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Evolution of a California Realtor’s custom signs – now using QR codes



Can you be critical of QR codes and use them anyway? Yes.

We have long opined that QR codes are a passing trend, and despite the lack of long term viability, many agents are using them for various marketing efforts, including yard signs.

In July, Ted Mackel of wrote in a similarly cynical tone about QR codes, citing their weaknesses as mobile friendliness, tracking, regurgigation and understanding, ultimately noting that a QR code won’t sell a house. “Will the QR code sell your house? No, #1 the Price, Condition and Location are the biggest factor in the ability to get your home sold. No amount of advertising can sell an overpriced home. Ultimately, the goal is to get as many eyes on the property as possible and be competitive with the surrounding homes.”

To get those eyes, Mackel has been highly leveraged in social networking, web video and blogging for years and began using custom yard signs in 2008 which was the equivalent of a giant flyer in a yard with photos and details. “The custom yard sign is just another piece of that plan to reach the goal.”

Custom signs with QR codes, 2011 style

Fast forward to 2011 and Mackel has a different custom sign for his listing clients. He says the purpose behind them follow three main ideas:

  1. When potential buyers are driving neighborhoods, the pictures of the backyard and an interior shot give the buyers a teaser preview of the property to generate more interest in the property.
  2. The website and QR code are directly linked to a mobile compliant website with tons of information (including community video) on the home that the potential buyers can view right in their car on a smart phone or iPad. My use of the mobile website and QR code gives me direct feedback on how many people are accessing the site for more information.
  3. The typical real estate signs here in Southern California, are hung on large 4×4 wood posts. My sign is the same size (30×24), orientated vertically, but with a different installation method and custom design. This sign gets buyers to stop the car.

Regardless of trendiness or usefulness, Mackel is using QR codes on his yard signs as pictured above, in an effort to get more eyes on a listing and the industry will see a rise in QR codes in signage in the future. The challenge we see besides adoption rates of the technology that could easily be supplanted by a better version of modern augmented reality is that most agents are using QR codes on signs that are too small and cannot be scanned from a vehicle (which is possible, just ask companies with QR codes on billboards), rather than require a consumer to hop out in the rain or be an awkward creeper in someone’s yard with a smartphone in their hand pointing every which way. In conjunction with custom signs like Mackel’s and use of much, much larger QR codes that don’t require scanning from twelve inches away, QR codes can be useful until augmented reality finally becomes mainstream.

The American Genius is news, insights, tools, and inspiration for business owners and professionals. AG condenses information on technology, business, social media, startups, economics and more, so you don’t have to.

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  1. Search Impact

    August 25, 2011 at 9:37 am

    I think it's great to use tech to find out the value of yard signs for properties, i.e. traditional marketing tactics. I wonder if Ted would share his conversion rate of QR visits and Mobile visits vs contacts gained

    • Ted Mackel

      August 25, 2011 at 12:23 pm

      I make sure all my QRs can be tracked. I am pretty skeptical myself that they will really get used, but let's say the QR code on the sign draws attention and they type the URL in instead of scanning – Mission accomplished.

      Here in Southern California we have good stable weather all year round people will get out of cars to grab flyers, they might get out to scan the code. This one is very close to the curb. The bigger Scanning problem is in the "sunscreen – lipstick syndrome" The camera lens on most cell phones is dirtier than a public restroom and the camera resolutions will play in to this big time. You can't scan a 5 foot by 5 foot QR if your camera lens is full of lipstick or sunscreen 😉

      In the long run my tracking is going to provide some good statistics and be a help on a listing appointment when some other agent tries to throw the shiny object out to win the listing.

      I have been putting a QR code to a Google map on my open house signs that says "scan for map" No scans yet …. hum

  2. Jeremy Rivera

    August 25, 2011 at 9:38 am

    I typically am skeptical at the use of QR codes in magazines or print ads…but this is something that connects people who are truly thirsty for info to mobile resources…neat!

  3. Stephanie Crawford, @AgentSteph

    August 25, 2011 at 9:39 am

    I think Kris Berg does a similar type of custom sign.

    • Kris Berg

      August 26, 2011 at 9:08 am

      I do indeed. All of our agents use them.

  4. Jill Wente

    August 26, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    We have been placing QR codes on the front of our brochure boxes. QR codes will catch on with the help of large corporations integrating them into their marketing materials.

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Business Marketing

Cooler temps mean restaurants have to get creative to survive

(MARKETING) With winter approaching, restaurants are starting to find creative and sustainable ways to keep customers coming in… and warm.



Outdoor eating at restaurants grows in popularity.

Over the last decade we have seen a change in the approach to clientele experiences in the restaurant business. It’s no longer just about how good your food is, although that is still key. Now you have to give your customers an experience to remember. There are now restaurants that feed you in the dark, and others who require you to check all your clothes at the door. Each of these provides an experience to remember alongside food that ranges from good to exquisite, depending on your taste.

Now, however, the global pandemic has rearranged how we think about dining. We can no longer just shove people into a building and create a delectable meal. If you’ve relied mostly on people coming into your restaurant, you may struggle to survive now.

The new rules of keeping clients safe means setting things up outside is the easiest means of keeping large numbers of them from crowding inside. Because of this, weather has become a key influence in a company’s daily income. Tents that were a gimmick before, only needed by presumptuous millennials, are now a requirement to keep afloat. People are rushing to make their yards into lawns that bring some in some fancy feeling.

