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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:

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  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.

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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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