to just 3.5 inches, the size of an iPhone screen. Your key audience is roaming with their phones and constantly looking to see what's on them.

Make sure they see you there.

These recent posts may be helpful to you:

Are You Ready for Mobile Cause Marketing?

10 Tech Tools for Cause Marketers

Is Your Road to Success Paved with Location-Based Services?

Smartphones are Changing Your Cause Marketing Pitch

I'm not the first to say that smartphones are changing the way we pitch our ideas. They seem to be an ever present part of our business conversations (e.g. explaining, informing, demonstrating, visualizing, reinforcing). They're like portable PowerPoints, which, fortunately, we seem to use better than real PowerPoints presentations. Here's how to use your smartphone to enhance your next cause marketing pitch.

Load it with the right apps. To share examples of past or current cause marketing programs, especially pinups, I use Evernote. I tag each image and store it in a dedicated folder for easy retrieval. For proposals and presentations I use Dropbox. If I want to share something I read or saw online I'll open Read It Later. Want to talk more? I'll send you my business card via bCards Pro.

Are you a good sharer? Regardless of the tool I use to share audio, pictures and video, I always have an easy way to share them with my listener, usually via email or a public URL. Services like Dropbox allow me to manage how long a prospect has access to a link. I love to share, but I want to control when, where and for how long people can view my materials, especially when I'm not there to explain, interpret and sell them.

Remember, you're the ringmaster. Don't let your smartphone become a distraction. Keep the conversation focused on the big show. Hand the phone over when you have something to share and take it back when you're done. Let the phone linger in the listener's hands and you'll soon be talking about your favorite NASCAR driving app. I ask for my phone back "so I can show them something else" whether it's true or not. And, while your smartphone might be like PowerPoint don't let it take over your presentation like some speakers do. You are your best visual aid. Use your smartphone to make your points better, clearer or more interesting.

Know when to break out the big guns. Sometimes a smartphone is not enough tool. That's when I bring my iPad. Since getting mine, I've had mixed feelings on it. I started out liking it. A lot. But, then, not so much. As Chris Brogan pointed out, the iPad is great for consuming, not so great for creating. But when it comes to sharing cause marketing programs on a large screen you can easily pass to everyone in the meeting, the iPad is hard to beat. It does everything your smartphone does, but bigger.

How is your smartphone changing your pitch?