The ties to the sun in some areas are so strong that cloudy days have been shown to drop attendance as much as 14% for the day. This will become the more apparent the colder it gets. For me, I always mention hibernation weight in the winter, when all I want to do is curl up and eat at home. Down here in Texas we are already finding cooler weather, drops into the 70s even in August and September. We are all assuming a cold winter ahead. So, a bit of foresight is finding a means of keeping your guests warm for the winter ahead.

San Francisco restaurants have started with heat lamps during their cooler evenings. Fiberglass igloos have also been added to outdoor seating as a means of temperature control. A few places down in the Lonestar state keep roaring fires going for their outdoor activities. While others actually keep you running in between beverages by encouraging volleyball matches. This is the new future ahead of us, and being memorable is the way to go.

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Business Marketing

Canva is catching on to content trends, launches in-app video editor

(MARKETING) Canva launches an in-platform video editor, allowing access to their extensive library of assets and animations to create high-quality videos



African American woman working on Canva Video Editor Desktop in office setting.

Video content consumption is on the rise, and the graphic design platform, Canva, took note of it. The $40 billion Australian startup has entered the video business and announced the launch of its video editor, Canva Video Suite.

The end-to-end video editor is an easy-to-use platform that anyone, no matter the skill level, can create, edit, and record high-quality videos. Best of all, it’s free, and it’s available on both desktop and mobile platforms.

The tool has hundreds of editable templates that you can use to create videos for several online platforms like TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook. Some templates can be used to create workplace and business videos, while other templates are perfect for personal videos. There are playful themes you can use to create that spooky video just in time for Halloween or make a laugh-out-loud video to send to your best friend! With a wide range of selections, in no time you’ll start creating your very own video masterpiece with Canva.

Caucasian man holding iPhone showing Canva video editor on mobile.

What else does the video software offer and what can you do with it? Well, let me tell you:

Collaborate in real-time

Having everyone on the same page is important and Canva’s video suite takes that into account. To collaborate with others, you simply send them an invite, and together you can edit videos, manage assets, and leave comments to give your input.

Video timeline editing and in-app recording

Similar to building presentation slides, Canva’s scene-based editor simplifies video editing by using a timeline approach. With it, you can quickly reorder, crop, trim, and splice your videos. Also, users don’t need to leave the platform to record that last-minute shot; within the app, you can shoot and record yourself from a camera or a screen.

Library of assets

The video editor is filled with an array of watermark-free stock footage, icons, images, illustrations, and even audio tracks that you can choose from – but if you really need something that is not on their platform – you can upload your own image, video, or audio track.

Animate with ease

Although still in the process of being released, soon you will be able to add animations of both text and visual elements in just a few simple clicks. Among others, animation presets that fade, pan, and tumble will help you transform your video and take it to a whole other level.

Overall, Canva Video Suite is very intuitive and has all the essential things you need to create a video. And by streamlining the video creation process, Canva is ensuring it enters the video marketplace with a bang.

“One of Canva’s guiding principles is to make complex things simple, and our new Video Suite will allow everyone to unlock the power of video, whether that’s to market their business, make engaging social posts, or express their creativity,” said Rob Kawalsky, Head of Product at Canva.

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Business Marketing

Amazon attracts advertisers from Facebook after Apple privacy alterations

(MARKETING) After Apple’s privacy features unveil, Amazon adapts by taking a unique approach to targeting, disrupting revenue for the ad giant Facebook.



Two African American women work at their desks, one viewing Amazon's advertising landing page.

As a de facto search engine of its own persuasion, Amazon has been poaching ad revenue from Google for some time. However, disrupting the revenue stream from their most recent victim – Facebook – is going to turn some heads.

According to Bloomberg, Apple’s recent privacy additions to products such as iPhones are largely responsible for the shift in ad spending. While platforms like Facebook and Instagram were originally goldmines for advertisers, these privacy features prevent tracking for targeting – a crucial aspect in any marketing campaign.

Internet privacy has been featured heavily in tech conversations for the last several years, and with Chrome phasing out third-party cookies, along with Safari and Firefox introducing roughly analogous policies, social media advertising is bound to become less useful as tracking strategies struggle to keep up with the aforementioned changes.

However, Amazon’s wide user base and separate categorization from social media companies makes it a clear alternative to the Facebook family, which is perhaps why Facebook advertisers are starting to jump ship in an effort to preserve their profits.

This is the premise behind the decision to reduce the Facebook ad spending of Vanity Planet by 22%, a home spa vendor, while facilitating a transition to Amazon. “We have inventory…and the biggest place we are growing is Amazon,” says Alex Dastmalchi, the entrepreneur who runs Vanity Planet.

That gap will only widen with Apple’s new privacy features. Bloomberg reports that when asked in June if they would consent to having their internet activity tracked, only one in four iPhone users did so; this makes it substantially harder for the ad campaigns unique to Facebook to target prospective buyers.

It also means that Amazon, having demonstrated a profound effectiveness in targeting individuals both pre- and post-purchase, stands to gain more than its fair share of sellers flocking to promote their products.

Jens Nicolaysen, co-founder of Shinesty (an eccentric underwear company), affirms the value that Amazon holds for sellers while acknowledging that it isn’t a perfect substitute for social media. While Nicolaysen laments the loss of the somewhat random introduction charm inherent on Instagram, he also believes in the power of brand loyalty, especially on a platform as high-profile as Amazon. “The bigger you are, the more you lose by not having any presence on Amazon,” he explains.

As privacy restrictions continue to ramp up in the coming months, it will be interesting to see how social media advertising evolves to keep up with this trend; it seems naive to assume that Amazon will replace Facebook’s ads entirely, tracking or no tracking.

Apple's privacy landing page showing iPhone users ability to shut off location services and a desktop image of a user's ability to control how their data is managed.

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